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Panjshir Ready for Peace Parley, Wants to Amicably Resolve Matter With Taliban

Militiamen loyal to Ahmad Massoud, son of the late Ahmad Shah Massoud, take part in a training exercise, in Panjshir province, northeastern Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021.(AP Photo/Jalaluddin Sekandar)

Militiamen loyal to Ahmad Massoud, son of the late Ahmad Shah Massoud, take part in a training exercise, in Panjshir province, northeastern Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021.(AP Photo/Jalaluddin Sekandar)

Ahmad Massoud in a post on Facebook on Sunday said he welcomed proposals from religious scholars for a negotiated settlement to end the fighting.

The Panjshir Resistance Force have offered a peace settlement and want to amicably resolve things amid continuous attacks by the Taliban, Pakistani and Al Qaeda forces, sources told CNN-News18.

Fighters from the so-called National Resistance Front (NRF) — made up of anti-Taliban militia and former Afghan security forces — have been holding out against the insurgents ever since they took over Kabul in August. ‘Acting’ President Amrullah Saleh, and Ahmad Massoud, son of late mujaheedin commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, have been leading efforts against the militant group.

The sources said that now, the Resistance Force wants ‘elders’ to take charge and ‘stop helping the war’, immediately.

Earlier, Saleh had written to the United Nations, asking national and international aid agencies to immediately mobilise their resources to end the “war crimes” committed by the hardliners. Saleh in a statement spoke of a “large-scale humanitarian crisis", with thousands “displaced by the Taliban onslaught".

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CNN-News18 had earlier reported that Pakistan is ‘helping’ the Taliban in their fight against the Resistance forces, and that the country is providing air support to the insurgent fighters. Special Forces have been airdropped to fight the Resistance, sources had said.

Ahmad Massoud’s Call for Peace

Massoud in a post on Facebook on Sunday said he welcomed proposals from religious scholars for a negotiated settlement to end the fighting. “The NRF in principle agree to solve the current problems and put an immediate end to the fighting and continue negotiations," Massoud said in the Facebook post.

“To reach a lasting peace, the NRF is ready to stop fighting on condition that Taliban also stop their attacks and military movements on Panjshir and Andarab," he said, referring to a district in the neighbouring province of Baghlan.

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Earlier, Afghan media outlets reported that an Ulema council of religious scholars had called on the Taliban to accept a negotiated settlement to end the fighting in Panjshir.

“The National Resistance Front is ready to stop the war immediately in order to achieve stable peace, if the Taliban group ends its military attacks and movements in Panjshir and Andarab, and hopes it will end the war with scholars and reformers in a large gathering all inclusively. Keep the conversations going," he said.

“The National Resistance Front fully supports the call of the honorable scholars to remove the compensation on Panjshir and hopes that the Taliban will take this Islamic and humanitarian demand seriously."

Taliban Makes its Way Deeper

The move comes amid Taliban statements that their forces had fought their way into the provincial capital of Panjshir. The police headquarters and district centre of Rukhah, adjacent to the provincial capital Bazarak, had fallen, and opposition forces had suffered numerous casualties, with large numbers of prisoners and captured vehicles, weapons and ammunition, Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi said on Twitter.

Fighting was underway in Bazarak, he said. It was not possible to confirm the report, which was echoed on other Taliban Twitter accounts. Earlier on Sunday Fahim Dashti, spokesman for the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRFA), which groups opposition forces, said the Taliban “propaganda machine" was trying to spread distracting messages.

AFP also reported Sunday that Taliban fighters have advanced deep into the last holdout province of Panjshir. Karimi on Sunday reported heavy clashes in Panjshir, and while resistance fighters insist they have the Islamists at bay, analysts warned they are struggling.

The Italian aid agency Emergency said Taliban forces had reached the Panjshir village of Anabah, where they run a surgical centre. “Many people have fled from local villages in recent days," Emergency said in a statement Saturday, adding it was continuing to provide medical services and treating a “small number of wounded".

Anabah lies some 25 kilometres (15 miles) north inside the 115-kilometre-long valley, but unconfirmed reports suggested the Taliban had seized other areas too.

‘Odds Long for Panjshir’

Bill Roggio, managing editor of the US-based Long War Journal, said Sunday that while there was still a “fog of war" — with unconfirmed reports the Taliban had captured multiple districts — “it looks bad“. Both sides claim to have inflicted heavy losses on the other.

“The Taliban army has been hardened with 20 years of war," Roggio tweeted Sunday, adding that “the odds were long" for the Panjshir resistance. Roggio noted that the Taliban seized “a massive amount of weapons" after the US withdrawal and the collapse of the army.

Former vice-president Amrullah Saleh, who is holed out in Panjshir alongside Ahmad Massoud — the son of legendary anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud — warned of a grim situation.

The Panjshir Valley, surrounded by jagged snow-capped peaks, offers a natural defensive advantage, with fighters melting away in the face of advancing forces, then launching ambushes firing from the high tops down into the valley.

With inputs from Reuters, Agence Presse-France.

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first published:September 05, 2021, 22:41 IST