Afghan journalist Bilal Sarwary began his career in 2001 covering the US bombing of Afghanistan and the subsequent fall of the Taliban. Never in the 20 years since did he think that Kabul would fall for the Islamist terrorist group again, he said.
Fearing reprisals, Sarwary and his family were evacuated to Qatar with more than 150 other people, including other journalists and artists, a few days before the deadly Islamic State suicide attack outside Kabul airport.
“For me personally, it was 20 years of burying my life, my dreams, my network of friends, my home. So it was perhaps the most painful journey of my life,” he told Reuters in Doha, where he nearly died. arrived a week ago. .
“Even in my wildest dreams I didn’t believe that this would happen, that we would suddenly be forced to leave,” he said. “We were all on that plane, we weren’t there to tell the story… this time we were the ones who had to flee.”
Sarwary, who fled Afghanistan as a child during the civil war in the 1990s, said he lost contact with three friends who were outside the airport with their families on Thursday.
“They told me they were all waiting in the sewers and it shows how desperate the circumstances are to leave. While I was talking to them, suddenly the explosion happened,” he said.
The United States said Friday that the coming days of an evacuation operation that has evacuated more than 100,000 people in the past two weeks are likely to be the most dangerous.
Mariam Sayar, who arrived in Doha four days ago with her mother, sisters and her brother and his family, said she was lucky but sad for those who could not leave. She said she left for fear of reprisals for working with US-funded projects while her siblings worked for international media and aid organizations.
“We have no hope that the Taliban will ever be able to rule Afghanistan,” said Sayar, who said he was devastated when the group lowered the national flag in a park in Kabul.
“We are appalled that the educated people are coming out of Afghanistan right now, at a time when my country needs us, we have to stay in our country, we have to work and serve our country, but everyone is in a situation where they have to leave Afghanistan.”
Her brother Ahmed Sayar, 32, said Kabul became a “ghost town” when the Taliban entered, with people afraid to go out. His family waited 12 hours at the Kabul airport to leave.
“We’re glad we at least got out of it… but at the same time we feel very concerned and very bad for the people trapped in Kabul,” he said.
Sarwary fears Afghanistan will face bloodshed and economic hardship without a functioning government. Countries must find a way to deal with the Taliban, whose biggest challenge now is the transition from “fighting to governance,” he said.
Together with his parents, wife and daughter Sola, whose name means peace, Sarwary is now waiting for a Canadian visa.
“I’d like to think we’d go back because of (of) our love affair with Afghanistan… That’s a hope I think I’ll stick with,” he said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)