Now Taliban target Panjshir, ‘hundreds’ fighters to capture Valley of Resistance

The Panjshir Valley, nestled in the Hindu Kush peaks north of Kabul, has been a hotbed of Taliban resistance, with anti-insurgent fighters gearing up to deal with the insurgents. It was the last Taliban-free zone in Afghanistan that had not fallen during the 1990 civil war, nor was it previously won by the Soviet Union.

The Valley now excludes Afghanistan’s Vice President Amrullah Saleh, who declared himself “acting president” after the Taliban took control of Kabul on August 15. A defiant Saleh even said that he would “never” surrender. Taliban.

Why has Panjshir not fallen yet?
The Taliban have not been able to capture Panjshir due to the location of the valley, which makes it a natural fortress. Its important location north of Kabul, in the Hindu Kush, gives it a geographical advantage. It was a stronghold of resistance against the Soviet Union in the 1980s and again against the Taliban in the 1990s.

Amrulla Saleh was also born in Panjshir province and trained there. Since it has always been a resistance zone, it has never been conquered by any force – neither by foreign forces nor by the Taliban.

“We will not allow the Taliban to enter Panjshir and will oppose and fight them with all our might and strength,” a resident told the news agency on condition of anonymity.

Unverified images show that the flag of the ‘Northern Coalition’ or United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan is once again hoisted in Panjshir. This is the first time since 2001. There were also reports that Afghan soldiers, who had managed to escape the Taliban, started reaching Panjshir on the call of Ahmed Masood.

Washington Post reporter Izzatullah Mehrdad tweeted: “Former Vice President Amrullah Saleh, Ahmed Shah Masood’s son Ahmed Masood and former Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi form a resistance force against the Taliban in Panjshir, Afghanistan.”

Saleh’s fight against Taliban from Panjshir
After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Saleh – who was part of the anti-Taliban resistance at the time – became an important asset to the CIA. This relationship paved the way for him to head the National Directorate of Security (NDS), the newly formed Afghanistan intelligence agency, in 2004.

NDS chief Saleh is believed to have amassed a vast network of informers and spies inside and outside the insurgency in Pakistan, where Pashto-speaking agents tracked down Taliban leaders. The intelligence that Saleh gathered is proof that the Pakistani military continues to support the Taliban. Saleh’s rise hasn’t been without its share of dramatic stumbling blocks, though.

In 2010, he was sacked as Afghanistan’s spy chief following a humiliating attack on the Kabul peace conference. Saleh, exiled in the political jungle, continued his fight against the Taliban and Islamabad on Twitter, where he tweeted daily targeting his longtime enemies.

The return to favor came in 2018 when he briefly oversaw the interior ministry after sealing the alliance with now ousted President Ashraf Ghani. Saleh became the former leader’s deputy prime minister. His most recent political resurgence occurred as the United States was preparing to pull out of Afghanistan and coincided with a series of assassination attempts on Saleh by the Taliban.

His latest close call came last September when a massive bombing targeting his convoy in Kabul killed at least 10 people. Within hours of the attack, Saleh appeared in a video with his left arm bandaged, promising to fight back. “We will continue our fight,” he said.

The Taliban said on Sunday that “hundreds” of its fighters were headed to the Panjshir Valley, one of the parts of Afghanistan that the group does not yet control.

Ever since the Taliban took over Afghanistan, a flurry of resistance has emerged, with some ex-government troops gathering in Panjshir, north of Kabul, long known as an anti-Taliban stronghold.

The group wrote on its Arabic Twitter account, “Hundreds of Mujahideen from the Islamic Emirate are heading to Panjshir State to control it, with local state authorities refusing to hand it over peacefully.”

According to a spokesman for anti-Taliban forces, thousands of people have gone to Panjshir since the Taliban took control of the country after lightning struck the capital, Kabul.

In Panjshir, Ahmed Masood, son of the great Mujahideen commander Ahmed Shah Masood, who was assassinated by al-Qaeda two days before the September 11, 2001 attacks, assembled a force of about 9,000 men to counter the terrorists. Spokesperson, Ali Maisam Najri told the news agency

Nazari said the group wants to push for a new system of government, but is ready to fight if needed.

“Government forces from several Afghan provinces came to Panjshir,” Masood told Saudi Arabia’s al-Arabiya broadcaster on Sunday. “If the Taliban continues on this path, it will not last long. We stand ready to defend Afghanistan and we warn of bloodshed.”

Where is Panjshir located?
Panjshir, or “Five Lions”, is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan, located in the northeastern region of the country comprising the Panjshir Valley, nestled in the Hindu Kush peaks north of Kabul. The province is divided into seven districts and consists of 512 settlements. As of 2021, Panjshir Province had a population of about 173,000. Bajrak serves as the provincial capital. It is now controlled by the Second Resistance, and is the only province to be occupied by the Taliban since the 2021 Taliban attack.

In 2004 Panjshir became a separate province from the neighboring Parwan Province. It is bounded by Baglan and Takhar in the north, Badakhshan and Nuristan in the east, Laghman and Kapisa in the south and Parvan in the west.

How is the Valley preparing to fight?
Ali Maisam Nazari told AFP that since the Taliban took control of the country after lightning struck the capital, Kabul, thousands of people have gone to Panjshir to find a safe haven to join the fighting and continue with their lives. While the Taliban controls the vast majority of Afghanistan, Nazri optimistically highlighted reports that local militias in some districts have already begun to oppose his hardline regime and form ties with Masood’s NRF. . “Massud did not order these things to happen, but they are all connected with us,” Nazari said. “The Taliban are very stretched. They cannot be everywhere at the same time. Their resources are limited. He does not have support among the majority.”

Why Panjshir hasn’t come under Taliban control yet?
The Taliban have not been able to capture Panjshir due to the location of the valley, which makes it a natural fortress. Its important location, north of Kabul in the Hindu Kush, gives it a geographical advantage. It was a stronghold of resistance against the Soviet Union in the 1980s and again against the Taliban in the 1990s.

Saleh’s contact with Panjshiro
Deposed Vice President Amarulla Saleh hails from Panjshir, where he was born in 1972 to a Tajik family, and orphaned at an early age. He was raised in the center where resistance began under the leadership of the leader of the Resistance Front, Ahmed Shah Masood, and joined the movement at an early age.

According to reports, Saleh’s sister was killed by Taliban fighters in 1996. “What happened in 1996 changed my perception of the Taliban forever,” Saleh wrote in a Time magazine editorial. He fought alongside his leader and as part of the Northern Alliance to topple the Taliban.

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