The National Resistance Front (NRF) fighting the Taliban forces in Afghanistan’s Panjshir province on Monday accused Pakistan of providing air and military support to the Islamist group to help it take control of the mountainous region.
“The Taliban are not fighting with us but the Pakistani army and ISI are leading them. The Taliban are not strong enough to compete with us but the Pakistan Army is cooperating with them.”
– Ahmad Massoud, the son of famed anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, and Afghanistan’s first vice-president Amrullah Saleh who are co-leading the anti-Taliban forces in Panjshir.
The NRF military commanders in the region say that “Pakistani drones” were targeting their forces in Panjshir, which has emerged as the bastion of the anti-Taliban resistance movement in the Central Asian nation.
Pakistani aircrafts are bombing the resistance in the valley of Panjshir. Afghanistan is under a direct Pakistani invasion and the world is watching.#SanctionPakistan
— Habib Khan (@HabibKhanT) September 5, 2021
Several sources have also claimed Pakistan is not only providing air support to the Taliban, that several Pakistani military personnel had also been helping in the ground operations against the NRF.
Participation of #Pakistan Helicopters and Drones, Commandos confirmed by multiple sources in #Panjshir. Pakistani Commandos still present. Use of mines outside civilian homes, and the abduction of Panjshiris and Tajiks to be forced to the frontline also confirmed.
— S.A Richards (@skotrds) September 5, 2021
The NRF is said to have suffered many casualties as well as the loss of more territory to the Taliban in the overnight hostilities, with the group’s spokesperson Fahim Dashty and a leading commander, General Abdul Wudod Zara, killed by the Taliban forces last night.
Saleh’s home in Panjshir is also reported to have been attacked by helicopters, prompting him to flee to a safer location.
Regretfully, The National Resistance of Afghanistan lost two companions in the holy resistance against oppression and aggression today. Mr. Fahim Dashty, NRF spokesperson, and General Abdul Wudod Zara were martyred. May their memory be eternal!
— National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (@nrfafg) September 5, 2021
NRF’s leader Massoud also released a statement last night offering a ceasefire in Panjshir and saying that he was ready to hold talks with the Taliban.
Meanwhile,Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid claimed on Monday (6 September) that Panjshir had finally fallen to the Islamic militant group.
“The last stronghold of enemy mercenaries, Panjshir province, is completely captured … The latest efforts to ensure complete security in the country also brought results, and Panjshir province came under the full control of the Islamic Emirate,” Mujahid said on Twitter.
However, the NRF has denied the victory claims, saying that its fighters are still present at “all strategic locations” in the region.
“Taliban’s claim of occupying Panjshir is false. The NRF forces are present in all strategic positions across the valley to continue the fight. We assure the people of Afghanistan that the struggle against the Taliban and their partners will continue until justice and freedom prevails,” the NRF said on Twitter.
The allegations of Pakistan providing military support to the Taliban surfaced only several days after Lieutenant-General Faiz Hameed, the chief of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, made his first public visit to Afghanistan after the takeover of the capital Kabul by the Taliban on 15 August.
Hameed’s visit came against the backdrop of the ongoing consultations over the government’s formation in Kabul and amid reports of infighting between Taliban’s co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar and Anas Haqqani over some key appointments in the new government.
Anas is the brother of Sirajuddin Haqqani, who heads the terrorist Haqqani Network and is the Taliban’s deputy chief.
As per several media reports, Hameed’s visit to Kabul is aimed at forging a consensus between the warring Taliban factions. The Times of India has reported that Baradar had to be rushed to hospital on 3 September after an argument with the Haqqani Network members turned violent.