White flags of the Taliban, cleanliness, armed people everywhere, the usual seething of street life, but women are practically invisible – this is what the capital of Afghanistan looks like now. The RIA Novosti correspondent assessed with his own eyes the situation at the airport and in Kabul itself a month after the Taliban came to power.
The work is debugged
At the main terminal of the Kabul airport there are planes of local airlines. A little further off is the Mahan Air Iraqi passenger plane, which arrived a few minutes earlier than the Pakistani plane. The PIA plane, on which the RIA Novosti correspondent flew in, is greeted by airport employees in the usual Taliban clothes with a yellow vest over the top.
Before releasing the passengers, and there were seven of them on board, the airline employee hands over the list with their names and closes the plane door. Passengers wait about fifteen minutes, and then everything is as usual: a bus to the terminal and passport control.
The border guards, in their “pre-Taliban” clothes, slowly receive each passenger. From Tehran, unlike the flight from Pakistan, several dozen people arrived, including entire families with children.
After an hour of waiting – a stamp in the passport and a greeting from the border guard in English: “Welcome to the Islamic emirate”. An airport employee with a suitcase already loaded onto a trolley meets the luggage near the luggage belt.
On the territory of the airport there is almost no one, several SUVs and Taliban with weapons, white flags with shahada (an inscription in Arabic about belief in the one Allah) are everywhere, indicating who is the boss in Kabul.
The promise of change
As you drive through the endless streets, you will see armed people at intersections and Taliban flags everywhere, the streets are very clean, even in very crowded places.
“Visually, little has changed in the city. But it has become much cleaner. The streets are cleaned every day and, it seems, not only in the morning,” says the attendant, apparently realizing that a flurry of questions will now fall down.
He says that after the arrival of the Taliban, the streets were very empty for the first two or three weeks. According to the escort, people were afraid to take to the streets. Many of the older generation remember the brutal behavior of the Taliban twenty years ago and do not yet believe that anything could change.
Afghans still have little faith in the promises of the new government. The Taliban, leading an offensive on Kabul, during the summer, simultaneously appeared continuously in all world media, declaring about the rights of women, the rejection of the previous radical methods of governing the country and the intention to establish a peaceful life in Afghanistan, where all peoples, including representatives of the Shiite confession, will feel comfortable. – Hazaras, who were executed in the past by the Taliban in the thousands.
“People have already relaxed a little, at least in Kabul. And street life has boiled again, just like a couple of months ago,” the agency’s interlocutor continues to say while the car is in an endless traffic jam in the old city area.
The streets adjacent to the old town resemble a large spontaneous market. Anything can be bought on the side of the road. The economic situation in the country is very difficult, most people do not receive salaries yet and cannot withdraw funds from their bank accounts. To survive at home or to leave the country, people sell everything they have at home, from slippers to washing machines and carved wood furniture. True, there are almost no buyers.
It got harder for women
“Life has become harder. There is no work, women, despite all promises, have no rights either. It is very difficult and scary for the future,” says Sabrina Mohammad, a Russian citizen living in Kabul. She met her husband in Rostov and moved to his homeland, deciding to stay with her family, despite the uncertainty that awaited with the arrival of not the most democratic government.
Local residents note that the crime rate has dropped significantly in the city.
Demonstration videos on the Internet, where the Taliban are beating pickpockets with a hose, have yielded results. But also the dismissive attitude towards the weaker sex greatly influenced the presence of women in public places. Girls prefer to stay at home and not be seen by armed people.
The future is hazy
The moderate mood of the new Afghan government objectively raises doubts in the international community. At the same time, most of the ministers are on the UN sanctions list. The head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs has been appointed the head of the radical terrorist group Al-Haqqani, which has repeatedly glorified itself with its atrocities. At the same time, representatives of the Taliban continue to convince everyone that there will be no more terror and, moreover, there are all forces and means to fight the threat of terrorist groups IS and Al-Qaeda, which reminded of themselves by the terrorist attack in Kabul the other day and two terrorist attacks in Hairaton.
There are still more questions than answers on the topic of the future of Afghanistan. The humanitarian and economic situation is only getting worse, despite the official reopening of the Kabul international airport and the liveliness on the streets of the capital, it will take a long time until the population can overcome fear and continue living if the new government allows them.