Partner to India & Afghan Hero, Who was Ahmad Shah Massoud?

He put up a resistance against the Taliban regime by forming an unlikely alliance with India.

Updated09 Sep 2019, 02:29 PM IST
World
2 min read

On 9 September every year, Afghanistan observes ‘Massoud Day’, a national holiday in honour of Ahmad Shah Massoud, a national hero, known to his supporters as the Lion of Panjshir.

Massoud belonged to the Tajik community n the Panjshir valley in northern Afghanistan.

He was a revered military commander of the Mujahideen who led the guerrilla resistance against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan between 1979 and 1989 and subsequently put up resistance against the Taliban regime by forming an unlikely alliance with India.

HIS ROLE IN THE AFGHAN CIVIL WAR

After the Soviet-backed government fell in 1992 and president Mohammad Najibullah resigned, Massoud, along with several Mujahideen parties, signed the Peshawar Accord and enabled the formation of a coalition government to restore some semblance of peace to war torn Afghanistan. He became the interim defence minister.

After internal political tribulations and conflict within Mujahideen factions, the Massoud led Afghan government attempted peaceful settlement, but by this time the Taliban, backed by Pakistani ISI, had emerged as a major military force; it lay siege to Kabul for several months before it was finally able to topple the government in September 1996 and establish it’s own regime.

Massoud now focused on consolidating the various ethnic groups of Afghanistan under the Northern Alliance in an effort against the Taliban, earning himself support from the Indian government.

After a sustained campaign against the Taliban government, he was finally assassinated by Al-Qaida suicide bombers on 9 September 2001, just two days before the 9/11 attacks on American soil.

HIS TIES WITH INDIA

“He is battling someone we should be battling. When Massoud fights the Taliban, he fights Pakistan.”

This is what the then Indian ambassador to Afghanistan, Bharath Raj Muthu Kumar, according to a report by The Hindu, told his superiors to sell them on the idea of collaborating with the afghan military leader.

Because of shared interests – the defeat of the Pakistan-backed Taliban – India found a willing and reliable partner in Massoud.

India reportedly provided him with small arms, rifles, essential supplies such as combat clothes, food, medicine and even two Mi-17 helicopters. The report also mentions that India aided him financially through the help of his brother, Wali Massoud who was based in London.

One of the most significant Indian contributions, however, was a fully operational medical facility at Farkhor, Tajikistan – complete with an ICU and operating theaters. It was this very facility to which they were taking Massoud when he succumbed to his injuries.

Massoud’s nephew, Zubair, graduated from India’s National Defence Academy in 2013 and his son, Ahmad, is a prominent political figure in Afghanistan who aims to unite Anti Taliban elements in the country, much like his father.

India continues to maintain exceptional ties with the Afghan government and has deep cultural ties with the populace.

(With inputs from The New York Times, The Hindu, DNA and AFP)

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Published: 09 Sep 2019, 01:11 PM IST
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