The Taliban are facing a wave of attacks from a resurgent National Resistance Front (NRF), one that appears to have placed the militants now in control of Afghanistan on the back foot. Hence arguably the call for a meeting of all factions of the militants to firm up a strategy to stave off the anti-Taliban collaborative exercise was initiated by Ahmad Masood, son of the former slain commander of the Northern Alliance, Ahmad Shah Masood. The confrontation has assumed critical proportions. Res- idents of Panjshir in northern Afghanistan have reported fierce fighting between the Taliban and NRF activists in parts of the region for the 12th successive day. People are said to have fled the area because of the fighting. They are terrified as both sides are involved in fighting and heavy shelling at night. Indeed, in the latest assault, the NRF claimed to have killed over a dozen Taliban fighters in the Dara district of Panjshir on Monday.
Over the past few weeks, the armed anti-Taliban resistance has picked up momentum in northern Afghanistan. This essentially is in response to a call from Ahmad Masood for a renewed fight against the Taliban in the midst of direly distressing circumstances for Afghans ~ their predicament ranging from hunger to insecurity. The National Resistance Front has claimed that it has “liberated” three large districts from Taliban control. “We are present in many areas of Dara, and Abshar as well as many areas of Andarab,” is the claim of Tolo News, the Afghan news channel, which has aired a quote from the NRF spokesman, Sibghatullah Ahmadi. All these areas, supposedly reclaimed by the NRF, are situated in Panjshir Valley where the resistance had launched the first armed offensive against the Taliban when it seized poser last August after toppling the previous US-backed regime.
The Taliban leadership has denied that it has suffered casualties. “These claims are untrue. There was some gunfire from the mountains. We have taken steps to suppress them,” was the version of a spokesman in the Panjshir government office. Six Islamic Emirate troops have died in the clashes so far. “The claims of much higher casualties made by opponents are untrue”. The fact of the matter must be that at least ten fighters of the resistance force had been killed.
The NRF has claimed its presence in 12 provinces and has vowed to surprise the Taliban with offensives beyond Panjshir. We do not know if the plot has thickened for the Taliban, now the ruling entity. Yet we do know that its latest imprimatur on the head-to-toe hijab will almost certainly be resisted by certain sections in Afghanistan, thus alienating the embattled country further from recognition by the international community. The country seems poised for yet another bout of unsplendid isolation.