The Resistance Front in Panjshir are self-sufficient at the moment, but once winter arrives, they will need external support to tackle the Taliban’s violent offensives.
London: The National Resistance Front in the valley of Panjshir has a mythical status in Afghanistan and beyond, this strategic stronghold of bravery and nationalism is opposing the Taliban. Colonel Ahmad Muslem Hayat, the former defence attaché at the Afghan Embassy in London, told The Sunday Guardian that this week the Taliban lost several hundred fighters at Takhar, Gulbahar in Baghlan, Parwan and Kapisa. Several hundred more were wounded, and at the Khawak pass Taliban tanks and heavy weapons were destroyed; at Badakhshan the Resistance artillery kept them back and captured several Talibanis as the prisoners of war;
“Taliban snipers who were using night vision could only inflict minor damage on the Resistance Army. The Taliban have encircled Panjshir province and their aim is genocide. The majority of Afghans do not want to be under the illegitimate control of the Taliban. The ethnic groups in Herat, and northern provinces like Mazar-e-Sharif, and the central province of Bamyan were never with the Taliban, the opposition is strong,” Hayat, who is also the mentor of Ahmad Massoud— leader of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRF)— said.
Now Afghan forces, commanders, Tajiks and others have gravitated to the Panjshir valley to join the Resistance. In Panjshir there is already a small government representing the Afghan people led by Acting President Amrullah Saleh.
On Wednesday, a message from Amir Khan Mottaqi— a Taliban leader who was trying to push the NRF into surrender— was posted on social media, and it made rounds all over the national and international media. Motaaqi talked about the end of negotiations and the start of a war. He said that negotiations on Panjshir have officially failed. According to Afghanistan media outlet 1TVNewsAF, the Taliban have appointed a new governor for Panjshir.
Massoud and the NRF had sought to resolve the fundamental problems of Afghanistan and the Afghan people through negotiations, while the Taliban made personal proposals; such as suggesting the presence of the leader of the NRF in the Taliban government or the presence of an envoy, along with Ahmad Massoud.
They offered the protection to Ahmad Massoud’s property and assets, which Mottaqi also mentioned in the message. The response of the leader of the NRF was that they are not looking for personal rewards and they are not looking for a position in the government. Regarding assets, Ahmad Massoud said that he had no personal property in Kabul, nor did his father. However, said Massoud, our grandfather left some stuff in Kabul but that stuff belongs to its heirs.
In his broadcast Mottaqi said the Taliban had besieged Panjshir from all four sides, and he threatened the Resistance with war and attack. However, the war had broken out almost four days before, on at least two fronts— the Khawak front and at the entrance of the Panjshir Valley. At the same time when Mottaqi was on the phone with Ahmad Massoud pretending to negotiate, he was actively threatening him with war. The NRFA’s response is that they are ready, they are ready to defend; not just for the sake of Panjshir, but they are ready to defend Afghanistan.
The Resistance Front are self-sufficient at the moment, but once winter arrives they will need external support— financial support to pay soldiers’ wages, food and fuel, weapons, ammunition, communications equipment, and also medical supplies for an Italian hospital that is operating out of Panjshir.
Colonel Hayat told The Sunday Guardian, “The Resistance will never surrender to a Pakistani regime, we are against terrorism and darkness. Freedom in Afghanistan is akin to freedom in the West, and the West will realise it sooner.”
James Glancy, a former British soldier and documentary maker has spent two decades in Afghanistan, travelling and living across the country with the Afghan military and with Afghan families. He has seen enough dead bodies carrying Pakistani IDs which evidently suggests Pakistan’s relationship with the Taliban.
Support is expected from the international community and specifically India, who Colonel Hayat says is the Resistance’s best ally, and could use Indian influence in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to keep the airports open and available for replenishment drops. Once it snows, attacks will be hard and the NRF will need supplies, thus air drop-offs from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan will be essential.
True to tradition, local warlords are prone to swap allegiance, especially when cash is involved. Tajik warlords need to be kept onside to keep the crucial corridor along the river open.
The Panjshir Resistance is making gains, and is secure and successfully operating as an independent enclave. Gains in other provinces are likely to follow.
The NRF have now have presence in the western press. Organisations like the BBC, The Guardian, The Times, Reuters and CNN are reporting about Panjshir. Reports are tentative, as there is not enough information. International evacuation negotiations are going in full swing, despite the reports that Taliban fighters outside of Kabul are practicing their usual brutalities, and Afghan citizens live in mortal fear of reprisals.
Once all the people are evacuated, or even worse, if some are held as hostages in Kabul, the West will learn once again that the Taliban cannot be trusted. It will become more apparent as to how loyal the Taliban is to Al Qaeda and how Daesh is operating in Afghanistan. Will the West step up or leave Afghanistan abandoned and allow the threat of international terrorism loom like the sword of Damocles over the West? Will Boris Johnson and Joe Biden continue to be spectators, or will they provide the much-needed support to help the Afghan majority to claim back the seat of power? All these questions shall be answered with time.