Hundreds of Afghans, including many women, protested in Kabul on Tuesday, shouting slogans against neighboring Pakistan and expressing support for rebels in the latter part of the country who oppose Taliban rule.
The video posted online showed demonstrators near the Pakistani embassy in Kabul holding signs reading “#SanctionPakistan” and “#StandWithPanjshir”. Elsewhere on a street near the Iranian and Turkish embassies, videos emerged of Taliban fighters shooting into the air to disperse the protests.
Panjshir Province, about 100 kilometers north of Kabul, has attracted resistance fighters from all over Afghanistan since the Taliban came to power last month. Pakistan is accused of helping the Taliban.
“I came today to ask why Pakistan is destroying Panjshir. I’m from Panjshir, ”a demonstrator from Kabul told a reporter at the scene. “People have to express their anger, men and women, they must not be silent.”
The Taliban said Monday they had captured Panjshirthat was disputed by the rebels known as the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan. NBC News has been unable to independently verify the Taliban’s allegations or the opposition to the resistance.
Later on Monday, Ahmad Massoud, leader of the National Resistance Front, called for a general uprising against the Taliban.
Pakistan and its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency have a long history of ties to the Taliban. The head of the ISI, Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed, visited Kabul at the weekend. At a press conference on Monday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed that Hameed had met with the group’s political leader, Abdul Ghani Baradar, but said no country should interfere in Afghanistan’s affairs.
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Although Pakistan could benefit from a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, the change in government could also encourage the country’s own extremists. A suicide attack that killed at least four security forces in southwest Pakistan on Sunday was alleged by militant group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, which is separated from the Afghan Taliban but has recently renewed its allegiance to the group.
Along with the opposition to Pakistan, demonstrators in Afghanistan have expressed support for women’s rights as they fear the Taliban will take them back. Demonstrations have taken place in cities around Afghanistan in recent days, including a march in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Monday.
The protests began last week in the western city of Herat, where women called on the Taliban to include them in discussions about the new government, according to a video of the protest.
“We have worked hard for years to achieve and maintain our rights, it is impossible to give them up now,” said a spokesman at a rally at the end of the demonstration.
A similar protest in Kabul was crushed on Saturday by Taliban fighters who used rifle butts and tear gas against the women.
Although Taliban leaders have stated that women are granted rights as part of their interpretation of Islamic law, there are already signs that freedoms are being restricted. Teachers and students at universities in Kabul and other major cities told Reuters that male and female students would be taught separately or separated by curtains in the classrooms.
“I felt really horrible when I got into class … we’re starting to go back to 20 years ago,” Anjila, a 21-year-old student at Kabul University, told Reuters by phone.
Mujahid said at the press conference on Monday that women would eventually be “encouraged” to return to work and that an “inclusive” government would be announced in the coming days. However, Taliban leaders have also said there may not be women in cabinet positions.
Caroline Radnofsky, Matthew Mulligan and Reuters contributed.