The first concrete evidence has emerged of attempts to recruit fighters in Afghanistan for Islamic State (IS). A former Taliban commander in Helmand province, Mullah Abdul Rauf, has declared his allegiance to IS. These militants switch allegiances easily. One day the Taliban in southern Afghanistan were wearing the white clothes of the Taliban and the next day they had black clothes and called themselves ISIS. This connection to IS spells trouble for the region.

Firstly, the problem is that of the spread of IS. Unlike al Qaeda, IS looks more like an organised army, rather than a network of guerrilla militants. This has implications on the territorial integrity of Iraq and Syria, overrun with IS as well as the role that Iran may have in the region. Already, Iran is funding Shiite militancy in Iraq to counter IS. For many, Iran is the only real resistance. But Iran is not doing it out of the goodness of its heart. Dogged by the US for its nuclear program, the repressive regime may have real designs on the territory. Though it may be too early to cry “invasion”, the signs are present. A victorious Iranian contingent in the region gives it more leverage with the US to soften sanctions and finally come to a deal on the nuclear front. The second problem is that of Blaochistan. Iran and India have deep fingers into the Balochistan insurgency and there are reports that IS also has made a mark in Balochistan. If India is able to manipulate a separation, Balochistan will never be a truly independent state. With players like the Taliban, Iran and India in the mix, we will be looking at another debacle at the scale of the Iraqi disaster.

Thirdly, the Taliban are fast turning to ISIS black; how soon before the TTP has a mass conversion as well? Several TTP leaders have announced their allegiance. They will no doubt want to join into the bigger jihadi movement. From localised tribal Taliban, we will soon have the IS on our hands and then what? The Pakistani state rolls over and pledges allegiance to the Caliph of the faith? We are on dangerous ground. Already, people in Pakistan celebrate killers like Mumtaz Qadri. Will they soon be hoisting the black flag as well?