A crowd crouching on the wing of a plane as it taxies down the runway, one of them recording the moment on a cellphone — a new video has emerged that starkly captures the desperation of Afghans to leave the country that will now be run by Taliban. It is doubtful if any of them survived. The fall of at least one person from the aircraft’s wing yesterday was recorded in videos from the ground.
Women, children and especially people who helped the western forces that occupied the country for the last 20 years, have been frantic to leave, convinced that their lives are at risk if they remain. Though the Taliban, cultivating a softer image this time, has announced a general amnesty, not many have been assured.
From Sunday evening, as the Taliban entered Kabul and the elected government collapsed, people have been making a beeline for the airport — the only exit point of the landlocked nation.
Scaling walls and fences, thousands have entered the airport, desperate to board an outgoing flight.
Most have not succeeded — the Taliban airspace was shut and few planes took off. A shot of more than 600 people huddled on the floor of a US Air Force plane — far more than the aircraft can carry — made headlines.
The new cellphone video — shot by the people hanging onto the wing of what appeared to be the same aircraft — showed thousands more lining the runway.
Many US officials, who experienced first-hand the fear of Afghan allies during their posting in the country, have criticised the State Department for delaying the process of evacuating translators, interpreters and others.
While President Biden decided in mid-April to pull out all US troops by the end of August, the State Department — which has sole authority to grant visas — set up an ad hoc structure to get these to former interpreters and others to safety much later.
India has assured that it would stand by its friends in Afghanistan who need help.
At a meeting of the Cabinet Committee of Security this evening, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had repeated the assurance.
“India must not only protect our citizens, but also provide refuge to Sikh and Hindu minorities who want to come to India. We must also provide all possible help to our Afghan brothers and sisters who are looking towards India for assistance,” an official privy to the proceedings quoted PM Modi as saying.