Former Afghan government official asks for help, describes being caught off guard by the Taliban

A A senior former Afghan government official, in hiding in Kabul, described times when staff were caught off guard by the advancing Taliban as they pleaded with Britain for help to facilitate their escape.

Talk to The independent Through a translator, the high-ranking government source described how he lost hope for himself and his family and desperately tried to seek help from the British Embassy.

The worker, who was aware of the high-level discussions within the Afghan government, described how officials were surprised by the speed of the Taliban’s advance. “At no time did they think Kabul would fall like it did,” he said.

The manager now fears for his life and, while on the phone, family members have posted themselves at the windows looking for people approaching their hiding place.

He spoke of the disappointment and shame he felt at the fall of the Afghan government, saying: “We had the support of the international community but with inefficiency and corruption, among other things, we couldn’t benefit. We weren’t able to build it strong enough to keep it going. It’s something I’m ashamed of. “

Describing the period leading up to August 15, when the Taliban entered the capital, he said: “Initially, when the reports started, the Taliban just took over districts in different provinces. It had happened before but it was picking up speed, which was worrying.

“Then they started taking certain provinces. Again, it was worrying, but at no point did they think Kabul would fall like it did.

He was at a meeting of senior government officials on Sunday August 15 when they suddenly received a report that the Taliban had entered the city and were taking control. “Thousands of staff panicked and doors opened and people started to leave,” he said.

“A security guard advised officials to leave but they insisted on staying. Eventually, they realized that things had progressed and went home to be on the safe side.

“We heard while this was happening that there had been no fighting or resistance. We heard that Ashraf Ghani himself handed Kabul and everything to them. There was a plane that had landed at his home and he, along with his wife and key people, left, leaving everything to the Taliban.

The ousted Afghan president fled Kabul as he was overtaken by Taliban fighters and is now seeking refuge in the United Arab Emirates. He claimed on Facebook at the time that he chose to flee the country to avoid bloodshed in the capital, claiming that “countless patriots would be martyred and the city of Kabul would be destroyed” if he stayed. on the spot.

“It was a shock that even people at this level didn’t expect things to happen so quickly,” the source said. “Even senior government officials did not know the president would flee and the Taliban would take over. “

Left in a state of fear, abandoned by the president and his advisers, he detailed how he was afraid to go out and how he expected to lose his life if he wasn’t helped with an evacuation flight.

“Since the takeover my family and I have been in a constant state of stress and fear. It almost looks like five years have passed, ”he said.

“I was hoping that with a little outside help it would get us out, but it hasn’t worked out yet. I contacted the British Embassy but there was no response.

The official has a UK visa and has traveled frequently to the UK over the past decade. He had friends and family living in Britain and working with locals for over 12 years.

He said he tried to get to the airport for three days, going there and staying from morning till night with his family. “It’s pure chaos over there,” he said. “You can’t walk a mile near the gates and there are about 25,000 people around the airport.

“Before even approaching you, they shout at you. Even though I get an email ordering me to come to the airport for a flight, it is not at all clear how we will be able to approach the boarding gate, especially now. “

Since the official spoke to The independent, at least 90 people were killed in a bomb attack near Kabul airport. The attacks came hours after Western governments warned their citizens to stay away from the region. The attack was claimed by Isis-K, the Afghan branch of the Islamic State group.

Following the attacks, the source and his family are in a state of extreme stress and feel an even more urgent need to leave the country.

He is reluctant to attempt to escape across the land border as he is well known as a government official and some of his children do not have passports.

Describing Kabul’s problems, he said: “The economy is on the verge of collapse. Initially you could go and get money from the banks but now they only say $ 200 and even that is hard to get with queues around the banks.

People posing as members of the Taliban have stolen cars from people’s driveways, and because there is no government infrastructure, citizens find it difficult to obtain passports or documents.

He asked the Foreign Ministry for help, saying: “My whole family is in a state of paralysis. The whole city is in a state of emotional distress.

Britain is expected to complete its evacuation efforts by the end of Friday, leaving more than 1,000 people behind. The government enforces the Afghanistan Resettlement and Assistance policy for people who have supported British efforts in Afghanistan and lists Afghan government officials in priority groups for assistance. They are advised to call +44 2475 389 980.

A spokesperson for FCDO said: “More than 13,700 people, including British nationals, our Afghan staff and others at risk, have been evacuated from Afghanistan by the United Kingdom since Saturday August 14 in the part of one of the largest such operations in history.

“We will continue to do everything possible to honor our obligation to remove eligible British nationals and Afghans from the country as long as the security situation permits.”

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