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tv   The Great British Staycation -...  BBC News  August 25, 2021 3:30am-4:01am BST

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stones for almost 60 years who's died in london aged 80. fellow drummers praised him as the beating heart of the stones — and a unique talent. now on bbc news, time for panorama. after nearly 20 years of war and over 100,000 dead, afghanistan is once more in the grip of the taliban. just weeks before the fall of kabul, i was there to see a country bracing itself for the withdrawal of us forces. every morning that i wake up i worry that we might lose another colleague. i met taliban leaders who claim they've changed... there was, in the past, some mistakes that we have learnt from. ..but with the future
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of millions of afghans at stake, and concerns about global security, can we believe them? they have become savvier in deceiving. i was born in afghanistan, and have been reporting from the region for more than a decade. i returned to kabul injune this year — just two months before the country fell to the taliban. after nearly 20 years out of power, they were gradually gaining territory. my first stop was to see an old friend, the photo journalist massoud hossaini. already he was living in hiding, barely leaving his house. i'm staying here. here, just to show you,
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is all i have left. here is my bed. i made it as a kitchen. and that's it for now. that's your life. all the time here. all the time. massoud's parents fled afghanistan when he was a small child. 20 years ago, the taliban were running the country with an extreme version of strict islamist law. after the 9/11 attacks, america blamed the taliban for sheltering al-qaeda. a us—led coalition — with thousands of british troops — invaded afghanistan and drove the taliban out. within months, massoud returned to take part in the rebuilding of a nation. one of my favourite pictures when i came to afghanistan. this is the morning of the second day that i arrived in kabul. and this picture gave
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me a lot of hope. i thought, we are going to be a normal country, normal society. 0ur girls can do this, they can come to a normal cultural event like this. but the taliban never went away and the violence continued. massoud took this photo of a suicide bombing in 2011 when uk and us forces in afghanistan were at their peak. it still is too much painfulfor me. the year massood took that picture, president barack 0bama started the withdrawal of american troops from the country. over the next few years, the taliban gained in strength. attacks against civilians become more common. in many cases the taliban were responsible.
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in 2018, massoud narrowly avoided two assassination attempts. in the first, his car was riddled with bullets. in the second, a suicide bomber had targeted a group of journalists. i was clicking my camera and the explosion happened left to right, in the viewer of my camera, in the frame. massoud lost nine of his friends and colleagues in the blast. that attack was completely and exactly against journalists. the only chance and luck that i had, i was ten metres away. that's it. otherwise, we all were being killed there. seeing massoud confined to four walls was a disturbing sign of the growing fear amidst the taliban resurgence.
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before retaking the country, the taliban — along with otherjihadi groups — were staging ever more brazen attacks. by 2020 many here were living in constant fear. we saw an increase in targeted killings. shaharazad akbar is the chairperson of the afghan independent human rights commission, which investigates human rights abuses in afghanistan. last summer a bomb attack killed two of her colleagues, fatima khalil and jawed folad.
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i wonder, when you leave home every day, every morning you say goodbye to your child, do you think, "i may not come back?" i think everyone in the field that i work in has that. it's notjust me and my colleagues. every morning when they their home they don't know if they will be back. it's the same for me when i leave in the morning — i don't know if i will be back. since i have become a mum there is this doubt. "do i have the right to do this?" before the taliban retook the country, it seemed they were using these attacks to stoke fear and crush the morale of the population. fatima and jawid were two of over 700 people assassinated in targeted killings last year.
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every time we are stuck in traffic there is a certain worry — it's so tense here, everything is on edge — that maybe the car in front of you might explode, next to you, or there might be some kind of targeted killing. it is an absolutely precarious and uncertain situation. the government was clearly struggling to maintain control. i approached vice president amrullah saleh, a man with a long and personal history with the taliban. he fought them directly in the �*90s and became intelligence chief in the early 20005. let me show you some of the pictures of my kids. when i was intelligence chief, i used to take them with me to the office. this is the picture of my son.
