Masoud faces formidable task of containing Taliban
By AIMAL KHAN
PESHAWAR - In a bid to avert the Talibans onslaught on the last bastion of the opposition in the north, the northern alliance's decision to appoint Ahmad Shah Masoud as the supreme commander of its forces will have a far-reaching implications on the current Afghan military situation. "To face the victorious Taliban's advances, the opposition were in dire need of a charismatic personality to lead its demoralised forces and inject a new spirit in their ranks," Afghan observers said. After his humiliating defeat and facing a revolt-like situation within the Jumbish-i-Milli-Islami, the Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, is no more the undisputed Uzbek leader and due to his weakened position his authority has been tremendously reduced, they further added. "Having excellent war-skill and capabilities of political maneuvering, Ahmad Shah Masoud, chief of the Tajik-dominated Shoora-i-Nizar, was a best choice for the top military slot of the opposition forces," added the observers. "Keeping in mind the growing concern over the Taliban's victories shown by some powerful regional actors, the decision of Masoud's selection to the post has not only of domestic dimensions but also of external importance," the observers remarked. Dostum and Masoud were locked in love-and-hate relationship since long, as both aspired for having an absolute power and to enter into any effective alliance against the Taliban in the past.
Entrusted with the charge of military leadership of the opposition forces, Commander Masoud, who enjoys full support of some powerful regional actors is facing a serious challenges as to how to push back the Taliban from the north. Masoud's has been assigned with a difficult task. In such unfavourable conditions, one could not expect positive results, albeit, a miracle could turn him victorious. However, Masoud, currently stuck in a nearly-besieged situation in his home province, Takhar, in a bid to break the Islamic militia's defence lines and minimise the military pressures on Mazar-i-Sharif has launched attacks on the Taliban's positions. The Taliban have learned a lot from their previous attempts to bring the north under their control. This time the Islamic militia is cautiously moving and it would not leave any stone unturned to retain its victories and move forward, the observers said. The Afghan observers predicted a heavy fighting between the warring groups while the northern alliance leaders vowed to fight upto their last breath and the Taliban were determined to enforce their rule all over the country. Meanwhile, Dostum, operating from his base in Termiz, an Uzbek town bordering Afghanistan, had a meeting with Masoud on the current Afghan situation.