UN Official Visits Panjshir Province & Meets Taliban’s Governor

Friday, 11/17/2023

Markus Potzel, deputy head of UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), visited Panjshir province and met with Mohammad Agha Hakim, the Taliban’s governor for the province.

In the meeting, the Taliban governor said, "The situation of human rights in this province is much better."

Bakhtar News Agency, controlled by the Taliban, on Thursday, reported that Hakim told the UN official that Panjshir is more stable than other provinces of Afghanistan.

He welcomed Potzel's visit to Panjshir and said that in the last two years, the province was "forgotten by foreign institutions and donors.”

The Taliban governor in Panjshir asked the UN official to pay attention and provide aid support in the province.

He claimed that all ethnic groups live in Panjshir harmoniously, emphasising the absence of discrimination within the province.

Panjshir is known as the traditional stronghold of the Taliban’s opposition front. The main base of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the former leader of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, was in this province. In 2021, Panjshir stood as the last province to come under the control of the Taliban.

Following the collapse of Afghanistan to the Taliban, intense guerrilla battles continued in Panjshir and Andarab region. The Taliban has been accused of massive arbitrary arrests, torture, and killing of the residents of the region.

In June, Amnesty International called the Taliban's "cruel behaviour" against the residents of Panjshir as a "war crime". The organisation said that it was able to document cases of "extra-judicial executions, torture, imprisonment, and arbitrary arrests" of people in this province.

Amnesty International confirmed that the Taliban resorted to mistreatment and torture of civilians amid the resistance forces in Panjshir. According to the organisation, the Taliban "detained the men and youth from the villages and subjected them to beatings and other abuse”.

In the meeting with Potzel, the Taliban’s governor in Panjshir, denied these reports and said that the leader of the Taliban, Hibatullah Akhundzada, "has more compassion and mercy for the people of Panjshir than in other provinces and makes exceptions for the residents of the province in all matters”.

UNAMA has not released a statement concerning the meeting. It remains unclear whether the deputy head of UNAMA successfully met the relatives of the victims of the Taliban’s killings and the families of the prisoners during his visit of the province.

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