Over the past year, the Afghan conflict has witnessed a concerning escalation, with more than 20 Pakistani nationals reportedly losing their lives in operations conducted by Afghan security forces, according to a senior Taliban official in Kabul.
Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid, who holds the position of Defence Minister, second deputy leader, and military chief within the Taliban’s administration, disclosed this information. Moreover, Mujahid asserted that not only were Pakistani nationals targeted, but also numerous Tajik nationals and Pakistanis were arrested under suspicion of involvement in attacks against religious figures, the public, and mosques in Afghanistan. This revelation adds a new layer of complexity to the already strained relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The geopolitical tension between Kabul and Islamabad intensified further as hundreds of thousands of Afghans departed from Pakistan following Pakistan’s directive for ‘illegal’ migrants to leave. The subsequent crackdown, involving meticulous documentation checks initiated on October 31, 2023, contributed to the already complex regional dynamics.
In a contrasting development, Mujahid highlighted a notable decrease in attacks attributed to an affiliate of the Islamic State group over the past year. This underscores the intricate security landscape in Afghanistan, where the Islamic State (Khorasan) has been responsible for significant assaults on educational institutions, healthcare facilities, and places of worship, predominantly targeting Shiite areas.
The ongoing rivalry between the Taliban and the Islamic State has been a defining feature since the Taliban’s takeover in August 2021. The Islamic State perceives Shiite communities as traitors, leading to concentrated attacks in Kabul and northern provinces, while avoiding the south, considered the traditional stronghold of the Taliban.
Parallel to these security challenges, the Taliban’s governance has instituted stringent measures, including the exclusion of women from public life and work. Officially limiting girls’ education to the sixth grade, practical barriers have resulted in many girls being discouraged from attending school beyond the age of 10. Investigative reports from WION have illuminated instances in Nangarhar province where Afghan girls faced significant obstacles to education beyond the third grade. These dynamics collectively paint a complex picture of Afghanistan, highlighting the intersecting challenges of security, geopolitics, and social restrictions under the Taliban’s rule.