Special Envoy to Kabul
“We are here to ensure your safety”, is the message of the first Taliban militiaman who receives this special envoy when crossing the Torkham pass that separates Pakistan from the Islamic ’emirate’ of Afghanistan. After inspecting the letter with the permission of the Ministry of Information and Culture and checking the luggage, the militiaman welcomes you to the ’emirate’ and repeats, once again, that “now it is possible to travel all over the country safely, they have finished the problems ». In the office, the main wall is deserted. On the ground, to the left, is the portrait of the former president, Ashraf Ghani, face down. The taliban They launched a new interim government, an Executive formed by the toughest wing of the movement
and its power extends throughout Afghanistan.
From the border to Acceptance 230 kilometers are traveled and the province of Nangarhar, one of the areas that always gave problems to international forces and where the Afghan arm of the jihadist group is based Daesh (Islamic States). The large bases occupied by NATO forces or the Afghan National Army are now semi-deserted. The sandbag walls, the sentry boxes and the large concrete blocks are the legacy of twenty years of a fiction that ended up vanishing as soon as the Taliban launched their offensive. Some flags of the previous Government continue to wave, but the banner that is now seen in the town squares is the white one of the ’emirate’.
The Taliban opt for two- or three-man checkpoints at strategic points. After two decades in the shadows, they have the power. The militiamen who used to sow terror on the roads throughout the country are now the forces of order. They are not dedicated to controlling traffic, which is a madness of trucks and cars passing each other on the right and left. Some carry old kalashnikovs on their shoulders, but most carry new American-made weaponry. The same goes for the vehicles, they have left their traditional white ‘pick up’ vans and now drive the green Ford of the old Police and the Humvees of the defunct Army.
The feeling in country towns like Hazar Now, Basawul or Samarkhel is absolutely normal. Nothing to do with the images of panic and chaos that came from Kabul after the victory of the ’emirate’. In large parts of the country, such as this southern area, the ’emirate’ had already ruled for years, but it remained in the shadows and has now come to light.
“Everything’s fine? We are here to make your way safe “, says a bearded young man in one of the stands before arriving at Jalalabad when asking for the documentation and seeing that there is a journalist in the car. The entrance to this city where the Kabul and Kunar rivers meet and which for centuries was the favorite of the Afghan kings is an eternal traffic jam due to the unlimited accumulation of small yellow tuc-tucs that make the route that leads to Kabul. You have to be patient to cross Jalalabad and from there head to the capital on a road that goes as far as the Tang-e Gharu gorge, in the middle of Hindukush, and winds the walls of bluish-gray limestone. The path goes up and up until it reaches the capital, which is 1,791 meters high. Right at the end of the port is the large checkpoint that must be passed to enter Kabul, but there is no special tension between the fighters deployed there either.
Upon arrival, the first large posters of the ’emirate’ begin to appear and white flags hang from each lamppost. The Taliban have fixed checkpoints in some streets, but they also have patrols that walk through the city. «There is security, but also mistrust. They have shown for twenty years that they are good fighters, but governing a country is something else and here there is a rejection of their ways, ”says Arsalan, a Spanish student at the University of Kabul, who has run out of friends because they have all left from the country.
“In this country, in addition to Pashtuns, there are Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras, Baluchs … they cannot form a government of Pashtuns and Taliban alone, without the presence of women, and think that the people of Kabul can accept it. They are going to have problems here, ”says this young man who has had to adapt his appearance to the new times and already wears an important beard. Unlike what happened at the end of the nineties, so far the Islamists have not imposed the beard, but everyone thinks that this measure will not be long in coming.
Restaurants, shops, malls… everything is open, but you see few people in central places like Shar-e-Naw and hardly any women. “There is a strange feeling in the environment and many prefer to go out as little as possible because they do not adapt to the ways of the Taliban,” explains Arsalan. As the sun goes down, few people disappear and Kabul is a black desert. Without public lighting and with electricity problems, the night is much more night. Only the Taliban remain, who do not lower their guard. It took twenty years to regain power and they grasp it with all their might.