Former Kabul mayor Fazal Karim Aimaq had seen more than his share of turbulence during decades of war, but nothing prepared him for the speed his regime collapsed in 2021, sending him and his family on a desperate scramble to get out of Afghanistan before the Taliban could catch them.
The politician was working in the Afghan capital as a member of parliament for his home province of Kunduz when the Taliban seized district after district in stunning succession.
A week before, Mr Aimaq had met with Afghanistan’s Minister of Defence Bismillah Mohammadi on behalf of his constituents. Mr Mohammadi told Mr Aimaq that then- President Ashraf Ghani had called all the military bases and told them to stop fighting against the Taliban and begin a retreat.
“I went there to tell Mohammadi that my people have terrible problems and he said, ‘I am not able to help my own military personnel. The civilians are not important, not now,’” Mr Aimaq told The National.