Can Afghanistan’s underground “sneakernet” survive the Taliban?

When the Taliban invaded Herat on August 12, Yasin and his allies thought that it would not be long before Taliban forces take over the city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

“Things were very difficult for Mazar, me and other computers kars Mazar’s co-workers held a secret meeting to decide what to do to protect all of our assets, “he said. kars had hundreds of terabytes accumulated over the years, and many could be considered anti-Tactan – even anti-Taliban.

“We all agreed not to remove it, but instead to hide what was dirty,” he says. “We thought that in Afghanistan, these regimes come in handy, but our business should not be disrupted.”

They are not too worried about being found.

“People hide guns, money, jewelry, and the like, so I’m not afraid to hide my hard drives. They will not be able to find it [them], ”He says. “I’m a 21-year-old boy, and most of the Taliban live in the past.”

Less than 20 years After former President Hamid Karzai made his first phone call to Afghanistan, there are almost no 23 million mobile users in a country of less than 39 million people. But the availability of the internet is a different matter: by 2021, there were fewer 9 million internet users, the alleged delay was due to physical security problems, rising costs, and a lack of infrastructure in the country’s mountains.

Hence the computer kars as Yasin is now found throughout Afghanistan. Although they sometimes download their information online when connected, they carry most of the information on the hard drive from neighboring countries – so-called “sneakernet.”

“I use Wi-Fi at home to download music and other apps; I also have five SIM cards online, ”said Mohibullah, another kar who asked not to be identified by his real name. “But the connection here is unreliable, so every month I send 4 terabyte hard drives to Jalalabad, and they fill up with the content and return it a week later with the latest Indian movies or Turkish TV shows, music, and programs,” he said. and 1,000 afghanis ($ 8.75 to $ 11).

“People hide guns, money, jewelry, and so on, so I’m not afraid to hide my hard drives. I’m a 21st-century boy, and most of the Taliban live in the past.”

Mohammad Yasin, computer kar

Mohibullah claims to be able to install more than 5 gigabytes on the phone — including movies, music, music videos, even educational courses — over 100 afghanis, or $ 1.09. “I have the latest Hollywood and Bollywood movies called Dari and Pashto [Afghan national languages], international music, games, programs, “he told me in early August, just days before the Taliban took over.

With a few extra features, Mohibullah helps customers create media accounts, set up their phones and laptops, and email them. “I sell everything – from A to Z. Everything except ‘100% movies,'” he said, referring to pornography.

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