As it happened in the 1990s, the radical Islamic Taliban movement failed to take control of the Panjshir province in northeastern Afghanistan. The new rulers of Kabul said on Twitter on Monday that the Islamists now want to solve the issue through political means. They are keeping all options open: On Sunday it was announced that hundreds of Taliban fighters had been dispatched to the area around the mountainous province.
Panjshir is the only province not yet under Taliban control. In recent days, there have been reports of clashes between local militias with the Taliban from neighboring Baghlan province.
Today, Saturday, Abdullah Abdullah, the former presidential candidate and former president of the National Reconciliation Council, held talks about the future of the province with representatives of the province.
Notable Afghans from the valley have already expressed a lack of recognition of the Taliban as the country’s legitimate leaders. They want to wait for the outcome of the talks, but they learned from the episodes of Bank Tully that they should lead to the surrender of the territory.
They also failed to capture the province during the previous Taliban rule, from 1996 to 2001. The province was the base of operations of the Northern Alliance that fiercely resisted the Taliban, but its geographical location also has an advantage – the area is surrounded by steep mountain ranges and is therefore a convenient place to repel attackers.
In their advance towards Kabul, the Taliban have struck almost every province in recent months, but in Panjshir there have been only a few isolated attacks.
Ahmed Masoud, son of the famous fighter against the Taliban during the 1990s, is trying to form a resistance force from the valley. He asked the United States via the Washington Post for weapons for his rebellion. Masoud says he wants to “follow in his father’s footsteps in Panjshir”, but needs the supplies to do so. And through the local media, Massoud has already challenged the Taliban: “We are ready to defend Afghanistan and warn of bloodshed.”
It was reported that Massoud was accompanied by former Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh. After seizing power, Salih said he would not cooperate with the Taliban and would never acquiesce in the group. Since the escape of former President Ashraf Ghani, Saleh claims to be the country’s legitimate leader.
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