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Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Arrives in UAE; CNN Talks with Afghans Trying to Reach Airport; U.K. Army Chief Says Taliban Have Changed; Chaotic Scenes in Kabul as Evacuation Efforts Continue; Interview with Rep. Tom Malinowski on Afghanistan Airlift Efforts; Afghans Remain Skeptical of a Gentler Taliban; Pakistan Opens Border Crossings with Afghanistan; Aid Workers Scrambling to Help Haiti Quake Victims; Petraeus: U.S. Troop Withdrawal Is "Shameful". Aired 10-11a ET

Aired August 18, 2021 - 10:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

HALA GORANI, CNN HOST (voice-over): Hello, everybody. We continue our coverage of the fall of Afghanistan. I'm Hala Gorani.

We are just getting word this hour that former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani is in the United Arab Emirates. He fled Afghanistan as the Taliban

was closing in. Eleni Giokos is in the UAE in Dubai.

Talk to us a little bit more about what the foreign ministry has told us about Ashraf Ghani and why they decided to let him in with his family.

ELENI GIOKOS, CNNMONEY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, interesting questions and we don't know very much at this point. But what we do know is our CNN teams

have been asking the question over the last few days.

And we finally got a response from the foreign ministry. And they are saying that they allowed Ashraf Ghani in with his family on humanitarian

grounds. Remember, he fled Afghanistan on Sunday and then allowed into the UAE.

We do not know which city he is in. We do not know how he got into the country in terms of flights. But we do know that there was a lot of

speculation that he might have been in Tajikistan and Oman. We weren't able to get commentary from those governments.

But the UAE has confirmed and, of course, this has been the big question, where is Ashraf Ghani and his family?

And so many questions surrounding this. The fact that they allowed now this information to come through into media might mean we might get a little bit

more information about what the former president is thinking.

And this, of course, changes the game in terms of the political messaging from the former government in Afghanistan and, of course, how the Taliban

is going to react. Hala.

GORANI: And our senior international correspondent, Arwa Damon, who lives in -- is live in Istanbul is joining the coverage as well on the coverage

of this breaking news that Ashraf Ghani, the former Afghan president, who fled Kabul after the Taliban takeover, is now in the UAE.

We haven't heard from him at all since we fled Afghanistan -- Arwa.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, we haven't, other than you'll remember that Facebook post that he put out at some point after

he had actually already departed the country, that basically tried to justify his actions to a certain degree, where he stated that he had

decided to leave to try to avert further bloodshed.

Of course, talk to many Afghans -- and we've been hearing a number of voices on our air and in other media, whether it's people who used to work

with him in government or just Afghans on the streets, who really feel as if he just hightailed it out of there to save his own skin and that his

intentions were not necessarily those of the rest of the country.

There's also a certain level of perhaps resentment and anger, given that he did have the opportunity to flee. He did have that option ahead of him and

so many other Afghans don't.

There is a lot that he needs to answer for to the Afghan people and presumably the sense would be that, at some point in time, they will be

getting the answers to their questions.

Also worth noting, Hala, that the Taliban itself has also stated that Ghani could have actually stayed, that he would have been protected, that he,

too, would have been provided amnesty.

All of this being said, we should also note and remind everyone just how quickly the Taliban did end up taking over Kabul. Remember, the day before

Ashraf Ghani fled, he was reassuring the population that Kabul was safe.

He was promising people that the Afghan national army would be able to stand and protect the city, that the Taliban would not be coming in. And

then the next thing people knew, in under 24 hours, was that the Taliban had entered Kabul and their president had fled the country.

GORANI: And Eleni in Dubai, do we know when Ashraf Ghani actually arrived in the UAE?

Do we have any ideas about timeline?

GIOKOS: Yes. So we're asking these questions. We just received that one statement. What we also do know is Ghani has been to the UAE and met with

the Emiratis in the past during his tenure.


GIOKOS: So we know there's been a very good relationship with the locals here. But those details are what we're trying to find out. And importantly,

when we see that Ashraf Ghani, what they say, has been welcomed in on humanitarian grounds, the questions that we're hearing from some, you know,

people on the ground, saying, you know, does this mean that the UAE is specifically taking sides?

What is the message going to be?

And I think that's going to be vital in the next few hours now that they have released this information and importantly his exact whereabouts and

whether he'll be speaking up soon.

GORANI: All right. Interesting. Eleni, thanks very much.

Arwa Damon live in Istanbul with more on our breaking news coverage.

The foreign ministry in the UAE confirming to CNN that Ashraf Ghani, the former president of Afghanistan, who fled days ago as the Taliban took over

the country, is currently in the United Arab Emirates.

We don't know in what part or when he may have arrived but we understand he's there on, quote, "humanitarian grounds," according to the UAE with his


Here's a look at the country Ashraf Ghani left behind. We're seeing remarkable and sometimes frightening scenes outside the Kabul airport. A

couple of hours ago, our teams heard the Taliban fire shots to disperse hundreds of Afghans, clamoring to get out of the country.

