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As Kabul bleeds

ISIS is not holding back in demonstrating its terror prowess in Afghanistan. Indeed, the group has claimed Monday’s twin attacks in Kabul that left some 25 dead. That this included 10 journalists prompted Reporters Without Borders (RSF) to term it the worst strike against the media since the fall of the Taliban back in 2001. This, in turn, has led to observations that militants are hitting democracy itself.
Be that as it may, there is no denying the fact that the bombings occurred near the National Directorate of Security (NDS) — Afghanistan’s premier intelligence agency — as well as NATO headquarters and the US Embassy. In fact, a blast in Kandahar on the same day, bringing the total of fatalities to 50, targeted an Alliance convoy. And though no group claimed responsibility for this, the message appears clear: it is not democracy that is under fire but the US military occupation.
This has inevitably shifted the focus yet again to Pakistan. Certain American experts have come out and accused this country of using its proxies to hit Kabul. Their argument goes something like this: there is no ISIS across the western border. There are just rebranded groups such as the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ).
Yet both these ‘proxies’ routinely target the Pakistani state. The TTP was behind the brutal Army Public School (APS) massacre in Peshawar back in 2014. Some two years later a faction of the rabid anti-Shia LeJ joined hands with ISIS to target a police academy in Quetta; leaving 63 dead. Then there is the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar splinter group that temporarily broke away from the TTP in 2014 to pledge spiritual allegiance to ISIS. The point is that while there may well be overlaps, there are no absolutes when it comes to clear-cut demarcations. And as far as the TTP goes, Islamabad has long complained of its finding safe-haven in Afghanistan.



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