Panjshir Province

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Clockwise: the Panjshir valley, the Panjshir River, the tomb of Ahmad Shah Massoud, and a Panjshir wind farm
Clockwise: the Panjshir valley, the Panjshir River, the tomb of Ahmad Shah Massoud, and a Panjshir wind farm
Map of Afghanistan with Panjshir highlighted
Map of Afghanistan with Panjshir highlighted
Coordinates: 35°25′39″N 69°44′06″E / 35.42750°N 69.73500°E / 35.42750; 69.73500Coordinates: 35°25′39″N 69°44′06″E / 35.42750°N 69.73500°E / 35.42750; 69.73500
Country Afghanistan
 • GovernorAsrar Azizi
 • Deputy GovernorQari Asrar[1]
 • Total3,771 km2 (1,456 sq mi)
 • Total172,895
 • Density46/km2 (120/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+4:30 (Afghanistan Time)
ISO 3166 codeAF-PAN[3]
Main languagesDari

Panjshir (Dari: پنجشیر, literally "Five Lions", also spelled as Panjsher) is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan, located in the northeastern part of the country containing the Panjshir Valley. The province is divided into seven districts and contains 512 villages. As of 2021, the population of Panjshir province was about 173,000.[2][4] Bazarak serves as the provincial capital.

Panjshir became an independent province from neighboring Parwan Province in 2004. It is bordered by Baghlan and Takhar in the north, Badakhshan and Nuristan in the east, Laghman and Kapisa in the south, and Parwan in the west.


The territory was ruled by the Khanate of Bukhara between the early 16th century and the mid-18th century. The Parwan region, including the later Panjshir, was conquered by Ahmad Shah Durrani, and officially accepted as a part of the Durrani Empire, by Murad Beg of Bukhara, after a treaty of friendship was signed in or about 1750.[citation needed] The rule of the Durranis was followed by that of the Barakzai dynasty. During the 19th century, the region became part of the Emirate of Afghanistan, but was largely unaffected by British incursions, such as the Anglo-Afghan wars. Like the rest of Afghanistan, Panjshir became part of the newly established Kingdom of Afghanistan in June 1926.

Afghanistan's first wind farm in Panjshir Province.

In July 1973, troops under the command of General Sardar Mohammed Daoud Khan overthrew the Afghan monarchy and established the Republic of Afghanistan. In this coup d'état, General Daoud seized power for himself, effectively proclaiming himself as the first President of Afghanistan. He began making claims over large swathes of Pashtun-dominant territory in Pakistan, causing great anxiety to the government of Pakistan. By 1975, the young Ahmad Shah Massoud and his followers initiated an uprising in Panjshir, but were forced to flee to Peshawar in Pakistan where they received support from Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Bhutto is said to have paved the way for the April 1978 Saur Revolution in Kabul by making General Daoud spread the Afghan Armed Forces to the countryside.[5]

Panjshir was attacked multiple times during the 1980s Soviet–Afghan War, against Ahmad Shah Massoud and his forces. The Panjshir region was in rebel control from August 17, 1979, after a regional uprising.[6] Aided by its mountainous terrain,[7] the region was well defended by mujahedeen commanders during the war against the PDPA government and the Soviet Union.

After the collapse of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan in 1992, the area became part of the Islamic State of Afghanistan. By the late 1990s, Panjshir and neighboring Badakhshan province served as a staging ground for the Northern Alliance against the Taliban. On September 9, 2001, Defense Minister Massoud was assassinated by two al-Qaeda operatives.[8] Two days later the September 2001 attacks occurred in the United States and this led to the start of a major U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.

Construction of the Panjshir football stadium, 2011

Containing the Panjshir Valley, in April 2004 Panjshir District of Parwan Province was turned into a province under the Karzai administration. The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) established several bases in the province. In the meantime, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) also established bases, a US-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) began operating in Panjshir in the late 2000s.

