For the final three weeks, Ahmad Massoud, the son of the late anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, has been main the armed resistance in opposition to Taliban rule in Panjshir, the one province to evade the Taliban’s speedy takeover of Afghanistan final month.
The 32-year-old, who was educated on the British navy academy Sandhurst, is following in his father’s footsteps – the elder Massoud additionally led an armed resistance in opposition to Taliban rule within the Nineteen Nineties.
However whereas the daddy’s resistance was capable of relay fixed updates in a number of languages, Ahmad’s Nationwide Resistance Entrance (NRF) has confronted nice problem in sending out data from the northeastern province for the reason that Taliban minimize off telephone and Web entry final week.
This digital media blackout has led to an imbalance in data from the entrance strains of the battle in opposition to the Taliban in Panjshir. In current days, Panjsheris in Kabul and overseas have confronted nice problem in getting updates from their households again residence.
One Panjshiri civilian in his twenties, who didn’t wish to reveal his id for security causes, instructed Al Jazeera by phone that the scenario within the province was “dire” and “troubling” for the 130,000 individuals trapped there.
He mentioned that Panjshir is at present going through an enormous scarcity of fundamental requirements. For the final week, the Taliban have blocked the highway from Kabul to Panjshir, which makes it practically not possible for items to get into the valley.
“No matter meals individuals had of their homes, that’s what they’ve been consuming for weeks, now, the shops and bazaars are all empty,” he mentioned.
Afghan resistance motion and anti-Taliban rebellion forces participate in navy coaching in Panjshir province on September 2, 2021 [Ahmad Sahel Arman/AFP]
The younger man, who like hundreds of others fled from districts within the coronary heart of the province to mountainous areas as Taliban forces superior in current days, mentioned medical services in Panjshir have additionally skilled shortages.
“I’ve sick individuals in my household and I’ve no means of serving to them,” he mentioned.
At a information convention on Monday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid mentioned that the province was now totally beneath the management of the Islamic Emirate, because the group refers to itself.
“The peoples dwelling within the proud valley of Panjshir are an integral a part of the nationwide physique. They’re our brothers. There isn’t any bias in opposition to them. All of the rights that our different countrymen have, the individuals of Panjshir even have,” Mujahid mentioned.
Kaweh Kerami, a PhD Researcher at London’s SOAS College, mentioned the Taliban’s declare of victory within the province was based mostly largely on the flight of residents into the mountains. He mentioned the group’s declare at a time when so many establishments are left empty is extra a political ploy than a mirrored image of actuality.
“It’s problematic to cut back ‘having management’ over the entire province to some authorities buildings, police stations and district centres,” he mentioned, when the general public have taken to greater floor in concern of the Taliban’s arrival.
The younger man in Panjshir mentioned the Taliban members, who largely come from the provinces of Badakhshan, Helmand and Laghman, function in starkly alternative ways.
He mentioned some have handled the residents effectively and inspired them to return to their regular lives. However he mentioned that many Panjshiris will not be but comfy trusting the Taliban.
He additionally described a “second” contingent of Taliban forces behaving in a “violent and aggressive” means. He mentioned these forces have gone house-to-house, “taking no matter they want and abusing the individuals”.
Throughout his Monday information convention, Mujahid mentioned all Taliban officers in Panjshir had been initially from the province.
“All of the officers in Panjshir are from that province. The governor and his deputy are residents of Panjshir. All different officers are additionally appointed from right here,” he mentioned.
Militiamen loyal to Ahmad Massoud, son of the late Ahmad Shah Massoud, participate in a coaching train, in Panjshir province [Jalaluddin Sekandar/AP Photo]
In the meantime, unverified voice messages and posts detailing claims of “massacres” and warning of a attainable “genocide” have circulated on social media in current days. Al Jazeera was not capable of independently confirm any of the claims, which have induced alarm amongst Panjshiris outdoors the province.
Including to individuals’s fears is the Taliban’s personal legacy of massacres throughout their five-year rule within the Nineteen Nineties. On the time, rights teams accused the Taliban of finishing up massacres within the provinces of Bamiyan and Balkh.
In his most up-to-date message circulated to his supporters by way of Whatsapp on Monday, the NRF chief Massoud, whose whereabouts had been unclear, made a number of references to “strangers” staging assaults on Panjshir in current days, with out elaborating.
To many Afghans, the time period is a transparent allusion to Pakistan, which has been repeatedly accused of aiding and abetting the Taliban. Pakistan has denied supporting the armed group.
When former President Ashraf Ghani fled the nation and the Taliban took over the capital, Kabul on August 15, the Taliban inherited a lot of the navy may on the disposal of the previous nationwide military.
Autos of a militia loyal to Ahmad Massoud, son of the late Ahmad Shah Massoud, line up, in Panjshir province, the final area to defy Taliban management [Jalaluddin Sekandar/AP Photo]
Zalmai Nishat, senior coverage skilled on the German improvement company, GIZ, mentioned discovering correct details about what has transpired in Panjshir over the past three weeks is of the utmost significance.
“Proper now, Panjshir is a black field, somebody has to go and open it to seek out out what has occurred,” Nishat instructed Al Jazeera. Nonetheless, he mentioned the Taliban have made it extraordinarily tough for journalists and activists to acquire any correct data.
“The highway by means of Parwan province is shut, nobody can get by means of.”
He mentioned that at present, if somebody needs to go to Panjshir, they must go the good distance by means of the mountains of neighbouring Kapisa province,
Kaweh Kerami, a PhD researcher on the SOAS College of London, mentioned the Taliban’s severing of telecommunications networks in Panjshir “offered fertile floor for the dissemination of false tales and propaganda”.
In a single instance, a grainy video exhibiting intense preventing in a mountainous space being circulating on-line presupposed to be from current battles in Panjshir. Nonetheless, it later emerged that the video was filmed in Yemen in 2019.
He mentioned the unfold of misinformation has led to panic, anger and in some instances, incited additional violence and put a “choke-hold” on a province closely reliant on entry to the highway to Kabul.
He mentioned the dearth of entry to dependable communication instruments and the flexibility to share verified pictures and movies has led to elevated panic and anger as persons are unable to confirm or refute claims of mass killings.
“We’d like extra data to make an allegation of whether or not crimes in opposition to humanity, resembling ethnic cleaning and even genocide” have taken place, mentioned Kerami.
At his Monday information convention, Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, addressed the slicing off of roads and telecommunications networks.
“If the individuals of Panjshir have been harmed in the previous couple of days as a result of disruption of phone companies and highway closures, we’re very sorry.”
He mentioned it was executed to dissuade “those that wished to show Panjshir right into a hotbed of sedition”.
Nonetheless, Kerami mentioned it was a part of a siege “undoubtedly meant to inflict human struggling and ache” on individuals who had no entry to meals and medical provides.
He mentioned younger males who routinely travelled between Kabul and Panjshir, together with Panjshiris, weren’t allowed to enter the valley in current weeks.
With the Taliban now saying it is going to announce its new authorities within the coming days, all eyes will likely be on Massoud and the individuals of Panjshir, who’ve pledged to proceed their combat.