JURIST EXCLUSIVE – The author is a law student in Kabul who also works in a local law office; he wrote this for JURIST late Sunday AFT. For privacy and security reasons we are withholding his name. The text has been only lightly edited to respect the author’s voice.
Today Kabul was taken. During the afternoon I went to office and heard of the rumors that the Taliban has entered the city from west of the city. It is strongly rumored that Balkh, Nigarhar and most of the recent provinces were ordered by the government to surrender – this got everyone in panic and seeing a city with more than 6 million citizens panic is not a good sight. The fact that the government had still thousands of armed forces at the ready and had not deployed them or did not give them the green light to go, has everyone in shock.
The last serious battle was in Helmand. Herat and the rest of the provinces were taken effortlessly and with merely small resistance of the locals who gave up without receiving support. In Kabul as of today most of the military were abounded [abandoned?] by their commanders and no meaningful resistance was made against the Taliban. This has invoked the thought that the high officials had already made the deal in Doha and played a theatric war to justify it. However, the first and most important agreed issue was a transitional state and later an election. However, minutes ago tonight the Taliban spokesperson denied any interest of perusing a transitional state. This is simultaneous with fleeing of the president, national security councilor Hamdullah Mohib, and the director of the president’s Administrative office. Kabul Airport is now guarded by the US troops; however, it is rumored in social media that the airport is surrounded by the Taliban. The city is full of random firearms being discharged. The Taliban have called it thugs and thieves who are trying to use the panic for their favor; the Taliban had also freed thousands of convicted criminals; 3000 form Herat, 1000 form Balkh and now an undetermined number form Pulcharkhi prison in Kabul.
Economically speaking revenue generation in the most parts of the country is almost to nothing. The governmental offices and businesses are not working due to the panic. Yesterday Afghanistan’s money worth took a dive against USD from 1USD being 81-83 AFs to 1USD being 100 AFs. There are many contributing factors to this, needless to mention the ongoing conflict, however the knockout punch to the monetary worth of Afghan currency was thrown by the members of the parliament. As most of the representatives are fleeing the country they withdrew significant amounts of money from banks and then exchanged it in Saray-e-Shahzada (the biggest currency exchange market) which led to lacking of USD in the market. There is a huge possibility of insolvency for large banks of the country as the populace are withdrawing cash in masses. This has also impacted the cost of essentials in the country – for instance, the fuel price has nearly tripled.
The war has displaced more than 20 thousand to Kabul. The UN and most other Agencies have only taken into account the number of displaced people that have nowhere to go and are now living in central parts of Kabul in tents, mainly in Saray-e-Shamali and Shahr-e-now Park, however, the true numbers are much higher as most of people have relatives in the city and are staying with them, I have encountered tens of people who have more than 10 to 20 people in their house. That being said, if the banks cannot provide liquidity very soon and that the value of AFs is not controlled against USD and that the displaced people are not provided with essential there might be human catastrophe in the very near future.
The schools and universities are closed in most parts of the country despite being said by Taliban that they are not against girls and boy going to school all the same. However, the unreasonable conditions and numerous means of discouragement will lead to the inevitable deprivation of education for students specially girls, as they believe (and I quote form a documentary that was recently made) “we are in support of education for girls but its better if they work as a doctor or as teacher for women”.
In the legal sector, the courts are not active right now. The National Legal Training Center, Kabul University and most of other universities were open in today’s morning in the country. Most of the legal programs were funded by the US and Canada, and in some projects by Germany through GIZ. This has gotten everyone worried if the Taliban finds out about people who were engaged in these programs and god forbid, if they worked there. That being said, the Taliban has shown flexibility and has spread an immunity letter for government employees and military officers and soldiers. However; there have been incidents of people being shot with their immunity letters. This is being compared to the yellow star Jewish people had to wear. Overall, what one would have expected, but this is just maybe the calm before the storm.