The last remaining holdout controlled by the northern alliance force, the fall of Panjshir marks a huge victory for the Taliban. For the last three weeks, Ahmad Massoud, son of the anti-Taliban commander, “the Lion of Panjshir '', and one of the greatest guerrilla fighters of the last century Ahmad Shah Massoud, was leading the resistance against the Taliban rule in the province. Panjshir was the only province that was able to avoid the takeover by the Tliban’s armed forces of Afghanistan in August.
Ahmad’s National Resistance Front (NRF) faced great difficulty in communicating information and providing food and medical services for the residents of the province since the Taliban cut off all the access last week.
The virtual media blackout led to an imbalance in information, lack of fuel and arms supplies, from the front line at the battle. At a news conference on Monday, the Taliban spokesperson for Panjshir, Zabihullah Mujahid said that the province was under the complete control of the Islamic Emirates - the name by which the group refers to itself, and further added that“People living in the proud valley of Panjshir are an integral part of the national body of Afghanistan. They are our brothers and there is no bias against them. The rights of our countrymen are the rights of the people of Panjshir.”
Mujahid also said that the officials in Panjshir belong to the province itself. “The governor and his deputy are residents of the province. All the officials appointed belong here.”
A PhD Scholar from the SOAS University in London, Kaweh Kerami, said that the Taliban’s claim of victory over Panjshir is largely based on people fleeing into the mountains. “The group’s claim to victory is at a time when many institutions are left empty. It is more a political ploy than a reflection of reality.”
The primary reason for people’s fears is the Taliban’s legacy of massacres during their last tenure in the 1990s. Although they have claimed that this time will be different, the history and unverified messages circulating on social media say otherwise. The message’s detail claims of “massacre” and warnings of a possible “genocide”.
In his last message circulated amongst his supporters via whatsapp, the NRF leader Massoud, whose whereabouts are unclear, made multiple references to ‘strangers’ attacking the province in the past few days, with no further elaboration.
The indication of ‘strangers’ to the Afghans is a clear reflection of Pakistan, who has repeatedly denied support and aid to the armed forces.
The takeaways from the Fall of Panjshir
The new strategy to cut off the supplies and communication of the province has worked for the Taliban because it allowed them to surround the valley.
The speculation that Pakistan helped the Taliban with arms, ammunition and as the report suggests, fighter jets to out-maneuver the resistance is rife.
The US and its allies completely abandoned the Northern alliance.
Ahmad is yet to join the league of his father when it comes to leading a resistance against the Taliban forces.
The fall of Panjshir marks the success of the Taliban and the Pakistan military and a setback for India.