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Kabul Doctor Describes Perspective Of Civilians In Afghanistan's Capital

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

We're watching the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan this morning. U.S. embassy staff are being evacuated. Afghan citizens in Kabul are waiting for what comes next as the Taliban say they are negotiating a change in government in Kabul. Muhib Shinwari is a doctor in Kabul. He joins us on the line now. Thank you for being with us. We have heard this morning helicopters in the background. We've heard alternating descriptions of calm and chaos. When you were at your medical complex this morning, what did you see?

MUHIB SHINWARI: Hey, thank you so much for having me. Actually, it begins from last night. Like, the cold air was full of jets and choppers. And, like, even we were scared. Like, we didn't know what's happening because the U.S. said that, we are sending troops and our government was insisting that, we want to resist. And like for us, it's like a nightmare. Everything happens, like, in a week. Everything is changed. I went to the work in the morning. I was sitting there. And suddenly, there was shouting that they're here. And then, like, you're panicked. And we just wanted to reach to our homes. And the way was like - actually, it was full of drama, like a traffic jam. No one could even move their car. Everything was - like, I cannot explain it, but it was totally messed up.

CORNISH: You said this idea that you're at your desk and people are - you hear the shouts of, they're here, they're here. People interpreted that as the Taliban. We've also heard there are thieves doing some looting. What was the feeling?

SHINWARI: It was like the feeling is like they said the Taliban is here, but we were mostly scared of the thieves, like they were loot - they could like - we are still scared. Like, what will happen? There can be looting in the markets. You may be at homes because right now we are seeing people here on the roads. Like, their get-up is like they're Talibs. But right now, the spokesperson of the Taliban said that we are not yet to enter into Kabul. So we don't know who are they. And the government is not functioning, the police, anything. So everyone is still like, we don't know what will happen, what's happening. Like, it's totally unpredictable.

CORNISH: I...

SHINWARI: I'm seeing people on the road right now. Like, are we - if there are things that we think are Taliban, but Taliban say we are not yet inside Kabul. So we don't know.

CORNISH: So you're hearing conflicting reports about whether Taliban foot soldiers are actually walking the streets right now.

SHINWARI: Yeah, that's what we want to confirm. The Taliban spokesperson just tweeted that, we have not yet entered into the Kabul. They say, we are Talib, so we don't know who are them.

CORNISH: You're obviously also in the middle of a COVID crisis in Kabul. I don't know what any of this has meant for your work. As you said, this kind of frantic shutdown - what was happening with your patients, that sort of thing?

SHINWARI: And actually, to be honest, it's like we were trying to save our lives because we were - its first ever seeing all these crises, so we're still panicked We don't know if we are thrown to wolves or what. We don't know what will happen in the next few days. And we cannot do anything, either.

CORNISH: When you say that you're - the uncertainty is the thing that's holding over you all right now, what has that meant for you at home with your family? I don't know if you live with parents, with children. What have you been doing right now?

SHINWARI: So actually, I live with my parents. And we were, like, preparing food for, like, for at least two weeks. We said there may be a possibility of war. Like, anything can happen. So - but at the same time, my family, they're super scared, and they're still thinking how to evacuate from this place and how to leave it. Like, they're tied, honestly.

CORNISH: Like there is no way out.

SHINWARI: Yeah, there is no way out. There is no way out. Like, the elites - they're on the way this morning. They were - yeah, they're rushing to the airport. And that's all - it's happening in Kabul. But the situation is really uncertain. Like, we don't know anything what's happening. Like, many people are, like, tweeting, this will happen. This is happening. But we don't know anything. And there is no power. And there is no power in Kabul. There's no electricity, so...

CORNISH: That's Muhib Shinwari. He's a doctor in Kabul. Thank you for being with us, and we'll be thinking of you. We hope you stay safe.

SHINWARI: Thank you so much for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.