Here's a man walking with a bicycle chain, lashing out with people in his way. CNN's Clarissa Ward was in the thick of it, talking with some of my

colleagues as it played out. Take a listen.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Taliban appears to be trying to disperse the crowds and there are crowds there of young

men, who seem to be just engaging in like criminal activity. I don't know if you've heard that.

They are kind of running towards the Taliban and then running away from them again, almost like it's a game. But you know, when there's bullets

firing like that, Brianna and John, it's clearly not a game.


GORANI: Dangerous when bullets are flying around. Earlier today, Clarissa spoke with people who worked with the Americans but cannot reach,

physically reach the Kabul airport to catch a flight out of the country. One of them is even a green card holder. Listen.


WARD: You can see we've got this crowd around us, which is -- which is never great, because, you know, crowds are always a little bit dangerous.

And most of these people -- let me ask you, sir. Are you waiting here to get out, what are you doing here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Most of the people traveling here, they are working with the Americans. (INAUDIBLE). We have all the documents, the

recommendations, everything. Joe Biden (INAUDIBLE), he announced, (INAUDIBLE) these guys who are working with the Americans (INAUDIBLE). We

take them to America.

But they are liars. Just they take these guys --

WARD: Do you work with the Americans?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, of course, of course. It's all this like a -- more than 50,000 people, they're crowded here, tourists (ph), all of them has

gone to the homes. This is so less people now they're here.

WARD: There are people here now --



WARD: -- fewer people out here now than there were a couple of days ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- yes, the (INAUDIBLE) -- our home is here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But all -- there is many flights in here.


WARD: Did you try to get in?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, but the Taliban didn't let you to go in.

WARD: Why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They would not let you.

WARD: What did they tell you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're telling us just to stay here, the Americans (INAUDIBLE) You need a American passport or American (INAUDIBLE). Or they

have the green cards were taken.

Otherwise, you have to stop here or to stay here. We tell them we cannot not stay here because everyday Joe Biden says we take these -- all the

Afghan workers, they're -- help us. We take them to America.

WARD: Have you applied?

Have you tried --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, of course.

WARD: --- and what happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They tell us we have to bring the H.R. letter (ph) (INAUDIBLE) for 2021. But it's impossible. All the companies logged out in

2014. It's very hard to find --

WARD: Are lots of people in the same situation?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, all the same. They have H.R. (ph) letter but they don't have the recommendation letter. But most of them, they have lost

their badge.

WARD: Right.


WARD: What's your message to America?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our message to America, we helped the America people. So that's their job to help now, right now here. It's a very bad situation

and (INAUDIBLE) that you work with somebody so (INAUDIBLE) --

WARD: I'm just going to thank you, sir.

Can I just bring you in?

You have a green card?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, this is my green card.

WARD: This is your green card.

He's showing me a picture right now of his green card. That's his green card.

So you have a green card.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. And I have flight on August 20, this Friday.

WARD: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I fill out the application for the U.S. embassy. And this is the emails that I got from the U.S. embassy.

WARD: And so did you try to get into the airport?


WARD: What did the Taliban say?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Taliban say we don't know, just go. We don't want to try to let you in. And like they say we don't have flights and --

WARD: They don't have flights?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, they just say it but we do have flights. We have flights.

WARD: So you're getting an impression, John and Brianna.


WARD: I mean, I'm surrounded here, OK. And everybody here has got a story. People who worked for the Americans. One man has a green card. He already

has his flights booked. Now they are pressing in. They want desperately to tell their stories.

They want the Americans to know, because they are not able to get past those checkpoints. They are not able to get past the Taliban fighters.


GORANI: Well, there's also plenty of finger-pointing today in Britain's Parliament. The prime minister Boris Johnson held an emergency debate there

a short time ago.

He told some pretty agitated lawmakers, it has to be said, that British forces have evacuated more than 2,000 Afghan nationals from Afghanistan so

far. He went on to praise those who, quote, "have risked their lives supporting our military efforts." Listen to Johnson.


BORIS JOHNSON, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: The sacrifice in Afghanistan is seared into our national consciousness with 150,000 people serving there from

across the length and breadth of the United Kingdom.


GORANI: Let's go to Salma Abdelaziz, who's outside the U.K. Houses of Parliament for more on that.

How many more Afghans who worked with British forces, British NGOs, are left to evacuate from Afghanistan?

Because there's a lot of anger about those who have been left behind, Salma.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Hala. Short answers: you're looking at a few thousand. Let's talk about what's happening in the

House of Commons still going on in the emergency debate. I want to point out that this is the first time MPs have been back since lockdown

restrictions were lifted.

So a very full and a very crowded and a very boisterous and very angry debate taking place there, Hala, with the predominant question of course,

being what happened?

