“The situation is difficult,” he said. “We have been under Taliban invasion. We’ve held up. We have resisted. The resistance will not surrender, and it will not bow to terrorism.”
He told the BBC that rumors of a Taliban victory were “unfounded”. But he admitted that conditions in the valley were difficult, as the Taliban had cut off telephone, internet and power lines.
It was not possible to obtain an accurate assessment of their respective military positions based on competing reports from both sides. Analysts have said the rebels’ main goal at the moment is to hold back the Taliban until the end of October, when the snow in the mountains will hinder military operations.
Reports that the Panjshir Valley had fallen Friday night sparked eruptions of celebratory Taliban gunfire in the capital, killing at least two. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid later criticized the gunfire and called on the fighters to “thank God”.
Mr Mujahid is likely to be appointed Information Minister in a new Afghan government whose composition has been the subject of rumors for days. Naming the new government structure was again postponed on Saturday, but it seemed increasingly likely it would only contain figures from the Taliban movement. That would contradict early suggestions that the group might be reaching beyond its ranks in an effort to appear inclusive.
The local branch of ISIS, Islamic State-Khorasan, or ISIS-K, which was responsible for the deadly bombing of the airport in Kabul last month, continued to cause trouble for the Taliban. A senior official from a prominent Western aid organization in Kunduz reported a number of killings of Taliban members in the last week of August, apparently by ISIS-K members, and even the raising of an ISIS-K flag, which was later brought down.
Pakistan, whose intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, has provided funding and indemnity to the Taliban leadership for two decades, showed its hand on Saturday. Both Afghan and Pakistani news media reported that the head of the ISI, Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed, had flown to the Afghan capital for talks.