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"Don’t want bloodshed": Taliban sends feelers to Panjshir through Russia

Knowing that Russia enjoys big prestige with various political forces in Afghanistan, Taliban asked us to convey a political signal to Panjshir, a Diplomat said

Sunday August 22, 2021 3:11 PM, Sanjeev Sharma, IANS

Ahmad  Massoud

[Ahmad Massoud, son of Ahmad Shah Massoud, in a file photo. Ahmad Massoud is reportedly leading anti-Taliban resistance which is buidling in Panjshir.]

New Delhi: Taliban has asked Russia to convey to the remaining resistance forces in Panjshir Valley that it seeks a peaceful solution.

A representative of the Taliban political office paid a visit to the Russian embassy in Kabul on Saturday, asking the Russian diplomats to inform the leaders of the remaining resistance centre in Panjshir that the movement looks to dialogue and seeks a peaceful solution, Moscow's Ambassador to Afghanistan Dmitry Zhirnov said on the YouTube channel Solovyev Live, TASS News Agency reported.

"We had a representative of the Taliban's political office at the embassy today. Knowing that Russia enjoys big prestige with various political forces in Afghanistan, he asked us to convey a political signal to Panjshir," he said.

Also Read | “Not our responsibility”: Taliban on chaos at Kabul airport

The Diplomat said the Taliban asked that Russia will give the following message to Panjshir leaders and people:

"The Taliban have not made a single attempt to enter Panjshir by force until now. The group hopes to find a peaceful solution to the situation, for example, through a political agreement. The Taliban do not want bloodshed and are committed to dialogue."

The Panjshir Valley is Afghanistan's last remaining holdout where anti-Taliban forces seem to be working on forming a guerrilla movement to take on the Islamic fundamentalist group.

A Taliban resistance is forming in Afghanistan's Panjshir Valley led by Vice President Amrullah Saleh and Ahmad Massoud, the son of a famed anti-Taliban fighter, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

Also Read | Is Russia upstaging Doha talks with 'Moscow format' to bridge Afghan divide?

"The Taliban doesn't control the whole territory of Afghanistan," Lavrov told reporters at a press conference in Moscow following a meeting with his Libyan counterpart.

"There are reports of the situation in the Panjshir Valley where the resistance of Afghanistan's Vice President Saleh and Ahmad Massoud is concentrated," he said, TRT World reported.

The Panjshir Valley northeast of Kabul is Afghanistan's last remaining holdout, known for its natural defences.

The region, located 150 m northeast of the capital, Kabul, now hosts some senior members of the ousted government, like Saleh and former Defence Minister Bismillah Mohammadi, DW reported

Saleh has declared himself the caretaker president after ousted President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.

Also Read | Massoud, Saleh, Mohammadi lead anti-Taliban resistance in Panjshir

France 24 reported that in a photo released after Ghani fled the Taliban takeover of Kabul, Ahmad Massoud sits under the portrait of his father and namesake, the legendary Afghan resistance hero, Ahmad Shah Massoud.

By his side in an undisclosed location in Afghanistan's northern Panjshir Valley, is Saleh.

From this pocket of resistance, the two men are calling for retaliation against the Taliban.

The Panjshir Valley has repeatedly played a decisive role in Afghanistan's military history, as its geographical position almost completely closes it off from the rest of the country.

The only access point to the region is through a narrow passage created by the Panjshir River, which can be easily defended militarily.

Famed for its natural defenCes, the region tucked into the Hindu Kush mountains never fell to to the Taliban during the civil war of the 1990s, nor was it conquered by the Soviets a decade earlier, and is now Afghanistan's last remaining holdout, DW reported.

(Sanjeev Sharma can be reached at Sanjeev.s@ians.in)

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