'Kite Runner' Author Khaled Hosseini Urges U.S. to Safeguard Women Against Taliban Rule

Khaled Hosseini, the Afghan-born American author of Kite Runner and other novels, has urged the U.S. and its allies to "exert legitimate and appropriate pressure" on the Taliban in a bid to protect the human rights of Afghan women and girls.

The Taliban, the militant group that ruled Afghanistan in the late 1990s, has seized control of the country again, two weeks before the U.S. was scheduled to fully withdraw its troops, who have been there since 2001.

The Taliban's latest advance has seen swarms of Afghan people make desperate attempts to flee the country in fear of what the future holds under Taliban rule.

Video footage has shown some people allegedly clinging to airplanes taking off from the airport.

In an interview with CBS News, Hosseini, who was born in the Afghan capital of Kabul, said the "absolutely heartbreaking" scenes coming out of Afghanistan at the moment "speaks to the fear and anxiety that the Afghan people have with the arrival of the Taliban."

"I worry for the people of Afghanistan, particularly the women and children who suffered the most the last time the Taliban ruled this country," he added.

The New York Times best-selling author, who has been a Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR (United Nations Human Rights Council) since 2006, said while "great progress was made" for women under U.S. occupation in Afghanistan "now all of that is threatened...and no one knows what the future holds for Afghanistan."

Warning that the legacy of the U.S. remains in question, Hosseini urged: "The U.S. and its allies have to exert legitimate and appropriate pressure on the Taliban to not use violence as a tool against Afghan citizens and to not disrespect and violate the essential human rights of Afghan citizens, especially those of women and girls."

Hosseini's 2008 novel A Thousand Splendid Suns portrayed the obstacles and dangers faced by the book's two female protagonists "when the Taliban take over" and "life becomes a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear," according to the book's description on Amazon.

Author Khalid Hosseini in NYC in 2007.
Author Khalid Hosseini arrives at the premiere of the film "There Will Be Blood" in New York City in December 2007. Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

Recalling what life was like for the Afghan people before the arrival of the U.S., Hosseini told CBS News: "The Taliban inflicted and imposed a very very draconian and strict interpretation of Islamic law, supposedly, on the Afghan people.

"This particularly affected women, who were barred from leaving home. They were essentially sequestered in their homes, made prisoners inside their own homes. They couldn't leave home without a male companion, they were not able to hold jobs, they were not able to get educated, they were not able to represent the country in the government.

"They were not even able to show their faces in public. Men and women were beaten publicly. Everyone remembers awful images of public executions," the author said.

Asked what he believes the legacy of the U.S. occupation period in Afghanistan will be, the author explained that while the past 20 years were "filled with missteps and miscalculations and errors that were made along the way," with many live lost, "great progress was made as well."

Speaking to CBS News' Elaine Quijano, Hosseini highlighted that: "Women returned to the workforce, women occupied 25 percent of the seats in the lower parliament. Women were on television, like yourself, delivering news, women were in health care, education, they joined the police, they became provisional governors...so progress was made.

"And now all of that is threatened and all of that is plagued and no one knows what the future holds for Afghanistan and therefore that legacy right now is in question," he warned.

Afghan women at a hall in Kabul.
Afghan women take part in a gathering at a hall in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 2 against the claimed human rights violations on women by the Taliban regime. Sajjad/Hussain/ AFP via Getty Images