Kabul’s rapid fall was powerfully illustrated yesterday, August 16, as crowds in Afghanistan made a desperate attempt to flee the country. Heartbreaking, spine-chilling videos played out on screens across the globe — hundreds of people running, hopelessly scrambling up a ladder to board a parked plane, and running alongside an American Military aircraft that was about to take off.
Clinging onto the aircraft’s wheels, at least two people spiralled down from the sky, taking their last breath. As hundreds tried to flee, gunfire echoed in the background.
Every image, every video, seems unreal, surreal as if they are scenes from a movie or pages of a novel coming alive. The harsh truth, however, is that this is the reality that has engulfed an entire nation — a nation left alone by its main backers and captured by the Taliban.
The day ended, and night fell, by which at least seven people had reportedly lost their lives amid the chaos at the airport. The airport building housed faces laced with terror, with anguish, desperation and despair in the air, with people hoping against hope to flee the country.
Some said that the Taliban would not hurt anyone. But the visuals from the morning told a different story.
Even after dark, several men, women and children walked towards the airport with bags and essentials. Outside the terminal, armoured vehicles with Taliban fighters blocked access to those who gathered. Occasionally, intimidating gunshots were fired in the air to scare the already terrified, helpless people.
Afghanistan has fallen to the Taliban. They have already taken over the presidential palace. They have rechristened the country as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
US-backed President Ashraf Ghani has resigned and fled. He says he wants peace and does not wish to witness bloodshed.
The common people of the country, however, have little choice.
Women have no choice but to stay at home, covered in a burqa from head to toe. They cannot go out without the company of a male relative; they cannot work or study. If they defy the rules, they will be met with a gun to the forehead.
There is chaos all around—mayhem reigns. People are running, screaming, crying, trying to flee, and dying.
Something that Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini has recently written seems to echo all the time: “Perhaps the Taliban have changed, some say. But have they? The coming days, weeks, and months will go a long way toward answering that question.”