Following the Fall of Kabul on 15 August 2021, anti-Taliban forces loyal to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan fled to the Panjshir Province.[9] They formed the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan and kept fighting the new Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in an ongoing conflict. The new resistance forces flew the old flag of the Northern Alliance.[10] The resistance have held the Panjshir Valley and captured districts in neighboring provinces.[11] By early September 2021, Taliban forces managed to push into Panjshir and capture several districts from the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan,[12] before gaining control of Bazarak on 6 September, pushing remaining resistance fighters into the mountains.[13][14][15] However, clashes still remain ongoing between the Taliban and resistance fighters in Panjshir Province.[16][17] A subsequent visit by Radio Télévision Suisse and Journeyman Pictures into Bazarak in October 2021 also revealed that despite claims of NRF inactivity by local Taliban officials, an armed confrontation between the NRF Taliban was in fact occurring in an undisclosed location in the mountains surrounding Bazarak, with resistance forces gaining the upper hand, thus confirming that the NRF remains still active near Bazarak and in Panjshir Province.[18]


The percentage of households with clean drinking water increased from 16% in 2005, to 17% in 2011.[19]

23% of births in 2011 were attended to by a skilled birth attendant.[19]


The overall literacy rate (6+ years of age) fell from 33% in 2005 to 32% in 2011.[19] The overall net enrolment rate (6–13 years of age) fell from 42% in 2005 to 40% in 2011.[19] Four Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) schools service the agriculturally-oriented Panjshir Province, including the Ahmad Shah Massoud TVET. The school was established with the help from the Hilfe Paderborn and German Foreign Office and as of 2014 had about 250 students and 22 staff members.[citation needed]


As of 2021, the total population of the province is about 173,000.[2]

According to the Institute for the Study of War, Tajiks form the majority of the population.[4] There is a Sunni Hazara minority in the province, who form the majority in Darah district.[20]

Dari (Afghan Persian) is the dominant language in the province. All inhabitants are followers of Islam, and exclusively Sunni.

The proportion of residents living below the national poverty line was 19.1%.[21]

Population by districts[edit]

Districts of Panjshir Province
District Capital Population[2] Area Number of villages
Abshar 12,707 363 km2
Anaba 20,682 164 km2 31[22]
Bazarak Bazarak 21,629 378 km2 29[23]
Darah 15,951 709 km2 134[24]
Khenj 45,961 688 km2 154[25]
Paryan 17,033 1270 km2 67[26]
Rokha 26,360 144 km2 72[27]
Shotul 12,572 55 km2 23[28]

Places of interest[edit]

  • The tomb of Ahmad Shah Massoud, is located in Saricha, Bazarak, Panjshir.
  • The Football Stadium in Panjshir Valley, next to the Panjshir River.
  • Famous Mountains of Panjshir for Hiking Includes:[1]
  • Kuh-e Mir Samir 5 768 m (prom: 1 204 m)
  • Band-e Ghār 5 387 m (prom: 465 m)
  • Kōh-e Maldaygmay 5 340 m (prom: 690 m)
  • Mungashayr 5 222 m (prom: 254 m)
  • Kōh-e Wār 5 141 m (prom: 131 m)
  • Shāhāk 5 110 m (prom: 1 471 m)
  • Nāw-e Kalān 5 064 m (prom: 130 m)
  • Siyāh Khār Now 5 059 m (prom: 863 m)
  • Ghowch 5 012 m (prom: 129 m)
  • Kōtal-e Zard 4 996 m (prom: 260 m)

