Yet there are growing reports of detentions, disappearances and even executions of officials at the hands of the Taliban, in what some current and former government officials describe as a covert and sometimes deadly pursuit of the Taliban’s enemies.
“It’s very much underground,” said one former legislator, who was in hiding elsewhere when the Taliban visited his home in the middle of the night.
“That is intimidation,” he said. “I feel threatened and my family is in shock.”
The Taliban swept into towns and districts, often without a shot fired, making diplomatic assurances to their opponents and the public. But the first commanders have often been replaced by more heavy-handed enforcers who conduct raids and abductions, officials of the former government said.
The scale of the campaign is unclear, since it is being conducted covertly. Nor is it clear what level of the Taliban leadership authorized detentions or executions.
The people who seized the files at the National Security Directorate and the Ministry of Communications may not have even been Taliban: The men did not speak Afghan languages, the officials said, and may have been agents of Pakistan’s military intelligence agency working in tandem with Taliban forces. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency has long supported the Taliban in their violent opposition to the Kabul government.
The fear among Afghans is palpable. All but the youngest remember the Taliban’s authoritarian regime of the 1990s, with its draconian punishments, hangings and public executions.
Many people have gone into hiding, changed their locations and telephone numbers, and broken off communications with friends and colleagues.