Hiding from Taliban hit squads: Former Afghan official describes ordeal, anger at US

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With a Taliban hit squad out to target them, former Afghan government officials are scared for their safety and lying low.

One such official texted the independent, non-profit US news website NPR that he was not safe.

“I don’t know what will happen with me,” he said.

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He is one of many who are hiding or gone into exile following the chaotic takeover of the capital by the Taliban, as the US and their Western-allied forces withdraw from the country after two decades of fighting the extremist group.

With Afghan President Ashraf Ghani slipping out on Sunday, the Taliban are out to reestablish their rule over the violence-marred country, and the officials who assisted in the former Afghanistan national government are fearful.

The top government officials, who spoke to NPR on phone, said that “they don’t make frequent phone calls to family or anyone else to avoid detection.”

They said that the Taliban is “patrolling neighborhoods in Afghan cities and even going door to door hunting for government loyalists in some places.”

In the city where this ex-official is hiding in, there is “occasional gunfire in the streets.”

The officials said the plan was to hide “step by step,” changing their plans every day.

Members of Taliban forces sit at a checkpost in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 17, 2021. (Reuters)
Members of Taliban forces sit at a checkpost in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 17, 2021. (Reuters)

When asked about the security provided by the earlier Afghan government, they said as the Taliban entered Kabul, the whole machinery evaporated, with the situation “getting worse day by day.”

They also said the fact was that Ghani's escape has pu the onus on the Taliban. Had it not happened, the extremist group “would have forced the president to resign to pave the way for the group to assume control.” the source said.

That would have been far more damaging to Afghanistan and suited Taliban more than Ghani seeking refuge abroad, they believe.

This ex-official puts the main blame at the US, saying that if the American forces had warned the Taliban not to come into Kabul, the militants would not have stormed in.

Afghans, including this source, are now “becoming more and more angry” at what has developed and hold the US responsible, they said.

Although, Taliban officials are projecting an outward stance of civility and promise of a peaceful transfer of power sans revenge on the Afghan people, the former official does not buy into this, nor their promise that schools will reopen and girls will be welcome.

He pointed to videos circulating on social media of bodies in the streets of Afghan cities of Kandahar and Ghazni after the Taliban took over.

The former officials said the Taliban is devoid of “any capacity [to run a country].”

On the other hand, their rules involve violence, killing, and threatening people.

And the former official said that patriots like him who seek a country with a constitution and rule of law will be at the top of Taliban’s hit list, becoming more vulnerable even as the last of the international evacuation flights take off.

After their bitter experience, they do not look at the United States as a safe haven.

“I don’t want help from America,” they said, preferring to die in their home country while under siege.

But the former official looked to get out of Afghanistan for some time, seeking a visa and safe passage to any European country.

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