NEW DELHI- The onslaught against Iraqi security forces by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), running through several cities and being within 50 km of Baghdad, is prompting concerns that Afghanistan too could see a similar turn of events after US forces withdraw in December.
The prospect of the Afghan Taliban and its Al Qaeda peers mounting a similar
offensive against the regime in Kabul is viewed with alarm in New Delhi. Since India’s primary concern is to ensure that Afghanistan does not emerge as a radical space for anti-Indian jihadi groups to operate from, an article in Hindustan Times said today.
Mujahideen groups targeted and captured Kabul in the mid-1990s. Ground realities have changed since a coordinated Taliban offensive on the capital may not materialize so long as US troops are around. India and its Afghan allies will hope those projections hold, but there are other findings that are troubling. The Taliban remains a formidable, if somewhat contained, insurgency for the moment. The Taliban does not control most of Afghanistan as sometimes presumed, but they are capable of mounting attacks in “every part” of the country. They cannot take control of district centers or towns and have not claimed new terrain, but have been conducting “high frequency attacks” since last winter. According to the Afghan
government’s threat assessments, 41% of 373 districts (153) in the country are exposed to a “raised” or “high” threat level of attacks from the Taliban. The report ominously flags that Taliban fighters are using a sophisticated suicide vest which is camouflaged as a leather jacket that metal detectors fail to pick up. The suicide vest also has explosive material woven into the padding of the jacket in a way that makes it
difficult to detect during a body search.
Afghanistan’s future clearly hangs in the balance. The US troop presence and the stalemate between the ANSF and the Taliban prevent the slide into an Iraq-like situation for now, but the ingredients for long-term instability remain firmly in place.