As the big names of world politics fly into Kabul for a conference on the future of Afghanistan, many of the capital's international residents have been fleeing in the opposite direction, keen to escape before the airport is closed down and the city put into “lockdown”.
Today cars in the city were stopped at checkpoints every few hundred metres as part of a “ring of steel” operation. Those foreigners who have not escaped have been banned from leaving their guesthouses by their employers.
Organisers have attempted to attach great historic symbolism to the half-day conference. Of the nine international conferences on Afghanistan held in the last nine years, this is the first to actually convene inside Afghanistan.
But even diplomats involved in the five-hour event roll their eyes when asked whether it is going to produce any dramatic changes in policy.