August 22, 2021
Former Afghan government forces forming a resistance movement in Panjshir fortified valley northeast of Kabul are preparing for “long-term conflict” after the takeover of the war-ravaged Asian country by the militant group, an official says.
Ali Maisam Nazary, an official from Ahmad Massoud’s National Resistance Front said in an interview on Sunday that the group’s main goal was to avoid further bloodshed in Afghanistan and press for a new system of government.
But Nazary said the group is also prepared for conflict, and if the Taliban do not negotiate they will face resistance across the war-raved country.
“The conditions for a peace deal with the Taliban is decentralization — a system that ensures social justice, equality, rights, and freedom for all,” said Nazary, adding if the Taliban do not agree there will be “long-term conflict.”
Nazary also optimistically highlighted reports that local militias in some districts have already begun resisting Taliban rule and have formed links with Massoud’s NRF.
“Massoud did not give the order for these things to happen but they are all associated with us,” he said.
“The Taliban are overstretched. They cannot be everywhere at the same time. Their resources are limited. They do not have support amongst the majority.”
“War is just a byproduct of 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 you cannot have one ethnic group dominate politics and others having a presence in the margins.”
Nazary went onto say that Massoud’s resistance, and others across Afghanistan, were vital in making this change happen.
“Panjshir has always been a beacon of hope.”
“If there is any aggression because our fight is only for defense; if anyone attacks us we will defend ourselves.”
Elsewhere in his remarks, he said the province has seen an influx of intellectuals, women’s and human rights activists, and politicians “who feel threatened by the Taliban”. Nazary stressed that the aim right now was to defend Panjshir and its people.
In recent days, former Vice President Amrullah Saleh and Ahmad Massoud, son of former commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, have vowed to resist the Taliban from Panjshir.
People close to Massoud say that about 9,000 fighters, made up of remnants of army and Special Forces units as well as local militia groups, have gathered in the valley.
The mountainous Panjshir valley remains the only holdout against the Taliban after the militants took control of Afghanistan.
The 32-year-old son of late Ahmad Shah Massoud has pledged to hold out against the Taliban from his stronghold in the Panjshir valley. The region is known for its natural defenses and was also held out against the Taliban when they ruled Afghanistan in 1996-2001.
In a recent Washington Post editorial, Ahmad Massoud said members of the Afghan military including some from the elite Special Forces units had rallied to his cause and he had appealed to some countries for help.
Several countries have been cautiously optimistic about the new leadership in Kabul and are seeking contact with the militants in an effort to avoid instability spilling over to neighboring ex-Soviet states.
The US messy withdraw put an end to a futile two-decade-long war the United States waged in Afghanistan.
For now, the Taliban have vowed to respect the rights of women, seek good relations with other countries, and not to exact retribution on former members of the Afghan military. Many Afghans remain skeptical, however.