Anti-Taliban leader Massoud says negotiation only way forward

Massoud says his supporters are ready to fight if Taliban forces try to invade his stronghold of Panjshir valley


Reuters August 22, 2021
Ahmad Massoud, son of Afghanistan's slain anti-Soviet resistance hero Ahmad Shah Massoud, speaks during an interview at his house in Bazarak, Panjshir province, Afghanistan, September 5, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

Ahmad Massoud, leader of Afghanistan's last major outpost of anti-Taliban resistance, said on Sunday he hoped to hold peaceful talks with the insurgents that seized power in Kabul a week ago but that his forces were ready to fight.

"We want to make the Taliban realise that the only way forward is through negotiation," he told Reuters by telephone from his stronghold in the mountainous Panjshir valley northwest of Kabul, where he has gathered remnants of regular army units and special forces as well as local militia units.

"We do not want a war to break out."

Also read: Son of slain Afghan hero Massoud vows resistance, seeks support

However he said his supporters were ready to fight if Taliban forces, which have so far stayed out of Panjshir, tried to invade.

"They want to defend, they want to fight, they want to resist against any totalitarian regime."

Massoud, son of Ahmad Shah Massoud, one of the main leaders of Afghanistan's anti-Soviet resistance in the 1980s, said the forces did not just come from Panjshir, which also held out against the Taliban prior to 2001.

"We are defending the whole country in one province."

He called for an inclusive, broad-based government in Kabul representing all of Afghanistan's different ethnic groups and said a "totalitarian regime" should not be recognised by the international community.

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