Afghanistan– the Regional Dilemma

Taliban are providing safe havens indiscriminately

Recent terror incidents in Moscow, Iran, and Pakistan have heightened concerns about rising terrorism in Asia. Although the majority of these terror attacks were carried out by regional terrorist organizations such as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Islamic State (IS), the presence of foreign actors in these operations cannot be ignored. Moscow blames Ukraine for the current attacks, while Iran accuses Israel of terrorism.

The majority of attacks in Pakistan were carried out by terrorist organizations based in Afghanistan. The Afghan Taliban’s control of Kabul has put regional peace and stability at risk. All terrorist organizations engaged in terrorist acts in Pakistan, Iran and Moscow have a significant presence in Afghanistan. The country is serving as a breeding ground for terrorist activity and unrest throughout the area. These allegations are also supported by the most recent Global Terrorism Index report.

Pakistan has even lobbied the UN Security Council (UNSC) to demand that Afghanistan cease connections with terrorist organizations. The Global Terrorism Index indicated a 22 percent rise in total terrorism-related fatalities worldwide. Access to contemporary equipment, technologies, and explosives is the primary reason for the increase in the lethality of terrorist strikes.
According to reports, numerous terrorist groups, including the TTP and BLA, exploit weapons left behind by NATO and ISAF in Afghanistan. Pakistan has already requested an international investigation into the TTP’s access to these weapons. Following the USA’s hurried exit from Afghanistan, Pakistan warned the world that terrorist organizations, particularly those linked with Al-Qaeda and IS, could gain access to illegally disposed remaining weaponry. Pakistan is not the only regional country facing the threat of terrorist groups using this armament; it also jeopardizes the peace and stability of other neighboring states. The usage of sophisticated US weaponry and equipment demonstrates the consequences of their forces’ premature and hurried exit for the entire region and beyond. However, once the Taliban took control of Kabul in August 2021, Pakistan became the country most affected by terrorism in the region. Pakistan is the world’s fourth most impacted country by terrorism, while Afghanistan, the new safe haven for terrorist organizations, is ranked sixth.

Islamabad has consistently expressed concerns about the presence of terrorist groups in Afghanistan, but the temporary Taliban government has always dismissed all such assertions. The Pakistani military has already successfully eradicated the TTP from the state’s oversight. Terrorism has claimed the lives of thousands of Pakistanis, including military personnel and civilians. However, the involvement of regional competitors and the Afghan Taliban lent assistance to the TTP, IS, and BLA, jeopardizing Pakistan’s internal security. All of these groups use Afghan land to carry out terrorism against Pakistan.

As a way forward, regional and international powers must engage the Afghan Taliban over the presence of terrorist organizations in their country. On the other hand, the Afghan Taliban should recognize that separating from international terrorist organizations is critical to their global acceptance. The presence of terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda and IS may potentially result in an internal power struggle within Afghanistan, which is undesirable to both regional powers and the interim Afghan government.

According to a United Nations Security Council review, Al-Qaeda continues to operate sanctuaries and training centers in Afghanistan. The group also conducts terrorism in other African countries. Al-Qaeda directed members of many terrorist groups operating in Africa, most notably Al-Shabab.

The Pakistani government has long expressed its concerns over the continued existence of terrorist groups in Afghanistan, but the international community has been unable to adequately engage the interim administration on this matter. A recent video appeared on social media showing TTP and Afghan Taliban commanders planning terrorist strikes in Pakistan, adding to Pakistan’s assertions that the interim Afghan government has sheltered terrorist groups. According to the UN, the TTP receives consistent financial support from the Afghan Taliban. These challenges were expected to occur following the premature withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan. The USA’s rapid withdrawal from Afghanistan without forming a strong national militia or central government after a two-decade-long war creates suspicions that everything was done on purpose to keep the region volatile. The latest strikes in Moscow by IS terrorists sponsored by the West fueled this notion even more.

An unstable South Asia benefits both India and its global allies. The latter tends to entangle Russia and China in regional disputes. India is hostile to the BRI’s flagship project, the CPEC. Terrorist attacks against the CPEC continue, revealing the participation of international forces. All of these attacks were carried out by terrorist organizations operating from Afghanistan, lending credence to the theory that the USA deliberately left Afghanistan in the hands of the Afghan Taliban.

As a way forward, regional and international powers must engage the Afghan Taliban over the presence of terrorist organizations in their country. On the other hand, the Afghan Taliban should recognize that separating from international terrorist organizations is critical to their global acceptance. The presence of terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda and IS may potentially result in an internal power struggle within Afghanistan, which is undesirable to both regional powers and the interim Afghan government.

Ahmad Ali
Ahmad Ali
The writer is a freelance columnist

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