The presence of thousands of foreign terrorists including up to 6,500 Pakistani nationals pose a complex challenge for the Taliban group to prove its credibility as a counter-terrorism partner following the signing of peace deal with the United States, the United Nations said in its report.
“The Monitoring Team now estimates that ISIL-K numbers are as low as 2,200 in Afghanistan. It remains capable of mounting attacks in various parts of the country, including Kabul, but some of those claimed may have arisen wholly or partly from a tactical accommodation with the Haqqani Network,” the report said.
It also added that the main risk of ISIL-K resurgence in the context of the Afghan peace process may lie in its ability to present itself as the only defiant terror group in the country and attract new recruits and funding accordingly.
“In addition to their handling of any threat posed by Al-Qaida, the Taliban’s credibility as a counter-terrorism partner for the international community will rest on their success in countering the threat from ISIL-K,” the report said.
The United Nations also added in its report that “The number of foreign terrorist fighters in search of a purpose and livelihood in Afghanistan, including up to 6,500 Pakistanis, will render this a complex challenge, which will require careful monitoring.”
In other parts of its report, the United Nations added that “The senior leadership of Al-Qaida (QDe.004) remains present in Afghanistan, as well as hundreds of armed operatives, Al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent, and groups of foreign terrorist fighters aligned with the Taliban.”
“A number of significant Al-Qaida figures were killed in Afghanistan during the reporting period. Relations between the Taliban, especially the Haqqani Network (TAe.012), and Al-Qaida remain close, based on friendship, a history of shared struggle, ideological sympathy and intermarriage,” the report added.
However, the United Nations added that the Taliban regularly consulted with Al-Qaida during negotiations with the United States and offered guarantees that it would honour their historical ties. “Al-Qaida has reacted positively to the agreement, with statements from its acolytes celebrating it as a victory for the Taliban’s cause and thus for global militancy. The challenge will be to secure the counter-terrorism gains to which the Taliban have committed, which will require them to suppress any international threat emanating from Al-Qaida in Afghanistan.”