What is Panjshir Resistance? 10 things to know about alliance against Taliban
The Panjshir Valley remains the last area of Afghanistan standing strong against the Taliban. Afghan ambassador to Tajikistan Zahir Aghbar has said that this province will serve as a stronghold for resistance against the Taliban by Amrullah Saleh, the first vice president of the erstwhile Afghan government who has claimed himself as the acting president of Afghanistan. The Afghan embassy in Dushanbe in Tajikistan put up the portrait of Amrullah Saleh as the caretaker head of state.
While resistance is being fomented from the valley, here are 10 things you must know about the Panjshir valley.
1. The valley is located north of Kabul in the Hindu Kush. This was a resistance stronghold against the Soviets in the 1980s and then against the Taliban in the 1990s.
2. Amrullah Saleh was born in Panjshir province and was trained there.
3. Since it always remained the resistance zone, it was never conquered by any forces -- neither by foreign forces nor by the Taliban.
4. Panjshir valley means the valley of the five lions. The name acknowledges a legend that says back in the 10th century, five brothers managed to contain the floodwaters. They built a dam for Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni, it is said.
5. The valley is home to over one lakh people and many of them are Tajiks. The valley has the country's largest concentration of ethnic Tajiks.
6. The valley is the epicentre of what is being called the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan or the Second Resistance. Ahmad Massoud, Amrullah Saleh, Bismillah Khan Mohammadi are the leaders of the Panjshir Resistance.
7. This is also being called a renewed Northern Alliance. Northern Alliance was the coalition of rebel groups that opposed the Taliban rule between 1996 and 2001. Apart from Ahmad Shah Massoud, Amrullah Saleh, the alliance included Karim Khalili, Abdul Rashid Dostum, Abdullah Abdullah, Mohammad Mohaqiq, Abdul Qadir, Asif Mohseni etc.
8. The Taliban have not attacked Panjshir and many believe that it is because of the location of the valley, which makes it a natural fortress.
9. The whereabouts of Amrullah Saleh is not known but he is believed to be in Panjshir. On Thursday, he took to Twitter and wrote, "Nations must respect the rule of law, not violence. Afghanistan is too big for Pakistan to swallow and too big for Talibs to govern. Don't let your histories have a chapter on humiliation and bowing to terror groups."
10. Ahmad Massoud, son of Ahmad Shah Massaoud, has sought help from the West. In an opinion piece published in the Washington Post, he wrote, "I write from the Panjshir Valley today, ready to follow in my father’s footsteps, with mujahideen fighters who are prepared to once again take on the Taliban. We have stores of ammunition and arms that we have patiently collected since my father’s time, because we knew this day might come...The Taliban is not a problem for the Afghan people alone. Under Taliban control, Afghanistan will without doubt become ground zero of radical Islamist terrorism; plots against democracies will be hatched here once again."