Government officials, Nick, are trying to make sense of what the next coming weeks and months are going to mean for them.
They have spent the last months trying to make sure that they could secure the U.S. funding, that $4 billion a year for the Afghan security forces. But now they have much bigger concerns, whether or not they can hold any more ground against the Taliban.
And to a certain extent, some of the political leadership here has really gone to ground. And the president here, Ashraf Ghani, seems increasingly isolated in the palace.
Now, across Kabul, in the streets and in cafes and restaurants that we have been to today, there isn’t a sense of panic. People are getting on with their daily lives. But there’s a deep sense of fear whether or not the Taliban could come back here or whether or not they will see more of a civil war taking place and a new phase in this war.
And don’t forget, Nick, that the vast majority of the population here in Afghanistan are too young to remember Taliban rule. Their parents and grandparents remember Taliban rule. And many people deeply fear a return to that. And, in turn, you’re seeing a huge amount of them trying to get out of the country.
There’s also the important topic of what will happen for women here. And I have spoken to those who run women’s shelters across the country. And they have had to evacuate many of those shelters within territory that was about to or had fallen to the Taliban, and move vulnerable women, those who are being who are being helped because they’re coming from abusive situations or they have been released from jail, and they have children.
Many of those women who don’t have anywhere else to go have had to flee those shelters and move into government-controlled areas, which, as you well know, are becoming smaller and smaller.