Tribune News Service
New Delhi, September 6
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today chaired a high-level meeting to discuss the situation in Afghanistan shortly after the Taliban captured the main road and some administrative buildings in Panjshir Valley amidst accusations of Pakistani aerial assistance to scatter the National Resistance Front (NRF).
Don’t cross red lines, warns Iran
I strongly warn that all red lines and obligations under international law must be observed. Iran is closely following the developments in Afghanistan. — S Khatibzadeh, Iran FM Spokesman
Pakistan ‘leading’ Panjshir attack
It is the Pakistan army and ISI that are leading Taliban forces against us, said Ahmad Massoud, leader of the National Resistance Front.
I’m safe, tweets Ahmad Massoud
National Resistance Front leader Ahmad Massoud said his force was still fighting. “We are in Panjshir and our Resistance will continue,” he said on Twitter. He also said he was safe, but gave no details on his whereabouts.
Two Resistance front leaders dead
National Resistance Front media face Fahim Dashti (above) and prominent commander Gen Abdul Wudod Zara (right) were killed on Sunday night allegedly by a Pakistani drone.
China mum on Taliban ‘invite’
The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Monday did not respond to a report claiming that the Taliban had invited China to attend the new government formation ceremony in Afghanistan.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister Amit Shah and NSA Ajit Doval, who constitute a high-level group on Afghanistan along with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, who was not in town, had first met six days back in a meeting chaired by the PM.
At a press conference to announce the “defeat” of the Panjshir rebels, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid again promised an inclusive government which would not depend on any outside force, including Pakistan. But NRF leader Ahmad Massoud, in an audio message, alleged that it was Pakistan’s ISI spy agency which had assisted and egged on the Taliban to fight against the Panjshiris. This was an echo of 1996 when the ISI had allegedly instructed the Mujahideen to kill former Afghan President Mohd Najibullah, who was then dragged out of a UN compound and hanged to death.
However, both Massoud and Amrullah Saleh had melted in the rugged mountainside but the NRF’s media face Fahim Dashti and a prominent commander Gen Abdul Wudod Zara were killed on Sunday night allegedly by a Pakistani drone. In this context, Iran “strongly warned” the Taliban against crossing the “red lines” and said its Foreign Office was examining the possibility of “foreign intervention” in Panjshir attacks after the audio message by Massoud.
The Iranian Foreign Office said the “martyrdom” of Panjshir commanders was “utterly disappointing” and noted that the Taliban offensive took place even after Massoud had supported a plan, put forward by religious clerics, for a negotiated settlement.
The meeting chaired by PM Modi took note of the presence of the ISI chief in Afghanistan amid government formation talks by the Taliban with reports suggesting differences between the Taliban and Haqqani network on the name of Haibatullah Akhundzada as the supreme leader. The meeting also deliberated on the measures to be taken for full and safe evacuation of Indian nationals from Afghanistan and the minorities who might want to come.
Evacuations from Afghanistan were suspended on August 31. Many people are still hoping to leave the country, but with Kabul’s airport not yet running international flights, their choices are few. The Taliban have reportedly said they were working to repair Kabul airport.
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