How on Earth did this all unfold so quickly?

How on Earth did Kabul go to the Taliban so quickly?

And what was the point and purpose of those 20 years of service?

This was prime minister Boris Johnson's answer to that criticism.


JOHNSON: I think it would be fair to say that the events in Afghanistan have unfolded and the collapse has been faster than even the Taliban

themselves predicted.

What is not true to say that the U.K. government was unprepared or did not foresee this, because it was certainly part of our planning, of pitting the

very difficult logistical operation for the withdrawal of U.K. nationals. It's been under preparation for many months.


ABDELAZIZ: Hala, you see there the prime minister saying it's not fair to say we were prepared but you look at those scenes that Clarissa Ward is

showing inside the airport and it's absolutely chaos.

There does not seem to be a clear system in place. The U.K. government saying they're going to try to ramp up the evacuations to about 1,000

people a day.

What are the numbers?

Well, prime minister Boris Johnson's dedication to Afghanistan is going to be through a resettlement scheme. That's what he's announced today, a

resettlement scheme, that should see 5,000 Afghan nationals in the next year allowed to come here and seek asylum in the U.K.

In the long term you're looking at 20,000. Of course, the priority will be for women and girls, people from vulnerable groups. In the short-term, you

have another 5,000 additional Afghan nationals that have worked with the British government during this two-decade war.

They are also eligible to fly and to come into the U.K. and begin to seek asylum here. We're talking about huge numbers, Hala. And on the ground, of

course, the situation is very precarious. And prime minister Boris Johnson still facing that criticism.

And then we're not even talking about the long-term strategy which, of course, is what a lot of MPs are asking about there. Prime minister Boris

Johnson sort of kicking the can down the road. There will be a G7 meeting next week with other world leaders. That's when he says they will begin to

talk about future strategy.

GORANI: And Britain's army chief Nick Carter was interviewed on a U.K. network. He said essentially the Taliban could be different this time and

he said this about cooperating with the group now in charge. Listen.


GEN. NICK CARTER, U.K. CHIEF OF THE DEFENCE STAFF: We're collaborating with the Taliban. The Taliban are providing proper security around the

airport. They are keeping the streets of Kabul calm. And on that basis I think we're pretty confident that we've been given the space to do what we

need to do.


GORANI: And it's interesting because on another network he also said he believes perhaps that the Taliban could be different this time. That's not

necessarily the sentiment, though, on the ground or the sentiment of many people who know Afghanistan well.

ABDELAZIZ: I mean, extraordinary words in the interviews we saw from General Nick Carter. And I think critics would absolutely agree with you

and say this is simply too much too soon. Let me go over what he said.

He did say that he believes the Taliban has changed. It is not the Taliban of the 1990s, that they have not shown the ruthlessness and the draconian

nature that we've seen in the Taliban in the past when they did rule Afghanistan.

He also went on to say that Western governments should give the Taliban space to form a government and then went on to describe them as country

boys doing their best. So a lot of really kind of maybe way too soon language there, Hala.


ABDELAZIZ: It's very much wait and see for many governments. So this sort of gives maybe too much legitimacy, too much confirmation for many Afghans,

who feel this is way too early for us to recognize the Taliban as a legitimate force.

GORANI: Salma Abdelaziz, thanks very much.

It hasn't even been a week since the Taliban takeover. There is also finger-pointing in Washington over the fall of Afghanistan itself. Everyone

is trying to blame someone else for the chaotic scenes of foreigners and Afghans desperate to escape Kabul.

CNN has spoken to officials, who say the military thinks the State Department should have moved faster to order evacuations, while others say

the military and intelligence communities gave President Joe Biden bad advice about how fast Kabul might fall.

Our U.S. security correspondent Kylie Atwood has been speaking to her sources about how Washington got all of this so wrong. She joins us now

live from the State Department.

So where are we now exactly in terms of the blame game in Washington about why this unraveled so quickly and in such a messy fashion?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN U.S. SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. Well, under the surface, this blame game is very active right now. As you said, you have folks at

the Pentagon, who are saying the State Department should have pulled out their diplomats and they should have evacuated these Afghans, who worked

alongside the U.S. much more quickly than they did.

We told them that they should do this much more quickly than they did.

Then you have the State Department saying, we were starting that process. We were drawing down diplomats slowly but we were relying on the

intelligence assessments, that said that this was likely not to happen -- the fall of Kabul, the fall of all of Afghanistan to the Taliban -- until,

you know, 30, 60, 90 days from now.

So we thought that we had some time to pull all of this off.

And then you have intelligence officials, who are saying that, we said that the Taliban could rapidly take over Kabul. Perhaps, you know, there was

some different timeframes that they gave but they essentially were claiming that the Taliban were seeking full military control of the country.

