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Panjshir, the Last Standing Citadel in Afghanistan, Reportedly Falls to Taliban

Panjshir, the Last Standing Citadel in Afghanistan, Reportedly Falls to Taliban

The lone Afghan territory that warded off the Taliban has now fallen, according to the extremist group. Panjshir was successful in keeping the Taliban away when Kabul fell. The resistance operations were being led by the erstwhile Afghan Vice President and Panjshiri leader Ahmad Massoud. According to their claims, the Taliban is now ready to lay out a government for Afghanistan.

After the fall of Kabul, chaos and terror had gripped the country. While countries were busy evacuating citizens and refugees, the Taliban and the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRFA) were at each other’s necks for control. Recently, members of the outfit were seen outside the province’s governor’s compound. The NRF, however, denounces the Taliban’s claim and says that the fight will continue.

Why Panjshir Is An Important Territory

Panjshir literally translates as the ‘Land of Five Lions’. The region is a huge problem for the Taliban conquest, as it has never fallen to neither the extremist group, nor foreign powers. The area is around 150 km from Kabul, and is in close proximity to the Hindukush range. The mountainous terrain acts as a natural defence for Panjshir. The province served as the base to the Northern Alliance, a military front constituted by personnel from countries like Iran, Tajikistan and even India. Panjshir reportedly has huge reserves of emeralds, which the Taliban seeks to implore.

Ahmad Shah Massoud, called the ‘Lion of Panjshir’, is credited to have solidified the initial resistance against Taliban. He was later killed in a suicide blast. His son, Ahmad Massoud is now leading the resistance. The Afghan Vice President is also a native of the province.

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Panjshir has revolted against the Taliban in the past, during their rule in the 90s. The province is home to people other than the Pashtun majority. The Taliban claims that they have secured vast amounts of ammunition and other resources at the province’s capital, Barzarak. The outfit’s new tactic of cutting Panjshir off of resources like food and arms is what has led to the province’s capture.

Though the resistance forces say the fight will continue, it seems likely that the Taliban can now solidify its new hold over Panjshir. Now having access to resources and the growing weakness of the opposition is soon going to allow the Taliban easy entry to a land that once stood unconquered.

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