Afghanistan’s National Resistance Front (NRF) says the Taliban’s new interim government is “illegitimate,” fated to become a “pariah” amid the front’s call for a nationwide uprising.
The Taliban on Tuesday announced the formation of the new caretaker government made up of top leaders from the Taliban and the militant Haqqani network. The lineup does not include women.
“The narrative of a modern Taliban is over... there is no Taliban in favor of an inclusive government,” the NRF’s spokesman Ali Maisam Nazary told AFP on Wednesday.
“This is going to become a pariah government, an illegitimate government... just look at the amount of terrorists in this cabinet. And we expect they are going to reform?”
The spokesman stressed that the group remains defiant despite losing control of the Panjshir Valley, which was the last holdout for resistance forces who oppose the rule of the hardline group in Afghanistan.
Referring to the attack on the Panjshir Valley and the exclusion of representatives of Afghanistan's diverse ethnicities, Narazy said the Taliban “have deepened” social divides.
“Afghanistan's ethnic groups are against them.”
The NRF is led by the son of resistance fighter Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was assassinated in 2001 by al-Qaeda shortly before the September 11 attacks in the United States.
Nazary said the Afghan population has transformed over the past 20 years and currently wants freedom and justice. He wondered how the Taliban, which first took power in 1996 until the 2001 US invasion, are “going to rule a country like this.”
“Look at the images from Kabul... Women and men courageously going in the streets, unarmed, and telling the (Taliban) 'shoot us we don't care we want freedom and justice',” Nazary said.
"You have a population that hates them. How is the Taliban going to rule a country like this?"
Hundreds of Afghans staged a protest in Kabul on Tuesday, a day after Massoud called for “a national uprising” against the Taliban rule.
Nazary said the NRF would continue its fight, noting that both Massoud and his ally, former Afghan Vice-President Amrullah Saleh, are safe and still in the country.
"The Taliban might control more geography but they lack the legitimacy that the National Resistance Front has," he said. "There's a nationwide resistance that is forming."
The European Union has also censured the new government for a lack of diversity, saying the Taliban failed to honor the vows to include various groups.
"Upon initial analysis of the names announced, it does not look like the inclusive and representative formation in terms of the rich ethnic and religious diversity of Afghanistan we hoped to see and that the Taliban were promising over the past weeks," an EU spokesperson said Wednesday.
The formation of an "inclusive and representative" transitional government was one of five conditions set out by the EU's 27 nations for increasing their engagement with the Taliban.
The United States also said it was "concerned" about members of the government, but would judge it by its actions.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in Ramstein on Wednesday before they lead a virtual meeting of foreign ministers from 20 nations aimed at discussing how to approach the new government.
Washington also seeks to shore up international pressure on the Taliban to make good on their commitments to allow Afghans to leave freely if they want.