Desperate locals had clung to the fuselage of departing aircraft in scenes that shocked the world.
The last US military planes left Kabul airport at 11.59pm on August 30, with the remaining civilians left at the fundamentalists’ mercy.
Two decades of Western-backed rule — in which women had enjoyed rights and freedoms — were over.
A land which had cost Britain so much in blood was now in the hands of an often ill-educated rabble of religious zealots.
That August, the Taliban, perhaps mindful of the sanctions it is under and its £2.75billion in frozen foreign reserves, presented a more liberal view of how it would treat women than many expected.
Mujahid trumpeted: “We are going to allow women to work and study . . . women are going to be very active, but within the framework of Islam.”
Unlike their stint in power in the 1990s,the Talibangave the impression of a more moderate administration.
Their claims have proved to be weasel words.
Women have been banned from university and secondary schools.
TheUnited Nationssays around 80 per cent of girls and young women of school age are not in education.
And women have been banned from working for many professions, charities and the UN.
Then, this summer, beauty salons were closed, leading to the loss of an estimated 60,000 jobs.
One 27-year-old told theBBC: “For us, salons are more than places to do your make-up. It helped us hide our sorrows. It gave us energy and hope.”
This week the Taliban claimed the reason for the gym, pool and park ban on women was that they had not been covering their faces.
Molvi Akif, the spokesman for the Taliban’s Ministry of Vice And Virtue, said: “It is very bad to see women (without the hijab) in some areas, and our scholars also agree that women’s faces should be hidden.
"A woman has her own value, and that value decreases by men looking at her.”
Also at theLondondemo was Shabnam Nasimi, whose family fled Afghanistan in 1999.
The former UK government policy adviser on Afghanistan said: “When the Taliban returned in 2021, extended family members and friends told me it felt like a nightmare.
“It felt like the entire country was experiencing a funeral.
"Women had to go through their closets to find old burkas they hadn’t worn in years just so they could leave the house.”
Earlier this year, the Taliban banned the sale of contraceptive pills in chemists in Kabul and the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.
The fundamentalists claim the Pill’s use is a Western conspiracy to control the Muslim population.
One chemist shop owner in Kabul said: “They came to my store twice with guns and threatened me not to keep contraceptive pills for sale.”
And a Taliban commander told one midwife: “You are not allowed to go outside and promote the Western concept of controlling the population, and this is unnecessary work.”
Chopped off hands
Shabnam, who runs the Conservative Friends Of Afghanistan campaign group, said: “The Taliban’s control not only over women’s human rights to work and study, but now also over their bodies, is outrageous.”
The Taliban boast of improving security, yet it has been achieved by a brutal “justice” system featuringpublic floggings, stonings and executions.
Some recent floggings were meted out for adultery, homosexuality and “running away from home”.
Other “offences” for which the accused were whipped included drinking alcohol, fraud, theft and drug trafficking. In the six months to May, the UN says 274 men, 58 women and two boys were publicly lashed.
In October 2021, a woman was publicly lashed 100 times after being convicted of adultery.
In January, the Taliban chopped off the hands of four alleged thieves in front of a large crowd at aKandaharfootball stadium.
Another nine men were flogged after being accused of “sodomy”.
A Taliban official said “cutting off hands is very necessary for security”, citing its “deterrent effect”.
The Taliban also claim that music “causes moral corruption”.
Last month AK47-toting Taliban fighters gathered around a bonfire in Herat Province as musical equipment worth thousands of pounds was burned.
Afghanistan National Institute of Music founder Ahmad Sarmast called the actions “cultural genocide and musical vandalism”.
And all while 15million Afghans from a population of 40million are in danger of starvation, and their nation is once again a crucible for terrorism.
A June UN report revealed that “promises made by the Taliban in August 2021 to be more inclusive, break with terrorist groups . . . and not pose a security threat to other countries seem increasingly hollow, if not plain false, in 2023.”
Indeed, 20 terrorist groups are operating in Afghanistan, says the report, adding that they have greater freedom of manoeuvre under the new Taliban regime while their link toal-Qaeda“remains strong”.
Little wonder then that Tory MPTobias Ellwoodapologised for posting a video last month in which he praised the Taliban for bringing “stability” to Afghanistan.
The chair of the Commons Defence Select Committee, who recently visited the country, said he saw “an eerie calm and a visible change in security, corruption and opium growth”.
After his apology, he warned that, without international intervention, the Afghan economy will soon collapse, “turning this country into a failed state, with terrorist camps no doubt returning and triggering mass migration”.
Today Afghanistan is a global pariah. Not one other nation recognises the Taliban as the legitimate Afghan government.
The women and children of Britain’s Afghan community demonstrating at Westminster believe the world has forgotten their kinfolk.