Afghanistan dispatches: ‘I finally reached USA. I am safe but not OK.” – JURIST

JURIST EXCLUSIVE – Law students and lawyers in Afghanistan are filing reports with JURIST on the situation there after the fall of Kabul to the Taliban. Here, an Afghan  lawyer who recently evacuated to the United States offers his observations and perspective. For privacy and security reasons we are withholding his name. The text has been only lightly edited to respect the author’s voice.

I am an Afghan lawyer who graduated from Herat University of Afghanistan in 2017. On behalf of the country I attended several international moot court competition programs and debate tournaments held in Hong Kong, Kuwait, Cairo and Dubai. As the results of these achievements, I started working in the government of Afghanistan in 2018, handling legal issues. Our team was also responsible for coordination between the government, international donors and embassies in Kabul.

I liked my job and I felt great every morning when I went to the office, since I was working for my government and the nation. In each assignment, our mission was to avoid and eradicate any misconduct in the implementation of contracts and projects, drafting soft and sustainable legal policies, combatting fake claims on behalf of the government and overall saving money for the country.

I used to spend every day from morning till evening in the office except Friday, which is a holiday in Afghanistan. I enjoyed working for the nation. I remember the good feelings that came to us after each successful negotiation with the private sector, international organizations and donors. Our country was really developing on a very fast track. Everything was going great.

The Taliban started to capture the provinces from July. I thought that their attacks and efforts would be pushed back and managed by our national forces and armies. So, I didn’t think about it and focused on my work. I believed in our national army, their abilities and morale.

I was in my office on August 14 when I heard that the Taliban had arrived at the Kabul city gates. I thought, “it’s just a rumor”, and I went back to my work. But it was reality. On August 15, I was advised to not go to the office since my office was in a very sensitive place. I stayed home. I went to a shopping center to buy the daily needs. Then I was shocked when I saw people in the area rushing about and screaming for everyone to go home. And everyone was going home. No bus, No taxi and no other vehicles. Everyone was running. Men, women and children! I got home after 3 hours on a route that should have been only 15 minutes distance from the shopping center. I hadn’t seen such traffic jams and rush in my life before.

Kabul fell and was captured by the Taliban. President Ghani fled the country. Everyone and everything was lost. The city was in a big mess!

I had applied for US immigation on a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) in 2019. I received an email to present myself at the Kabul airport gate 4 days after Kabul fall. I had to leave the country. It was everyone’s advice to do this. I gave up the life I made and had. I borrowed some money, as no bank and no bazars were open. I arrived at the airport gate at 9 pm that night. Thousands of people were at the gate and screaming for help. The Taliban were in charge and were controlling the lines behind the gate. The whole thing looked unreal to me. I didn’t think I could cross the gate, but I managed to get in after spending a night outside incurring so many difficulties. I then spent two nights in the airport. Thousands of people were still at the gates and most of them don’t have proper documents to let them enter into the airport.

I finally reached USA. Now I am safe but not okay and sound. I am safe but extremely concerned about my family. I am safe but still shocked. I used to read in history books stories of how countries fall, but I never thought I would see such a thing in my life. I never thought about how dangerous a government’s end could be. Such falls must create the most calamity, the greatest sadness and the most catastrophe in people’s lives.

Building a nation can be challenging and can take years, but destroying one takes just a few hours.