August has been a terrible month for Afghanistan. It started with the lightening-speed at which the Taliban captured territories culminating with the takeover of Kabul amidst no opposition from the Afghanistan’s republic forces; who by then had completely lost the will to fight the war. The US and its NATO allies besides other countries are racing to get their people out of Afghanistan with a stark reality of thousands of their Afghan allies left behind.
Things have gone from bad to worse with the Taliban taking over and have hit the crescendo when series of bomb blasts ripped through the perimeters of the Kabul airport on 26th August evening killing hundreds of beleaguered Afghans who were begging the fleeing Western forces to schlep them along liberating them from the shackles of a brutal Taliban rule awaiting them. Several American soldiers have lost their lives. Biden has vowed revenge and promised to hunt down the ISIS terrorists; who have claimed responsibility for this macabre act of terror. The ISIS’s affiliate in Afghanistan known as Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) is the one which Biden is alluding to.
One might wonder from where did the dormant and defeated ISKP have reared its ugly head suddenly. The popular narrative is ISKP is a different terror organization at loggerheads with the Taliban. The narrative being spun is to show ISIS as global terror group ought to establish an Islamic Caliphate; whereas Taliban is projected as Afghan nationalists who fought for their nation. However, nothing other than this assumption could be further from the truth. The ISKP were incapacitated way back in 2018. Just like a bankrupt firm being taken over by a competitor to milk its brand value; the ISKP was taken over completely by the Pakistan’s ISI-backed Haqqani network. The same Haqqani network who are a prominent part of the Taliban and ironically being entrusted with the security of Kabul including the Kabul airport perimeters.
Respected Spanish journalist Amador Guallar Perez (@AmadorGuallar) who has reported extensively from Afghanistan and has first-hand knowledge on the machinations of the Haqqani network shared several tweets describing the unholy nexus of Pakistan’s ISI and Haqqani network; with the Haqqani’s Jekyll and Hyde act being part of Taliban as well as executing terror strikes in the name of ISKP.
A popular video clip circa 2014 going viral of Former chief of Pakistan’s secret service ISI where he brags to a cheering audience of Pakistanis claiming, “When history is written, it will be stated that the ISI defeated the Soviet Union in Afghanistan with the help of America, Then there will be another sentence. The ISI, with the help of America, defeated America.” This perhaps defines the Janus-faced state policy of Pakistan the best. Pakistan shows a moderate face through its democratic face terming itself an ally of the West in its fight against terror; often gaining sympathy calling itself a victim of terror. The other face is the scheming, deceptive and cunning deep state led by their secret service ISI; which has not just created and fostered the Afghan Taliban, but also helped morph into multiple avatars of which one among them is Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) – an alter ego of ISI-controlled Haqqani network.
So, the question is why execute a deadly suicide terror attack now when the Americans and her allies are rushing to leave?
Firstly, This may be an attempt by the Pakistani deep state to keep the Americans and NATO invested in Afghanistan by creating a pseudo terror group namely ISKP. The Pakistanis want Americans to throw more dollars at them as they chase ISKP terrorists who no longer exist; rather the Haqqanis are unleashing terror under the garb of ISKP. With the Americans leaving for good, Pakistan no longer holds the leverage over the West as their ports and entry points are no longer needed for the West to run a military campaign in the land-locked Afghanistan.
Secondly, This attack has been quickly owned by the ISKP and swiftly condemned by the Taliban. This shows a clear attempt by the Taliban at making them look like the victims and earn international legitimacy. They clearly want Americans to see this attack from an evil ISIS-Khorasan; and to draw a clear distinction between the Taliban and ISIS-K. Whereas, the reality as the fog over the war clears shows that the Pakistan’s ISI-controlled Haqqani network and the ISKP are one and the same. This makes Taliban, Haqqani network, ISKP all different veritable arms of the Pakistani ISI. The West has been fooled all along by Pakistan but their Janus-face is finally unravelling and their imprints getting clearer in Afghanistan’s never-ending turmoil.