A distraught Afghan journalist demanded answers at a Pentagon briefing on Monday, amid a seemingly-bungled United States military drawdown effort that saw thousands of American civilians and Afghan refugees stranded at the capital’s airport, scrambling to flee the country.
Stunning scenes of desperate Afghans, some plunging to their deaths as they tried to cling onto a C-17 taking off, circulated the Internet, prompting heavy criticism and questions over President Joe Biden’s withdrawal planning.
The journalist, Nazira Karimi, said — her voice cracking:
As you know I am from Afghanistan and I am very upset today. Because Afghan women didn’t expect that overnight that all the Taliban came. They took off my flag. This is my flag. They put their flag — everybody is upset, especially women.
“Where is my president? Former President Ghani? People expected that he would [stand] by the people…we don’t know where is he. We don’t have a president,” she continued.
“President Biden said President Ghani know he has to fight for his people, they have to do everything and we will able to financially help him. But if we don’t have any president, we don’t have anything, Afghan people don’t know what to do,” she said.
“Women has a lot of achievement in Afghanistan. I had a lot of achievement. I left from the Taliban like 20 years ago, now we go to the first step again,” she said.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said he understood the “anxiety, the fear, and the pain” that she was feeling, although he added that he could not speak for President Biden.
“Nobody here at the Pentagon is happy about the images we’ve seen coming out in the last few days. We’re all mindful of the kind of governance the Taliban is capable of. Heartfelt respect to what you’re going through, and we understand that,” he said.