Ahmad Masoud, the leader of the resistance against the Islamist Taliban movement, has said he will never give up, but is open to talks with Afghanistan’s new leaders.
Masoud said this in an interview published on Wednesday by the French weekly Paris Match. This is reported by the AFP agency.
Masoud is the son of the assassinated commander of the former US-backed anti-Tibetan Northern Alliance, Ahmad Shah Masoud.
Together with former Afghan Vice President Amrullah Salih, he withdrew to his hometown of Punjir after the Taliban offensive.
Thousands of men are joining
“I’d rather die than give up,” Masoud said in the first interview since the Taliban occupied the Afghan capital Kabul in mid-August.
“I am the son of Ahmad Shah Masoud. The word to give up is not in my vocabulary.” added.
He further stated that “thousands” of men joined his front of the national resistance in the Punjir Valley, which failed to occupy Soviet troops in 1979 or the Taliban during his first government in 1996-2001.
Masoud reiterated his call for support from foreign leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, and expressed bitterness over the refusal to supply arms shortly before the fall of Kabul.
“I cannot forget this historic mistake made by those I asked for weapons only eight days ago in Kabul,” said Masoud. “They refused. And these weapons – artillery, helicopters, American-made tanks – are in the hands of the Taliban today,” added.
Masoud emphasized that he was open to talks with the Taliban. “We can negotiate. There are negotiations in all wars. And my father always spoke to his enemies,“he said.
Let’s imagine that the Taliban agreed to respect the rights of women, minorities, democracy, the principles of an open society, “he said.Why not try to explain that these principles will benefit all Afghans, including them? “ added Masoud.
Punjir is a remote, largely inaccessible mountain area. This valley is guarded by a narrow gorge, through which entry or escape is extremely difficult for foreigners, as they can become the target of local units set up in higher places.