By early afternoon, it was more and more clear that the federal government had collapsed, that the president and his entourage had gone. The indicators of it had been within the refrain of rumors, the individuals dashing dwelling, afraid to look again within the route from which the Taliban had been stated to have arrived. The streets had been emptying.
Individuals moved rapidly, looking for security. In an odd coincidence, they handed by mournful streetside commemorations of the eve of Ashura, which marks the day the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson was martyred. There have been gunshots, rushing automobiles and even tanks roaming the streets — nobody knew what belonged to whom. The Taliban later stated the vacuum had pressured them to enter the capital, to move off anarchy, moderately than anticipate a extra gradual transition.
Within the days since, Kabul has been a paradox that in some ways is harking back to the Taliban’s Nineteen Nineties rule, regardless of the softer tone of their public statements.
On the one hand, petty crime is down, strolling the streets feels bodily safer, and the Taliban are touting the truth that past the airport, casualties of warfare — not lengthy after 50 to 100 individuals a day had been being killed — at the moment are near zero.
However, there are the scenes gripping the world. Younger Afghan males falling to their deaths after clinging to an American evacuation airplane. 1000’s of Afghan households massed exterior the airport, hoping for any rescue within the final days of the Western withdrawal. The carnage of one other suicide bombing, and a promise of chaos to come back, even for the Taliban.
Many individuals, together with those that are desperately attempting to flee, really feel a direct risk from the Taliban. However that is additionally about one thing greater: It’s a few individuals giving up on a rustic.
After 40 years of violence, and so many cycles of false hope and deceptive lulls, what’s gripping the hearts of many Afghans is despair: the concern that this time will likely be no completely different, until it’s worse.
Mujib Mashal is a global correspondent for The New York Instances who lined Afghanistan from 2015 by 2020, and is now primarily based in New Delhi. He’s a local of Kabul.