Afghans Protest Against Taliban, Pakistan In Kabul And Tehran
Hundreds of Afghan women and men held separate anti-Pakistan protests outside the Pakistan Embassy in Kabul and marched through the streets Tuesday to denounce what they call Pakistan's interference in Afghanistan, especially its reported support for the offensive by which the Taliban claimed to have captured Panjshir, the last province outside its control.
Taliban fighters fired warning shots to disperse protesters in what appeared to be the largest demonstration in the Afghan capital since the Taliban took over last month. According to social media users and Afghan media, the Taliban arrested some protesters and several Afghan journalists covering the protest.
The protests came a day after Ahmad Masoud, leader of the National Resistance Front (NRF), called for a "national uprising" against the Taliban. Afghan women had been protesting for several days in Kabul, Mazar-i Sharif and Herat, but Tuesday men also joined them in Kabul.
Tuesday’s protests came as the Taliban announced the leading figures in a new “interim” government, which will be led by Mohammad Hassan Akhund, one of the movement’s founders and who led the Taliban in talks that led to the 2020 agreement with the Trump administration for US withdrawal.
In what appears a coordinated approach, regional powers and Afghanistan neighbors – China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan – have kept open their diplomatic missions, while withholding recognition and monitoring developments.
Despite the Taliban claim to control Panjshir, the NRF, which includes some opposition groups and local militias, says fighting continues in strategic positions. Iran has condemned the Taliban attacks on Panjshir and said it is investigating the possible role of Pakistan – with reports of aerial strikes including the use of drones.
Hundreds of anti-Taliban Afghans held protest rallies outside the Pakistani embassy in Tehran and consulate in Mashhad Tuesday morning. Videos posted on Twitter Tuesday showed hundreds outside the Pakistani embassy without interference by security forces who usually show a swift reaction and disperse Iranian protests.
Protesters in Tehran chanted slogans against both the Taliban and Pakistan. Many grasped pictures of the late Afghan military commander Ahmad Shah Masoud and his son Ahmad Masoud, with a clip on Twitter show them chanting "Masoud Will Be Our Leader as Long as We Live."
Photos published by the official IRNA news agency show protesters holding placards reading "Death to ISI," referring to Pakistani intelligence, which has played a lead role for decades in Islamabad’s relations with the Taliban, and “Pakistan, Stop Feeding Terrorism, Taliban.”
Other videos posted on social media Tuesday show dozens of Afghans outside the Pakistani consulate in Mashhad chanting slogans in favor of Masoud. But in Mashhad Monday, pro-Taliban Afghans chanted "Long-Live Islamic Emirate" and "Down with America” as they waved Taliban flags, and distributed flowers and sweets.