While Australia celebrated the election of 27 year old Fatima Payman on Monday 20 June as the first Senator of Afghan origin, the long suffering of the people in her home country continues with yet another setback, a devastating earthquake on Wednesday morning 22 June 2022 that has killed more than 1000 people with injuries to thousands more.
Afghanistan has been a failed state as a result of the invasion by the Soviet Union during the late seventies followed by a long spell of civil war and then 20 years of “War on Terror” and occupation by US that ended last year.
With the restoration of power to the “New Taliban” the initial hope that Afghans will get a break from their miserable conditions have been dashed where the current regime has not delivered on an end to lawlessness, violence, discrimination and isolation from the world community.
With half the population, their females restricted from taking part in public life including education, freedom of movement, development of life skills and active participation in good governance, no wonder Afghans are suffering from starvation, homelessness and poverty.
A large number of Afghans are the victims if internal and external displacement, millions of refugees in neighbouring Iran and Pakistan while some of the diaspora have been lucky to escape to the West including Australia.
One of the high achievers amongst them is the newly elected Labor Senator from Western Australia Fatima Payman now sitting in the Federal parliament in Canberra, a Hijabi who wants to “normalise hijab wearing”.
Fatima fled Afghanistan at the age of five with her family to Pakistan from where her father left by boat to come to Australia “seeking a better life for his children”.
It took three years for her, her mother and her siblings to joined her father in Perth where the family struggled hard to settle in their new homeland and finally Fatima to reach to the skies in this land of equal opportunity, Australia.
Fatima will inspire young people from diverse background saying, “I hope to be an inspiration to many other young Australians, that just because you believe in God, or just because you look different, it shouldn’t prevent you from being involved in such an important institution.”
She concluded by saying, “You can’t be what you can’t see, and if that [parliament] is not reflective of the general Australian public then how can you have complete faith that they can hear your voice, and be your voice in power?”