Pakistan is funding the Afghanistan-based terrorist activities of the regional Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) branch, Afghan political experts have declared, echoing a national security adviser for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
The experts claimed that Pakistan is also mobilizing the Taliban under the guise of ISIS, adding that other nations were coordinating with Pakistan in funding jihadist groups like ISIS, TOLO News reports.
“If there was a will to do it, we would be able to eliminate Daesh in Syria and Afghanistan. I again urge that we develop the determination to defeat the militants,” military expert Ajmal Sias reportedly said, using an Arabic name for ISIS.
Earlier this week, Mohammad Hanif Atmar, the national security adviser, said that members of the regional ISIS branch known as the Khorasan Province (IS-KP/ISIL-K) are infiltrating Afghanistan through Pakistan, adding that the jihadist group is working with other terrorists in Central Asia to destabilize countries in the region, reports TOLO News.
Khorasan is an ancient name for a region that covers Afghanistan, Pakistan, and some of the surrounding countries.
“Most of the Daesh militants come from Pakistan and they have Pakistani ID cards. And they receive aid from central Asia and Gulf states, but Afghan forces are ready to fight them,” proclaimed Atmar.
“Terrorists are a big threat to the central Asia and we have asked India and Iran many times to help and cooperate with Afghanistan in fighting those terrorists,” he added.
Atmar also revealed that he will soon visit Russia to seek military assistance. Moscow has reportedly already supplied the Afghan security forces with weapons and military training.
Despite years of US training and billions of American taxpayer dollars spent to develop the Afghan security forces, their ability to combat terrorism remains in question.
The IS-KP stronghold in Afghanistan has been identified as Nangarhar province, which lies along the Pakistan border.
However, TOLO News points out that the group is also operating in neighboring Kunar and Nuristan provinces, which also sit on the Afghanistan border with Pakistan.
“We told Pakistan that they were using terrorism against our country,” said the Afghan national security official.
“If the international community tells Pakistan that it does not want something want Daesh in Afghanistan, the job will be done. For that we need common purpose,” added former Afghan ambassador to Britain Ahmad Wali Massoud.
The Pentagon has repeatedly accused Pakistan of serving as a sanctuary for terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan, including IS-KP.
A recent Pentagon report notes, “The United States continues to be clear with Pakistan about steps it should take to improve the security environment and deny safe haven to terrorist and extremist groups.”
ISIS announced its presence in Afghanistan in January 2015, less than a month after President Barack Obama and NATO ended their combat mission in the country and withdrew most of their troops. Taliban jihadists have been fighting IS-KP for turf and influence in Afghanistan since.
However, the Afghan Taliban remains the most prominent jihadist group in the country, outranking IS-KP in manpower and territory it controls.
ISIS has killed and injured dozens of civilians and Afghan security forces in its stronghold in Nangarhar, notes TOLO.
Nangarhar residents are reportedly alarmed over the presence of ISIL-K in their area.
U.S.-backed Afghan forces have been successful in combating the jihadist group in its stronghold, reportedly noted Nangarhar provincial governor Salim Khan Kunduzi, adding that “in some cases [the troops] have destroyed them.”
“It is believed that Daesh is attempting to infiltrate other central Asian counties through Afghanistan and to get control over the drug smuggling,” notes TOLO News.
Afghanistan is the world’s number one producer of the opium used to make heroin. The illicit drug generates lucrative profits, estimated in the billions and equivalent to a substantial portion of Afghanistan’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
In November 2015, terrorism experts indicated that ISIS was planning to flood the UK and other European nations with heroin, suggesting that the terrorist group is involved in Afghanistan’s illicit opium trade. Russia at the time estimated the jihadist group could make at least $50 billion through the sale of heroin in Europe.
Nevertheless, Voice of America (VOA) reported in May that ISIL-K eradicated opium and heroin production in Nangarhar province, arguing that it is illegal.