Afghanistan security dynamics are not easy to be addressed in a day. After 9/11 security challenges in Afghanistan are not only matter of concern for its regional neighbors but for others too, because of continuous proxy war. The UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Nicholas Haysom during an earlier session of the UN Security Council on Afghanistan, had said that Afghanistan would be facing major economic, security and political challenges during 2016, despite some progress made in the fields of forming the civil and electoral sector. In his speech Haysom had narrated that the security situation in Afghanistan at that time was leading towards deterioration with intensified insurgency activities and the Afghan economy remained a matter of concern as the Afghan National Unity Government was struggling to project national unity, but due to lack of implementation on ground, no observable progress was seen as expected. He also requested during his speech that, “In 2016, it would be vital that the National Unity Government demonstrates increasing effectiveness, not only to the Afghan people but also donors, on whom it was largely dependent for financial, material and technical assistance”.
Previously, the US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter also commented on the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan by warning about the emergent threat of the terror group Daesh in Afghanistan. Following a meeting with the acting Afghan Defense Minister Masoom Stanekzai, Carter said that the threat posed by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group was being tracked very closely. He added that Daesh was creating ‘little nests’ in Afghanistan as the group has stepped up efforts to gain foothold and expand its activities in the Afghanistan and beyond. The remarks by Carter came shortly after the Commander of the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan Gen. John Campbell stated that the loyalists of the ISIS are attempting to establish a regional base in Jalalabad, the capital city of eastern Nangarhar province. Gen. John Campbell had also revealed that foreign militants from Syria and Iraq had joined the loyalists of the terror group in eastern Nangarhar province and were trying to consolidate links with the leadership of the terror group based in Syria and Iraq. Besides, in a released report by Pentagon regarding the situation of Afghanistan, had confirmed that the overall security in Afghanistan had deteriorated dramatically during the 2015 as the country continued to face threats from both the Afghan insurgency and extremist networks. Experts are apprehensive about the same trend leading towards much ferocious figures than expected, if concrete steps are not timely taken by the Afghan government for resolving the key issues of Afghanistan. There are no doubts about Afghan government’s sincerity and efforts for bringing the desired peace and stability in Afghanistan; however the increased subversive activities of Taliban and other extremists groups have mesmerized the Afghan security apparatus, if the trend continued, there could be serious repercussions for the Afghan government. The attached hopes of Afghan people with the present Unity government for settling the political, security and economic condition of Afghanistan is still a mirage.
It is quite astonishing that there are no exact statistics regarding the number of ISIS loyalists and foreign militants, who have joined the terror group in Afghanistan. However, a report released by UN in September 2015, stated that the number of sympathizers and followers of the terror were growing across the country with at least 70 militants, apparently foreigners were busy in forming the core of the group’s branch in Afghanistan. The report further added that the group was recruiting followers in at least 25 provinces of Afghanistan with 10 percent of the sympathizers belonging to the Taliban group. Probably, it was the report which had given a wake up call to Afghan government for taking befitting measures to tackle the menace.
There are considerable reports which depicts that the number of Afghan students in the educational institutes of Nangarhar province are on increase, who are willing to join ISIS. International community is very concerned with the emerging face of IS in Afghanistan and there are lot of expectations that menace of Daesh could be amicably tackled by Afghanistan and its regional countries with the help of international community .However, there is a dire need that the trend of exploiting the younger and educated generation by Daesh must be checked and reviewed with serious practical approaches and concrete steps by the regional governments, as it is a matter of global peace and stability. There are apprehensions that developments in Nangarhar, in terms of emergence and gaining strong foot hold by Daesh and simultaneously tackling Taliban by the Afghan government would be cumbersome task .Besides, it could stream the negative trickle down effects on Pakistan’s adjacent Tribal areas.
Keeping in view the crucial moments for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Afghanistan must appreciate the sincerity of Pakistan in augmenting and facilitating the Afghan peace process, and the Afghan government must adopt her indigenous policies of addressing mutual interests and avoid negative influences. Experts are of the opinion that whenever IS would creep into Pakistan, they would maintain and exploit the attire of sectarianism and extremist groups in Pakistan. There is a dire need of increased mutual cooperation and collaboration between Afghanistan and Pakistan to counter the menace. Keeping in view the crucial moments for both countries, there is a logical requirement that Afghanistan must join hands and ask for cooperation and collaboration with the countries willing to resolve the Afghan problems for bringing the desired peace and stability in the region and beyond.
The writer works at an Islamabad based think-tank.