Afghans remember ‘Lion of Panjshir’ | world | Hindustan Times
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Afghans remember ‘Lion of Panjshir’

world Updated: Sep 10, 2007 03:36 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

The date was to pale in significance against what happened two days later, on September 11, but in Afghanistan September 9, 2001, is revered as the martyrdom day of one of its greatest and charismatic generals, Ahmed Shah Massoud.

On Sunday, thousands turned up at the historic Kabul Stadium in the heart of the city, and in the neighbourood of buildings bombed out in successive years of war, to remember both fondly and proudly the “lion of Panjshir”, the valley of Massoud's birth.

A few thousands from the eastern provinces of Afghanistan like Nangarharr, Laghman and Konar turned up late for the ceremony and the army had to fire in the air to stop them from forcibly getting into the stadium.

India had reportedly provided tacit support to Massoud during the Taliban regime with largely non-military aid. And on the day of the assassination, after one of the terrorists triggered an explosive-packed camera on Massoud's face, it was reportedly to an Indian military hospital near the Afghanistan's northern border that he was taken.

President Hamid Karzai addressed the nearly packed stadium at the end of the commemoration ceremony. Karzai spoke in Farsi, calling Massoud the real hero of Afghanistan. Karzai said Massoud stood bravely against the enemies of the country, against extremism and terrorism and against darkness. Massoud never left his country and gave his life for her, the President said.

But thanks to the hullaballoo outside the stadium, and the subsequent firing, his tribute had to remain incomplete. He was led away by the security forces.