Continued Blasts in Afghanistan : A Clear Taliban-ISISK-Pakistan Nexus
After Taliban gained strangling hold over Afghanistan, fear among civilian of the return of 2001 atrocities were palpable. In addition, the Talibani bandits had made no secret of their intention to punish and execute anyone who had earlier colluded or cooperated with the US-led NATO forces or the erstwhile civilian govt. The Afghan women had already been trembling when the bandits had announced a dictum to hand-over their >15 yr old unmarried or <40 yr divorced girls/women. Further, there is no secret of their hate against other faiths including Hazara/Shia Muslims and several local warlords. So writing was very much on the walls as to what the Afghans could expect from Taliban taking control.
Two powerful explosions rocked the Kabul airport on 26 Aug 21 that killed >180 people (incl13 US soldiers). It brought in a new but complex dynamics in to the security situation in Afghanistan. It was announced by both Taliban and the American commanders on the ground to have been caused by the ISIS-K with whom the Haqqanis have been in alliance. It is important that internal security (Home Ministry) of Afghanistan is being handled by Sirajuddin Haqqani, himself a US proscribed terrorist. It is also important to note that both Haqqani and ISIS-K were closely handled by Pakistani ISI. Hence, it must have been with Paki nod. These explosions were probably aimed at threatening the US & allied forces to flee within the given time or else bear the consequences…Surely the foreign troops left before the deadline.
A question was already posed to the international community as to who caused the explosion while ISIS-K was in league with Taliban. Here it becomes important to recollect Imran Khan’s own admission to US Prez in 2018 that there were >40 Tanzeems of the terrorists (incl ISIS-K) and ~40,000 terrorists on Pakistani ground. It is anyone’s guess that Paki ISI was using them against the US & Allied forces in Afghanistan and against Indian forces in Kashmir. They strengthened Taliban by providing Pakistani Sunni Jihadists as well as LeT chief Hafeez Saeed agreed to send its cadre to fight American and allied forces alongside Taliban. Experts in Islamic and Afghanistan affairs predicted more targetted violence in the coming days and weeks either with or without the nod of their masters in Pakistan ISI. All say, never trust Pakistan and its Jihadists…and it was evident within days of Afgan take-over…that atrocities on the minorities restarted. The list is growing alarmingly as shown below:-
It is obvious that amidst some random attacks on Taliban, some very deadly attacks have been mounted on the Shia minority of Afghanistan during prayers at the mosques that Iran will never take kindly. Zabiulla Mujahid the Cultural (just for name sake) minister (and may be for retaliation against 03 Oct attack on his mother’s service in mosque) and tribal minister Norie strongly hate Shia community and could be behind the bombing. Who could be behind the 18, 22 Sep; 03 & 20 Oct attacks on the Talibani officials is anyone’s guess. Official version is of ISIS_K but it should be no surprise if the Hazara minorities or some disillusioned civilian could be behind it having faced several persecution and killings by Taliban. There is one more possibility in the recent violence in Afghanistan. Haqqani group has been facing some sorts of isolation by Taliban in the distribution of the ministerial authorities. Secondly, Pakistan is facing some resistance among Taliban as a result of which, recently they had to stop their air services too. It should be no surprise if Pakistan ISI is instigating its ISIS-K with the concurrence of Haqqani to indulge in anti-Shia violence. This is what is happening in Pakistan and they will not mind imitating in Afghanistan too. Taliban pretends they are tightening grip on ISIS-K but in a country of sparse populace in which the jihadists are still inhabited in isolated camps, the address of which is on the fingertips of Taliban, why no encounter or arrest have been made till now? It is fairly complex Jihadi-violence in Afghanistan possibly heading towards a retaliatory approach by those wronged by the new Talibani regime.
There is hardly any doubt that Pakistan is complicit with Taliban and ISIS_K in all their terror-related acts. Their collusions are from mid-2000s, on the Paki soils, spilling over in to Afghanistan. It is known that >20 Jihadi groups from Pakistan are fighting in Afghanistan under Taliban/ISIS-K umbrella and the following events substantiate it: -
Afghan ex-Prez Ashraf Ghani strongly alleged at the Central and South Asia 2021 conference in Tashkent on 16 July 21, that Pak ISI had sent over 10,000 Jihadists to Afghanistan in Jun this year to assist and hasten Taliban take-over.
Pak PM Imran Khan appealed to all terrorist groups / warlords in Afghanistan not to obstruct Taliban advances in to Afghanistan essentially it was his Jihadists advancing with Taliban. That was why Taliban almost walked in to Afghanistan, capturing districts after districts in no time, without any fight. Strangely, all important adversaries and enemies of Taliban, be it the Northern Alliance of Shah Masood,
- Afghan Vice Prez Abdullah Saleh and the numerous Shia factions of jihadists heeded to it.
- Pak PM Imran threatened Afghan govt against using Afghan Air Force planes for striking Taliban. He went to the extent threatening he will use Pak Air Force to shoot Afghan aircraft if attacked Taliban.
- Afghanistan take-over by Taliban on 15 Aug 21 was described by Pak PM Imran Khan saying they have “Brocken the shackles of Slavery” to the USA, while the world condemned, Pak cherished. The way the take-over happened while the talks were still going on in Doha; a clear evidence of Talibani double-speak.
