Reporters describe 'palpable fear' in Afghanistan as Taliban continues to sweep across the country

The US presence in Afghanistan, usually lamented because the “forgotten war,” is entrance of thoughts proper now. The lead story on the house web page is “Afghanistan collapse accelerates as 2 vital cities near fall to Taliban.” CNN’s live updates page is titled “US to send troops to help evacuate personnel in Afghanistan.” And the troop deployment was the lead throughout all of the community nightly newscasts on Thursday night. ABC’s David Muir: “The State Department saying today this is not an evacuation, but at this hour, that’s exactly what this looks like.”
A small variety of correspondents for Western information retailers are in Afghanistan and are giving voice to the residents there. For instance, CNN’s chief worldwide correspondent Clarissa Ward filed a report from Kandahar final weekend. Flash ahead a number of days, and she says “the wedding hall we visited… is now under Taliban control.”

Ward reported from Kabul on Thursday and described pleas for assist from Afghans who labored with the US coalition and now concern Taliban retaliation. “I’m getting messages every hour now” from involved people, she mentioned, with one man even threatening to face in entrance of the US Embassy and set himself on hearth if he does not hear again about his paperwork quickly. “There’s absolutely a sense of palpable fear and near-panic in the capital right now,” Ward mentioned.

The CBS and NBC nightly newscasts additionally carried stay stories from Kabul. “The mood here is grim,” Roxana Saberi mentioned on CBS. On NBC, Kelly Cobiella interviewed a former interpreter for the US army who fears for his household. “Thank you and stay safe,” Lester Holt instructed Cobiella.

What’s it like elsewhere within the nation? The BBC’s Secunder Kermani filed a report about “life in a town taken by the Taliban in Afghanistan,” that includes his interviews with Taliban members in Balkh, not removed from Mazar-e Sharif. And the WSJ has a narrative in Friday’s print version titled “Afghans Tell of Executions, Forced ‘Marriages’ in Taliban-Held Areas.”

Dreaded photographs

Megan Stack, a contributor to The New Yorker, is my visitor on this week’s “Reliable” podcast. As we recorded the episode on Thursday, new headlines saved crossing the wire in regards to the Taliban taking management of Herat, the nation’s third largest metropolis.
In the episode, we mentioned Stack’s recent article about the Pentagon’s “de-facto press blackout” through the Afghan withdrawal this summer time. Stack additionally analyzed the Taliban’s advances and the concern of a “Fall of Saigon” second. “It is possible that we will end up seeing people, in fact, getting evacuated by helicopter off the roof of the embassy, which is exactly the image that came out at the end of Vietnam and which has haunted the US through this whole withdrawal process,” she mentioned.

>> Pentagon officers “know that any photograph that looks sort of unvictorious, that looks like ‘giving up’ and kind of quitting — which, of course, is in fact what the US is doing — it’s also something that might be useful to some foreign adversaries,” she added. “It’s useful for Taliban propaganda…”

>> Stack additionally mirrored on 20 years of Afghan conflict protection: “I found it very difficult to reconcile how little the US public does seem to understand or engage with the extent of what’s happened and what our government has done. I find that very jarring, especially because I gave so many years of my life and I have friends who died covering those stories, and it’s sort of frustrating. I feel like people have done great coverage over the years and it just hasn’t quite penetrated.”

>> Check out our dialog via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, or your most popular podcasting app…

Then versus now

This is the start of Jeanne Bourgault and Ahmed Rashid’s guest essay for The New York Times: “Twenty years ago, Afghanistan was an information desert. Under the Taliban, there were no independent media outlets. There were no female journalists. There was no public debate. The voices of ordinary people were silenced and sidelined. Taliban edicts served as ‘news.'” But “over the next two decades, that completely changed,” they wrote. “Today, vibrant networks of radio, television and online media reach all 34 provinces.” They described how the worldwide group “can help Afghans preserve their media.”
Along those self same traces, Committee to Protect Journalists exec director Joel Simon penned a Washington Post op-ed urging the US to intervene to save lots of the lives of Afghan journalists. Otherwise, he wrote, “an entire generation of reporters will be lost.” It already appears to be occurring…

Prayers and fears for Afghan journalists

Due to the Taliban’s advances, “over 90 media outlets have closed down and concern for the safety of the country’s journalists has increased levels,” VOA reported on Wednesday.
An nameless feminine journalist in northern Afghanistan penned this chilling piece for The Guardian after the Taliban took management of her metropolis: “Last week I was a news journalist. Today I can’t write under my own name or say where I am from or where I am. My whole life has been obliterated in just a few days.”

“All my female colleagues in the media are terrified,” the nameless journalist wrote. She mentioned “all I can do is keep running and hope that a route out of the province opens up soon. Please pray for me.”

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