WHILE hopes remain that violence in Afghanistan will one day come to an end, specifically if the government, the Afghan Taliban and other major stakeholders reach a peace agreement, civilians in that unfortunate country continue to pay a high price due to the lawlessness.

On Monday, a massacre occurred at Kabul University, in which at least 22 people lost their lives. The militant Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the atrocity saying two of its fighters carried out the assault, apparently to target an Afghan government ceremony at the varsity.

Late last month, IS carried out a similar massacre, targeting an education centre in a Shia-majority area of Kabul. In that attack, at least 24 lives were snuffed out, many of them young students hoping to build a better future.

While these attacks rightfully attract revulsion, they are par for the course where IS’s deadly strategy and tactics are concerned. After all, they combine the terrorist group’s virulently sectarian outlook and its hatred of modernity, education and all interpretations of religion and politics other than its own.

Moreover, the attacks illustrate the frailty of the Kabul government; the two recent assaults did not take place in some faraway, barely governed province. They took place in the Afghan capital, which is supposed to have a heavy security presence. This shows that unless a solid Afghan peace agreement is hammered out and put into practice, as soon as foreign forces leave the country IS and its ideological comrades may carry out even greater acts of violence.

Along with threatening Afghanistan’s security, a revitalised IS using ungoverned Afghan soil as a base will become a regional and international security nightmare. Pakistan has legitimate security concerns regarding this possible scenario, while as numerous IS-inspired attacks over the last few days in different parts of the world show, if militants find a stronghold in Afghanistan, the frequency and ferocity of these attacks may increase too.

A two-fold response is needed to control IS terrorism within Afghanistan. First and foremost is the need, as stated above, for all Afghan factions that believe in the political process to single-mindedly work for a peace plan agreeable to all. Though the level of violence between the Afghan Taliban and the government has been high over the past couple of weeks, both these players must realise that if IS is given space, it will not hesitate to eliminate all that stands in its way of recreating a ‘caliphate’. Secondly, some Afghan officials have blamed the Afghan Taliban and Pakistan for Monday’s attack. This is strange as IS has unambiguously claimed it was behind the assault. Instead of hurling unsubstantiated allegations, the Afghan government must work with regional states and the international community to eliminate the IS threat. Pointing fingers at others will not make the threat go away.

Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2020

Opinion

Last call
Updated 23 Sep 2021

Last call

The exchange rate alone can no longer absorb the full impact of the deterioration in the current account.
Appeasing terrorists
Updated 22 Sep 2021

Appeasing terrorists

The policy of appeasement has not worked in the past and it certainly will not work now.

Editorial

Dialogue, at last
Updated 23 Sep 2021

Dialogue, at last

The govt has attempted to make the ECP controversial at a time when its input is critical for the poll reforms
AUKUS controversy
Updated 23 Sep 2021

AUKUS controversy

Instead of flexing its military muscle, the Western bloc needs to engage China at the negotiating table.
Provocative act
Updated 23 Sep 2021

Provocative act

Afghan Taliban flags have been found hoisted at Jamia Hafsa seminary three times since Aug 21.
22 Sep 2021

Interest rate hike

THE State Bank’s decision to raise its key interest rate by 25bps to 7.25pc underpins its acceptance of emerging...
PCB chief’s challenge
Updated 22 Sep 2021

PCB chief’s challenge

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has propelled fears of regional insecurity.
22 Sep 2021

No need for secrecy

THE government should not make a mountain out of the Toshakhana molehill. That would only encourage speculation of...