Tuesday, January 18

First commercial flight arrives in Kabul from Pakistan with only ten passengers

Special Envoy to Kabul



The international airport of Acceptance has received the first international commercial flight in the history of the ’emirate’. A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane has landed after ten in the morning on the runway of the Afghan capital and the Taliban have claimed victory again, this time for being able to reactivate the airport only 13 days after the chaotic withdrawal of the United States. Inside the flight from Islamabad they have barely disembarked ten people, “Diplomatic staff”, according to airport sources consulted.

A few hours after the plane took off, there have been 70 passengers that it has taken to the Pakistani capital, most of them Afghans who are relatives of personnel from international organizations such as the World Bank, the AFP agency reported. It is a symbolic first flight since at the moment there are no tickets for sale, nor have a schedule and frequency been established for the journey.

Since the arrival of the ’emirate’, the airport has ceased to be called Hamid Karzai and the Taliban have removed the red heart from the I LOVE KABUL poster that welcomed travelers. Nothing remembers in the entrances the dramatic scenes of an evacuation that managed to remove 120,000 people in just two weeks, but that left thousands and thousands on the ground. The Taliban have called on former government officials, including women, to go back to work.

At the checkpoints there are once again uniformed members of the former security forces, but they are unarmed and always consult with a Taliban before allowing a person or vehicle to enter. The Islamists are heavily armed. The only responsibility that the former members of the security and that the Taliban delegate is that of use the dogs that detect explosives that left the United States abandoned. “This is called Bo and he is very good, he always expects you to pet him,” says a young ex-military man as he strokes a large German shepherd whom the Taliban look at with a mixture of disgust and indifference.

Double administration

Once all the controls have been passed, the duplicity is repeated within the terminal offices. Former officials crowd outside offices where ’emirate’ appointed mullahs make decisions. The new director of the airport is the from Abdul Hadi Hamdan and his office is a large room overlooking the main court in which fifteen people wait seated in armchairs to be attended by the religious. The mullah sits in a leather chair, in front of a table with a keyboard, but there is no computer to be seen anywhere. “It is a great day for the Emirate, the help from Qatar has been important to reactivate the airport, as has also been that of Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan. Now that we have a connection with Islamabad, we hope to also receive airplanes from these and more countries, “says this religious, wearing a brown turban and hiding his eyes behind dark glasses.

“The United States caused serious damage to some systems before leaving”

Between questions, people keep coming to the room, but the mullah remains attentive to the interview and wants to denounce that “the United States caused serious damage to some systems before leaving, we had to deploy 600 combatants as soon as their last plane took off to ensure the area, avoid looting and get to work as soon as possible. Thirteen days later, we managed to get a PIA flight to land ». The interview is cut off abruptly when Abdul Hadi Hamdan hears the translation of the question about if you have any previous experience managing airports. He gets up and leaves.

Help arrival

In addition to the arrival and departure of people, the airport is key to the entry of humanitarian aid that is more and more needed every day. The United Nations Development Program has warned that the percentage of people living below the poverty line could rise from 72 percent to 97 percent by the middle of next year if it is not reacted quickly.

“Food and medicine are scarce”

The Taliban are no strangers to the crisis they are suffering Afghanistan and the main spokesperson, Zabihula Mujahid, asked for help. The world should cooperate with us. Security has been maintained in the country and the people are in financial trouble; food and medicine are scarce, “claimed Mujahid in a statement made to the DPA agency. Islamists welcomed the UN-organized donor conference, which calls for $ 600 million (about 509 million euros) to respond to the emergency in Afghanistan. There is great mistrust of Islamists and donors do not believe their promises of “transparency”.

In addition to being the first to send a commercial plane to Kabul, the Pakistanis also came one more day to the diplomatic aid of the ’emirate’ and its Minister of the Interior, Rashid Ahmed, He warned that freezing the bank accounts of Afghan citizens will only help aggravate the current crisis. Ahmed reminded the international community that it would be “unfair” for the world to expect Afghanistan to “become a Scandinavian country in eight days.”

At the gates of the domestic terminal, three workers unload suitcase trolleys from a van that they place in order next to the ‘Arrivals’ sign. The Taliban take another step towards normalizing the ’emirate’, but they are absolutely dependent on their new allies to put two decades of American presence behind them.

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