The attack of Islamic State (IS) on the capital of Afghanistan, Kabul, which claimed lives of 20 people and left many injured, suggests that Afghanistan is the new stronghold of the group. It was 19th attack of the group on Afghanistan’s capital since the start of 2017. The systematic attacks on Kabul are sending strong messages to all the stakeholders in Afghanistan of group’s presence and increasing influence. Some political analyst warned that given the instability in Afghanistan IS could emerge strongly in Afghanistan while the outfit was on retreat in Syria and Iraq.

Thanks to the American insistence on the military solution and reluctance to find any other alternative to the Afghan conflict that the outfit is finding a vacuum in the war-torn country. It was only natural to witness IS’s presence on the outskirts of Kabul as all factors necessary for the growth of any terrorist organisation are in ample quantity in today’s Afghanistan.

The emergence of the notorious group is not only worrisome for Ghani’s government; it also draws a grim picture of a sombre future for all the neighbouring countries including Russia and Pakistan. IS can easily penetrate in the cities of Russia as IS recruits from Russia are returning to the country. It will be no difficult for the organisation to carry destructive activities in Russia from Afghanistan.

Likewise, Pakistan too has to eliminate terror outfits from its soil yet. There are already some factions of Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which have pledged allegiance to IS. Hence it is only natural for Pakistan to be worried about the group’s increasing influence in Afghanistan.

The decision to meet the new challenge jointly by Russia and Pakistan is welcoming. Both sides shared concern over the returning of IS fighters to their home countries in the region and implications for the region of their presence at the seventh meeting of the Pakistan-Russia Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism held on Wednesday. Both sides are witnessing a thaw in diplomatic and strategic relations considering the rapid changes in the geo-strategic politics of the region.

The common goal of countering terrorism is bringing Moscow and Islamabad closer and closer with every passing day. It is also true that a regional solution will work in the case of Afghanistan in the short and medium terms. At the same time, all the players involved in Afghanistan should keep in mind that a possible negotiation with Taliban should not encourage any other group to bargain for a share in the governance of Afghanistan.