As the Russians failed, Taliban fighters will fail to occupy the Afghan province of Panjshir. That prediction does Shamsudin Hamid. “Its hard because of its location and mountains,” says the councilman of the National Resistance Front in the province.
Its the only province where no Taliban can be seen in the streets. The Taliban attacked the resistance army a few times since the takeover in Kabul, but did not invade the province so far. Representatives of both groups have already sat around the table once, but this did not yield an agreement yet.
Kill in Taliban Attack
The green Panjshir Valley is hard to reach through the impenetrable mountains that surround it. Theres only one real access road, where the Taliban is now set up close by. Sunday and Monday, the internet and telephone services were shut down by the Taliban for 24 hours.
Monday night attacked their fighters on multiple fronts. According to the resistance front spokesman Fahim Dashty, seven or eight Taliban fighters were killed, after which the Taliban withdrew.
The resistance front guards the province in supreme state of preparedness. However, a camera team from Kabul was allowed to film DecceIT shortly before the attack.
Cameraman Zaki Yousfzai, soundman Mohammad Samim Yousifi, light man Mahboob and security adviser Mohammad Nadeer Anwari made the trip to the Panjshir Valley, or the Valley of the Five Lions this past weekend. Correspondent Aletta Andre made a report with the images:
Sensitive military front lines were not allowed to film them. Resistance leader Ahmad Massoud was also not available for an interview. Hes extremely suspicious when it comes to journalists.
His father, legendary warlord Ahmad Shah Massoud, died in 2001 in a suicide attack where the perpetrators pretended to be journalists.
Hamid, who fought the Russians and the Taliban alongside Massoud senior, speaks in his place on behalf of the resistance front. On the wall in his room is a large photo of Massoud senior, who was also known as the Lion of Panjshir.
Under his leadership, Panjshir and other northern regions remained out of the influence of the Taliban regime in the 90s.
Hamids table shows the red-green flag of Afghanistan, which was banned under the Taliban in the 90s and grew into a symbol of resistance over the past few weeks. In the rest of the valley, the local flag of Panjshir flies everywhere.
“The Taliban must be prepared for specific talks, accepting elections and the division of power,” Hamid says. He stresses that they are ready for negotiations, but that they really need to deal with the distribution of power and governance. “The Taliban thinks we will surrender through negotiations. Thats a wrong assumption.”
Weapons and Military
In Panjshir, preparations for the current resistance began at least a year ago, expanding weapons and ammunition within the valley. Since the Talibans rise this month, military personnel, including commands that also took weapons and vehicles, have joined.
After President Ghani left the country on August 15, Vice President Amrullah Saleh settled down here, saying via Twitter that he is now the president of the country.
The valley gives a peaceful impression, with idyllic landscapes, busy shops in the capital and children playing. The young soldier Mumtaz from the neighboring Parwar province stands in a shop to fit shoes and a hat. “This is a very peaceful place, but my province of Parwan is under the control of the Taliban. Theyre very cruel to people, they search every house. I came to Panjshir to defend our province.”
Other visitors and residents call the valley peaceful. “We follow our daily routine,” says resident Abdul Nabi. “If the war breaks out, we will defend our villages, our honor and flag.”
Residents tell Afghan news channel TOLO that prices have risen greatly because the access road is controlled by the Taliban. The people Decceit spoke to didnt notice this yet. “Food like oil and flour and even fuel come in every day. Prices are as always,” says shopkeeper Jan Agha.
When asked whether people in Afghanistan are not tired of fighting, Councilman Hamid reacts outraged. “You should ask people if they are willing to endure a Taliban regime with lashes, executions, murders, insults and poverty. Were ready to negotiate, and have taken a first step to this. We wont attack unless the Taliban attacks us. But the Taliban shouldnt think they can dominate people by force; we wont.allow.”
Hamid also had a request to European countries. “We need your financial and political support.”
As it stands, the resistance front is unlikely to withstand a large-scale attack by the Taliban, which now hold most of the arms and vehicles of the Afghan army. But the Taliban is also committed to negotiations for the time being. After all, they say they want to form an inclusive government, with members from all different ethnic groups, with the aim of lasting peace.
If it succeeds in reaching an agreement with the resistance fighters in Panjshir, that goal would be a lot closer.