Taliban using Indian assistance for their own families, not people in need: Ahmad Massoud

Taliban using Indian assistance for their own families, not people in need: Ahmad Massoud

THE TALIBAN regime has used India’s humanitarian support for “their own forces and their families, not the people truly in need”, according to Ahmad Massoud, leader of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, which is the key opposition to the Taliban.

Massoud also drew a link between Afghanistan under the rule of the Taliban and an increase in violence in Kashmir.

In an exclusive interview to The Indian Express from an undisclosed location in the region, Massoud, the 33-year-old son of the legendary Ahmad Shah Massoud who was known as the Lion of Panjshir, said, “I do not want power and my struggle is for justice right now… my fight, it’s for justice and freedom.”

India is in the process of sending 50,000 tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan through the UN’s World Food Programme. But Massoud said that “Taliban has used [India’s] humanitarian support for their own forces and their families, not the people truly in need”.

“They are not distributing aid justly, and they give it to one area more than the others based on ethnicity,” he said. This is the first time that an Afghan leader has made this charge against the Taliban.

Asserting that Afghanistan has gone back to the “dark ages”, Massoud said that the Taliban is harbouring Al Qaeda and other terror groups. “They are walking around and operating freely,” he said.

Ahmad Massoud stands in front of a painting of his father, Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was known as Lion of Panjshir

Referring to the American strike that killed Ayman Al Zawahiri, he said that the presence of the Al Qaeda leader in central Kabul at the time of the attack was “not surprising”.

“Giving in to the will of the Taliban, is giving in to the will of terrorism,” he said, as he lashed out at Pakistan for being a “mentor” to Taliban. “This is a fire that Pakistan played with, and we will see sooner or later that it will backfire at them,” he said.

“The rule of the Taliban will be a safe haven, and especially when there is no legitimate government in Kabul. It is a safe haven for many terrorist groups, Jaish-e-Mohammed and many others, which are a threat to India and to all countries in the region. For them to flourish, to use Afghanistan to operate, to recruit and strategically target their own sort of targets,” he said.

“The events in Kashmir have multiplied since the takeover of the Taliban. There is a direct link between Afghanistan under the rule of the Taliban and the increase in the violence in Kashmir and also increase in the violence of these terrorist groups, because they see the possibility that if we continue the bloodshed and the terror acts, just like the Taliban, we will also will be supported, we will also be successful in establishing an extremist government somewhere else. It is very important for all of us, to put all efforts together and to defeat this extremist narrative, because it is spreading,” Massoud said.

Asked about the difference in India’s approach from earlier when it is said to have covertly helped his father Ahmad Shah Massoud’s Northern Alliance in the 1990s, he said, “I think the difference in approach is the hesitation. India is still in the process of assessing the situation. This hesitation is fatal. It is very wrong. And we need immediate action before the ideology takes root or before the terrorist finds a foundation.”

He said, “It is very important to understand we are on the same page, and we are continuing the same path of my father. So the sooner the hesitation is over, the sooner we come to the conclusion that there should be a joint effort together against terrorism in the region, the better. Because whether we like it or not, we are the last line of defence of Afghanistan’s people against terrorism.”

He said that he has reached out to India “all levels of the government” and sought “political support” and “[military] logistics”.

Massoud also said that he was offered a position in the Taliban government, when he met the regime’s Foreign minister Amir Khan Mottaqi in Iran this year, and that he had declined the offer.

On the resistance being mounted by his fighters, he said there are about 3,500 of them who are spreading out from Panjshir valley, and expanding to Herat, Faryab, Mazhar, Kunduz, Baghlan, Takhar and Badakhshan.

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Massoud said that they have created a “command and control centre”. “We have no support from outside whatsoever. It is based on the generosity of our own people and their commitment and desire to continue to resist and fight….But our tactic at this moment is exactly what my father (Ahmad Shah Massoud) used against the Soviets at that time, which was guerrilla warfare,” he said. Massoud’s father, Ahmad Shah Massoud, was assassinated days before the 9/11 attacks in the US.



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