The Islamic State (IS) terror group from Pakistan, the Islamic State of Khorasan Province(ISKP), which had targeted Sikhs earlier in Afghanistan, at behest of Pakistan army’s infamous Inter-Services Intelligence(ISI), claimed responsibility for the attack on the Gurdwara in Shor Bazar area, at about 07.45 (local time) as 150 worshippers were inside the building. “At least 25 people were killed and 8 others were wounded in the attack at the Sikh worship place in Kabul,” a local news agency quoted the Ministry of Interior as saying, on the attack that lasted nearly six hours.
Though Sikhs and Hindus alike, have been the targeted community in war-torn Afghanistan, it has been since 2018 that this threat has crystallized overtly, other than routine religious oppression and targeting mostly since Islamization of the region was fulfilled by Pakistan, post the Soviet occupation and subsequently fostering of the Taliban.
What is to wonder, is this another stray targeting of anyone non-islamic/Indian, or there is an ominous message by Pakistan, as has been the case in the last two decades of targeting Indian assets, both diplomatic and aid machinery.
What was the trigger!
India in Doha
Observing the US-Taliban Peace Deal
On February 29, an agreement was signed between the United States (US) and the Taliban in Doha, attended by US, Russia, China, and Pakistan. However, in an unprecedented first, India was asked to attend as an observer. This has irked Pakistanis to no end.
The base of India’s Afghanistan policy is to ensure a strategic balance between Afghanistan and Pakistan. To upscale the Afghans and balance the power differential between Kabul and Islamabad, means that India wants to ensure that Pakistan does not manipulate the terms of peace talks and undermine Indian welfares in Afghanistan. At a minimum, India wants to prevent Pakistan’s pro-terrorist agencies from using Afghan soil for training anti-India radicals.
The balance, for India, entails ensuring that Afghanistan has strong strategies to cope with Pakistani pressure in the face of overwhelming power one-sidedness, especially given the Taliban heavy governance.
India is not averse to Kabul reconciling with the Taliban, as the Taliban is not the central problem for India. Pakistani sway on the Taliban and the latter’s inability to liberate itself from such stimulus is the chief issue.
Pakistan understands this clearly and one of the stresses that Pakistan consistently makes to Washington and Kabul, in return for cooperation, is a discount in Indian diplomatic, intelligence and developmental presence in Afghanistan.
Hit back at India: renewed relevance of ISKP
Helplessness and Stifled reaction to Article 370 and CAA
Given the strong and decisive manner in which India has abrogated Article 370, implemented the gradual arrest of Pakistan sponsored incited unrest and presented the tangible reality of Kashmiriyat, as well as its inability to incite propaganda and deceit driven extensive rioting post CAA, Pakistan found itself helpless. Suddenly there was no tangible retribution to so-called oppression of Kashmiris and Muslims, militarily the two surgical strikes had closed doors to any mischief on Indian soil, all of it compounded with the capture of a couple belonging to ISKP.
Finding itself devoid of ideas to counter this rampaging Indian strides to make Pakistan irrelevant in the subcontinent viz Kashmir, Pakistan’s options were reduced to shooting the enemy in someone else’s backyard. The backyard it has come to assume as its own.
India’s cold shoulder to Trump in most if not all of 2018, was due to Trump’s insistence of troop withdrawal as well as the ill-advised US-Taliban Peace process. While 2019-20 saw US designating India to be more brotherly towards Ghani’s Kabul, Pakistan’s snake pit of ISKP was being primed to divert vermin’s towards East, on to India’s borders. Kashmir was being prepped with IS colored flags and literature was being unearthed right from Kashmir to Kerala.
How come the taking over of ISKP come to be, for the Pakistan Army, is a spectacular analysis of wider proportions, but this groundwork was slowly and carefully planned since 2015 and rolled out in open by 2018.
What crashed the party, was the turn of events post-August 2019. The cold shoulder given by Kashmiris to Pakistan spelled terror plot, given the glimmer of change seen by all till December 2019 as well as turn of even in Afghanistan where acceptance of India even by the Taliban during the peace process in Doha in February, was alarming,
Pakistanis had to make a point, stupidly and unnecessarily, however, in the only manner, they know of.
It is also given to understand, as was evident during the Nankana Sahib Gurdwara attack, Pakistan Army and ISI has no allegiance or benevolence to the Sikh community or for that matter any community including Muslims, while their routine short-sighted militant actions have to be brute.
That they have done, in manner similar to the attack in 2018 when 19 Sikhs were killed while going to meet President Ashraf Ghani, who was visiting their Nangarhar province. That was the time India started taking Ghani seriously after a lull of three years, indicating Indian willingness in the Taliban peace process. That invited retribution.
While it shall not deter India on both accounts, it does spell the manner of existence of ISKP viz Pakistan Army and ISI in times to come.
27 Mar 20/Friday Written By: Fayaz