While Afghan women are protesting over the Taliban, warning shots are spreading the crowd

KABUL, Afghanistan-Shortly before noon on Tuesday in Kabul’s Shar-e-Naw district, hundreds of young women – along with hundreds of men – stormed Afghanistan’s presidential palace in fierce protest against the Taliban regime.

“Death to Pakistan, death to the Taliban, death to those who have cheated our country,” they sang.

But as momentum built, the Taliban dispersed the crowds in minutes by firing endless bullets into the air, causing masses of protesters to flee in different directions and disappearing amid crowds of shopkeepers and curious spectators.

The mass movement marks one of several that have unfolded in the transformed city in recent days, with the latest being spurred on by both Afghan women by their loss of rights and they were angry not only over the Taliban’s entry into the last remaining resistance province – Panjshir – but over concerns over Pakistan’s involvement in the fight about 80 miles north.

A Taliban member directs his gun at protesters while Afghan protesters shout slogans during a protest against Pakistan.
Reuters
Young Afghan men and women take to the streets to protest against the Taliban in small waves descending the main streets of Kabul.
Young Afghan men and women take to the streets to protest against the Taliban in small waves descending the main streets of Kabul.
Jake Simkin to the NY Post

Pakistan’s head of intelligence services, Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed, arrived in Kabul over the weekend to meet with the Taliban’s leadership under formal disguise to help mitigate the formation of the new Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan. The visit of the powerful intelligence official is one of the most publicly visible to date and cements Pakistan’s growing influence on the neighboring nation.

Nevertheless, the chaotic moment of protest was met with tired sighs from street vendors and other passers-by, all of whom seem to have become accustomed to the unrest and insecurity that has gripped the country not only in recent weeks but for years.

Protesters gather in small groups and march down the street to protest the Taliban and Pakistan's involvement in the fighting in Panjshir
Protesters sang: “Death to Pakistan, death to the Taliban, death to those who have cheated our country.”
Jake Simkin to the NY Post

Tuesday’s demonstration, according to protesters and security analysts, was triggered by a statement released Monday by Ahmad Massoud, leader of the Panjshir-based national resistance forces. Massoud urged supporters inside and outside the besieged nation to “stand up in opposition to Afghanistan’s dignity, integrity and freedom.”

Other eyewitnesses described the demonstration mainly by women, with most expressing rebellion against Pakistan.

“We are tired,” a protester later complained to me, lying inside a bakery after running from authorities. “That’s the only thing we can do now.”

However, the Taliban’s intelligence services on the streets – which belong to the group’s elite forces – offer a different view of the situation.

“We talked to some protesters and they did not know why they were there at all,” a Taliban commander told me as a cluster of his special forces gathered, stressing that they were being paid the equivalent of about $ 10 to $ 20 off. a “special Massoud organization group” to cause unrest.

Taliban soldiers stand in front of protesters during the protest against Pakistan in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Taliban soldiers stand in front of protesters during the protest against Pakistan in Kabul, Afghanistan.
via Reuters
Afghans hold posters shouting anti-Pakistani slogans during a protest in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Afghans hold posters shouting anti-Pakistani slogans during a protest in Kabul, Afghanistan.
EPA

A medical representative at Kabul’s emergency hospital, which was located at the site of the protests, subsequently confirmed to me that no one was admitted with gunshot wounds. Still, six people were rushed in with other injuries in connection with the incident. Early reports on Tuesday also showed that dozens of protesters – including women – were detained in the wake and camera equipment confiscated. The local Afghan news station TOLONews wrote on Twitter that its camera operator, who was filming the demonstrations, was among those arrested.

The Taliban fired bullets into the air, causing protesters to flee in different directions in Kabul's Shar-e-Naw district.
The Taliban fired bullets into the air, causing protesters to flee in different directions in Kabul’s Shar-e-Naw district.
Jake Simkin to the NY Post
Hundreds of men joined hundreds of women to protest the Taliban rule in Afghanistan.
Hundreds of men joined hundreds of women to protest the Taliban rule in Afghanistan.
Jake Simkin to the NY Post

“We hope there will be no more,” the Taliban commander continued, downplaying the number of activists gathered. “We want to tell the women that they have nothing to worry about. We want to give them jobs. ”

Another Taliban patrol officer, sitting with a PK belt-fed machine gun on the back of an armored truck, agreed that no one was injured and that they would “solve all women’s problems.”

Protesters are beginning to gather to protest the Taliban and Pakistan's involvement in the fighting in Panjshir.
A women’s rights activist in Afghanistan said: “We do not care if it costs us our lives.”
Jake Simkin to the NY Post

Yet the chaos of the morning did not deter the women. Around 3:30 p.m., another protest spread in the same Shahr-e-Naw district, which was almost exclusively filled with women who appeared to be in their 20s. The hundreds of women gathered in small packages on street corners, armed with handwritten signs and shouted “Freedom” as they began their terrifying walk into the unknown and into a potential hail of shots and handcuffs.

“We want what we worked so hard to achieve,” said a prominent Afghan women’s rights activist who was not present at Tuesday’s riot. “We do not care if it costs us our lives. We have no more life as it is now. ”

The rise of anti-Taliban protests comes as a time when the emirate is still in the process of forming a new government, amid escalating murmurs from the fighting and various factions in the Taliban with different agendas and persecutions.

Although it remains to be seen when the announcement will be made and who will get what roles, Taliban officials have already made it clear that no women will be allowed in senior positions.

But the visible unrest indicates that it is not only Afghan women but also men who are refusing to go down without a fight.

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