Violent clashes have recently been reported in and around Pazarak (Panjshir Resistance Statement). Bazark is the birthplace of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Afghan folk hero, who controlled the Panjshir Valley against the Soviets for nearly ten years. Later he led the war against the Taliban and was dubbed the Lion of Panjshir, but was eventually assassinated in 2001. Panjshir is the only province in Afghanistan where the Taliban face real resistance. Rumor has it that the Panjshir militia refused to surrender unconditionally but offered to lay down arms under certain conditions that the Taliban did not accept.
With Panjshir seemingly close to fall, the grace period appears to be drawing to a close and the Taliban will have established control. On September 1, Reuters reported that "Pakistan planned to send security and intelligence officials, […], to Kabul To help the Taliban reorganize the Afghan army." With Pakistani support for the Taliban being an open secret for some time, it is not surprising that Pakistan was the first to act. Pakistan is also concerned that ISIS-K will gain more importance and wants to stabilize the situation on its borders where it was on August 29. Two Pakistani soldiers were killed.
If this happens, Pakistan will make significant progress in Afghanistan, which may raise India’s concerns, but opens Afghanistan to more international engagement. I don’t think India can provide meaningful support in Panjshir and I don’t know if there is political will for such a move. But is it possible to see India become more active on its border with Pakistan, while the Pakistani focus is divided or are there any other options for India to reduce Pakistani influence or at least make it a costly move for Pakistan? Are there other countries that may be interested in the increasing influence of Pakistan?
With supposed Pakistani support, and perhaps airstrikes or drone strikes, no faction appears to be able to resist Taliban rule. By fighting against ISIS-K, the Taliban could create a lighter, more evil image and translate it into favorable media coverage. Given this, do you think Pakistan is on the verge of recognizing the Taliban government and likely to follow suit?