So there's a lot going on here. But I think it's important to key in on what is happening right now and what the United States can do to surge

resources to deal with this incredibly chaotic and devastating situation, because you've got the national security adviser claiming that the Biden

administration did a lot of pre-planning for this.

They went through all of the contingencies and he said, even when you have good plans, when things happen, you need to adjust those plans.

Now what we're watching right now is how quickly the Biden administration is going to be able to adjust those plans, to really salvage what is this

true nightmare on the ground in Afghanistan that is the result of the United States withdrawing their military.

So we're waiting for details from the administration on that, because it is going to determine if they are able to successfully fully evacuate

Americans -- and these Afghans, who worked alongside the U.S. for the greater part of 20 years.

GORANI: Kylie Atwood at State Department.

If you would like to help the Afghan refugees or if you're a veteran, even, troubled by the events in Afghanistan, head to You'll find

a list of vetted organizations you can donate to as well as organizations helping veterans as well.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Still ahead, Pakistan opens both of its major border crossings with Afghanistan. What that could mean for Afghans,

desperate to leave -- ahead.





GORANI: I want to take you back to Kabul, a city in chaos still. Hundreds of people are camped out in and around the city's airport. They are

desperate to leave. CNN reporters in the city say the Taliban are increasingly turning to gunfire as a way of trying to control the

situation. Here is our Clarissa Ward, reporting from there just a short time ago.


WARD: Let me try to explain to you the situation where we are. It's very hectic. You can probably hear those gunshots. We're about 200 yards, even

less than 200 yards away, from the entrance to the Kabul airport.

We just drove through it quickly. It's absolutely impossible to stop there. And I say we drove through it quickly; you can't drive through it quickly.

It's bumper to bumper. Cars are barely moving.

There are Taliban fighters all around. We actually did see them physically (INAUDIBLE) with truncheons, trying to get them back. We've seen them and

heard them a lot as well, firing on the crowds to disperse the crowds.

It's a little difficult to see from this vantage point and it's a slightly edgy situation so I don't want to push our luck. But all along the roadside

over there, there's just hundreds of people, who are basically waiting, desperately trying to get out of the country.

It's not clear if they have their paperwork in order, if they have been declined and told that they can't enter the gates or if they simply don't

have the wherewithal to get inside.

Camera man Will Barnett (ph) is just panning off right now. You can see it's a pretty large crowd who's formed around us already because this is a

slightly unusual situation to be doing live shots from here, I think.

But it's definitely chaotic. It's definitely dangerous. I will say this: the Taliban appears to be trying to disperse the crowds. And there are

crowds there of young men, who seem to be just engaging in like criminal activity. I don't know if you heard that.

They are kind of running towards the Taliban and then running away from them again, almost like it's a game. But you know, when there's bullets

firing like that, Brianna and John, it's clearly not a game.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We heard the gunfire there, Clarissa. Give us a sense if the Taliban is firing into the crowds, at people.

Or is it crowd dispersal into the air?

Are they letting anyone through?

WARD: From what we can see -- we had only a very limited vantage point -- they are firing to disperse the crowds. They are not targeting people. They

are not trying to kill people.

But of course, the minute you're firing willy-nilly when have a bunch of civilians all over the road in civilian vehicles, people get hurt. That's

what happens. So there's not a huge amount of discipline, let's say, to use an understatement, in the ways in which they are dispersing the crowd.

We did see some people behind the concertina wire, implying that they had been able to get into that first perimeter. But I'm not going to lie. I

mean, you're running the gantlet to try to get in there because there are so many different things going on.

You can just hear the gunfire is pretty much constant, as the Taliban tries to push people back and, as a result, you're just getting lots of people on

the roads surrounding the airport, like the one we're on, less than 200 yards away.

You're just getting lots and lots of people sitting by the roadside. Some of them have their bags and they're just -- obviously have no idea how they

can get out.


GORANI: That was Clarissa Ward, really in the thick of it, just a few hundred meters from Kabul's airport, with desperate people, trying to just

make it to the airport. Some of them have the paperwork that they need.

Joining us now is U.S. Congress man Tom Malinowski. He is the vice chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He's written a letter to President Joe

Biden, urging him to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan until every American citizen and ally has been evacuated.

Thank you, Congressman, for being with us.

Have you received a response to your letter?

REP. TOM MALINOWSKI, VICE CHAIR, HOUSE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Not a formal response, not yet. Right now, the official policy is that this

mission ends on August 31st. That's the order that the president gave before Kabul fell.

And the Pentagon is bound to follow that order unless it's -- unless it's revised.


MALINOWSKI: I think it's pretty clear that there's just no way humanly possible that we're going to be able to keep the promise that President

Biden made to all of these good people in two weeks.

It's just logistically impossible, not to mention the difficulty of getting the situation at these airport gates under control. So if we mean it, we

have to stay as long as it takes.