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d "Estimated Population of Afghanistan 2021-22" (PDF). National Statistic and Information Authority (NSIA). April 2021. Archived (PDF) from the original on June 29, 2021. Retrieved June 21, 2021.
  3. ^ "AF - Afghanistan". ISO Online Browsing Platform. Retrieved 16 December 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Panjshir Province". Understanding War. Archived from the original on 2013-09-25. Retrieved 2013-08-17.
  5. ^ Bowersox, Gary W. (2004). The Gem Hunter: The Adventures of an American in Afghanistan. United States: GeoVision, Inc. p. 100. ISBN 0-9747-3231-1. Archived from the original on 2021-08-08. Retrieved 2010-08-22. To launch this plan, Bhutto recruited and trained a group of Afghans in the Bala-Hesar of Peshawar, in Pakistan's North-west Frontier Province. Among these young men were Massoud, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and other members of Jawanan-e Musulman. It served Massoud's interests, which were apparently opposition to the Soviets. Later, after Massoud and Hekmatyar had a terrible falling-out over Massoud's opposition to terrorist tactics and methods, Massoud overthrew from Jawanan-e Musulman. He joined Rabani's newly created Afghan political party, Jamiat-i-Islami, in exile in Pakistan.
  6. ^ Halim Tanwir, Dr. M. (February 2013). AFGHANISTAN: History, Diplomacy and Journalism Volume 1. ISBN 9781479760909. Archived from the original on 2021-08-24. Retrieved 2020-06-06.
  7. ^ "Operations". Northern Alliance: Fighting for a Free Afghanistan. Friends of the Northern Alliance. Archived from the original on 24 August 2021. Retrieved 20 August 2021.
  8. ^ "The Spy Who Quit". PBS - Frontline. January 17, 2011. Archived from the original on 2015-11-04. Retrieved 2014-10-18.
  9. ^ "The Panjshir Valley: what is the main bastion of resistance against the Taliban advance in Afghanistan". 16 August 2021. Archived from the original on 19 August 2021. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  10. ^ "'Northern Alliance' flag hoisted in Panjshir in first resistance against Taliban". Hindustan Times. 17 August 2021. Archived from the original on 17 August 2021. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  11. ^ "Anti-Taliban fighters take back three districts as resistance builds up in Panjshir Valley, but experts cast doubts". 21 August 2021. Archived from the original on 21 August 2021. Retrieved 21 August 2021.
  12. ^ Valley, Anthony Loyd. "Taliban on verge of crushing last stronghold of resistance in Panjshir Valley". The Times.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ Robertson, Nic; Kohzad, Nilly; Lister, Tim; Regan, Helen (6 September 2021). "Taliban claims victory in Panjshir, but resistance forces say they still control strategic position in the valley". CNN. Retrieved 6 September 2021.
  14. ^ Pannett, Rachel (6 September 2021). "Panjshir Valley, last resistance holdout in Afghanistan, falls to the Taliban". The Washington Post. Retrieved 6 September 2021.
  15. ^ Kazmin, Amy; Findlay, Stephanie; Bokhari, Farhan (September 6, 2021). "Taliban says it has captured last Afghan region of resistance". Financial Times. Retrieved September 6, 2021.
  16. ^ "Clashes between Taliban, resistance forces reported in Afghanistan's Panjshir Province". TASS. 6 October 2021. Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  17. ^ "Afghan security forces seize weapons from Panjshir province: State media". Business Standard. 4 December 2021. Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  18. ^ (2021-10-25). "Afghanistan: Resisting the Taliban". Retrieved 2021-12-08.
  19. ^ a b c d Archive, Civil Military Fusion Centre, "PANJSHIR PROVINCE". Archived from the original on 2014-05-30. Retrieved 2014-05-30.
  20. ^ Dorronsoro, Gilles (2005-03-02). Revolution Unending: Afghanistan, 1979 to the Present. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-51024-0.
  21. ^ Giustozzi, Antonio (August 2012). Decoding the New Taliban: Insights from the Afghan Field. ISBN 9781849042260.
  22. ^ Onaba District (Re-elected) Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ Bazarak District (Re-elected) Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ Dara District (Re-elected) Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ "Khenj District (Re-elected)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-12-01. Retrieved 2012-10-31.
  26. ^ Pariyan District (Re-elected) Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ Rukha District (Re-elected) Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^ Shotol District (Re-elected) Archived 2016-01-24 at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ "گفت و گو با فرزند احمدشاه مسعود؛ "عملیات ما برای ادبیات‌مان است"". February 24, 2014. Archived from the original on August 15, 2021. Retrieved May 10, 2021.

External links[edit]