As the Taliban took control of the presidential palace in Kabul yesterday, an Afghan refugee living in Milton and his family back home were waiting to see if, or when, the extremist group's "true colours" would show.
Mohammed Bilal Bashir, 32, said anxiety was growing among his aunts and cousins living in Kabul, because the Taliban appeared to be "coming in with a different image — a different face" this time.
"From what people I've spoken to back home are saying, they're not as harsh as they were previously — they're not going in and killing people and committing atrocities like they used to."
Bashir said the Taliban had been telling people that women would have rights again and would be able to get an education.
"But there's still a big question mark over them because they could be putting it on in order to wash out the previous image that the people had of them.
"It would be a political advantage for them to find a place in the hearts and the minds of the Afghan people — for people to be receptive of them temporarily.
"Whether that's a temporary thing, or whether they actually mean it, only time will tell."
He said the Taliban had a history of committing major atrocities, like massacring people, and raping and murdering women and children.
"They're extremists and they're only there for one agenda.
"They've taken an extreme approach to our religion and they want to force it on the people living over there.
"I fear for everyone back home."
He said he fled the country when he was 5, and all he had ever known about his country was war.
He was devastated the Afghan government fled the capital, as the United States evacuated diplomats from its embassy by helicopter.
"I think they've used us as a pawn for their own games.
"They've pretty much left us with destruction, knowing very well that the moment they withdrew their troops, the Taliban would be just around the corner to come in and take over."
- Otago Daily Times