Former Afghan Prosecutor Recounts the Day Kabul Fell

I am Negina Khalili. I was the head of eliminating harassment and violence against women at the Attorney General’s Office. I was in my office on August 15th, when the Taliban came to Afghanistan.

It was 11:30 a.m. when I noticed that all my colleagues were fleeing.

One of my colleagues entered my office and told me to flee because the Taliban were close and were likely to take over.

Read the full transcript

I didn’t know what to do or where to go. I decided to leave the office and head home but realized that traffic was bad and I couldn’t use the car.

So, I got out of the car. I was wearing high heels. I noticed that everyone was running. Someone told me to put on a burqa so that no one would recognize me.

I was wearing my work clothes and was even covering my head in a way that was normal in Afghanistan at that time, but a few men outside told me that “it’s a good thing that the country has fallen” and “it’s all because of you women.”

I’m sure no one slept that night in Afghanistan. No one had the courage to listen to music.

Every document that I had in English or from work I tried to destroy because we had heard that the Taliban would search homes.

I remember receiving a phone call in the evening that day, and the person on the line was someone I had prosecuted. He said that he was free and he would find me. He threatened me and said that he would kill me.

The day we were getting off the buses en route to the airport, some Taliban soldiers told us that it was unfortunate that they hadn’t found us sooner, meaning they would have killed us if they could.

It was a difficult decision to leave my country. I was at a crossroads between staying or leaving, but once I looked at the situation and the threats, I was forced to leave the country.

We entered the airport at 4 a.m., waiting for our flight. The heat from the sun was scorching hot. Kids were crying. I noticed pregnant women and some even past their due date there.

It is difficult to not be able to do anything and be forced to leave your country and your people — to not have any other option but to escape, which for some might lead to a great future and a better life.

“It is difficult to not be able to do anything and be forced to leave your country and your people — to not have any other option but to escape....”

Negina Khalili, Former Afghan Prosecutor for Attorney General's Office

About the project

One year into Taliban rule, VOA has taken a detailed and objective look at Afghanistan, yesterday and today. In this special project, we bring you previously untold stories, features on Afghan refugees and their struggles in foreign lands, eyewitness accounts of the day Kabul fell, analytical pieces on the Taliban’s governance, security challenges, and relations with regional countries, and several documentaries.