“We will never give up the fight,” wrote the leader of the Afghan resistance to the Taliban, Ahmad Massoud, on Facebook after the news of a capitulation of the Panjshir and his escape to Tajikistan spread. “We will never give up fighting for God, freedom, and justice,” writes Massoud. “Our people – he assures – will never tire of trusting God and will go forward to build a prosperous, free and independent Afghanistan,” he added.
The rebellious valley of Panjshir has been under attack from the Taliban for over two weeks. On September 4, the Taliban claimed that the movement had control over four districts in the northern province of Panjshir that did not obey them. Taliban representative Bilal Karimi claimed this on Saturday on his Twitter page. The four districts being Khinj, Annaba, Shotol, and Paryan.
The claim was refuted by the National Resistance Front (NRF) in Panjshir province. On his Twitter page, the NRF representative Fahim Dashti wrote, “Today, about 600 Taliban terrorists have been killed in different directions of Panjshir. More than 1,000 militants were captured or surrendered themselves.”
An NRF source explained to TASS, “Yes, the Taliban entered the province today, but the tactical calculation of the resistance was that they would fall into a trap… Explosives were planted at one of the entrances to the Panjshir Valley, which detonated at the moment when the militants gathered there. Suffering huge losses, they were forced to retreat in all directions. Neither Khinj, nor Annaba, nor any other area came under the control of the Taliban.”
He also denied reports previously circulated by several media that the Taliban had seized Panjshir Governor’s office. “No, this is not true. The Taliban fled from the gorge; they could not even approach the governor’s residence,” he said.
The head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), General Faiz Hamid, arrived in Kabul on Saturday, leading a delegation of officials. As per a Twitter user, AfghanUrdu (who writes in Urdu, which positions itself as – True news, analysis and information from Afghanistan), “Hamid promised in Kabul to promote peace in the region…Peace in Afghanistan has always been a priority for Pakistan, and we will work for peace in this region.”
According to AfghanUrdu, Hamid’s visit includes a meeting with the Taliban leadership; he also intends to meet with the ambassadors of Qatar, Russia, and Turkey.
It is not known if the visit has any implications for Panjshir.
Panjshir may show the mirror to the Taliban
Panjshir is extremely difficult to storm, even with the American weapons captured by the Taliban. Taliban may have some success, but it will be challenging to hold the Panjshir territory. The Soviet troops have already tried it. Taliban will need a serious concentration of forces to capture Panjshir, which requires a serious combined-arms grouping and serious planning, unlike the efforts of simple swoop which Taliban appears to be making now. Moreover, Tajikistan now intends to support the NRF.
In 1996, the Taliban could not take Panjshir. If the Taliban manages to capture Panjshir, the resistance forces may turn to guerrilla war. It will be wise for the resistance not to fight to the last bullet. Ahmad Massoud’s forces can dissolve in the mountains, gorges, and caves and engage the Taliban regime in guerrilla warfare. NRF is unlikely to surrender so easily.
The US lost to the Taliban’s long-drawn sustained guerrilla war. The same may happen to the Taliban in Panjshir.