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who was in the car with you? this one. he was in the car. and i said, "son, i am glad you are alive and i am glad you are with me, because this is patriotism learned the hard way." one year ago, the vice president and his son narrowly avoided an attempt on his life, after his convoy was struck by a roadside bomb. not long after this attack, mr saleh set up daily security briefings. if you want, you canjoin me. yes, that would be great. he gave us rare access to attend. but, i mean, if you think about kabul city, i've come back after several years, people are saying to me they can't leave their house at night. women don't feel safe, people don't feel safe. there's different militia groups in the city. i mean, how has it got so bad? well, we have foiled 850 attacks in 200 days.
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but those which have gone off, yes, failures. but 850 have been stopped. this is my chief of staff. nice meeting you.
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these security briefings were taking place against a backdrop of increasing uncertainty. last year, the us and the taliban had signed a peace deal agreeing a prisoner swap. do you regret releasing the prisoners? big time. very big mistake. but we did not want to lose the goodwill of our allies. we knew it was not going to work. and we calculated all the risks, and we said,
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"this is not going to work, but we don't want to be labelled as the obstacle. so here they are." it was agreed that american troops would be withdrawn by summer 2021. it's time to end america's longest war. it's time for american troops to come home. america's withdrawal was a landmark moment. after the prisoner swap, peace talks between the afghan government and the taliban took place in doha, the capital of qatar. but despite lengthy negotiations there was no real progress. injune, i travelled to doha to meet a member of the taliban negotiating team. before 9/11, suhail shaheen was the taliban's representative to the united nations,
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living in new york. so you could see a partnership with them? it was hard to reconcile his words with the previous sections of the taliban. when they were last in power they ruled with fear,
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staging public executions and enforcing punishments such as cutting off the hands of convicted thieves. girls were denied an education and women were made to wear the burka. they could rarely leave the house without a chaperone and were denied the right to work. would you have a religious police that will monitor people's behaviour?
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would it be unacceptable for you to see a public execution in kabul? many people say the taliban have militarily become so strong, therefore emboldened and therefore will try and take power by force. what do you say to that?
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if you were to return to kabul, how would you govern? suhail shaheen was promising a peaceful afghanistan, and a taliban that had changed. but back in kabul, i was about to meet another taliban leader.
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that was just a contact who's been communicating with a taliban commander from helmand, and we're hoping to meet him. i've just heard that he's ready to meet, not in helmand, but here in kabul. i mean, what's surprising about all of this is that quite a well known commander can make his way from helmand to the capital and feel quite comfortable being here. it makes you realise just how much they've infiltrated the city. the commander i was meeting had been released as part of the prisoner swap that took place last summer ?
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in the hope it would pave the way for peace talks. it's very hot, does he want water? do you want the taliban regime to come back into power? if we talk about law, orderandjustice, if someone were to steal or commit adultery, what should happen to them? what about girls going to school? can girls go to school
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andup until which age? but in your districts and villages that you live and fight, do girls go to school? and if so, until what age? and if there isn't a political resolution to this conflict, are you prepared to take kabul by force?
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commander maulana was adamant the taliban would only stop fighting when a strict form of sharia law was imposed across the whole country. after this interview, he headed back to the front lines. the next month, his province, helmand, would fall entirely to the taliban. i'd heard two different views of what the taliban wanted. i went back to the presidential palace to ask if the vice president thought it was time for the taliban to return to kabul. absolutely, tomorrow. but not with their guns and ieds and suicide bombers. as normal individuals, who mainly come and interact with the rest of the afghans, run for office, why not? but if they come to dictate
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the size of people's beards, their lifestyle, what they cook in their kitchen or what time they wake up, that's not going to happen. they said to me that they want to come into a position where they can power—share with fellow muslims. this group in doha, they are a deceptive facade of a very dark reality called the taliban. so in your view have they changed? no. not only they have not changed, they believe that their stagnation has brought them a strength. they have become savvier in deceiving, but the reality has not changed. are you willing to pick up arms again if you have to? i am already armed against them.
