At least 25 people have died in a deadly attack on a Gurdwara in Kabul with the Islamic State (IS) terror group claiming responsibility. This is not the first time that IS has attacked religious minorities in Afghanistan and goes to show that the group still retains the ability to strike targets in that country. The attack assumes even more significance in light of the recent US-Taliban deal that is supposed to pave the way for peace in Afghanistan. IS was not covered by that deal and the Gurdwara massacre is likely the group’s way of asserting its capabilities.
True, IS in Afghanistan is nothing like the Taliban. But with pressure and expectations building on the latter to moderate for the sake of peace, IS sees an opportunity to emerge as the most radical Islamist group in that country. In this way, it hopes to become a strategic player in Afghanistan and revive its goal of an Islamic caliphate.
The only way to neutralise the IS threat is through peace and unity in Afghanistan. But after the US-Taliban deal, Kabul has been unable to even put together a negotiating team to talk to the Taliban. That is due to differences between the rival claimants to the presidency, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah. But if talks and reconciliation are delayed further, it will only provide space to groups like IS to operate. This must not be allowed to happen.