The backchannel diplomacy with Kabul
The Northern areas of Afghanistan have a history of their own. Out of these areas, Panjshir Valley has once again been in the news for some days. Latest reports from the north speak of gun battles, bloodshed and casualties. Unrest and fear among the local residents is natural. They want to move out with their females, infants and valuables. Details pour out through various means.
Mysteriously enough, the facts get mixed up with fiction, much like the right-hand-drive vehicles creeping through the mountainous Salang Pass. Due to the peculiar conditions, one has to be extra careful about many things. Resistance and co-existence are simultaneously going on in Panjshir. For negotiations, some leaders from Afghanistan, representing various mindsets, are already in Islamabad. These include Ahmad Wali Massoud and Ahmad Massoud. Respectively, they happen to be the brother and the son of the late Ahmad Shah Massoud. More are said to be on the way.
During the first phase of fighting in the 1990s, quite a few resistance leaders took refuge in other friendly countries. But Ahmad Shah Massoud was probably the only person who did not leave his country. He spent his good and bad days in his native Panjshir Valley. This continued up to 2001, when he was blown up by a bomb hidden in the video camera recording his interview.
The visiting delegation from Afghanistan knows that Islamabad wields leverage in Kabul. The members of the delegation want to use the good offices of Pakistan. They want Pakistan to persuade the new leadership in Kabul to minimise the collateral damage in the ongoing standoff. Let us hope that the negotiations yield some positivity.