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Panjshir, once the hub of the anti-Taliban resistance, vows to fight back

Ahmad Masood (L) and Amrullah Saleh (R)

Has the Taliban captured entire Afghanistan ? The answer is no, or at least not yet. Panjshir, one of the 34 provinces of the war- torn country is still “independent”. Successful or not, it has vowed to fight the Taliban. The embers of resistance remain.

The former first vice president Amrullah Saleh has surfaced in Panjshir valley and his picture with Ahmad Masood(Son of Ahmad Shah Masood) and other local leaders is going viral on social media. It says, “New – Anti Taliban commanders, including VP Saleh and Ahmad Massoud are in #Panjsher right now”.

In a video clip, Saleh and Massoud with many loyal army commanders are seen  boarding a chopper.

“First resistance military force against Taliban is going to be formed by Ahmad Masoud. Panjshir is the only district in Afghanistan that Taliban has not managed to capture. Many ex-Afghan Army troops have joined him.”

In another tweet, it says that “Flag of the Northern Alliance has been raised in Panjshir, #Afghanistan. The movement is officially alive for the first time since 2001, led by Ahmad Massoud, son of its former leader, Ahmad Shah Massoud”.

The former Vice President Saleh has been asking the Afghan army to join the anti-Taliban resistance.

“All the troops should come to Panjshir and from there we will start the republican struggle,” Saleh said in his post. I will never, ever and under no circumstances bow to d Talib terrorists. I will never betray d soul and legacy of my hero Ahmad Shah Masoud, the commander, the legend and the guide. I won't disappoint millions who listened to me. I will never be under one ceiling with the Taliban. NEVER.”

Also read:  Can the son of the ‘Lion of Panjshir'—Ahmad Shah Massoud—also rise to shape Afghanistan's future?

Ahmad Massoud, son of the “Lion of Panjshir”  has declared  that he is leading the resistance against the Taliban. Saleh is the old comrade of the senior Massoud.

The 'Lion of Panjshir' is a figure not many in Afghanistan will forget for a long period of time. A veteran Tajik commander, Ahmad Shah Massoud was a grand, unifying figure in the country, instrumental in the formation of the Northern Alliance that was armed by countries including India and Russia, and that kept out the Taliban in this province. He was assassinated by suicide bombers of al-Qaeda just two days before of 9/11. Now the son, Ahmad Massoud says that he was open to negotiations with the Taliban militants to create "an inclusive government with the Taliban” through political negotiations but not by force.

While Amrullah Saleh & Ahmad Masoud are actively working in organizing a broad-based coalition against the Taliban. History is repeating  itself. The entire country is under Taliban rule but only Panjshir is left. Just as it was 20 years back. Unfortunately, there is no Northern Alliance now. The other two former Northern Alliance warlords have left the country leaving the Mazar-e-Sharif and the region to the Taliban. The famous warlordsRashid  Dostum and Mohammad Atta Noor have crossed the border. They are now in Uzbekistan.  Noor blamed the former president Ashraf Ghani and Afghan National Defence Security force (ANDSF) for the rout.

“Despite our firm resistance, sadly, all the government & the #ANDSF equipments were handed over to the #Taliban as a result of a big organised & cowardly plot. They had orchestrated the plot to trap Marshal Dostum and myself too, but they didn’t succeed. Marshal Dostum, myself, Balkh Governor, Balkh MPs, Head of Balkh Provincial Council and few other officials are in a safe place now. I have a lot of untold stories that I will share in due course. Thanking all who proudly resisted to defend their land,” Noor tweeted.

The other warlord and “Lion of Herat”  Ismail Khan, had to surrender to the Taliban and he blamed the Ghani administration and ANDSF. He said the promised enforcement did not reach him and the Afghan army just surrendered to the Taliban. Now, Ismail Khan has reached Mashhad, the border town in Iran, and a famous religious center. While another source says that he fled from the Taliban’s captivity like he did in 1999,  another insider claims that the Taliban provided him a safe passage after a deal with the Iranians.