PANJSHIR, Afghanistan – Mist swirls around the undulating mountains dotted with mud huts, and emerald waters trickle through the narrow, pebble-filled canals. On the surface, Panjshir Valley is a picture of serenity. But one cannot help but feel the uncertainty and tension hidden in the hills.
As we traveled through all eight districts on Friday – under the eye of the Taliban – it seems clear, despite mixed reports and confusion in the past week over whether Panjshir had fallen, that Afghanistan’s new ruling power has secured an undoubtedly tight grip.
Dozens of robed Taliban fighters congregate outside the Panjshir Revenue Department. They all hail from Farah province some 500 miles away and belong to a unit rapidly deployed to places as necessary. Taliban commander Mawlawy Khalid claims that all of Panjshir was fully seized three days earlier, but many Panjshiris have fled to the mountains.
“We will give them a deadline, today or tomorrow or whenever