As was expected the rag tag band of Taliban warriors are not much of a match for a determined resistance made by the Northern Alliance in Panjshir. Taliban did poorly on its own and had to be reinforced by Pakistan's Northern Light Infantry NLI) to do the job who defeated the fighters led by NA leader Masoud.
There is a certain irony in the fall of the North because the CIA Had been backing tem for long and had held great hopes on providing a trouble-making resistance for some more time at least. And they were defeated by a force which has been supporting the CIA backed “war on Terror” for long. Both probably used US weapons. However, it does signal the end of the war phase of the Taliban take over and the next round of government formation and administration can now begin which looks to be much more difficult than taking Panjshir.
Different states are present in Afghanistan with widely varying agenda and none have anything to do with the best interest of Afghanistan. China and Russia are there to ensure that Islamists and insurgencies are ended in Central Asia and China’s Uighur people. But Pakistan is there to make life difficult for India.
India batted in Afghanistan for two decades but with Biden’s shambolic departure, it’s been cut off. Now Pakistan as expected will jump in to take advantage. Not that it has any choice since China is there and telling it much of what to do including being Taliban's proxy army. But Pakistan is hoping for big gains under the new Taliban regime too.
ISI is back ?
Indian media has reported that Lt. Gen. Hamid Foyez, chief of Pakistan’s spy agency ISI was personally supervising the Panjshir operations fought by the Northern Light Infantry (NLI) and commandos of the Special Services Group(SSG). These fighters were also active in the Kargil war with India.
The Taliban’s lack of capacity, resources and support among the non-Pashtuns is no secret. Hence to survive, they will have to be more dependent on the three allies. Clearly, China has confidence in the Pak army who may well play the mainstay of the Taliban military. And in return Pakistan will want to produce well trained insurgents to send to Kashmir.
India and Pakistan continue to play an ancient unwinnable game and common sense doesn’t say why this is so. However, production and sustaining an enemy that is historically hated and which continues to be can be excellent glue for management of internal public opinion. India’s Kashmir policy was partly based on the proximity of the US forces in Afghanistan which is now gone and life will not be as smooth as before. Pakistan will take advantage of that and in return for help to the Taliban seek payment as well.
More trouble around Kashmir can be expected just as problems will emerge inside Afghanistan. The future certainly doesn’t look peaceful.