One month in Kabul under the Taliban – a photo report | Afghanistan
AAbove its tightly packed houses and the peaks of the Hindu Kush mountains, Kabul’s blue skies were once dotted with countless colorful kites, flown by children from hilltops or their rooftops. Since the Taliban took the Afghan capital a month ago, they have disappeared.
And while more than 100,000 people have managed to escape their country’s uncertain future – evacuated by the international airport – those who remain face a new reality.
The Taliban quickly took control of Afghanistan in an aggressive offensive that lasted only a few weeks and saw much of the Afghan army surrender or escape. The militant group eventually entered Kabul without much fighting as former President Ashraf Ghani and much of his cabinet fled.
Forty years of war have already devastated Afghanistan, causing suffering, death and widespread poverty.
Now the militant group that the Americans have come to defeat is back in power. A message painted on the explosion-proof walls of the city center recalls just that: “Our nation, with the help of God, defeated America,” reads one of the new Taliban slogans, replacing the ancient colorful murals that once decorated Kabul.
Over the past decades, the Afghan people have gained little but lost a lot. Again, many had to flee their homeland. They now live scattered across continents, leaving behind their once comfortable lives and jobs – cherished even in the midst of war – trading it in for a future as refugees. Their hearts yearn for home, but many Afghans still cannot imagine a future under the Taliban, remembering too well the brutal 1996-2001 regime of the group.
The “Islamic Emirate” has not banned kites and the group has not denied education for women, but with the formation of a new all-male interim government, details have emerged regarding future leadership. of the country: women should not study with men and music is outlawed. The ministry of the propagation of virtue and the prevention of vice is back – once feared as a strict enforcer of Sharia law.
The Taliban are seen roaming the city, their fighters visiting the zoo and amusement parks, eating ice cream by the side of the road, guns thrown over their shoulders. Some say they came from rural provinces to “do some sightseeing”, while others have brought their children. They hang out in groups and take selfies together, excited and excited to explore the city.
The Afghan flag has been largely replaced by the white emblem of the âIslamic Emirateâ, with children selling the new banners amid heavy traffic through the city, walking to the windows of lowered cars, asking for a few small bills in exchange for the new banner.
Women have taken to the streets to protest the new regime in many parts of the city – demanding the right to work and to education. Some protests turned violent, with Taliban fighters beating women in crowds and journalists arrested and flogged.
As Kabul residents say security in the city – once plagued by regular explosions, magnetic bombs attached to cars, and targeted assassinations – has improved, many are worried about rising poverty levels . In one of Kabul’s main markets, women are seen selling their gold, trying to access money to support their families.
The nation is strapped for cash, with the United Nations warning that up to 97% of Afghans could plunge into poverty by the middle of next year. With the departure of US troops and NATO, much of the foreign aid has dried up, although donors this week pledged an additional $ 1 billion in aid for the country.
On the outskirts of Kabul, Aisha Nawabi, 62, is a woman who remembers well the previous rule of the Taliban. “Of course they haven’t changed,” she said from her home, a mud-walled resort surrounded by apple trees on a quiet gravel road.
Nawabi is worried, but not desperate. Over the past decades, Afghanistan has changed, she said. Access to education and technology has grown and the country has opened up.
âThis time the women will not bow. This time they will fight for a better future, âshe said before pausing. âI believe that this time Afghanistan as a whole will not come back. We will stand firm. “