Kabul’s former diplomatic quarter fell silent on Monday as foreign missions were moved to the airport, giving Taliban patrols control of the reinforced zone of concrete blast walls and checkpoints known as the Green Zone.
With the police and security officers who once guarded the embassies in the Wazir Akbar Khan district now gone, some motorists were forced to get out of their cars and clear the security barriers themselves before driving through.
“It’s strange to sit here and see empty streets, no more crowded diplomatic convoys, big cars with guns mounted,” said Gul Mohammed Hakim, one of the city’s ubiquitous naan (bread) makers who owns a shop nearby. has.
“I will bake bread here, but will make very little money. The guards who were my friends are gone.”
A few blocks from the now-abandoned British embassy, a Taliban patrol entered the grounds of Tolo News, Afghanistan’s largest private broadcaster that has lost several journalists over the years to Taliban attacks.
“So far they are polite and ask about our weapons (from the security team),” Saad Mohseni, head of Moby Group, which owns the station, said on Twitter. “They have also agreed to keep the compound safe”.
Elsewhere in the city, an atmosphere of shocked fear reigned among many former government officials and civil rights activists, completely taken aback by the city’s lightning strike and President Ashraf Ghani’s flight.
“No one could believe it would go so fast,” said a former government official, who is now hiding in a friend’s house. “They took Kabul in five hours!”
“Everyone I know, all civil society people, ministers, deputy ministers, just feel lost. They either hide or wait,” he said.
The victorious insurgents have pledged not to retaliate against former government officials and a Taliban leader said his fighters had been “ordered to allow Afghans to resume their daily activities and do nothing to frighten civilians”.
“Normal life will go on in a much better way, that’s all I can say now,” he told Reuters via Whatsapp.
But many people were already adjusting to the new reality and expected a return to the customs of the previous period of Taliban rule between 1996-2001, when men were not allowed to trim their beards and women were forced to wear the all-encompassing burqa robe in the public.
“My first concern was growing my beard and how to grow it quickly,” Hakim said. “I also checked with my wife whether there were enough burqas for her and the girls.”
On the city’s Chicken Street, loved by western hippie tourists in the 1970s, dozens of shops selling carpets, crafts, and jewelry, as well as small cafes, were closed.
Sherzad Karim Stanekzai, who owns a carpet and textile shop, said he decided to sleep in his shop with shutters to protect his goods.
“I am in a complete state of shock. The Taliban who came in scared me, but (President Ashraf) Ghani who left us all in this situation was the worst,” he said.
“I have lost three brothers in seven years in this war, now I must protect my cause.”
He said he had no idea where his next customers would come from. “I know there will be no foreigners, no international people who will come to Kabul now.”
(This story was not edited by NewsMadura staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)