The Fall of Kabul
Written by Sabal Handa
Illustrated by Urvi Agarwal
Edited by Anvita Tripathi
Discussing the recently launched Taliban attacks in Kabul and its consequences, Perspectoverse’s Sabal Handa presents: Catastrophe in Kabul.
On Sunday, August 15, the world witnessed the downfall of the capital of Afghanistan (Kabul) and the country as a whole when Taliban insurgents moved into the city, leaving citizens and the administration in pandemonium.
This comes roughly 4 months after the US announced the withdrawal of its forces from the country, putting an end to the coalition(s) formed as counter-terrorism operations. This period also saw a rise in the violence perpetrated, particularly by none other than the Taliban, which swiftly took over multiple districts and provinces. Trends show that the aforementioned regions were in close proximity to the capital; such as Pul-e-Am, capital of the Logar province (40 miles south of Kabul), the eastern city of Jalalabad and the Nerkh district, right outside Kabul, effectively resulting in them surrounding it.
The advance took place after president Ashraf Ghani fled the country, justifying it as an effort to prevent further bloodshed upon receiving criticism from various Afghan politicians for his actions. The details of his whereabouts remain unconfirmed, although a member of his staff stated that he flew to Tashkent in Uzbekistan (Al Jazeera)
Upon entering the city, a domino effect allowed the group to take over efficiently, with politicians and government workers fleeing from offices, forces surrendering and handing over regions to the Taliban; most prominently the Bagram Air Base, an hour's drive from Kabul. Statements issued by a spokesperson for them reassured that "there would be no revenge taken" (against members of armed forces and organisations which had previously carried out counter-terrorism/counter-insurgency measures in the country). They also asked foreign citizens to leave the country in the coming days if they wished to do so.
Various countries have suspended diplomatic missions, begun evacuating embassies and airlifting citizens. Despite airports being allowed to function, airlines have been diverting flights and avoiding Afghanistan airspace, which has further aggravated the state of panic that citizens were in, abandoning cars to make their way to the airports; 3 people were reportedly killed by gunfire at the passenger terminal of the Kabul Airport (Wall Street Journal). The US took charge of securing the airport amidst the chaos; the US Embassy in Kabul put out a tweet warning residents not to enter the airport until notified. It had also received heavy criticism for its decision to withdraw troops and the measures taken to handle the situation.
Reports of fighting have emerged from the city's Qarabagh district. A member of the Taliban's negotiating team in Doha said people in Kabul had no need to worry and that their properties and lives were safe (BBC).
The group had stated that they were going in(to the city) to prevent chaos and looting that may have followed after security forces exited the capital, calling for a peaceful transition of power.
"The Taliban won victory in the judgment of sword and gun and they have the responsibility to protect the honour, prosperity and self-respect of our compatriots," President Ghani stated, in a Facebook post addressed to Afghan citizens.
Their spokesperson went on to speak about some of their intended policies regarding women and the media - two aspects which the international community was particularly worried about. Their policy is that women will have access to education and work, to wear the hijab and will be allowed to leave their homes alone. As for the media, it was said that the media will be allowed to criticise anyone but should not indulge in character assassination.
On the contrary, there have been claims by Afghan citizens of the Taliban restricting movement of women from their homes, refusing access to education, plans of taking away jobs of employed women to replace them with men and even forcibly marrying girls above the age of 12 into sex slavery in the regions recently captured by the group.
Talks of an interim government are underway, with reports suggesting that it will be headed by former Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali. The UN Security Council had planned to convene on Monday morning to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.
We stand with Afghanistan, we stand with Afghan women, children, the elderly and civilians caught in crossfire.