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Yet Another Emerging Conflict: IS-K’s Resurgence In Afghanistan



Proxy Wars

Afghanistan has become the land of continuous struggle and conflicts for the past four decades now. It has faced internal and external threats of occupation, terrorism, sovereignty, and Proxy Wars that have ruined the domestic socio-economic, environmental, and moral growth of the nation along with defacing the image of the whole nation.

With 20 years-long struggle of America’s occupation of the land, thousands of Afghan nationals and US soldiers’ lives lost, and billions of dollars lost in the conflict, the country wasn’t even able to peacefully take a breather. Now they have yet another enemy to tackle: the IS-K or the Islamic State of Khorasan group.

Origin of IS-K

The IS-K group is ideologically different from the Taliban as they belong to the Salafi school of thought while the Taliban belong to the Wahabi ideology. Although apparently, they seem to be of the same mindset i.e. fighting in the name of “Jihad” which is often based on misconceptions regarding the true Islamic principles, however, their demands and methods of attacks and taking over are quite more aggressive than the Taliban.

Originally, the IS-K group members emerged from the Tehreek-e-Taliban group based in Pakistan and Afghanistan, they later parted ways and formed their own ideological paradigm that remained in conflict with the Taliban. That is why the recent take of the Taliban in Afghanistan has triggered the brutal suicide bombing and direct attacks on the Afghanistan army and civilians. More than 170 people have died within a few weeks of back to back attacks. 

Would US interfere?

The Biden government seems to be quietly observing the situation in Afghanistan without intending to directly interfere or offer any solution. This approach seems quite balanced to some experts in the sense that interference of any third party might become a one-sided affair that can lead to further aggression from the opposing side. Besides, interfering in the complex ideological and cultural animosities between these two groups might backfire for the US right now instead of proving to be beneficial.

However, regional players like Pakistan, China, and Russia are keen on finding a suitable solution to the conflict so that it could be controlled before spiraling out of hands and spreading the menace of yet another wave of terrorism in the region. The problem is to bring the two groups to the table and initiate talks which seems quite unlikely to happen for some time.

What to do?

Afghanistan is now in the hands of the Taliban who are although apparently, willing to make peace with the regional and international players. They, however, have certainly been facing serious challenges on domestic levels as the poor economy and deteriorating socio-political and security situation of the country has made things further difficult for them.

But there is always a way out if one tries to find one. If the Taliban, who are more aware of the culture and ideological intricacies of the IS-K, try to reconcile with them on political grounds, they can create a somewhat peaceful situation in the country. The taking over of the power in the country, of course, has been the main trigger for the IS-K violence so far which can be smothered through political negotiation, to some extent.

The regional players can also help Afghanistan overcome this matter with open and clear talks. Pakistan has a familiarity with this ethnic group and thus can offer a table for talks. However, this can only happen with the consent of both groups which seems quite unlikely right now.

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