The leader of Afghanistan’s last major outpost of anti-Taliban resistance Ahmad Massoud declared that he hoped to hold peace talks with the Islamist movement. The movement took power in Kabul a week ago but now he stated that his forces were ready to fight.
“We want to make the Taliban realize that the only way forward is through negotiation,” he told Reuters through a telephonic conversation from his stronghold in the mountainous Panjshir valley northwest Kabul. Here he has assembled some forces made up of remnants of regular army units and special forces as well as local militia fighters.
On the other side, Massoud, son of Ahmad Shah Massoud, one of the main leaders of Afghanistan’s anti-Soviet resistance in the 1980s, stated that his supporters were all ready to fight if Taliban forces as they tried to invade the valley.
“They want to defend, they want to fight, they want to resist against any totalitarian regime,” he said.
Massoud, last week said that he has no such plans for the seizure of three districts in the northern province of Baghlan bordering Panjshir, which he said had been done by local militia groups responding to “cruelty” in the area.
Anti-Taliban leader also called for a general, broad-based government in Kabul serving all of Afghanistan’s different ethnic groups. Massoud stated that the “totalitarian regime” should not be recognized by the international community. However, many outside observers have questioned whether Massoud’s forces will be able to resist for long without outside support.
He stated that his forces, which one aide numbered more than 6,000, have the possibility to ask for some international support if it came to fighting. But he said they did not just come from Panjshir, the core region of the Taliban movement.
“There are many other people from many other provinces who are seeking refuge in the Panjshir valley who are standing with us and who do not want to accept another identity for Afghanistan,” he said.