Kabul Blast: Is Islamic State expanding its reach in the subcontinent?

Repeated attacks hurts morale of Afghan forces

Is this mother of all bomb blast? If one looks at the magnitude of Wednesday morning’s explosion in Kabul, one scouts to find a parallel in recent times.

A sewage tanker laden with bomb is denoted at the heart of Kabul city surrounded by presidential palace and many prominent embassies.

Kabul is not new to attacks. In past terrorist onslaught was always followed by firefights by militants. The Taliban attackers used to engage security forces for hours in gun battle after exploding bombs.

This time, however, the nature of the attack is different. The Taliban has denied any responsibility for May 31st attack.

The finger of suspicion goes towards the Islamic State or ISIS or Daesh as it is popularly known. In the first week of May the group which took responsibility for the attack on the American convoy ,was an affiliate of the IS.

The frequency and intensity of the attack in Kabul and adjoining areas have gone up ever since America dropped “mother of all bomb” in the Achin district in Nangarhar province in the second week of April.

Aimed at the IS, the powerful bomb reportedly killed 92 Daesh fighters holed up in the caves of the Hindukush mountains. The attack was a big blow to the radical Islamists in their bastion in the eastern Afghanistan.

The modus operandi of the Taliban has always been to attack foreign convoy and spare civilians.Civilians have always been a collateral victims of the Taliban attacks. For the IS, on the contrary, civilian has always been in the direct line of firing.

They attack not only their political enemy but also victimize those who don’t subscribe to their views of Islam. They have been very brazen in their brutalities. Last year in July the ISIS claimed responsibility for attacking a rally organized by the Shia minority group,Hazara. The suicide blast took 80 lives.

If one looks at the wide target of attacks in Kabul’s diplomatic area it becomes clear that only the ISIS can be that brazen in its aggression. The impact of the attack was felt not only by the embassies of Germany, Britain, France, India, or Iran, the Pakistan embassy too felt the brunt.

The impact of the blast was so huge that some staffs of the Pakistani embassy also got injured. The Taliban is very particular in choosing its target. The received wisdom and experience tell that the Taliban will not target Iran or Pakistan.

Therefore, all available experience and footprints of attack point towards the ISIS.

The middle east based group has one very strong reason to demonstrate its strength. The “mother of all bomb”, has dented the ISIS’ credibility in the eyes of the Afghans to an extent, it made them look like a weak fragmented group. The Kabul attack might be an attempt by the IS to reclaim its lost ground.

There are few in Kabul who argue that some elements of the Taliban, who have joined the Daesh, might be responsible for the attack. Kabul based political commentator, Habib Khan Totakhil, says that the “Taliban affiliates who might have changed their loyalties to IS, might be responsible for the blast or there is an agreement between the Taliban and Daesh
that Daesh will take the responsibility for the in kabul city”.

Whatever be the case the growing and widening influence of the ISIS is not a good sign for the security situation in Afghanistan. The Taliban is malleable and one can be hopeful of it joining the political mainstream.

It has shown inclinations for talks. The ISIS, on the contrary, represents a foreign force and its leadership is outside the subcontinent. It is not rooted in the political ethos of the Hindukush.

With security situation in Afghanistan at all time low, the expanding IS’ power is not a good sign. It might lead to all round chaos in the country.

The way the attacks are being conducted and its intensity, Afghanistan, almost seems like Syria or Iraq, where the suicide attacks and mindless killings by the IS are rampant. There is a perceptible attempt to create middle east kind of mayhem and chaos in the Islamic republic.

With international attention moving away from Afghanistan , the thinning presence of the international troops in the country, has created a security vacuum in the war torn nation. Such attacks further underline the ill preparedness of the Afghan National Army (ANA).

The frequency of attacks not only diminish the spirit of the local security forces, it also affects the morale of the masses, which feel a great sense of helplessness and resignation with widening cloud of political uncertainty.

At a time when Europe and larger world are not ready to welcome Afghans in their country, the deep slide in security situation makes Afghan a prisoner in their own country.

With each passing week the uncertainty in Afghanistan is getting deeper and deeper.