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 speeding residence, afraid to look again within the path from which the Taliban had been mentioned to have arrived. The streets had been emptying.
Folks moved rapidly, looking for security. In an odd coincidence, they handed by way of mournful streetside commemorations of the eve of Ashura, which marks the day the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson was martyred. There have been gunshots, dashing autos and even tanks roaming the streets — nobody knew what belonged to whom. The Taliban later mentioned the vacuum had compelled them to enter the capital, to move off anarchy, quite than look ahead to a extra gradual transition.
Within the days since, Kabul has been a paradox that in some ways is paying homage to the Taliban’s Nineteen Nineties rule, irrespective 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 battle — not lengthy after 50 to 100 individuals a day had been being killed — are actually near zero.
However, there are the scenes gripping the world. Younger Afghan males falling to their deaths after clinging to an American evacuation aircraft. Hundreds 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 return, 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 worry that this time can be no completely different, until it’s worse.
Mujib Mashal is a world correspondent for The New York Occasions who coated Afghanistan from 2015 by way of 2020, and is now based mostly in New Delhi. He’s a local of Kabul.