It is known that Taliban has been committing heinous atrocities in all provinces but trying to show a ‘moderate face’ in Kabul, so as to garner international acceptance and recognition. US and some of the European nations are also helping, essentially to justify US-Taliban peace-accord. However, Taliban 2.0 seems to be no different in any way from their 2001 demonic image. In the last 1 yr numerous attacks have been mounted on allied forces, bombing of civilian on Kabul streets, killing of liberal women professionals, attacking and killing scores of innocent girls in school bombing, calling Afghans (esp kaffirs) to hand over their >15 & <45 yrs girls and widows. At no instance Taliban appeared anything different from being a terrorist organisation. Only one change is evident…that of its fluency in double speak, just like their masters in Pakistan. Although many radicals consider it anti-Islamic, they are all hand in glove. Despite international pressure on Taliban for an inclusive govt, they have not shown any inclination to heed it. As a result, no country has given them recognition as yet. There are several problems and one major one being the presence of proscribed terrorists in cabinet of ministers.
Taliban govt is in desperate need of finance to feed and pay its own jihadi cadre as well as the poor civilian population facing humanitarian crisis. Their DyPM recently visited Moscow for assistance from among the representative group of Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan and India. Some help has been assured too. There could be another ploy as prompted by Paki FM Qureshi visit on 21-22 Oct 21. It is believed that he has suggested the Talibani govt to exercise more of double game/speak it has learnt from Pakistan…of showing some cosmetic changes in the govt by including one odd woman and minority representation in the govt list and allow a handful of women in some jobs with plenty of media fanfare…just for the sake of showmanship and claim international recognition and sympathy. World is raising question on UN and World Food Program (WFP) as to why not levy the bills of these humanitarian assistance on to those who perpetrated it…clearly Taliban & Pakistan in this case. Today, the Jihadists the world over are creating humanitarian situations and international agencies like UN & WFP are asked to pay for it…be it Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Nigeria, Sudan, Gaza and so on (UN must Make the perpetrators of violence pay for the many Famines; The Counterviews; August 2021; https://articles.thecounterviews.com/articles/the-un-must-make-the-perpetrators-of-violence-pay-for-many-famines/). If Taliban can use and operate sophisticated weapons of $40 billion worth, they should also be able to pay for the hunger of own citizen and terrorist cadre too.
Anti-US forces in the region, be it Russia, China, Iran or Pakistan, wanted to see the US forces defeated and humiliated in Afghanistan. The way US-led allied forces started fleeing in haste, reminded many of their defeat in Vietnam. Their wishes are largely fulfilled; of seeing the US-led NATO forces humiliated and kicked out. However, Russia & China have two more desires…of seeing Afghanistan not become a terror hub of the region and also keep some influence on Kabul Govt and their consumer markets.
Iran of late is getting impatient with Taliban by their attacks on the Shia minority. There are glaring atrocities by Taliban against the Shia Muslims in many parts of Afghanistan through brazen suicidal blasts. They may soon ask its Shia militants to take arms against Taliban & Sunni Jihadists. Some isolated attacks on Taliban in the recent times may be pointer to it.
China has been waiting all these days in the flanks, to grab the power vacuum in Afghanistan after US-led allied forces left. They are keen to step in with their BRI, easy loans trap and pseudo-development agendas to exploit their mineral (esp Lithium) deposits. China wants to control Afghanistan through debt trap, just like they control Pakistan, so that Talibani and other jihadists & radicals don’t incite the Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. In their meeting with Taliban representative, they sought assurances in this regard but is Taliban trustworthy? Time only will tell. However, US administration has not totally abandoned Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is believed that USA is in talks with Pakistan to maintain its presence through a US military base for the objectives as shown in the text box below:-.
ISIS / ISIL too have reasonable ambitions in Afghanistan, for using it as their experimental lab. They would like to open many terrorist training centres and then export to other places in the region. Only ISIS Ansarulla faction is supporting Taliban. All other factions of ISIS are essentially Wahhabi/Salafi groups, which dislikes moderate Hanafi Taliban. ISIS-K has a different story. Located in the ‘Khorasan region’ of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan with its headquarters in Peshawar. They have a strong alliance with the Haqqani group, a faction of Taliban. There are evidence that ISIS-K is part of Taliban-Pakistan-Haqqani network. It has a strong foothold in Nangarhar, Farah, Helmand and Zabul while being practically controlled by its leadership from Peshawar, Pakistan. Khalil-ur-Rahman Haqqani, a US proscribed terrorist, is a close confidant of ISIS-K. He is Taliban ‘in-charge’ of Kabul security. He was also cautioned with credible intelligence of a possible ISIS-K attack on Kabul airport 3 days before, but did not seem to act effectively to prevent it. Was it his intimacy with ISIS-K that prevented from taking action or was he too complicit in the blast? It is unlikely to come out in public.
The episodes of explosions have raised dozens of questions of Talibani hold on security whether it is their failure or complicity. Afghanistan is heading to an extremely difficult phase…of terrorism, of exploitation, of power struggle and so on. It could become a chess-board of the power blocks…Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan and so on. Taliban is likely to continue with their double speak to the world…so as to garner free humanitarian assistance on one hand and delicately balance their terror activities through ISIS factions. They will try to assure all major players in the region of not exporting terror on to their ground but covertly Pakistan will assist them to send the terrorists to serve the cause of Islam…be it Kashmir in India, Uyghurs in Xinjiang, Tajiks or Chechnya. Double-speak will be on full display.
Presently only one faction of the erstwhile govt and one faction of ISIS have shown their intent to revolt under Talibani take-over of Afghanistan. Lot many issues are yet to unravel. Pakistani game plan in Afghanistan and its ambition to become the master of world Jihad, is yet to materialise fully. Difficult days lay ahead for the entire region. There has to be a concerted international approach against any form of Jihad…mild, moderate or severe. These Jihadists have challenged the humanity of the world; they need to be rooted out. But it will not be easy. There are 57 countries under OIC which will try to block all international attempts to prevail on Jihadists and radical Islam. The UN is yet to pass the resolution defining terrorism. Hence, lot many works are pending on the UN table. They must act now or else, Islamic terrorism will engulf world peace.