GORANI: Our Clarissa Ward on the grounds spoke to Afghans outside the airport, who showed her their green cards and showed her the documents that

they were required to present to authorities in order to make it on flights.

And they have said that the Taliban are not allowing them into the airport. I just want our viewers there and also you to hear this one clip, with a

man who showed his green card on his phone to the camera.


WARD: You have a green card?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, this is my green card.

WARD: This is your green card.

He's showing me a picture right now of his green card. That's his green card.

WARD: And so did you try to get into the airport?


WARD: What did the Taliban say?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Taliban say we don't know, just go. We don't want to try to let you in. And like they say we don't have flights and --

WARD: They don't have flights?



GORANI: Congressman, what is America's responsibility towards men like that, who have the paperwork but can't make it to the airport itself?

MALINOWSKI: We have a moral responsibility to not leave folks like that behind. You know, that person had a green card, right. We're also talking

about Afghans, who helped our troops.

We're talking about women's rights leaders, human rights leaders, journalists, people who might be targeted by the Taliban and President

Biden has said that we are going to endeavor to evacuate all of these people. And that has to be operational right now.

And you know, some of this is -- is just figuring out, getting past this priority order, where, right now, naturally the -- the American citizens

come first. We want to put them on planes first.

But that doesn't mean that everyone else should be forced to wait in Kabul for the next two or three weeks, only to brave these Taliban checkpoints

later on, when the Taliban will be even more firmly in control. We've got to start letting everybody into the airport now --


GORANI: But it's not up to the Americans here. The Taliban are not letting -- sorry to jump in -- the Taliban are not letting some of these

individuals in.


GORANI: So would you -- what consequences then should there be for the Taliban -- because we understand there is some cooperation, some discussion

going on between U.S. military commanders inside the airport and Taliban commanders outside the airport.

MALINOWSKI: Look, we control the airport to some extent. The Taliban control everything else. And that's a limiting factor. We're not going to

take back control of Kabul in order to do this evacuation.

But I think one piece of leverage we have is the Taliban want us to leave. And I think that's why it's even more important for us tell the Taliban,

we're not leaving until this is done and, therefore, you, the Taliban, have an interest in facilitating this evacuation or at least not impeding it.

We also have a lot of firepower and you know what, we cannot just be at the mercy of the Taliban. The United States of America cannot be in that

position. We do have a --


GORANI: When you say -- when you say we have a lot of firepower and the Americans can't be at the mercy of the Taliban, are you suggesting that if

the Taliban are not allowing people who should be let in to enter the airport, that that firepower should be used against them?

MALINOWSKI: I'm suggesting that we need to control the situation outside the gates of the airport, yes. And if the Taliban are significantly

impeding that, then only not only do we not leave the airport -- which is something I think they would not want -- but I think we need to consider

using the very considerable means that we still have to -- to send them a message, yes, absolutely.

Otherwise this promise means --


GORANI: I was going say, that would mean potentially that you would support the use of force in this case?

MALINOWSKI: That is what the military is for. That's why this is a military mission. And, look, I get that President Biden wanted to pull us

out. We now have more troops in Afghanistan at greater risk than we had before the pullout and -- and --



MALINOWSKI: I don't like it. I'm sure he doesn't like it but it is a consequence of the way in which this was done and a consequence of the fact

that we made a promise that now needs to be kept.

GORANI: All right. And a last one, do you -- are you able to estimate how many people we're talking about here, who might still Be stranded and in

need of America's help to evacuate?


MALINOWSKI: I don't think anybody has an exact number; probably in the tens of thousands. I do know that, while imperfect, the State Department

does have a list of people in all of these categories, certainly SIV applicants, certainly leading civil society leaders in Afghanistan, who

might be threatened.

We know who these folks are. We know their phone numbers. We can identify them even if they don't necessarily have all their documents with them at

the airport. There are ways to do this. We just have to be committed to stay until the job is done.

GORANI: Tom Malinowski, thank you so much, the vice chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Congressman, thanks for being with us and it will be

interesting to see if you do get that formal, formal response to the letter that you sent the president. Thank you.

Still ahead, why won't Afghans believe that the Taliban -- believe the Taliban when they say they have changed?

Maybe it has to do with their past. Obviously, we're familiar with that past: public executions and stonings, denying education to girls. We'll be

right back with more on that angle. Stay with us.




GORANI: Let's get you caught up on our top story. CNN has learned that the ousted Afghan president Ashraf Ghani is now in the United Arab Emirates. It

was a guessing game for a few days.

The UAE foreign ministry statement says he's been accepted on, quote, "humanitarian grounds." This is all we know. We don't know what city he's

in or what emirate he's in. This comes as streams of gunfire rang out a short time ago on the streets of Afghanistan's capital.

The Taliban were firing shots, not at people but to disperse crowds near Kabul airport, is what we're hearing. It was chaotic, as people desperate

to leave Afghanistan have been trying to reach the airport.

