Fox News reporter recounts plight of friends in Afghanistan

Fox News reporter recounts plight of friends in Afghanistan
© Photo courtesy Fox News Media

Aishah Hasnie, Fox News's newly minted congressional correspondent, has spent the days since Kabul fell to the Taliban appearing on the network and relaying the stories of friends she has in Afghanistan desperately looking for a way out of the war-torn country.

Hasnie, who was born in Pakistan and has dual citizenship in the United States, said she knows at least three people in the U.S. with members of their immediate family trying to find a way out of Afghanistan ahead of the Biden administration's target withdrawal date of Aug. 31.

"I don't know what you want to call it — fate, destiny — that this was my first week in the Washington bureau, but maybe I was supposed to be here at this moment in time to be able to help," Hasnie said in an interview with The Hill this week.

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"It's not just me, it's other journalists ... anyone who has any connection to anyone in the media or the government ... they're reaching out to anyone who could perhaps get them on one of these U.S. flights." 

Hasnie, who previously worked as a New York-based correspondent for Fox covering the coronavirus pandemic, was selected earlier this month to replace Jacqui Heinrich as the network's congressional corespondent after Heinrich was tapped to help cover the White House.

The situation in Afghanistan has grown more desperate as the U.S. and other governments rush to evacuate civilians following the Taliban's takeover. The specter of increased violence has also been raised in recent days, with a blast reported outside the Kabul airport Thursday.

The Pentagon has been ramping up efforts to extract as many U.S. citizens and Afghans who helped the U.S. during the two-decade conflict as possible, with at least 1,500 Americans still in the country as of Wednesday.

Hasnie, who is Muslim, said having a personal connection to people who are struggling to leave the country gives her "invaluable insight" into the crisis playing out on national television each day. 

"Here in D.C. we're going to cover the administration, we're going to cover Congress and the decisions they make," she said. "But I think it's so important to do that in the context that their decisions literally mean life and death, not only for Afghans but Americans on the ground." 

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She said there is a tendency in national media and among the public to dismiss a crisis like in Afghanistan as limited to "some far away land," but noted, "there are Americans and their families on the ground literally begging for help and that is the story right now." 

Hasnie said she knows firsthand how dangerous the region can be, having been in Lahore, Pakistan the day the Taliban bombed a park on Easter Sunday in 2016, killing 75 people. 

"There was a bomb that went off right next to my grandma's home," she said. "My family was there, I was thankfully on my way to the airport." 

It was a close call that she said lingers in her mind as she watches events unfold in Afghanistan and worries about what the outcome of the crisis might be.

"I am very worried about my own family, I am worried about the state of this region and what it means for Muslims who don't want to live under this kind of extreme rule," she said.