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Are anti-Taliban leaders Massoud and Saleh in Tajikistan?

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Ahmad Massoud (L) and the “acting” president of Afghanistan Amrullah Saleh (R). (File Photo)

It has been more than two weeks since the Taliban captured many parts of Panjshir Valley- the last stronghold of resistance.

But  there is still no news about two leaders of the National Resistance Force- Ahmad Massoud and the “acting” president of Afghanistan Amrullah Saleh. While the various social accounts related to the NRF and supporters of Massoud and Saleh said that they have not posted the fresh pictures or videos of these two leaders for security reasons, there have been reports that Massoud and Saleh are both safe in Dushanbe, capital of Tajikistan. The reports also suggested that they have not abandoned the resistance force which has been waging guerrilla attacks on the Taliban forces, apart from trying to get international support.

AFGHAN RESISTANCE LEADERS, LONG BACKED BY CIA, HAVE FLED FOLLOWING TALIBAN TAKEOVER

Emomali Rahmon, Tajikistan’s long-time President, has good reason to shelter Massoud and Saleh. Both men are ethnic Tajiks, Afghanistan’s second-largest ethnic group. Massoud’s father played a key role in ending an Islamist insurgency against Rahmon’s rule in 1997, a role for which he was recently posthumously awarded the country’s highest civilian honour.

Also Read :  Tajikistan confers highest awards to resistance icons Ahmad Shah Massoud and Burhanuddin Rabbani

On September 23, the US Congressman Mike Waltz and Senator Lindsey Graham said in a joint press release that they have spoken to Ahmad Massoud and promised him all the support. Several prominent Republicans, including Graham and Mike Waltz have called on the US  President Joe Biden to recognise Saleh and Massoud as Afghanistan’s rightful leaders.

“We appreciated hearing his continued commitment to resisting the brutality of the Afghan Taliban and standing for basic human rights and freedoms. It is clear to us after this conversation that the Afghan Taliban are deeply unpopular and resented throughout the country. Their cabinet and forces are Al-Qaeda and other listed terrorist groups. It is in America’s interest that the Afghan Taliban not be legitimized by the international community because they are, and have been, terrorists,” said the release.

According to the NewYork Times, Ahmad Massoud, the son of the legend “lion of Panjshir” has also hired a Washington lobbyist to present his case on Capitol Hill as well as to the Biden administration. He signed the contract with Robert Stryk, who has worked on Afghanistan issues before.  His lobbying firm was paid $160,000 to represent the then Afghan government in 2017 and last month he ‘helped” in arranging private flights out of Afghanistan amid chaos during US withdrawal. Struggle for Control of Afghanistan Comes to K Street

Amrullah Saleh last tweeted on September 3, as the Taliban began encircling Panjshir. In a video clip, he dismissed reports that he had already fled Afghanistan as totally baseless. “I am here with my soil, for my soil and defending its dignity,” he wrote.

It was after September 3 when the Taliban forces with the help of Pakistani air force and drones intensified their attacks on Panjshir Valley killing few close relatives and commanders of resistance leaders.

Also Read :  Panjshir fighters say they are standing firm in war with Pakistan-backed Taliban forces