The recent events in Kabul have grabbed headlines across the globe and also in India. These developments have been a matter of great international concern and those concerns have only compounded with the composition of the Taliban government that was announced two days ago. Against this backdrop the Ananta Centre held a digital session on “The Afghanistan Conflict: On ground experiences from Kabul” with Mr. Shubhajit Roy, Associate Editor and Deputy Chief of National Bureau, The Indian Express chaired by Ambassador Sharat Sabharwal, Distinguish Fellow, Ananta Centre and Former High Commissioner of India to Pakistan.
The chaotic manner of events and developments in Afghanistan signalled the end of the war between the Taliban and the urban forces on 15 th August. Shubhajit Roy provided a hair rising account of desperation and mayhem he witnessed in Kabul during his wee long stay in Kabul as the city fell. Roy observed Kabul’s famous green parks had been overrun by refugees; men, women, and children, who had fled from the provinces that were captured by the Taliban, squatting on the pavements.
At the passport office at ground zero, one could sense the panic, the desperation amongst people to leave the country. With the fall of Mazar- e Sharif on 15 th August, the situation became grim.
To throw light on the ordeal of Afghan women Shubhajit visited a government school and a private school where, as he was talking to the principal, he learnt about Talib fighters seen in the city. The teachers were asked to leave for their homes most of whom were women. The parlours were also closed down.
Wearing the white scarf to blend with the crowd, Shubhajit walked past the streets and witnessed traffic jam, commotion, people rushing back to their homes, downing their shutters. In the grim situation Shubhajit was suggested to fly back to Delhi.
The checkpoints to the green zone that were otherwise heavily guarded by the Afghan National Security forces and Afghan policemen, lay unguarded. The Embassy that was guarded by ITBP personnel was being evacuated. The roads were flooded with pickup trucks and SUVs filled with Talib fighters who were parading, flashing their guns, and the white flag. Shubhajit reports his first encounter with nearly 50 Talib fighters in the hotel which was a dreadful sight to hold in the early morning hours. But they were not targeting foreigners at that point of time, some were threatened.
Outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport, a sea of people anxious to leave the shackles of Taliban walked towards the airport with or without documents. There was firing, commotion, vandalism, and looting at the airport. Terrified, he fled back to the Indian Embassy. On the way, the check post that were now guarded by the Talib fighters gave way to Shubhajit and his colleague to the Indian Embassy after much deliberation. The clearance to leave Afghanistan was given late at night. At the airport he was lifted by the Indian Air force aircraft to be brought to Delhi on 17 th August.
Shubhajit had witnessed what many have only heard about the Taliban. People were panic stricken since they had never witnessed such a situation and had grown up in a fairly independent environment since last 20 years where, especially in Kabul, they had basic rights to live, work, and get education.
Please watch the full session on YouTube:-