As our teams on the ground there tell us, foreigners are able to get through but Afghans are having a much tougher time.

The Taliban are promising an inclusive government that will respect women's rights, to an extent, within the framework of Islam and sharia law, is what

they kept repeating at the news conference yesterday.

The group is clearly trying to distance themselves from the Taliban that brutally ruled Afghanistan 20 years ago but our Sam Kiley tells us it

remains to be seen if what they say will actually pan out.



SUHAIL SHAHEEN, TALIBAN SPOKESPERSON: We would harbor a new government, an Afghan-inclusive Islamic government.

KILEY (voice-over): Promises:

SHAHEEN: Women can continue their education from primary to the higher education.


KILEY (voice-over): Promises:

SHAHEEN: We do not want a monopoly of power.

KILEY (voice-over): Taliban 2.0, more moderate, inclusive, power-sharing?

From 1996 to 2001, the ultraconservative Islamists imposed a form of Islam that stoned homosexuals and shot female schools as it took over much of

Afghanistan. Women bore the brunt of this medieval ideology.

The movement was toppled by NATO and Afghan allies, intent on ending Taliban rule and the safe haven that it gave to Al Qaeda's plots against

America on 9/11. Al Qaeda was routed, fleeing NATO into scattered exile.

For the next 20 years, the Taliban fought back, taking territory slowly and refining its public relations, less effort on oppressing women and more on

building trust in local administrations.

But millions of Afghans, especially in the cities, were encouraged to believe in the freedoms and democracy that were stamped out by the Taliban.

So when they swept back into the capital, fear took hold.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If they have changed, why are they stopping women from going to work?

Why are they (INAUDIBLE)?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do I have a space here to work for my people in my country or not

So we are risking our lives just for this answer.

KILEY (voice-over): At the Taliban press conference in Kabul, its spokesman insisted that the movement had matured but insisted that all

human rights, freedoms and especially the role of women would still be determined by sharia law.

To succeed in government, the Taliban may have little choice in the face of real politics. It will also need help from the international community.

It's been burnishing its diplomatic credentials.

Here, the leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, sealing a deal with the U.S. that's now widely derided for shepherding the Taliban to victory. But the

movement has clearly signaled that it needs to govern rather than rule by force. The question is whether that is something the Taliban can or even

wants to do -- Sam Kiley, CNN, London.


GORANI: Pakistan has now opened both of its major border crossings with Afghanistan, its neighbor, to pedestrians. The interior minister of

Pakistan says Afghan nationals with Pakistani visas will be allowed entry.

He says more than 400 Afghans have entered Pakistan since Saturday and that the situation is, quote, "peaceful and calm." Pakistani prime minister

Imran Khan met with a delegation of Afghan political leaders on Tuesday. Pakistan says it will not make any decision by itself on recognizing the

Taliban regime but will consult with regional and international powers.

CNN producer Sophia Saifi is in Pakistan's capital of Islamabad and joins me now.

Four hundred people, that's a trickle, Sophia. We're not talking about waves of humanity here crossing into Pakistan.

Why not?

SOPHIA SAIFI, CNN PRODUCER: Well, Hala, from about early summer,, we're talking about June, Pakistan's prime minister had a conversation with his

counterpart in Iran. And they had this conversation that they will not -- they are going to be following Iran and not allowing any more refugees from

Afghanistan into the country, you know, depending what happens there.

And ever since the fall of Kabul, leading up to the fall of Kabul over the weekend, they have been quite stubborn in that decision, that they are not

going to let anyone come in.

Pakistan has been building a fence across that (INAUDIBLE) other large border with Afghanistan. They have fenced about 90 percent of the border.

So we're not going to talk about a porous border, where people can just stream in.

I've been talking to the UNHCR for quite a few weeks, asking them what their preparations are for anybody coming in, if things change in

Afghanistan and there haven't been any preparations, not very many major preparations on that front.

We do know that, in July, there were some basic tents put up close to the border. But there hasn't been -- they are very strict on allowing people

into the country at the moment. And we haven't really seen a major surge at the Chaman border in Balochistan, which has been opened for a longer period

of time, for about two, three days, compared to letting pedestrians in, compared to the Torkham border, which was resealed and then has only

reopened for pedestrians this morning.

So the main thing is that the border between the two countries had already been quite sealed because of the pandemic. So there's already been a small

trickle coming in or out. There've always been concerns about that. We do know that the aid agencies that are putting pressure on the government to

change their stance.


SAIFI: And the only people currently being given visas at the Pakistani embassy, which is now open, which is still open in Kabul, are to people who

worked for international organizations, people who worked for foreign media, Afghans who worked for international media and organizations. They

have been given visas.

There are three special flights that will attempt to take off from Kabul -- Pakistan International Airlines to bring people in. There's been a flurry

of phone calls, activity, you know, getting diplomats to get out of Pakistan to get diplomats out of Kabul. So there's a lot of flux at the

moment and things are changing day by day. Hala?

