Kabul Blasts Expose Taliban-ISIS-Pakistan Nexus
Two powerful explosions at Kabul airport on 26 Aug 21 have brought in a new but complex dynamics in to the security situation in Afghanistan. It may seem to be a pointer to an anarchic Kabul but is possibly more than that. Afghanistan has been showing the symptoms of a larger enigma, of numerous factions of terror organisations remotely controlled by Pakistan. There is no doubt that Pakistan has emerged as “Jihad-Guru” of the world in driving out the most powerful military bloc of the world…the US-led allied forces. However, there are other players too using Afghanistan as a chessboard.
Pakistan has been playing a double game with the US forces ever since ‘War on terror’ invasion in 2001 which was due to Pakistan as one of the players. Pakistan used US money to double cross them by aiding & abetting Taliban, Haqqani group and the other Sunni-ideology Jihadi forces, duly supported by their military and the ISI. Pakistan kept fooling the US and the NATO forces of whereabouts of enemy no. 1 of the US, by sheltering Osama bin Laden in a well-fortifies ISI headquarters backyard. Pakistan continued with double speak to the world that it was against the terrorist. However, Imran Khan’s own admission to US Prez in 2018 was that there were >40 Tanzeems of the terrorists and ~40,000 terrorists on Pakistani ground. It is anyone’s guess where Paki ISI was using them…against the US & Allied forces in Afghanistan and against Indian forces in Kashmir. Will someone ask Imran Khan of the whereabouts of those 40,000 terrorists? Pakistan keeps fooling the world by denying the presence of more than 150 UN proscribed terrorists on its soil. ISI continues controlling and operating the Taliban & Haqqani leadership against the US forces. They strengthened Taliban by providing its own Sunni Jihadists as well as its LeT chief Hafeez Saeed agreed to send its cadre to fight American and allied forces alongside Taliban.
There have been many developments in the recent two months that indicate Pakistan is complicit with Taliban. It is already known that Taliban has >20 Jihadi groups too under its umbrella, mostly from Pakistan while fighting against US-led allied forces. The recent incidents linking the Kabul blasts to the Taliban-ISIS-Jihadi nexus are indicated by the followings:-
- Afghan 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 threatened Afghan govt against using Afghan Air Force planes for striking Taliban. He went to the extent of saying he will use Pak Air Force to shoot Afghan aircraft if attacked Taliban.
- Pak PM Imran urged the Jihadi factions and the warlords of Afghanistan not to oppose the rapid Talibani advance. That is why Taliban almost walked in to Afghanistan, capturing districts after districts. Strangely, all important adversaries and enemies of Taliban, be it the Northern Alliance of Shah Masood, Afgh VP Saleh and the numerous Shia factions of jihadists heeded to it.
- 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 it 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 is committing atrocities in all other 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, is Taliban 2.0 different in any way from their 2001 demonic image? When did it appear to be different? Was it during their last 5 yrs of numerous attacks on allied forces, their bombing of 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? When was it last that Taliban appeared a changed terrorist?
The present Kabul blast has one strong possibility that hardly anyone is talking. Pakistani foreign minister Qureshi was to visit Talibani leadership apparently to gain a direct control over Kabul in the 3rd week of August but that did not materialize. There are speculations that Qureshi’s ‘purpose’ for visit was to take direct control of Taliban administration. This was considered inappropriate by Taliban in the immediate aftermath of the August 15 take-over. At that juncture when Talibani leadership in Kabul was trying to make its image to the world, of being ‘good’ and independent. They did not want to be seen as a puppet in the hands of Pakistan, hence, understood to have politely refused Qureshi’s visit on some or the other pretext. Miffed with Taliban response in Kabul, Pak-ISI could have crafted these blasts through ISIS-K, to teach Talibani leadership of Kabul, a lesson or two?
There is one more angle to Kabul blast. Taliban has been discouraging the fleeing Afghans and their families earlier loyal to the US-led NATO forces, fearing persecution if stayed back. In spite of several warnings, the beeline of the asylum seekers abroad did not heed to it. Was it another double game of Pak-Taliban combine through Kabul blasts, to discourage the fleeing Afghans and the allied forces from evacuating them? This could also be a possibility.
