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Ahmad Massoud Vows to Confront Taliban in Panjshir

by Newsweek Pakistan

File photo of Ahmad Massoud. Wakil Kohsar—AFP

Former Afghan government forces claim they prefer dialogue with the Taliban, but are ready for long-term conflict

Ahmad Massoud, the son of prominent anti-Soviet leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, over the weekend refused to surrender areas of Afghanistan under his control to the Taliban, stressing that war is inevitable if the Taliban refuse to initiate dialogue.

On Sunday, the Taliban had warned Massoud that he had four hours to relinquish control of the Panjshir Valley north of Kabul or risk retaliation from the Taliban. The 32-year-old, in collaboration with former vice-president Amrullah Saleh, has been shoring up support against the Taliban in the region since the Taliban ousted the Western-backed government last week.

“We confronted the Soviet Union, and we will be able to confront the Taliban,” Massoud told Al Arabiya TV, adding that while he was “ready to forgive the Taliban for killing his father,” the insurgents would need to ensure peace and security in Afghanistan prior to any rapprochement. Massoud and his supporters have called for an inclusive government in Afghanistan that includes representation of the Taliban, warning that war would be “unavoidable” if the Taliban refuse dialogue.

The resistance leader has claimed that government forces opposed to the Taliban have rallied from various provinces and gathered in the Panjshir valley stronghold. Last week, he urged the West to support the group, stressing that the alternative was “servitude” to the Taliban.

Long-term conflict

Separately, a spokesman of the former Afghan government forces gathering in Panjshir vowed that they were ready for “long-term conflict,” but were willing to negotiate with the Taliban. He told the AFP news agency that “thousands” of people had reached Panjshir to both join the fight and find a safe haven to continue their lives since the Taliban had taken control of Kabul.

Dubbed the National Resistance Front, the Panjshir cohort has been pushing for an inclusive system of government. The spokesman noted that while the Taliban controlled large swathes of Afghanistan, their resources were limited. “They do not have support amongst the majority,” he claimed.

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