The Taliban have rejected peace negotiations, Ahmad Massoud, the leader of the resistance in the Afghan province of Panjshir, said Sunday.
“The Taliban refused dialogue to end the war … we want to end the war in Afghanistan and are striving for dialogue … The Taliban will not last long if they continue to behave in the same way,” Massoud told Al Arabiya in an interview.
Panjshir will not surrender to the Taliban, and the locals are prepared to fight, he added.
In an earlier interview with the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Massoud said that resistance leaders are ready to form an inclusive government with the Taliban through political negotiations, but an Afghan government “characterized by extremism” is unacceptable.
The Taliban entered Kabul on August 15 after a months-long offensive, prompting the civilian government to collapse. Panjshir is the epicenter of the resistance led by Massoud and Amrullah Saleh, the first vice president from Ashraf Ghani’s government.
The Tajik embassy recently replaced portraits of Ghani with those of Amrullah Saleh, who claims to be the new caretaker president of Afghanistan.
Saleh declared himself “the legitimate caretaker President,” citing the constitution of Afghanistan, which says the First Vice President assumes this role “in absence, escape, resignation or death of the President.”
In a series of tweets, Saleh wrote:
Clarity: As per d constitution of Afg, in absence, escape, resignation or death of the President the FVP becomes the caretaker President. I am currently inside my country & am the legitimate caretaker President. Am reaching out to all leaders to secure their support & consensus.
It is futile to argue with @POTUS on Afg now. Let him digest it. We d Afgs must prove that Afgh isn’t Vietnam & the Talibs aren’t even remotely like Vietcong. Unlike US/NATO we hvn’t lost spirit & see enormous opportunities ahead. Useless caveats are finished. JOIN THE RESISTANCE.
Saleh was also a pivotal member of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, as was Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, the former defense minister of Afghanistan. Mohammadi also confirmed Saleh’s claim as the country’s legitimate leader.
Earlier, Ahmad Massoud published an article in The Washington Post and asked for western assistance in his struggle against the Taliban.
“America and its democratic allies do not just have the fight against terrorism in common with Afghans. We now have a long history made up of shared ideals and struggles. There is still much that you can do to aid the cause of freedom. You are our only remaining hope,” Massoud wrote in the article.
“We have fought for so long to have an open society, one where girls could become doctors, our press could report freely, our young people could dance and listen to music or attend soccer matches in the stadiums that were once used by the Taliban for public executions — and may soon be again,” Massoud added.