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 pulling out in haste, reminded many of their defeat in Vietnam. Russian, Chinese and Iranian wishes are by now, largely fulfilled; of seeing the Americans humiliated and kicked out. However, Russia & China have two more desires…of seeing Afghanistan not become a terror hub of the region and keeping some influence on Kabul Govt as a dependable market. On the other hand, Iran wants the Shia minority to be effectively protected against Taliban atrocities. There are glaring atrocities by Taliban against the Shia Muslims in the rural Afghanistan. They may soon ask its Shia militants to take arms against Taliban & Sunni Jihadists.
China has been waiting all these days in the flanks, to grab the power vacuum after US-led allied forces left. They are keen to step in Afghanistan with their BRI, easy loans and pseudo-development agendas to exploit the mineral (esp Lithium) rich Afghanistan. China wants to control Afghanistan too through debt trap, just like 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 will tell.
ISIS / ISIL have reasonable ambition in Afghanistan. Earlier only ISIS Ansarulla faction has been openly supporting Taliban. All other factions of ISIS are essentially Wahhabi/Salafi groups, which dislikes moderate Hanafi Taliban. ISIS-K however, has a different story. Located in the ‘Khorasan region’ of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan with its headquarters in Peshawar, Pakistan. They have a strong alliance with Haqqani group, a faction of Taliban. Afghan deposed vice president Saleh said recently that he had evidence that ISIS-K is part of Taliban-Pakistan-Haqqani network. It has strong foothold in Nangarhar, Farah, Helmand and Zabul while being practically controlled by its leadership from Peshawar.
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 him from taking action or was he too complicit in the blast?
US downfall in Afghanistan was signed by the so-called peace accord with Terrorist ‘Taliban’ who failed on its obligation to fulfil 3 of the 4 clauses. American CIA Director William J. Burns held a secret meeting in Kabul with the Taliban’s de facto leader, Abdul Ghani Baradar apparently to seek backdoor approval for extending cut-off date for evacuation. He could have also talked on ISIS treat to his forces. Did he have any other agenda too? No one knows.
Many in USA feel that President Biden, the Commander-in-Chief of the US Armed Forces, should be ‘court marshalled’ for treachery committed against US troops and US interests (Col R Kemp, Retd). They handed over 20 yrs of US sacrifices to Taliban defeating the very purpose of their invading Afghanistan. He enabled Taliban to grab >50 billion worth of military hardware. The New Pakistan-Taliban-Haqqani-ISIS-K are responsible for the Kabul Bombing. The responsibility is squarely on Biden. When Biden says he will hunt ISIS-K and make them pay for the loss of American lives, will he hunt them in Haqqani network in Afgh / Pak; or ISIS-K at their headquarters at Peshawar under the close protection of Paki military and ISI?
The Kabul explosions were apparently of “Suicidal type” of Fidayeen attack, Pakistan is the best expert in imparting such training. We may recall several Fidayeen attacks by Paki terrorists on India. Did the Kabul Fidayeen attack have Pakistani ISI connection? Possibly yes. Two explosions carried out within 20 min, were in the areas where British and American troops operated. It points to a targeted attack against them. The explosions caused numerous casualties nearly 200 deaths, of both of Afghan civilians and American soldiers. The deafening sound of the blast has not yet subsided while there are fears of more such attacks mainly oriented against foreign forces.
Some staunch opponents of US administration also point to American hands in the blast so as to fabricate the security bogey and extend the date of pull out beyond 31 August. US administration hinted after the blast that if Taliban is unable to fulfill their obligations of providing security to the allied forces pull-out in Kabul, American Forces are capable to do so. However, this possibility is very remote.
On 26 Aug 21, Italian aircraft has reported of gunfire directed to it but there was no damage. Several nations have already halted any further evacuation operation with immediate effect. These include Germany, Canada, Belgium, Australia and some other nations. There are potential threats of the aircraft being shot-down by the various terrorist groups.
One episode of explosions and dozens of questions point out one single fact…that there could be more to the story than that meets the eyes. These events are driving the Afghans to desperation. Surely, investigation in the explosions will be underway but any answer in short-term is difficult to come by. Afghanistan is heading to an extremely difficult phase…of terrorism, of exploitation, of power games and so on. It could become a chess-board of the power blocks…Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan and so on.
Presently only one faction of the erstwhile govt and one faction of ISIS have shown their intent to revolt under Talibani take-over of the 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. 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.