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you have got the whole army. laughter. but i mean, if you really have to, head to head, and kabulfell? no way. there is no way i can surrender to the taliban. no way. for years, us and british soldiers have been training afghan troops to defend themselves against the taliban. there were over 180,000 government forces preparing to fend off 75,000 taliban troops. but despite this, us intelligence knew they'd fail and kabul would fall within months. i went to an army base outside kabul to meet some of their newest recruits. one of the most dangerous jobs to have in afghanistan today is to be part of the afghan army at such a turbulent time when foreign forces are leaving the country.
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byjune, the taliban had made significant advances. it was clear that the afghan army had limited time to prepare for the fight ahead. hamdullah was 18 and about to finish training.
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the hopes that people had for someone like him, that 20 years or 18 years on, this would be a very different nation. to think that they've gone back to square one is what's most disturbing about all of this. protecting afghanistan from the taliban has come at an enormous cost. 6,000 americans and a57
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british soldiers have died during 20 years of war. as have almost 70,000 afghan soldiers and police, and nearly 50,000 afghan civilians. the people i met in kabul all told me that they did not want to surrender the rights and opportunities that the last 20 years had brought them. none wanted to leave afghanistan. i wanted to see massoud one last time before i left kabul. he was on a rare outing to take photographs at a popular kabul hill top. there is no certainty at all. nothing. and everybody is on the air now. they don't know what to do. but these are just scenes of families with their children. they've just come to have a nice time. yeah, well, they are living, for sure, right. but i am sure that if you ask
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a person what is your plan b if something happens he will say, "oh, i am going to "pakistan or iran." so they already have their plan b. so here isjust a temporary place to live, even for its own citizens. just two months after i met massoud, his predictions of an exodus became a reality. with only a handful of troops remaining, provincial cities started to fall to the taliban with barely a shot fired. the advance came at staggering speed. afghan forces melted away and the capital fell without a fight. the taliban were back in charge. thousands of afghans fled to kabul airport, desperate to escape the country.
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0thers hid in their homes. we gave them every chance to determine their own future. we could not provide them with the will to fight for that future. western politicians scrambled to make sense of the chaos. it would be fair to say... the collapse has been faster than even the taliban predicted. what is not true to say is that the uk government was unprepared or did not foresee this. after 20 years trying to rebuild the country, had it all been for nothing? the feeling of abandonment, of not just a country, - but the sacrifice that my friends made. i my friend massoud managed to board one of the last commercial flights out. suhail shaheen has continued to defend the ideology
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of the new taliban, making a call to me live on air. we're just going to see if we can put you on speaker. but will the taliban stick to their word? or could there be a return to the darkest days of public executions and the extreme suppression of women's rights? vice president saleh remains in afghanistan, and is attempting to rally together a resistance against the taliban. back in london, i got a voice message from him at his new base in the panshir valley, 90 miles from kabul. voicemail: if the president is absent or he resigns - and he becomes incapable to run his country, it becomes
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the duty of the vice president. i am not ready to be part of the humiliation and shame that the foreign militaries have endured. i am standing for my country and the war is not over. those who fight on, do it this time without the help of the west. and, for now, the question is not if, but how, the taliban will rule the country.
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welcome to bbc news — i'm david eades — our top stories president biden holds firm on his afghan withdrawal deadline — he tells g7 leaders any delay increases the threat of violent attacks. each day of operation brings added risk to our troops, but the completion by august 31 depends upon the taliban continuing to cooperate. at kabul airport — as the taliban now say no more afghans will be allowed there — there's continued desperation. never, never. it's not my country. also in the programme — a crucial court ruling expected in brazil that could have a dramatic impact on both lives and landscape. and — tributes to the rolling stones
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drummer — charlie watts — who's died at the age of 80.


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