As expected, right after the ceasefire announcement by the Taliban and the decision of Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani regarding the release of Taliban prisoners, Islamic State (IS) came into action. In an attack on a prison in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, the IS fighters succeeded in setting some of their comrades free. According to some officials, around 300 prisoners are still at large. Although the Afghan government and the Taliban are coming closer towards ironing out their differences, the attack does not bode well for any future peace plans. Realistically speaking the assault on the prison bars us from becoming too optimistic regarding a peaceful Afghanistan soon. IS, while withdrawing from Syria, found Afghanistan the best place for their operations and clearly a mere peace deal with the Taliban might not be enough to end the violence in the country.

Though the group established its presence in the war-torn country back in 2014, its attacks accelerated in and around Kabul only after the group left Syria. While the government and the Taliban are still debating some of the issues, IS attacks city after city. Both the Ghani government and the Taliban must consider the IS a crucial challenge to the stability and peace of the country. The frequency of the group’s attacks and the consistent efforts to strengthen its numbers tells us that the group wants to remain a major actor in Afghanistan’s affairs.

The militant group has been seen as a constant spoiler of the peace process and has been reportedly backed by those that wouldn’t want a peaceful Afghanistan: India. As the Afghan government and Taliban settle their disagreements, perhaps it is also time to devise a mechanism against foreign funding that gives powers to such militants. Both sides must start talking about what is to be done about non-state actors and their backers because of the threat they pose to peace. Once the Taliban stop violence against the state, there will always be non-state actors such as IS to fill the vacuum. The Taliban and the government need to think of a way out against IS operations before the group becomes as powerful as the Taliban or the incumbent government.