The aftermath from the shock announcement that Afghanistan's first woman fixed-wing pilot is seeking asylum in the US has been a to spark a "spirited national debate" on many of the country's most vexing issues: insecurity, women's rights and mass exodus of young people.
It all started when Niloofar Rahmani, a 25-year-old pilot described widely domestically as the "Afghan Top Gun", was scheduled to return to Afghanistan last week after a 15-month training course with the US air force. But on the eve of her departure, she announced she will not be returning according to AFP, citing fears for her safety, triggering a storm of criticism in Afghanistan for "betraying" her nation but also garnering support from activists.
For a country whose love-hate relationship with the US in the past two decades has mostly gravitated to the latter, the defection was a huge blow: "What she said in the US was irresponsible and unexpected. She was meant to be a role model for other young Afghans," defense ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanesh said on Monday. "She has betrayed her country. It is a shame."