Tribune News Service
New Delhi, August 17
Panjshir Valley, the only district unconquered by the Taliban, has started to fly the flag of resistance all over again.
The First Vice President (FVP) of Afghanistan and a friend of India, Amrullah Saleh reached the Panjshir Valley and declared himself President. Citing the Constitution, he said in the event of escape, resignation or death of the President, the FVP becomes the caretaker President.
“I am currently inside my country and am the legitimate caretaker President. I am reaching out to all leaders to secure their support and consensus,” said Saleh.
Ahmad Massoud and Defence Minister Bismillah Mohammadi have also promised to side with him. Ahmad is the son of the slain commander Ahmed Shah Masood during whose lifetime the Taliban could not conquer Panjshir Valley during its first spell in power from 1996 to 2001.
Sensing Panjshir as an oasis of relief from the Taliban, minority Shia Hazara families have reportedly walked 200 km to reach the Valley, famous for its emeralds, mulberries and indomitable fighters. Many of the Tajiks in the Afghan army have also arrived with their equipment, including armed personnel carriers and tanks, after withdrawing from the nearby frontlines.
However, Panjshir is locked and surrounded by the Taliban. Neither does it border any country.
Interestingly, the Farkhor air base in Tajikistan, 200 km away from Panjshir, is known to keep an Indian detachment of helicopters. In fact Ahmed Shah Masood was flown from Panjshir to an India-manned hospital in Farkhor after an assassination attempt on him by Al Qaida hitmen masquerading as journalists. However, Masood died before he could reach the hospital.
The hit on Masood was said to be Osama bin Laden’s gesture to propitiate the Taliban a day before the attacks on the trade tower in the US on September 11, 2001.