Review: Gullali of Panjshir Valley




Panjshir Valley, eleven thousand feet above sea level north of Kabul–Afghanistan, is heaven on Earth. Gullali, an educated young Afghan woman, was raised by her liberal-minded family to believe women deserve the same rights as men, a belief that is vehemently condemned by Talibanised Afghanistan. With romance in her life, Gullali’s life is perfect until Afghanistan is invaded by the Soviet army on December 24, 1979, and her life changes overnight.

After ten years of occupation, the Soviets leave in defeat. Though a triumph, the tribes fight among themselves over women and pretty boys. Power turns to greed, and order in Afghanistan fades. Amid the turmoil, the Taliban gain control, over the country, and women are the first casualty in the name of Islam.

Rumors of a more tolerant Pakistan beckon Gullali and her husband, but tragedy strikes. Gullali comes to realize the Taliban is just as prevalent in Pakistan. Captive, she suffers both physically and mentally from gender bias and religious hypocrisy.

Fueled by the abuse, Gullali is determined to fight for women’s rights, education, and freedom from male abuse in the name of Muslim culture and religion. Using her story, she tries to create awareness among the women of Pakistan but faces death threats from the clerics. She fights back. What follows is a roller coaster ride of fights for women’s liberation and adventure, with passionate romance in between.

Rating: 5 stars
Gullali of Panjshir Valley by Zia Rehman is an interesting read. It brings to light the struggles of the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Women especially are brought into a chaos all because of the of Islam religion and men’s ideas of women. Women are treated as unequal. No education, as well as no rights, are given. This novel brings to life the struggles that women faced under the Islamic men’s rule. The danger was something that lied ahead for women as men didn’t take to them going to school lightly. The men wanted to be in charge. There seemed to be historical events planted within this fiction tale. Like the many different invaders to these countries and what happened each time. Every take over had an influence on the countries that these women lived within…I found myself curious as I read every page. The leading female character’s life went from good to horrifying fast. Her country was one that she wanted to leave. But the next one was just as bad as her own. Love, fate, and determination helped Gullali fight for survival. Her story is a journey many don’t want to miss.  War, terror, and abuse…and one one woman’s courage are themes that will entice readers to this brilliant piece. Overall, I recommend Gullali of Panjshir Valley to readers everywhere.

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