ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan’s interim Taliban government has announced raising a special military unit named “Panipat” — apparently drawing inspiration from the third battle of Panipat fought in 1761 in which Afghan ruler Ahmad Shah Durrani defeated the Maratha army. Several social media users called it Taliban jingoism to spite India after they swiftly took control of the war-battered nation since the US pullout last year.
The “Panipat operational unit” will be positioned in the country’s eastern province of Nangarhar bordering Pakistan. In a recent post on Twitter, Aamaj News of Afghanistan reported the Taliban announcement and shared photographs of masked Taliban soldiers in military uniform, holding American rifles and parading in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangrahar.
Historical events like the Panipat battle are often discussed in religious sermons in rural Afghanistan to arouse people’s sentiments in support of Muslims in places where they consider them to be in trouble. Kashmir and Palestine come up for discussion frequently in mosques and seminaries in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The announcement drew mixed reactions on social media: some praised it, some condemned it while others made fun of it. “God willing, history will repeat itself,” tweeted Javid Tanvir, an Afghan. “It’s very funny. It’s very ignorant. I understand that this order is officially from Pakistan because of its problems with India,” another Afghan tweeted.
A Twitter user by the name Islampaal wrote that “…Hindus should take this as a clear sign. We haven’t forgotten our ancestors. Muskaan sister, we hear your cries”.
An Indian citizen responded on Twitter that this “jingoism is nothing new for the Taliban”. “This clearly shows the Taliban desperation for some reaction. Well, sadly for them, the MEA won’t respond to such comical token acts. The terror group should help Afghans first, instead of doing failed attempts to take jibes on Indians.”


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