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Regional Interests

A Taliban Spokesman Says They Control Panjshir, The Last Holdout Afghan Province

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It is said the truth is the first casualty of war. And in the unsettled atmosphere of Afghanistan, some truths are unclear today. The Taliban, who now rule Kabul, claim to have captured the last part of the country that they did not previously control. Resistance fighters in that area of the Panjshir Valley deny this. It is also unclear how the Taliban will govern.

So let's talk through what we do know with Susannah George of The Washington Post. She is in Kabul, just across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border from me here. Hey there, Susannah.

SUSANNAH GEORGE: Hi there.

INSKEEP: What's life like in the city where you are?

GEORGE: Well, I have to say, Kabul is a much quieter city these days since the Taliban took over just a little over three weeks ago. But I've spent a lot of time out and about talking to Afghans who are on the streets. There are people still going to markets shopping, people waiting in line at banks trying to get money. And people who I've spoken to are really in a wait-and-see kind of mode right now.

You know, the Taliban have come in. The Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, has left. But the Taliban has not announced what their government will be. And for many Afghans, they feel like they're still waiting to see how the militants are going to rule, what rules are going to come along with the Taliban now.

INSKEEP: Are people who oppose the Taliban trying to push for their rights under the new government?

GEORGE: Well, that's mixed. There's a huge group of Afghans who are too scared to even leave their homes right now. A lot of these are people who I knew from before the Taliban takeover of Kabul. They're - and a lot of them are people who wanted to flee during the U.S. airlift but were unable to get on planes. But then there's also groups of Afghans, like these groups of women who we saw over the weekend take to the streets protesting for women's rights to be respected under Taliban rule, who are speaking out.

I spoke to one of the women who organized the protest. And she said the reason that she decided to take to the streets at a time that it is incredibly dangerous to do so, or incredibly uncertain to do so, was that she wanted the Taliban to know that Afghan women cannot be silenced. And she didn't want the international community to forget about the women of Afghanistan. She was really inspired by U.S. presence in Afghanistan. She went to workshops. She said a lot of U.S. messaging is what allowed - or what encouraged her father to allow her to go to school. And she didn't want those gains to be lost.

INSKEEP: In a few seconds, are the Taliban tolerating that kind of dissent?

GEORGE: Well, those protests turned very violent over the weekend. And we spoke to a Taliban spokesperson at a press conference just today. I asked him about that violence. And he said that he condemned it. But he said that it was carried out by bad people. And he said it was also partially the fault of the protesters because the security situation is not stable enough in Kabul for there to be protests. So he called on all people in Kabul, men and women, to refrain from protesting until the new government is announced.

INSKEEP: A glimpse of life in Kabul today. That's the news from there. When we - next, we'll have a perspective from here in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Susannah George of The Washington Post, thanks so much.

GEORGE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.