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What Happens To Security Now Afghanistan's President Has Left The Country?


The weekend started in Kabul with a recorded statement on Afghan television by President Ashraf Ghani vowing that the fight for the country would continue. The weekend is ending with Ghani's departure. Earlier today, I spoke with Col. Naweed Kawusi. He's a senior police official in Kabul. I asked him what he was hearing about the Taliban's progress.

NAWEED KAWUSI: Well, according to the latest reports that I have with me, Taliban have entered the city from different directions but a very small number so far. They have sent in scouts to scout the city and see what's what and who's where. But the main force hasn't entered the city. And what they claim is the reason for their forces entering the city and being inside the city is that a lot of government officials have abandoned their positions and their offices. So in order to ensure that the government is going forward, they've entered the city to occupy those buildings.

CORNISH: Is that incorrect?

KAWUSI: That is incorrect because all the government offices that were open and functional until 4:30, which is the official closing time for government offices in Kabul - of course, there were scattered people that would leave the offices for a variety of reasons, but the offices were open well into 4:30 and into the closing hours.

CORNISH: What we're now hearing are reports that there is supposed to be negotiation of transfer of power or of some kind of surrender. And what have you been hearing from the government?

KAWUSI: Well, it's the same story. It's a peaceful transition of power from the - President Ghani's and his office to the Taliban. And it's been under - it's what we've been hearing. And we were told that there would be a press conference for an official announcement with, potentially, Ali Ahmad Jalali, a former interior minister, being a top candidate for the interim government.

CORNISH: So there will be - this is who will be negotiating with the Taliban in this conversation?

KAWUSI: Well, the negotiations and the methodology and the approach to transfer of power has been in discussion since yesterday. There have been continuous and long hours of meetings about this. And the plan, as we know it, is to have a peaceful transfer of power to a peaceful transition where the...

CORNISH: You keep calling it a plan.

KAWUSI: ...Power will be transferred to the Taliban.

CORNISH: You keep calling it a plan or a story. Do you have the resources you need to keep the country's capital stable in the coming days?

KAWUSI: The Afghan National Defense Security Forces in Kabul do have the manpower and the resources to actually manage security of Kabul and to keep it safe. But there have been issues and instances of some rogue elements trying to disrupt the security, but they have been dealt with.

CORNISH: What's your biggest worry now?

KAWUSI: Well, it's - my biggest worry as a police officer in this country is my past experiences with this country and with the Taliban. For us civil servants at the end of the day, we're people who provide services to our people and are citizens. So for us, it's all about trust. It's about building that trust and see if we can actually build on that trust to go forward or what happens next.

CORNISH: That's Col. Naweed Kawusi in Kabul. Thank you for speaking with us.

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