Taliban Opponent Massoud at Afghanistan Conference in Vienna

More+Events ♦ Published: September 19, 2022; 19:57 ♦ (Vindobona)

A conference in Vienna last week focused on the future of Afghanistan. About 25 politicians, human rights activists, scientists and other Afghan personalities met for the conference. Among them was Ahmad Massoud, probably Afghanistan's most prominent freedom fighter.

As Afghanistan's best-known resistance fighter, Ahmad Massoud was the most prominent guest at the conference. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons, Hamid Mohammadi, CC BY-SA 4.0

13 months after the Taliban took power, around 25 politicians, human rights activists, academics and other Afghan personalities from different ethnic groups met in Vienna. The aim of the conference was to discuss the future of the country currently ruled by the Taliban. The most prominent participant was the leading Afghan resistance fighter against the Taliban, Ahmad Massoud.

The head of the National Resistance Front told journalists today that there can be no peace without an inclusive Afghan society represented by a legitimate government. Dialogue with the Taliban is being sought, he said.

Massoud's group had chosen Austria as the venue for the conference because they "value Austria as a place of encounter". All participants of the conference define themselves as staunch opponents of the Taliban and hope for a free Afghanistan in the future. For this reason, all participants live outside Afghanistan, Massoud himself, for example, in exile in Tajikistan.

The conference, which was organised by the Austrian Aid Committee for Afghanistan, set itself the goal of "finding a vision and a way to a peaceful Afghanistan".

Ali Maisam Nazary, the head of external relations of the National Resistance Front (NRF), commented on the meeting on his Twitter account.

After the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, this is the first time that a European country has hosted a conference of politicians and opponents of the Taliban.

The conference denounces the steadily deteriorating conditions in the country. Since the Taliban's occupation in August 2021, the country has been in a dramatic political, economic, social and humanitarian crisis that must be brought to an end.

The conference sees itself as a mouthpiece for the millions of Afghans who have been deprived of their human rights and must fear for their future. Massoud particularly pointed out the catastrophic situation of women in Afghanistan, who are increasingly oppressed by the Taliban.

He said there was a desire to restore the achievements of the past 20 years, which had been worked for by the citizens of Afghanistan with the support of the international community.

Many of the resistance fighters have fled abroad for fear of persecution. "Cohesion and cooperation among the different groups" are crucial, Massoud stressed. He wanted to "bring the Taliban to the negotiating table to get a legitimate government".