Spencer Ackerman, Bilal Sarwari, Bilal discussed on Democracy Now


Afghans the way their country was about to be. We'll speak to Spencer Ackerman about his new book, Reign of Terror. How the 9 11 Era Destabilized America and produce Trump. All that and more coming up. This is democracy. Now. Democracy now dot org. The war in peace Report I'm Amy Goodman today. In this special broadcast. We begin with the long time Afghan journalist Bilal Sarwari. We spoke to below first on August 18th three days after the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan after the US backed Afghan president Ashraf Ghani. Fled the country. I began by asking Bilal about whether who was surprised the Taliban cease power before US troops withdrew from Afghanistan. Actually, I was trying to get a marriage certificate for me and my wife and we were trying to get a passport for newly Born daughter, So I had spoken to government officials the day before. Some of them are my friends. The next morning I was heading towards those offices when I heard that the presidential palace employees were told to leave. And the Presidential Protection Service, which is Afghanistan's equivalent of secret service at the time or taking up positions. So there was a lot of confusion and then in a matter of basically 30 minutes or so. We found out that the then President Bashar Bani was supposed to go to the minister of defense to have a meeting at the National Command Center, which is a walking distance or a short drive been instead. Mr Oni had told his Secret service detail that he would want to fly there. So the minister defense was waiting. The Army chief of staff was waiting. The helicopters changed directions in the We're heading towards the Hamid Karzai International Airport. I think once That fact was revealed. The entire government in Kabul crumbled in no time just like it had crumbled across many of Afghanistan's provinces where mass surrenders Were negotiated between important provincial you know, officials and the Taliban. I think it's a Taliban, uh, strategy as well as fighting on the battlefield over the last many months, at least. They offered this insurance that they offered the surrender deal. And I think this was the work of months, if not years, So it was surreal in many ways, because I had started my career in 2000 and one when the Americans were bombing the Taliban. I was a fixer translator. Across from the Pakistani city of Peshawar. And then I saw the fall of Taliban and it was unbelievable to see how the tables turned how there was panic and fear my family this time. Was here. This time I was I am a father to new baby girl and I was not exempted from the panic and fear Will they'll be fighting whether it be blood shed? What will the Taliban do? Thanks God. Kabul fell to the Taliban without bloodshed without fighting, although vacuum created did result in some looting and some harassment and irregularities of the citizens. Of Afghanistan, So I would say for me, it was almost like, you know, uh, in no time this happened, I just couldn't believe it. Like many other rough ones, Bilal as we begin to wrap up, he wrote a piece for the telegraph. You said it's broken me from within. Afghan journalists reveals heavy toll of covering his country's collapsed That was the header you right? I became a father recently because my own family and relatives saw so much heartbreak these past few years. I pray that if God gave me a baby girl, I would name her solar, which means peace. I did that thinking that at least my daughter Might grow up in a normal country. So you are trying to leave right now. How do you go about that? Have you thought about staying? Do you think you could possibly be safe in Kabul in Afghanistan? Well, my, you know, Like harnessed opinion here is that I would love to tell the story. The people of Afghanistan. I think everything that has happened, including including the loss of friends, but within the government outside of the government, and you know I have friendships, whether they Taliban. I have a classmate from my ideas in Peshawar is a refugee and we went different ways. Has left me thinking. What is it that I can do? That will comfort me. You know, that would make me think that I'm doing something better. And over the years I've been having this conversation with myself and then I committed myself. You're telling the story of this country to the world, not only the news side of it, I created a hashtag Afghanistan University many years ago and where I basically showed the world the other side. Beautiful valleys. You know, the the National Beauty the legs. You know what Afghanistan could potentially offer in the future. If tourism was to come back here, and to be honest with you, I would love to be here. Like the rest of my colleagues and be able to tell the world our stories because 20 years ago, this country did not have this generation of reporters and we all this and large parts. Our international colleagues where we started working as fixers and translators 20 years ago, and they helped us get where we are, so I think it's very important for the world as well to have a credible and vibrant Afghan media. Where different voices can be heard because we live in a world where we are interconnected, you know, there's no more any country and the rest of the world that will not matter for anyone else. You know, humanity is something that gives me hope. You know, people cared these days about any country and anyone, especially like when you look at the activists on social media. And such platforms So I hope that I'm able, and I hope that my daughter is able to basically one day go to school here. But there are things that are beyond my control thinks that You know, people like myself and my colleagues and other have ones simply are powerless. We can't do that. I hope that this generation of leaders both the Taliban and Former officials and politicians can leave a legacy where we walk away from more painful historical political past, where governments came with coups and Tanks and with bullets. And for this, I think the people of Afghanistan over the last 20 years of Pi, uh, prepared like a massive price and a lot of sacrifices..

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