With a full-blown Taliban takeover underway in Afghanistan, one government employee in Kabul described a feeling of "denial" sweeping over the presidential palace mere days before its complete collapse.
Fardin Pardis, the former director of project analysis and program development of the National Procurement Authority of Afghanistan, went to his office on the morning of Aug. 15, the day the Ashraf Ghani-led government fell, he told the Washington Examiner in an interview.
“Of course the situation didn’t seem normal,” he said about that day, describing a “sort of denial” where he knew “something is going to happen, but still you don’t believe it." Around 10 a.m. that day, “everyone was out of their offices looking around what’s going to happen,” and by 2 p.m., the “guards started telling people to leave the presidential palace.”
"Some people were looking for their documents and where people tried to clean their computers or delete your names and files, I did that too," Pardis explained, noting that people were trying to prevent the Taliban from identifying them.
"It really is difficult to explain because the last 20 years, people had hope, people gain lots of things, people like me had the opportunity to study and to grow as much as they could, and certainly it was a feeling that OK, we are losing everything," he added. "There is no more hope, to be honest."
Pardis, who was previously a legal expert in the legal unit of the president, also described a feeling of "betrayal" when he found out that Ghani had secretly fled the country, leaving his people behind.
"I felt betrayal because he was saying that he will not leave Afghanistan," he said about the overthrown president. "He will fight till his death and then, like, he just vanished, and then, like, I don't know how many days later he just said that he wanted to save people's lives, which for me is stupid. And I don't believe it. I don't trust it."
Pardis stayed in Afghanistan for about another 10 days until he was able to get on an evacuation flight out of the country through an arduous process. He hid for about a week after the government's collapse until he got confirmation that he had somewhere to go — Luxembourg, because he's a Ph.D student at Max Planck Institute Luxembourg studying investor-state arbitration procedures.
He grew out his beard during his week in isolation in an effort to alter his appearance for when he had to make the journey to Hamid Karzai International Airport, where the United States and other Western allies were evacuating third-country nationals and Afghan allies who would be at risk under the Taliban regime. There were days he waited for hours on the outside looking in.
On the day he was able to escape Afghanistan, Pardis met a family waiting to get through the crowds at the airport, and they welcomed him as a temporary member of their family so that he would not receive additional scrutiny as a single adult male.
“They offered me food and water and everything … There was a little girl from that family who used to call me uncle, and whenever I was, like, a meter or two meters away from them, she used to run to me and hold my hand so the Taliban doesn’t beat me,” he said. “The sad part was the end when I arrive there and they don’t have any documents,” at which point they were escorted back out, said Pardis.
“I will never forget that because I couldn’t help them the way they helped me,” Pardis continued, adding that he “pray[s] everyday for them.”
Many of his family and friends remain in Afghanistan under the new Taliban regime, which is set to overhaul the freedoms and lifestyles that were promoted and practiced during the time since they were most recently overthrown.
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Original Author: Mike Brest
Original Location: Afghan government lawyer recounts the day Kabul fell to the Taliban