Tajikistan sends a signal; honors anti-Taliban stalwarts Ahmad Shah Massoud and Burhanuddin Rabbani

Tajikistan, Afghanistan’s northern neighbor, has awarded its third-highest civilian award, posthumously, to two former anti-Taliban Afghan political figures belonging to the Tajik ethnic group - late legendary Mujahideen commander Ahmad Shah Massoud and former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani

Sep 03, 2021
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Anti-Taliban stalwarts Ahmad Shah Massoud and Burhanuddin Rabbani

Tajikistan, Afghanistan’s northern neighbor, has awarded its third-highest civilian award, posthumously, to two former anti-Taliban Afghan political figures belonging to the Tajik ethnic group - late legendary Mujahideen commander Ahmad Shah Massoud and former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani.  

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon on Thursday signed the decree awarding the two men the honor, recognizing the contribution of two leaders in ending a brutal civil war that raged in Tajikistan from 1993 to 1997. 

Massoud, also known as the Lion of Panjshir, was a legendary guerrilla commander during Afghan resistance to Soviet troops from 1979-1989 and later fought against the Taliban's rule in Afghanistan from 1996-2001.

However, the timing of the award--when Massoud’s own son, Ahmad Massoud, and former Afghan vice-president Amrullah Saleh are putting a fierce resistance to the Taliban in Panjshir valley--seems a signal to the Taliban. 

In the 90s, Tajikistan had not only served as the base to the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance forces but also supported their resistance. Currently, the resistance forces based in Panjshir are believed to have been receiving some kind of support from Dushanbe. 

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has on Thursday also indicated the “special role” of Dushanbe in supporting the resistance forces. He, however, ruled out the possibility of playing the role of mediator between the Taliban and the resistance forces. 

“As far as resistance in Panshir was concerned, a special role belonged to Russia’s allies in Tajikistan,” TASS news agency reported him as saying. 

Earlier, during the visit of Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the Tajik president had condemned lawlessness, murder, and oppression of Afghan people, especially from ethnic minorities Tajik and Uzbek. 

Dushanbe had said they will not recognize any Afghan government formed by “oppression and persecution” which excludes Tajiks, a community that accounts for 46 percent of the total Afghan population.  

“It is clearly evident that the Taliban are breaking their promises to form an interim government with broad participation of other political forces in the country and prepare to establish Islamic Emirate,” the statement released by the Tajik president’s office read.