By Ali Ahmad
In an exclusive message to the Macdonald-Laurier Institute (MLI), the former vice president of Afghanistan and one of the leaders of the newly formed resistance front against Taliban in the Panjshir Valley, Amrullah Saleh, vowed to prevent Afghanistan from becoming “Talibanistan”. He aims to do so by fighting Pakistani proxies. On Monday, the Taliban claimed that they have captured Panjshir which is the only province resisting the Taliban’s oppressive rule. Some 80km north of Kabul and home to between 150,000 and 200,000 people, Panjshir was the center of resistance under the first Taliban regime between 1996 and 2001.
The US backed Afghan government swiftly collapsed on the 15th of August and left a vacuum of power that the Taliban quickly occupied. This rapid course of events shocked many world leaders including the US President, Joe Biden. After the former Afghan president fled the country, Amrullah Saleh sought refuge in Panjshir to form the National Resistance Front (NRF) with a former warlord’s son, Ahmad Massoud and some members of the ex-Afghan security forces.
In his message to MLI, Saleh pleaded for Canadians to support his resistance to ensure pluralism and women’s rights in Afghanistan. He pleaded with Canadians for moral, political and material support. “We are standing for pluralism. We are standing for the dignity of humankind. We are standing for the beauty of Afghanistan,” he reiterated. “Afghanistan is not dead, it is wounded. Freedom is not dead, it is wounded. Liberty is not dead, it is wounded,” said the fugitive resistance leader from Panjshir. It was widely reported on Monday that Saleh escaped to Tajikistan after the Taliban claimed victory in the Panjshir valley.
Saleh still believes that Afghanistan is ‘savable’ and that the situation can be reversed with the right strategies and policies. According to Saleh, the Pakistani army and intelligence are the main force behind Taliban’s military success. They have assisted the Taliban to take over Afghanistan. Selah therefore asked the United Nations to acknowledge Pakistan’s brutal role in “this humiliation and defeat.”
“We should not let this beautiful country be totally controlled and dominated by an oppressive regime/group with very clear links to Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations in the region and beyond,” stated Saleh. In his plea, Saleh said that abandoning Afghanistan and its people is not the solution, nor losing hope or surrendering to darkness. “The solution is standing tall, believing that no force on earth can and should be allowed to subdue humanity, to crush it.”
After the fall of the former government, thousands of Afghans were desperate to flee the Taliban through the Kabul airport. Canada has been one of the destinations for many Afghan escapees because Canada announced a day before the collapse that it would resettle 20,000 vulnerable Afghans who were threatened by the Taliban.
On the 31st of August, the US completed its 20 years of invasion by evacuating more than 120,000 people to safety. The former vice president, however, reminded Canada that not all Afghans wanted to leave. Millions of Afghans want to resist the Taliban through raising their voices and through civil or armed resistance.
To resist the Taliban tyrant and misogynist regime, the Afghan diaspora have staged global demonstrations since the Taliban took over in mid-August. On the 28th of August, a series of coordinated protests was held across 16 countries that included Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Lebanon, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the USA. The protesters expressed their anger against the Taliban and Pakistan’s interferences in Afghanistan.
Afghan diaspora global demonstrations against the Taliban
Thousands of Afghan diaspora in Austria, for instance, participated in several demonstrations in Vienna and Sankt Pölten in Lower Austria in August and early September in order to resist the Taliban and also to support Afghan women. They chanted, “No to Taliban!”, “Down with the Taliban!”, “Shame on Pakistan!”, “Shame on USA!”
The demonstrators called for sustainable peace in Afghanistan and demanded that European countries accept Afghan refugees who flee Taliban extremism and persecution. Many speakers during the protests in Vienna called on the EU and Austria, in particular, not to legitimize and recognize the Taliban government. Many speakers in the demonstrations view Taliban as a terrorist group with strong ties with Pakistan-based terror organizations and Al-Qaeda.
“Don’t recognize the Taliban because they are a terrorist group. The Taliban is racist. They are the enemy of women and the enemy of progress,” Dawlat Dawlatyar, a student at the University of Vienna addressed the crowd of several hundreds of Afghan diaspora and members of the hosting society in Austria on the 3rd of September. At the same time in Vienna, a small group of Afghan diaspora with roots in Panjshir staged demonstration in front of Vienna’s most popular square, Stephansplatz to express their solidarity with Amrullah Saleh and his NRF.
The Afghan diaspora will continue to stay engaged in these developments in Afghanistan through various political, socio-cultural and economic activities. It is, however, hard to tell how long the Taliban will be able to rule Afghanistan with their medieval and oppressive mindsets. The world will be watching to see whether the Taliban cut their ties with Al-Qaeda and other Pakistani terror organizations and their treatment of women.
Saleh urged Canada not to abandon Afghan people and women. ”Let’s not abandon the Afghan girls and women. Let’s assist them to still have a voice, the right to go to school, to go to hospital, to travel and to work,” emphasized Saleh.