PARIS: The leader of a resistance movement to the Taliban has vowed to never surrender but is open to negotiations with the new rulers of Afghanistan, according to an interview published by Paris Match on Wednesday.
Ahmed Masood, the son of the legendary Afghan rebel commander Ahmed Shah Masood, retreated with former Vice President Amrullah Saleh to his hometown of Panjshir Valley north of Kabul.
“I would rather die than surrender,” Massoud told French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levi in the first interview after the Taliban took over Kabul. “I am the son of Ahmed Cha Masood. The word surrender is not in my dictionary.”
Masood claimed that “thousands” of people had joined his national resistance front in the Panjshir Valley, which had never been captured by the Soviet army that invaded in 1979 or the Taliban, who first came to power from 1996 to 2001.
He once again called for the support of foreign leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, and expressed dissatisfaction with the refusal to provide weapons shortly before the fall of Kabul earlier this month.
According to the interview transcript published in French, Masood said: “I can’t forget the historic mistake made by the person who asked for a weapon in Kabul eight days ago.”
“They refused. These weapons-artillery, helicopters, American-made tanks-are in the hands of the Taliban today,” he said.
Masood added that he was willing to talk to the Taliban and set out an outline of possible agreements.
“We can talk. In all wars, there is talk. My father always talks to his enemies,” he said.
“Let us imagine that the Taliban agree to respect the rights of women, ethnic minorities, democracy and the principles of open society,” he added. “Why not try to explain that these principles will benefit all Afghans, including them?
Masood’s father was a legalist with close ties to Paris and the West. He was nicknamed the “Lion of Panjshir” for his role in the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s and the Taliban regime in the 1990s.
He was assassinated by Al Qaeda two days before the September 11, 2001 attack.