Panjshir’s resistance stands alone against the Emirate

The Afghan resistance movement and emerging anti-Taliban forces patrol the Rah-e Tang in Panjshir. / AFP

The movement asks for help from France, the United States and the United Kingdom to resist, but the priority of these countries has been the withdrawal

Only the Panjshir has resisted pledging allegiance to the Emirate imposed by the Taliban. From the first moment, the great local leader, Ahmed Massoud, called for armed resistance against the Islamists, but as the days go by, contacts have intensified and at the moment there are no high-intensity clashes in sight, although there are some skirmish. “We are having talks with the Taliban and the atmosphere is positive. Both parties have decided to bet on peace and avoid attacks, “reported Hafiz Mansour, a member of the newly formed National Resistance Front, created to encompass all those who want to confront the Taliban.

Massoud is 30 years old, he returned from London five years ago after finishing his studies and is the son of the legendary Mujahideen commander Ahmed Sha Massoud, assassinated a few days before 9/11 and considered a national hero before the arrival of the Islamists. Since the victory of the Emirate, it has been lavished in international media with interviews in which it demands an inclusive government as the only way to maintain peace. “Our demand is great and it is not limited to Panjshir, like our work. Our fight is for all Afghanistan, “he recently wrote on his Twitter account,

This small mountainous province to the north of Kabul is armored by the natural wall of the Hindu Kush, and the valley that crosses the river of the ‘five lions’ (which is the translation of Panjshir) has been the scene of some of the most important battles that they are remembered in Afghanistan. The Afghan writer Natiq Malikzada points out that “Kachkan is the land that Alexander the Great could not enter and Kachkan is the first name of Panjshir; Genghis Khan also suffered to enter … the real difficulty to conquer it is its people. In modern times they were the ones who launched the guerrilla war against the Red Army, which later spread to the rest of the country.

Integrative alternative

Afghanistan is a melting pot of ethnicities and the top five are the Pashtuns, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Turkmens and Baluchis. If Kandahar is the Pashtun epicenter, the majority ethnic group in the country, the Panjshir is the bastion of the Tajiks, the second most important. The former speak grass, the latter Dari, a dialect of Persian. The Pashtuns form the backbone of the Taliban, the Tajiks try to move away from religious extremism and emerge as a more inclusive alternative of power.

“When it comes to fighting, the military assures that it is a valley that can be entered, as the Soviets did, but then the exit is a huge challenge due to its orography, sometimes an impossible mission,” says Malikzada. An example of this difficulty is that the bucolic image of the evergreen mountains and the mighty river splitting the valley is accompanied by a scrap metal graveyard of old Soviet tanks and vehicles. They have become part of the local scene that everyone has become accustomed to.

Now it is the Taliban who encircle Massoud’s men, in the eighties it was the Russians, who stormed the valley nine times, one for each year they were in Afghanistan. “The most ferocious of all the attacks was the seventh, in which they employed 30,000 soldiers, 200 helicopters, 60 fighters and 160 tanks … they could not subdue the militiamen,” recalls Malikzada, appealing to that epic to which the young man is appealing these days. Massoud and Vice President Amrullah Saleh, also a Tajik and a refugee in the Panjshir since the arrival of the Emirate.

As in the past, they ask for help from France, the United States and the United Kingdom to resist, the problem is that the priority of Paris, Washington and London has been the withdrawal. The Panjshir is left with his men, his legend and the mountains to stand up to the Emirate.

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