Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, is under the complete control of Taliban since it fell to the militant group that made its way to the city within days. The fall of Kabul at the hands of Taliban showed that Afghan armed forces (Afghan National Army and Air force) that were trained by the United States and India were ill-prepared to continue the fight.
Not only US President Biden, but the entire western world believed Afghan forces were well trained and strong enough to deal with ‘less than a million’ Taliban who had strong feuds against each other and were subdivided into ethnic groups.
Recently, the well-guarded Hamid Karzai Airport in Kabul, a hub of US and NATO forces, was rocked by suicide bombing, killing several people including 13 US army personnel. Dozens of Afghan citizens who had thronged the airport to flee from the war-torn Afghanistan were among those who lost their lives in the bombing. Soon after the attack, Islamic state Khurasan Province (IS-KP) group claimed the responsibility and declared that they will fight against Taliban who according to them are ‘US agents’.
Devastated and shocked, US president Joe Biden in his televised address to the nation declared the slain US soldiers national heroes, vowing to ‘hunt down’ the attackers.
“They were part of simply what I call the backbone of America, they are the spine of America. The best the country has to offer,” said Joe Biden.
What is IS-KP?
Now question arises: what is the agenda of IS-KP and who are they?
As per the declaration of Islamic State known as ISIS, created by the terrorist Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi in Iraq, Khurasan is a Province of IS which is known as IS-KP and consists of nine countries of South Asia that include Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh and the Maldives. This deadly group is facing UN sanctions since 14 May 2019 but considers, South Asia a major hub of its operations.
It has conducted terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh in the past and has mainly targeted Shia communities and their mosques. The recent Kabul airport attack diminished the hope of peace and the claims of Taliban that they will enforce law and order and control terrorism in Afghanistan.
Last year, Shahab Al Mahajir, a former Taliban Commander and an active member of deadly Haqani Network, allegedly having strong links with Pakistan’s establishment, was appointed the head of IS-KP. He claims there are safe sanctuaries in border areas of Pakistan. Pakistan government always denied this allegation. A researcher, Viraj Solanki, at the London based International Institute for strategic Studies (IISS), stressed, “ISIS is now a reality for South Asian governments, with the region facing an increasing risk of ISIS-inspired violence. Although the full extent of the threat is not yet understood, it is clear that regional counter-terrorism cooperation needs to be strengthened.”
Since the Kabul airport attacks which left 170 Afghan and 13 US troops dead, the US forces have conducted two air strikes in Afghanistan. One was near the Kabul Airport in a residential area on a suicide bomber in a car, the US official told the Reuters. It had “substantial amount of explosive material,” he claimed.
Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, also confirmed to Chinese TV CGTN of seven civilian deaths in the US drone strike on Sunday. However, the Afghan media is reporting 10 deaths which the Pentagon says would be probed. Earlier, another drone attack hit the hideout of IS-KP in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan for planning attacks against the US forces in Kabul, confirmed the Central Command spokesman, Capt. William Urban from the Navy.
Since the fall of Kabul to Taliban, nearly half a dozen terrorist activities have been reported in Pakistan that include the attacks on the check posts of the security forces from across the borders in Afghanistan, in tribal areas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan, and on Muharram processions in Bhawalnagar Punjab and a grenade attack on a family from Sawat KP, in Karachi. Scores of civilians and personnel of security forces have been killed in these attacks.
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has also announced attacks against the security forces of Pakistan. Taliban in Kabul have announced that they would not allow the use of Afghan territory against other neighbouring countries. However, the threat of terrorist and suicide attacks by TTP and IS-KP of a pattern similar to those of 2007 onward cannot be ruled out — as both had been involved in terrorist activities in Pakistan.
Pakistan Army’s spokesman DG ISPR Major General Babar Iftikhar in his presser last week in Rawalpindi, reiterated the resolve of the armed forces for a strong counter strategy against activities by any terrorist group. “We have taken every possible step to maintain security at the border and every movement is under control. But this does not mean that nothing can happen, something can happen, but we are prepared; it is not that we will be unaware of that,” he added.
IS-KP is an eminent and serious threat not only to the incoming government in Kabul, but also to the Taliban groups, and to the regional peace as well as safety and security of Pakistan, China, Iran and Central Asian States and Russian interests in the region. Therefore, the region needs a greater military alliance to deal with the looming threat of extremism and radicalism so barbaric acts against the humanity, particularly women and children, can be prevented.