The Afghan nation mourned some of their bravest patriots last week, as the Taliban stepped up their attacks across the country seeking to gain some leverage in the Doha peace talks.

One commando being honored by his citizens as a hero was a young Afghan Special Operations leader named Sohrab Azimi. The son of a General, Azimi was called one of the bravest and most talented officers in his generation. Azimi’s death beside his brothers-in-arms has not made Afghans more afraid of the Taliban, instead it has made them even angrier at them for killing one more part of Afghanistan’s future. Azimi is being hailed as a hero and martyr that died honorably under the tri-color flag to protect his fellow citizens. The President of Afghanistan promoted Major Azimi posthumously to Brigadier General, an honor familiar to Americans when courage under fire is rewarded after death.

The outpouring of support and respect for the ANDSF from Afghan citizens highlights the unexpected effect that the Taliban attacks are having on the Afghan people. While the Taliban thought a series of strikes in different locations against lightly protected areas would create some “shock and awe,” the Afghan people have been infuriated instead, and not panicked.

President Ghani made the strategic move to empower a famous former United Front commander from the Panjshir, (Former General and Minister of Interior and Defense) Bismillah Mohammadi, as the Minster of Defense and he quickly went to work by phone rallying the citizens. This week across social media Afghans are loudly calling on each other to unite in the face of the Pakistani-funded Taliban offensive. Armed Afghans, men and women, have taken to the streets in Takhar, Balkh, Badghis and Baghlan, Mazar-e-Sharif, and beyond to stand beside their Afghan Army and Police members. In each area the Taliban are attempting to move their forces into, they quickly get removed by ANDSF reinforcements and the Taliban are losing fighters by the hundreds each day. Taliban “shadow governors,” intelligence leaders, and even Pakistani officers fighting amongst the Taliban are being killed by the ANDSF.

Watch the hashtag #NationalUprisingAgainstTB for more on these developments.

The Taliban fought the wrong enemy (NATO) for almost two decades and missed the fact that their ruthless killing of Afghan women and children would come back to haunt them. Afghan leaders, at all levels, are coming to the realization that the U.S. and other nations will not be coming to the rescue if Afghans fail to unite and hold back the Taliban offensive. There are signs that an all-out citizen uprising in support of the Republic and against the Taliban militia is underway. The Afghan people, just as the Iraqis did in the face of an all-out ISIS assault, are now unifying for the sake of their survival. The Taliban seem to have gotten some bad advice on their strategy to keep killing innocent civilians and attacking the heroes in the ANDSF while pretending to take part in a peace process.

Azimi’s father seems to be speaking for his entire nation when he expressed that his son’s death is like a hole in his chest, but that his son’s courage and martyrdom has also convinced him that he and others must fight Afghanistan’s enemies with every ounce of effort for as long as it takes. The Taliban have truly misread the old saying about war in Afghanistan. The Afghan people now hold all the time and the Taliban only have their cheap Pakistani watches to hold on to. Afghans are fighting for their freedom as the NATO military force departs, and Afghans are famously united when Afghanistan’s liberty is involved.

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Jason spent 23 years in USG service conducting defense, diplomacy, intelligence, and education missions globally. Now he teaches, writes, podcasts, and speaks publicly about Islam, foreign affairs, and national security. He is a member of the Military Writers Guild and aids with conflict resolution in Afghanistan.