Former Afghan government forces forming a resistance movement in a fortified valley are preparing for “prolonged conflict” but are also trying to negotiate with the Taliban, their spokesman told AFP in an interview.
Since the Taliban took control of the country after a lightning strike in the capital Kabul, thousands of people have traveled to Panjshir to both fight and find a safe haven to continue their lives, Ali Maisam Nazary said.
There, Ahmad Massoud, the son of legendary Mujahideen commander Ahmad Shah Massoud who was assassinated by al-Qaeda two days before the September 11, 2001 attacks, has amassed a force of about 9,000 people, Nazary added.
Photos taken by AFP during training exercises show dozens of recruits performing fitness routines, and a handful of armored humvees riding through the valley northeast of Kabul.
The main goal of the National Resistance Front is to prevent further bloodshed in Afghanistan and to push for a new system of government.
But Nazary said the group is also prepared for conflict, and if the Taliban don’t negotiate, they will face resistance across the country.
“The precondition for a peace deal with the Taliban is decentralization – a system that guarantees social justice, equality, rights and freedom for all,” said Nazary, the NRF’s head of foreign relations. be a “prolonged conflict”.
Until a few days ago, there were talks between local leaders from northern Afghanistan and the authorities in Pakistan, he added.
While the Taliban control the vast majority of Afghanistan, Nazary optimistically highlighted reports that local militias in some districts have already begun to resist their harsh rule and have formed ties with Massoud’s NRF.
“Massoud did not order these things to happen, but they all have to do with us,” Nazary said.
“The Taliban are overburdened. They cannot be everywhere at once. Their resources are limited. They have no majority support.”
However, he said Masood had different views than Amrullah Saleh, lately the country’s vice president, who is also hiding in the valley and vowed last week to lead an uprising.
“Mr. Saleh is in Panjshir. He chose to stay in the country and not flee,” said Nazary, noting that Saleh’s strong anti-Pakistani stance was at odds with Massoud, who wanted good relations with the Afghan Taliban. -supportive neighbor.
“Mr Saleh is anti-Taliban and anti-Pakistani. That does not mean he is part of this movement. He is in Panjshir and is respected.”
The goal now is to defend Panjshir and his people, Nazary said.
“If there is any aggression because our fight is for defense only; if someone attacks us, we will defend ourselves.”
– Safe zone –
In addition to Massoud’s force, Panjshir now hosts more than 1,000 IDPs from across Afghanistan who have poured into the valley in search of refuge, Nazary said.
“We see Panjshir becoming a safe zone for all those groups who feel threatened in other provinces.”
He added that the province has seen an influx of intellectuals, women’s and human rights activists and politicians “who feel threatened by the Taliban”.
Massoud invoked US weapons in an op-ed published in the Washington Post on Thursday. Nazary told AFP they also need humanitarian assistance to feed and care for the new arrivals.
Massoud is determined to stand by the people of the valley and take on the mantle of his father, Nazary added, stressing that Afghanistan needs a federated system of government to close its endless war cycle.
“War is just a by-product of the conflict in Afghanistan. What has caused the conflict is that Afghanistan is a country made up of ethnic minorities… (and) in a multi-ethnic country, not one ethnic group can dominate politics and others have a presence in the margins.”
Nazary says Massoud’s resistance, and that of others across Afghanistan, is critical to bringing about this change.
“Panjshir has always been a beacon of hope.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)