Panjshir Resistance May Inspire Other Afghans to Rise Up Against Taliban
11:10 GMT 06.09.2021 (Updated: 14:59 GMT 07.09.2021)
MOSCOW (Sputnik) Tommy Yang - By standing as the last stronghold of resistance in Afghanistan, the fighting spirit of the people of Panjshir could inspire other Afghans to join them in rising up against the rule of the Taliban*, a former official of the Afghan parliament said.
Despite taking over most parts of Afghanistan, including the capital city of Kabul three weeks ago, the Taliban has been facing fierce resistance from the National Resistance Front (NRF) in the northeastern province of Panjshir in recent weeks. On Monday morning, the Taliban claimed that it took full control of Panjshir. The NRF said that the claims were false as fighting was still underway and that opposition forces were in strategic positions across Panjshir, known for being the site of resistance to the Taliban in the late 1990s.
The rapid collapse of the previous government under former President Ashraf Ghani in Afghanistan stood in sharp contrast to the stern resistance from Panjshir.
Never Lived Under Flag of Taliban
A former official of the Afghan parliament, who is from Panjshir and has been working closely with the resistance forces, argued that the people in Afghanistan never wanted to accept the Taliban’s rule and were simply waiting for the right moment to rise up.
"The groups and political parties, they were fighting against the Taliban two decades ago. But right now, they’re ready to start fighting against the Taliban once again. They’re looking for a chance," Fahim Fetrat, a former senior political adviser at the lower house of the Afghan parliament, who has been working closely with the resistance forces in Panjshir, told Sputnik.
Fetrat said that the people in Afghanistan were never ready to support the Taliban’s rule in the country.
"When you see the videos and pictures of people in Afghanistan trying to escape when the Taliban came to the capital city, they even tried to hang onto the outside of airplanes. All the people of Afghanistan are trying to escape because they are never ready to live under the flag of the Taliban. It shows the Taliban is not supported by the people," he said.
The former official argued that most Afghans remained silent because of the repression of the Taliban.
"Now, the people of Afghanistan are under pressure. They can’t raise their heads. If they have the freedom of liberty and the freedom to talk against the Taliban, nobody, even the repressed people, are not ready to support the Taliban. But after the Taliban took power, they killed a lot of people and they are very dangerous. That’s why most people were just afraid of the Taliban," he said.
Fetrat added that the resistance forces in Panjshir had been negotiating with groups and political parties in other parts of the country and trying to work out a plan to get other regions to rise up against the Taliban.
Political Collapse, Not Military Collapse
When the Taliban forces advanced to Kabul in mid-August, they met very little resistance from the Afghan army under the previous government and Ghani fled the city before the Taliban took over.
The blistering fall of Afghanistan into the hands of the Taliban was the result of political failures under Ghani, which was not the proof that the Afghan army lacked the strength to resist the Taliban forces, Fetrat argued.
"The last Afghan government’s collapse was not a military collapse. It was a political collapse under Ashraf Ghani and his teams. The army of Afghanistan was not defeated by the Taliban. It was the government of Afghanistan that was defeated by the Taliban. I want to stress that the collapse was from inside, not from outside by the Taliban. Ashraf Ghani and his teams just delivered the government and all the military forces to the Taliban, under the cover of political negotiations," he said.
When US President Joe Biden commented on the rapid fall of Afghanistan into the hands of the Taliban, he blamed the Afghan government and its military forces for not trying to fight.
"So what’s happened? Afghanistan political leaders gave up and fled the country. The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight. If anything, the developments of the past week reinforced that ending US military involvement in Afghanistan now was the right decision. American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves," Biden said during a press conference.
Fetrat argued that the US president was also to blame because he did not provide enough support for the Afghan military when he drew up his withdrawal plan.
"I think it’s very shameful for President Joe Biden to blame Afghanistan’s people. The Afghan people blame him for the collapse of the previous government and our national army, because it was the political mistake of Joe Biden and former president [Donald] Trump. They’re responsible for this collapse. They should give an answer to the Afghan people, because we lost our lives and all the investments that we made by our blood during the two decades. It’s very shameful for President Joe Biden to blame Afghans for the situation," he said.
Fighting Spirit of Panjshir
A spokesman for the Taliban said on Monday that it had taken complete control of the Panjshir province, while resistance leaders in the region said they continued to hold strategic positions and vowed to carry on fighting.
Fetrat explained how Panjshir was able to put up this kind of resistance efforts against the Taliban.
"I am from Panjshir and I know the people of Panjshir. If you read the stories of Panjshir, we defeated many transgressions of Panjshir, first from Russia [the Soviet invasion in the 1980s] and then the Taliban [in 1990s]. So we have enough capacity, the military forces and everything we need to defeat the enemies. And Panjshir will be free," he said.
Many of the weapons used by the resistance forces in Panjshir today were left by the former Soviet Union, after the local forces fended off that invasion, Fetrat said.
"We have lot of military equipment, such as tanks, from the past. Now, most of the heavy weapons used in Panjshir are made by Russia. They’re not made by the Americans. We have heavy weapons from the past. They’re stronger than the Taliban’s weapons," he said.
The arsenal of the resistance forces in Panjshir included the BM-21, a Soviet truck-mounted 122 mm multiple rocket launcher, and the T62 tank, Fetrat added.
When the US forces tried to confiscate those heavy weapons in 2005, the local forces refused to comply and were able to keep those weapons.
Nevertheless, Fetrat acknowledged that the resistance force in Panjshir may need additional support from the outside, especially in terms air support from advanced warplanes.
That is why Fetrat called on the international community to provide more support to the people of Panjshir in their battle for freedom and struggle against the Taliban.