It was a sight of joy. Young people on motorcycles sped ahead of a triumphant parade of Afghan soldiers in Farah city, the proud green, red and black Afghanistan flag stretched out in the wind behind them.
More motorcycles pulled up alongside the caravan as it moved through the city streets, as residents greeted the Afghan heroes with celebration, just days after dire reports had circulated about Farah under siege.
The people of Farah took the highest symbols of the nation to the streets, showing pride in being Afghan, in our heroes and all their achievements. They added their voices to the nationwide chorus of “Long Live Afghanistan,” a message being echoed by people all over the country every day to those who try to harm our communities.
These voices are coming louder and louder from places like Kunduz, Lashkar Gah and Pul-e Kumri, where terrorists show their disrespect for the Afghan people, values and normal way of life.
Once again, the anti-government, anti-education, anti-hospital insurgent group flamed out in its attempt to establish something of an urban base, and when the smoke cleared, the people of Farah came out to cheer the ANDSF convoy on its victory tour of the city.
“For the bravery of our national security forces, I want to kiss their hands,” said Dadullah Qani, a member of the Farah Provincial Council. “Our security forces defeated all the mercenary outsiders with bravery. I urge people not to trust the enemy’s propaganda. Let’s support our solders and fight for our home. We will defend our house.”
The Taliban’s latest defeat comes against a backdrop of the organization’s nationwide desperation. The group’s finances are widely known to be in disarray following the death of bookkeeper Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.
In addition to demoralizing losses in their bank accounts and on the battlefields, insurgents are being stopped more and more often before they can reach the front lines. A planned terrorist attack in Laghman was thwarted. A terrorist weapons cache was seized by ANDSF agents in Nimroz. These are just two examples in the last week.
Feverish attacks by desperate holdouts in a few prominent cities have excited reporters and grabbed headlines in recent weeks, but more stories have quietly emerged about Taliban groups realizing the pointlessness of their battles as well as the benefits of peace.
The insurgents are increasingly fractured, and many of those who haven’t been subdued by military are now looking more seriously at following the example of Hezb-I Islami, which gave up its years-long fight against the government and agreed to work to build a more stable Afghanistan.
In Farah this week, that vision of a secure and stable Afghanistan was clear, with crowds of local residents welcoming the soldiers of the ANDSF and making their voices heard. The young people riding with flags made it clear: They want protection from legitimate security forces, they want peace, they want national unity.
“I promise my people that we will stand with you,” said Captain M. Mahdi Qaderi, spokesman for the Commando forces in the western region. “Our Commandos have new and modern weapons, and we have night vision technology. The shelters of the Taliban have been destroyed by our soldiers and they will not be able to come back to the city.”