In Kabul’s uncertain present, fear and dread intertwine in a vise. Fear has become a way of life.
“When you’re in the car you feel fear, when you are walking you feel fear, and when you are in the shop you feel fear,” said Shamsullah Amini, a 22-year-old shopkeeper, while watching over his vats of dried grains and beans in the Taimani neighborhood. “If there was any security at all, we wouldn’t all be thinking about leaving the country.”
“Fear is omnipresent,” said Muqaddesa Yourish, an executive at a leading communications firm. “It’s gone from a state of fear to a state of being.”
Fear has long been part of life in Kabul, with the possibility of sudden death from a Taliban strike. But these days — even as the Afghan government tries to negotiate peace with the Taliban — there is a heightened sense that life is fragile here. With the Taliban active in most of the country and almost daily reports of government forces beaten back, there are new questions about whether a grim return to extremist rule is on the near horizon.
On Sunday morning gunmen killed two female judges on a street in a central Kabul neighborhood. The women worked for Afghanistan’s Supreme Court. Shaharzad Akbar, the chairwoman of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, wrote on Twitter afterward that the country is suffering “what seems to be a systematic massacre & the world seems to be just watching.”
In the first two weeks of January, bombs went off in several Kabul neighborhoods; a car bomb killed a government spokesman and two others; and a police officer, a military pilot, a soldier and a member of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency were all gunned down, according to a New York Times report. The list is not exhaustive. [Continue reading…]