Afghanistan: Inside a surreal journey from the Pakistani border to Taliban-controlled Kabul

The porch acts as an office and a bedroom, which is very convenient because since it became of the Taliban The informant who sorted out the issues and allowed journalists to visit the border with Pakistan, Supranullah – who like many rural Afghans uses only one name – was criticized. He had a convoy of trucks loaded with cargo three miles long back waiting to leave Afghanistan at the Torkham border crossing.

When we entered his world, he was scribbling details relayed in a notebook by an armed subordinate. Dressed in camouflage, the commander walks barefoot despite the rain, works at a low table and sits on his kot, a traditional bed.

“Who do you know in Kabul?” he asks. “Zabihullah Mujahid,” we replied, naming the Taliban spokesman. A young Taliban member, holding a gun, quipped, “That’s the right answer.”

And so began our bizarre, and in some moments, terrifying adventure from the Khyber Pass to Pakistan’s Kabul.

Back in the 1990s, when I told of the Taliban’s war to take over the whole country, I was amazed at the amount of former Soviet military hardware left behind in their 1989 retreat. It was the strangest thing to see the white Taliban flags now fluttering from the tattered sandbags and the tired-looking Hesco fences that not so long ago surrounded the perimeter of Afghanistan’s empire. America.

We passed crumbling outposts, the vast Jalalabad airstrip, and several former US bases. I have flown Black Hawk helicopter missions to and from some of these bases where US forces were involved, even seeing a US Afghan drone take off in Jalalabad. Now, as I survey the abandoned huts and communication towers, it’s as if I step back in time before the September 11, 2001, al Qaeda attacks that fueled the decades-long war. America here.

The war with the Americans is still fresh in the minds of many Taliban members, but even with victory, some like Commander Supranullah and his men appear poised to re-align, albeit with the potential doubt.

Road to Kabul

You can feel billions of US dollars being spent here on the roads. Compared to before U.S. forces first arrived in late 2001, the 230 km (140 mi) journey from the border to Kabul should have been a gentle one – the runway was smooth all the way. Without the barrier, it could be a five-hour drive.

The roads were busy as we reached Kabul, huge trucks snaking their way through the treacherous passes, young men driving dangerously in and out of the busy lanes, Minivans and taxis crammed with young families on board, cautiously giving them time. None of them are rushing to the border.

Compared to previous years, this is a country that remains bustling with chaotic charm despite the economic uncertainties it faces. We drove through the markets hearing vendors trying to shout at each other, selling freshly baked corn, fried fish, sweets, grapes, pomegranates and delicious long flatbreads hot from the open oven.

What is absent in the midst of the commotion are women. The Taliban have warned them to stay indoors and many seem to have noticed them. Only in truly rural places can women be seen – and even then only a few and gathered together.

A group of about half a dozen women, in brightly colored shawls, wore bundles of yellowed corn on their heads as they strode down the path. Another group of tiny women covered in abayas, black cloaks obscuring their bodies, risking each other only for protection.

Without the opportunity to stop and talk to them, in our attempt to get to Kabul before nightfall, it is difficult to know how they feel about Taliban rule. How regime change is changing lives in remote, culturally conservative communities is inevitable. But what is certain is that the rights and freedoms that came from the Western-backed government are gone.

He is on the FBI's most wanted list and is currently a key member of the new Taliban government

The Taliban’s security ties are very close. Driving through a busy market in a small town, we were stopped by an armed man stepping out of the crowd. He asked to know who we were, what we were doing and where we were going. We explained, as we did to Commander Supranullah, that we were allowed to travel to the Taliban and show him the documents we would be provided with.

It’s not enough. Within minutes, we were kicked out, he said for further questioning. As they were driving us out of town at high speed, it seemed unclear who they were and where we were being taken. The problem was resolved fairly quickly by calls to the Taliban Command in Kabul. But what is clear is that weeks after the militants took power, the security situation under the Taliban remains very stable.

Our few minutes of wondering what will happen next are insignificant besides the fear many Afghans have to live with every day. Just because we can’t see it on our drive, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

CNN’s Ingrid Formanek contributed to this report.


Source link


News7h: Update the world's latest breaking news online of the day, breaking news, politics, society today, international mainstream news .Updated news 24/7: Entertainment, the World everyday world. Hot news, images, video clips that are updated quickly and reliably

Related Articles

Back to top button