An Enigma To Invaders; Panjshir Has Galvanised Resistance In Afghanistan.

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When entire Afghanistan has been engulfed by the Islamist militant Taliban in their latest takeover, it’s the region of Panjshir that remains an enigma to them. Panjshir has always been the unfulfilled dream of the foreign forces invading Afghanistan and so is for the Taliban now.

Panjshir, in local parlance, means a valley of five lions and is located 70 miles north of the capital city Kabul in the Hindu Kush. Demographically, it is largely composed of ethnic Tajiks and has an overall population of above one lakh. The Taliban is on a rampage elsewhere but has deterred from attacking Panjshir owing to its history of resistance.

Panjshir was once the bastion of anti-Soviets resistance in the 1980s and is evidenced by remnants of the Soviets’ military vehicles and tanks.

In the face of the Taliban’s takeover, it has once again sprung the resistance movement against them under the aegis ‘Northern Resistance Front of Afghanistan.’ This resistance is led by 32 years old Ahmad Massoud, the son of the late politician of Afghanistan, Ahmed Shah Massoud who was assassinated by the Taliban and Al- Qaida.

Ahmad Massoud has given a clarion call to free Afghanistan and urged all Afghan soldiers who deserted out of fear of the Taliban to arrive in Panjshir. In clear defiance of the Islamist group, Northern Alliance’s flag was hoisted in Panjshir for almost two decades. Northern Alliance was an umbrella body of rebels seeking to dethrone the Taliban from 1996-2001.

Ahmad Massoud has sought the help of western nations like the United States, the UK and France, in his bid to thwart the Taliban. In a column in the Washington Post, the 32 old, acclaimed leader of Northern Resistance Front, has spelt out how he could foresee the fate of Afghanistan and stockpiled ammunition and arms for this day.

Panjshir’s resistance movement is countenanced by the first Vice President of Afghanistan, Amrullah Saleh. Amrullah has declared himself to be the caretaker President of Afghanistan post the exit of Ashraf Ghani, citing constitutional rule.

Amrullah Saleh being born in Panjshir to Tajik ethnic parents is a testimony to the Taliban’s brutality and had suffered in person. He had fought to bring down the Taliban in a part of the Northern Alliance and led allied with the CIA to carry out intelligence operations against the Islamist militias.

Panjshir back in 2001 had served as a base to US intelligence agents and special forces against the Taliban that led to the latter’s defeat. Now the western powers have no intention to take on the Taliban, militarily. Its significance will be decided in the course of time.

The Taliban now is in the possession of sophisticated armoury left behind by the United States. It has humvees, helicopters, drones, blast-proof vehicles and others while the Northern Alliance in comparison is clearly not at par unless stimulated by western powers.

The imposition of the Taliban’s dominium in Afghanistan after two foreign interventions will face impediment and resistance by the citizenry. Afghanistan’s numerous ethnic communities will also draw inspiration from the revived ‘Northern Alliance’ to mount a challenge to the Islamist group.

Dissents and defiance are already discernible with the appearance of red, green and black Afghan flags in numerous Afghan cities.

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