After Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country as the Taliban encircled the capital city of Kabul, it was Vice President Amrullah Saleh who stood his ground and vowed to fight the terror outfit. Saleh has now declared himself as the country’s ‘legitimate caretaker President’ and has reached out to the other leaders to support his cause.
Saleh took to Twitter to write, “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.
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 care taker President. Am reaching out to all leaders to secure their support & consensus.
— Amrullah Saleh (@AmrullahSaleh2) August 17, 2021
As reported by TFI, Saleh is currently in the Panjshir valley alongside Ahmad Massoud, the son of the late legendary anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud. Together the duo is launching an offensive against the Taliban. It is pertinent to note that Panjshir Valley is the only region out of the Taliban’s hands, courtesy of its geographic ruggedness and also the fact that it is fiercely guarded as the birthplace of one of Afghanistan’s greatest sons.
Recent reports have stated that Saleh and allies in a show of military strength in their stronghold claimed to have retaken Charikar in Parwan, which if true, will put them within striking distance of the massive Bagram airport complex.
Recapturing Charikar could enable Saleh to land militia of Uzbek leader Abdul Rashid Dostum’s reinforcements from Uzbekistan. A strategically important road passes through Charikar via the Salang Tunnel, which connects Kabul with Mazar-i-Sharif, the largest city in northern Afghanistan and once held by Dostum.
Earlier, Saleh had vowed to never kneel in front of the Taliban. He tweeted, “I will never, ever & under no circumstances bow to d Talib terrorists. I will never betray d soul & legacy of my hero Ahmad Shah Masoud, the commander, the legend & the guide. I won’t disappoint millions who listened to me. I will never be under one ceiling with the Taliban. NEVER.
I will never, ever & under no circumstances bow to d Talib terrorists. I will never betray d soul & legacy of my hero Ahmad Shah Masoud, the commander, the legend & the guide. I won't dis-appoint millions who listened to me. I will never be under one ceiling with Taliban. NEVER.
— Amrullah Saleh (@AmrullahSaleh2) August 15, 2021
As the leader of the Northern Alliance late Ahmed Shah Massoud took on the Taliban when it came to power in 1996. The Alliance, a concoction of tribal leaders and warlords held out in the northern parts of Afghanistan against the Taliban more than 25 years ago.
Under his command, the Panjshir valley kept the Taliban at an arm’s length. In the 1990s, he also became the all-powerful defence minister in Burhanuddin Rabbani’s cabinet. He helped the US in its ‘war against terrorism in the region and was fondly referred to as Sher-e-Panjshir. Saleh considers him as his idol and thus he is not willing to throw in the towel just yet.
Saleh has made clear that he expects no help from the US after their tame surrender. He tweeted and asked the common Afghans to join the resistance, “It is futile to argue with @POTUS on Afg now. Let him digest it. We d Afgs must prove tht Afgh isn’t Vietnam & the Talibs aren’t even remotely like Vietcong. Unlike US/NATO we hvn’t lost spirit & see enormous oprtnities ahead. Useless caveats are finished. JOIN THE RESISTANCE.
It is futile to argue with @POTUS on Afg now. Let him digest it. We d Afgs must prove tht Afgh isn't Vietnam & the Talibs aren't even remotely like Vietcong. Unlike US/NATO we hvn't lost spirit & see enormous oprtnities ahead. Useless caveats are finished. JOIN THE RESISTANCE.
— Amrullah Saleh (@AmrullahSaleh2) August 17, 2021
An undated video of Saleh has gone viral on social media platforms where he can be nuancedly seen dissecting the situation if the US decided to abandon Afghanistan. Even then, he had remarked that he will never leave his country and if the US leaves, it won’t mean his struggle will end.
“Let me tell you this, if the US decides to leave tomorrow, we have no influence in that. All we can do is to tell them our story, remind them of our objective, remind them of our common goal and enemy. But if they decide they go, it will be their decision.
“But if they withdraw, it doesn’t mean I will stop. We are very clear in that also. We will continue because we are from here. These mountains will remain, forever. These rivers will flow, forever. Yeah, it would be great to have them but if they leave, it won’t mean we will cease to exist.
— Shaunak Agarkhedkar (@ShaunakSA) August 18, 2021
After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Saleh — then a part of the anti-Taliban resistance — became a key asset for the CIA. The relationship paved the way for him to lead the newly formed Afghanistan intelligence agency, the National Security Directorate (NDS), in 2004. As NDS chief Saleh is believed to have amassed a vast network of informants and spies inside the insurgency and across the border in Pakistan, where Pashto-speaking agents kept track of Taliban leaders.
Before changing his Twitter bio to Acting President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Saleh had proudly written “spies never quit” and it’s all one needs to know about the character of the person. Saleh is the hero Afghans deserve and certainly the one they need in their bleakest moment.