GORANI: All right, thanks, Sophia Saifi, for that.

After the break, people in Haiti also fear for their futures as rescuers struggle to reach the disaster zone left by Saturday's earthquake. We'll

tell you how the U.S. Coast Guard and others are trying to step in now. We'll be right back.




GORANI: To Haiti now and the death toll there is more than 1,900 after Saturday's 7.2 magnitude quake. Almost 10,000 people are hurt. Then

Tuesday, a tropical storm brought torrential rain and winds to the disaster zone. Relief efforts are still slow.

There is some hope, though, that things might pick up now that the storm has moved on. Joe Johns is in the capital, Port-au-Prince, with more.

What's the situation like now?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Hala, we are expecting a news conference right around now, in fact, from authorities in Haiti for

the last, latest information.

We do know that the numbers yesterday were not good. Indications that the fatality toll is up to over 1,900. The biggest concern on the ground right

now is getting supplies to the people who need it most in the disaster zone. And that has been a slow process.


JOHNS (voice-over): The wind howled and the rain poured as tropical depression Grace rolled ashore in Haiti. Shellshocked and weary earthquake

survivors took refuge where they could, some lucky enough to have a roof over their heads.

But most, with their homes destroyed or too badly damaged, doing what they could to protect themselves, with makeshift tents and tarps as the deluge

of the rain kept coming.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The rain fell on top of us. We slept sitting down on chairs. Nobody has come to help us. We sleep here,

sitting down. I don't want to go home. I'm in God's hands.

JOHNS (voice-over): Many of the survivors dealing with injuries, as they struggle to cope, waiting for aid. That aid is pouring into the capital,

Port-au-Prince. But getting it out to the hardhit areas on the south coast to those in need taking time, leading to frustration.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I am in a lot of pain. We've been promised medicine. I went to look for it and I was told to wait.

Yesterday, they distributed aid but I wasn't able to get anything. It rained a lot at night. We could not sleep. We have nothing to eat. We have


JOHNS (voice-over): Still, some progress being made. The U.S. Coast Guard among those agencies already on the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): In the past 24 hours, the Coast Guard has rescued 38 lives and transported 5,500 pounds of aid, medical

equipment, among others, for the affected areas in Haiti. We've transported 56 passengers and medical personnel to attend those affected areas.

JOHNS (voice-over): It's been four days since the 7.2 earthquake struck, flattening homes and toppling hotels and businesses, killing more than

1,900 people and injuring thousands more.

UNICEF estimates close to 1.2 million people have been affected by the quake, including more than 500,000 children. The scope of that devastation

and desperation becoming more painfully clear with each passing day.


JOHNS: Back live now from the capital of Port-au-Prince, we do have some live pictures from inside the disaster zone to show you.

A couple things to say, probably first and most important, the mayors of some of the localities in some of the affected area have sent word that

they are most concerned about getting tents and tarps to create shelter for the people who lost their homes.

And we do know something like more than 30,000 people lost their homes in the earthquake.

The other issue that is very pressing on the ground here in Haiti right now is getting the aid to the people who need it most. It's a slow process.

Most of it has to come in through air bridge, helicopters in other words, because the roads are very difficult to pass, especially due to the fact

that armed gangs often control roads into remote areas in this country.

So that's a problem and there's also a question about the roads being impassable due simply to the washout from the storm or else destruction

caused by the earthquake -- Hala.

GORANI: These images remind me of when I covered the 2010 earthquake and one of the very sad things about that is that some of the homes destroyed

then still haven't been rebuilt.

And here you can see a makeshift tent -- and I know that the need is great. They need proper tents. They need tarps. But ultimately they need standing


Is there any kind of plan going forward for -- for a proper rebuilding program to take place?

JOHNS: Right. USAID, the United States Agency for International Development, does have a team on the ground here, assessing what needs will

be needed, you know, in the short term, the mid term as well as the long term. So people are looking toward that, Hala.

But as you know, at a time where they are still searching for bodies and trying to determine even whether there is a possibility of someone still

alive under all the rubble, it's very difficult to make the long term plans. But that's at least in the works and we'll see how long it takes.

GORANI: Thank you, Joe Johns live in Port-au-Prince.

And if you would like to help the people of Haiti go to There's a list there of vetted organizations.

Let's get you up to speed on some other stories on our radar right now.

U.S. authorities say COVID booster shots will be offered to all Americans starting September 20th. They will be offered starting eight months after

an individual's second dose. Both the CDC and Food and Drug Administration need to sign off on this first.

Also among the stories we're following, Pope Francis says getting a COVID vaccine is an act of love and he's urging everyone who's eligible to get

vaccinated. He's making the appeal in a video that's part of an ad campaign organized by an American nonprofit and a public health coalition to boost

public confidence in the COVID vaccines.

