By Sanjeev Sharma
New Delhi, Nov 18 | The Taliban has been unable to stem the expansion of the Islamic State (IS) terror group’s Khorasan branch or IS-K in Afghanistan, said Deborah Lyons, the UN Secretary-Generals Special Representative for Kabul.
In a briefing to the UN Security Council, Lyons said once limited to a few provinces and Kabul, IS-K now seems to be present in nearly all provinces and increasingly active.
The number of attacks has increased significantly, from last year to this year. In 2020, 60, so far this year, 334 attacks attributed to IS-K or, in fact, claimed by the group.
IS-K continues to target the Shia communities. The Taliban insist that they are waging a concerted campaign against IS-K, but this campaign is worrying in that it appears to rely heavily on extra-judicial detentions and killings of suspected IS-K members. This is an area deserving more attention from the international community, Lyons said.
The UN envoy added that Afghans in general remain apprehensive about the future intentions of the Taliban de facto authority. These apprehensions mitigate some of the relief that has come from the notable decline of conflict. They are of course hugely concerned, the Afghan population, about the paralysed economy, the inability to withdraw money, and fears of not being able to feed themselves and their children during the winter and coming months.
There are also limitations on demonstrations and other attempts at freedom of expression. Media outlets continue to close sometimes due to financial reasons and sometimes other ongoing restrictions by the de facto authorities on the content of their publications and broadcasts. Continued inter-ethnic tension and violence, give rise as well to concern for minority rights with reports of forced evictions targeting minority communities, Lyons said.
While the overall security situation has indeed improved, as the conflict has largely ended we regularly receive credible reports of incidents impacting the right to life and physical integrity of Afghans. These include house searches and extra-judicial killings of former government security personnel and officials. The judicial system itself is unevenly applied the availability of judges, civil servants, police personnel and legal and finical resources vary across the country. There are no women working in the justice sector and it remains unclear how the de facto authorities intend to assure and ensure women’s access to justice, Lyons said.