What daily life in Afghanistan looks like, 1 year after the Taliban takeover : NPR

DANIEL ESTRIN, HOST:

Afghanistan has experienced momentous change since the Taliban took control nearly one year ago. There’s food insecurity and economic crisis, and education is off-limits to girls 13 to 18 years old. NPR’s Diaa Hadid is in Kabul. And a quick warning that we’re going to hear gunfire in this conversation.

Thank you so much for joining us, Diaa.

DIAA HADID, BYLINE: Thank you, Daniel.

ESTRIN: What have you seen in Kabul?

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HADID: Well, today we just came back from a protest held by women on a Kabul street. This is rare. They were marking what’s nearly the first year of the Taliban’s rule by demanding their freedoms. And they were chanting, have a listen.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Chanting in Non-English language).

HADID: They’re shouting on a main street of Kabul, bread, work, freedom, political participation. It’s remarkable because the Taliban have harshly clamped down on dissent since they seized power. And, in fact, they disperse this protest after just a few minutes by firing in the air. This is what it sounded like.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUN SHOTS)

HADID: And, you know, this isn’t the first time they’ve used guns to end protests, but this was unusual. It was heavy firing. It came from multiple gunmen. But just a street away, life was continuing. And that life is hard for many people. You can see laborers sleeping in their wheelbarrows by the side of the road, waiting for work. There’s people begging everywhere – men, women and children. They’re hungry.

ESTRIN: Wow. Those are vivid images. How are the Taliban governing?

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HADID: Well, the one big achievement of the Taliban after a year has largely held, and that is by winning this conflict and driving out American forces. They’ve ended decades of war in Afghanistan. But they mostly shied away from the media since the strike on the al-Qaida leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in Kabul. Let’s not forget, it was al-Qaida that carried out the 9/11 attacks and the reason why the U.S. invaded Afghanistan almost 20 years ago. And we can see that security is deteriorating. There’s been ISIS attacks in Kabul. And in addition to that, the economy is in tatters. There’s a hunger crisis. And those problems are likely to continue because the international community has placed sanctions on the government that’s crippled commerce and trade here.

ESTRIN: Yeah. Many countries refuse to recognize the Taliban government.

HADID: Yeah, that’s right. And the international community’s unlikely to recognize them any time soon because hardliners in the Taliban are increasingly dominating decision-making. And they’re refusing to budge on the most basic international demands, like letting all girls go to secondary school. So for now, the U.N. is largely keeping Afghanistan afloat by spending billions of dollars on food aid. They say they’ll need more money to prevent famine this winter, but donors appear unwilling to engage because of the Taliban’s refusal to budge on so many issues.

ESTRIN: Very briefly, how are the Taliban supporters feeling right now?

HADID: Well, you know, they say the Taliban takeover is this David versus Goliath victory. And they’re happy that, in their view, the country has an Islamic government. But even there, there is criticism. Many Taliban loyalists are worried that the government’s mismanagement could squander their victory.

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ESTRIN: NPR’s Diaa Hadid in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Thank you so much for this reporting.

HADID: You’re welcome, Daniel.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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