28-year-old Mohammed Hadi joined the Afghan police force in 2013 in Ghazni, a city in the South-Eastern part of Afghanistan, and in the eight years of his service he fought many battles against the Talibani militants.
However, the fight that ensued in early August in 2021 between the Taliban and the Afghan government turned out to be disastrous for him. Hadi says that the Afghan army betrayed the police force and refused to fight against the Taliban. They all fled from the battlefield, leaving 3,700 members of the police force to their own fates.
Hadi spoke to Outlook from a place close to Kabul where he has been hiding since August 13 and said that the Afghan army and the government are responsible for the plight of common people as they handed over power to the Taliban without putting up any fight.
Why do you feel that the Afghan army didn’t come in support of the police force that was fighting against the Taliban in Ghazni?
A: In early August, when the Taliban attacked the city, there were 3,700 police forces and over 6,000 armies to defend. The Taliban were only 2,000. Despite that, they defeated us and captured the city. It is unbelievable. When we were fighting against them, the Army personnel didn’t join us and fled from their offices and camps. We were left in the lurch but we continued fighting till the time we realised that we didn’t have any backup support to replenish the ammunition. Thirty of our police personnel were killed. After fighting for a few days, the police force became hopeless and started running away from their positions.
What did you do when you realised that you couldn’t push them back in Ghazni?
Three of my friends and I fled towards Kabul on August 11. Since the road routes were extremely unsafe, we walked in hills for two days and two nights and reached an outer part of Kabul on August 13. Two days later Talibani militants reached there too. I went underground at one of my friends' places. Since then I have been here and looking for an opportunity to escape. But the problem is, where will I go?
Where are your parents and other family members? Are they also hiding?
When we fled from Ghazni, they captured the city and put many houses on fire. Many people were burnt alive. I came to know a day after fleeing from there that my parents and younger brother were also among them.
Q: Why could be the reason for the Afghan Army to ditch the police forces and ran away without firing a shot?
I came to know from my colleagues that the government has instructed the army not to fire any shot on the Taliban and in return, they would provide a safe passage to all the top politicians and the army personnel. It was a kind of deal about which the police force came to know later on. It was obvious from the turn of events.
How long will you remain underground from the Taliban?
That I don’t know. As long as I can, I will remain underground because I know the moment they capture me, they will kill me. If the government in India issues a visa for me, I can somehow reach the airport and escape from here. The Indian government can help save many lives in Afghanistan.
Why don’t you go to Pakistan, Iran or the US? Many police officers have fled to Iran. Many refugees have been given shelter in the US. What about these options?
Iran is far away from here and if I take the land route, it is very risky. The Taliban are maintaining strict vigil on roads and highways. So I can’t go to Iran. So far as Pakistan is concerned, we don’t trust the country. We believe that they are with the Taliban. The USA knows our plight but they are not doing anything. If I get an Indian visa, I can enter the Kabul airport from the green channel easily avoiding the chaotic situation outside that has become a permanent affair.