Fearing IS, Afghan Shias have asked for help from Taliban. So, not only is the US making attempts to talk to the Taliban, those who the Taliban have attacked in the past are also trying to be pragmatic. This is the mainstreaming of terrorism. The strategy to terrorise until one has political clout, has worked for the Taliban, now a major power broker in Afghanistan.
The Hazara Shia minority was killed in the thousands during the Taliban’s hard-line Sunni Islamist rule of the 1990s. But today they see IS as an even greater threat. IS has been ruthless, and the only thing standing in their way in Iraq are Shia militias funded by Iran. If Iraq falls to IS there will be no safety for minority groups in Afghanistan and beyond. The Taliban may very well mutate into IS to devour any Shias in its way. However, in Kandahar, the Taliban’s birthplace, armed clashes between alleged IS fighters and local Taliban have been reported. IS’s intolerant stance towards Shias, which the Sunni group does not regard as true Muslims, leaves them with less traction in Afghanistan, where large-scale sectarian violence has been relatively rare since the Taliban lost power. Meanwhile, masked gunmen have abducted 30 Shia Muslim men who were travelling by bus through central Afghanistan, officials said on Tuesday. The Shia community is at the end of its rope. Within this changing landscape a showdown between IS and Taliban is imminent. Supporters of Mullah Omer are already annoyed with Baghdadi for abusing their spiritual leader, but defections may weaken the Taliban.
And what of our local crop of Taliban? The TTP has become more dangerous and increasingly less rational as time has progressed. The Shia community in Afghanistan has better chances at survival than Shias in Pakistan. From talks to military operations, the TTP has not budged its position and continues to be the greatest threat to security nationally and internationally. Added to this, groups like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jamaat-ud-Dawa continue to poke the Indian elephant. We here in Pakistan do not realise the implications of the threat of IS, how that will fuel fundamentalism here to become even more rabid, nor do we anticipate or acknowledge the Iranian threat. If the situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan deteriorates into more sectarian conflict; Iran will do what it can to increase its influence in its region.
We are a conservative nation obsessed with the “imperialistic” designs of the western powers in our region. But, the true imperialists are at our doorstop. Iran has been vocal about its desires for a global empire, and so has IS. They will rip each other apart, and then come for us.