Hundreds of firefighters are battling a deadly wildfire in southern France for a third day. Thousands of residents and tourists have evacuated, as the

blaze rages near the French Riviera resort town of St. Tropez. One person has died; 5,000 hectares have burned.

"Heartbreaking" and "shameful."


That's how the former commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan describes the U.S. exit from the country. We'll hear his perspective next.




GORANI: Afghanistan's former president is now in the United Arab Emirates, as the Taliban are solidifying control of the country he fled. The UAE's

foreign ministry says Ashraf Ghani and his family were welcomed on, quote, "humanitarian grounds."

Meantime, a chaotic and dangerous scene unfolded outside the airport in Kabul today, as thousands of stranded and desperate Afghans are still

trying to get out, too. A CNN team on the ground saw Taliban fighters encircling the airport, firing warning shots to disperse the crowd and

beating anyone on their way.

Well, even for many of those who can escape the country, freedom comes with a price, leaving behind family, friends and lifelong possessions. Earlier

we spoke with Nasrin Nawa, a Fulbright scholar at the University of Nebraska/Lincoln, who fled Kabul just days ago.

She said she gave up her career as a BBC Persian journalist and fears things will get a lot worse for women in her home country.


NASRIN NAWA, FORMER BBC PERSIAN JOURNALIST: It's just the start. It will be worse. Maybe they do allow women to do some specific jobs like police

woman. They won't let girls to have some specific sports (ph), like cycling, which everyone's used to be in Kabul (ph). And at the (INAUDIBLE)

they are claiming that they -- there is an amnesty. There will be safety for everyone and we accept all the society members.

But what kind of acceptance it has when you interfere with your personal choice?


GORANI: There's no short and of criticism over the U.S. exit strategy in Afghanistan. The former CIA director and retired U.S. Army general, David

Petraeus, is also weighing in, as thousands of Afghans who helped U.S. forces wait in limbo. My colleague, Brianna Keilar, spoke to him earlier

about that.


GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, U.S. ARMY (RET.), FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, it's heartbreaking. Frankly, it's also shameful because there are three

successive American administrations that failed to meet our moral obligation to these individuals, who qualify for the special immigrant

visa, a program that was really started at the very end of the Bush administration.

For those who have served two years on the ground with our soldiers, sharing hardship and risk as battlefield interpreters -- and then there are

many, many others.

There are probably hundreds of thousands, not just tens of thousands, who put their lives and the lives of their families at risk by serving with our

forces, with our diplomats, our development workers and so forth.

Obviously it's a scene of complete chaos and it reflects the fact that we moved so sluggishly. The bureaucracy around the SIV process was glacial at

best. And now we are seeing the results of that. And we have to do everything we can.

I've said this is a Dunkirk moment. These are friendlies, who are stranded. And we must help them get out. And you're not going to do it, by the way,

by micromanaging it from Washington and having names -- you're going to have to have people that are empowered on the ground, to whom delegation of

authority has been given.


PETRAEUS: Military, State Department and Department of Homeland Security, since they do, of course, visas and so forth, and allow them to make these

terrible choices that are going to determine who gets to get on a plane and get out of a country that is now going to be ruled by ultraconservative

Islamist emirate leaders, and those who have to stay and find out whether the Taliban going to be a kinder, gentler version of their old self or if

they will revert to form.

And I'm somewhat skeptical as to how that will transpire.

KEILAR: And I am curious about your skepticism on that. I do want to ask you about this process of trying to identify at-risk Afghans, eligible

Afghans, because, you're right, it does seem that this is largely being done from the United States, which obviously is not ideal.

I've heard from, you know, honestly there's not a veteran I've heard from who isn't trying to get someone out, isn't trying to send names to non-

profits, NGOs, the State Department.

Is it clear to you who is in charge of this situation there at the airport?

And what does the Biden administration need to do to get a handle on this?

PETRAEUS: It's not completely clear to me. I am also getting innumerable emails and LinkedIn messages and everything else from individuals that are

trying to get out or individuals who are trying to get others, family members out.

Some have figured out how to navigate this system. And it generally is, as always, you have to figure out a way around all the different obstacles.

Some have found a back gate and some have found out a way to link up with the entry control point.

There's some very at-risk individuals who I won't identify, who -- a group of West Pointers were able to figure out how to get them through this

chaotic scene outside the entry control point, through it and actually on a plane and now are in safety.

Again, this is not something that you can run from Washington. You're just going to have to put your trust in these great people, who are on the

ground, who have re-established security and a perimeter at the airfield, give them some broad guidelines and tell them to make the decisions.

And, again, it would be military, State and Department of Homeland Security, I think; perhaps some other agencies in there as well.


GORANI: That was General David Petraeus speaking to Brianna Keilar.

I'll be back with more on Afghanistan after a quick break. Stay with CNN.