Afghanistan’s last resistance group denounced on Wednesday the Taliban’s new interim government as “illegitimate” and destined for “pariah” status, after its leader Ahmad Massoud called for a nationwide uprising against the country’s Islamist rulers.
Led by the son of legendary resistance fighter Ahmad Shah Massoud – who was assassinated in 2001 by Al-Qaeda two days before the Sept 11 attacks – the National Resistance Front (NRF) remains defiant despite losing control of the Panjshir valley, the group’s spokesman said.
He spoke to AFP after the Taliban announced an interim government made up of loyalist hardliners.
“The narrative of a modern Taliban is over… there is no Taliban in favour of an inclusive government,” Ali Maisam Nazary said.
“This is going to become a pariah government, an illegitimate government… just look at the amount of terrorists in this cabinet. And we expect they are going to reform?”
Nazary said the new government does not represent Afghanistan’s diverse ethnic mosaic.
All the top posts went to key leaders from the Taliban and the Haqqani network – the violent faction known for carrying out some of Afghanistan’s bloodiest bombings and suicide attacks in recent years.
No women were included.
By excluding representatives from Afghanistan’s many ethnicities – including its sizeable Shiite and Hazara communities – and launching an attack on the Panjshir Valley, Narazy says the Taliban “have deepened” social divides.
“Afghanistan’s ethnic groups are against them.”
‘Dignity and freedom’
In the 20 years the Taliban spent as insurgents, Afghan society transformed into a much younger population with a taste for greater freedom, Nazary added.
As a result, the Taliban will struggle to force people into accepting their restrictive interpretation of shariah law.
“Look at the images from Kabul… Women and men courageously going in the streets, unarmed, and telling the (Taliban) ‘shoot us we don’t care we want freedom and justice’,” Nazary said.
“You have a population that hates them. How is the Taliban going to rule a country like this?”
Nazary said the protesters were emboldened by Massoud’s audio message on Monday asking Afghans to “begin a national uprising for the dignity, freedom and prosperity of our country”.
The message came after the Islamists claimed to have taken over the Panjshir Valley, a traditional bastion of resistance – first against the Soviets, then against the Taliban.
Nazary said the NRF would continue its fight. Both Massoud and his ally, former Afghan vice-president Amrullah Saleh, are safe and still in the country, he added.
“The Taliban might control more geography but they lack the legitimacy that the National Resistance Front has,” he said.
“There’s a nationwide resistance that is forming.”