Spring in Afghanistan and Pakistan is off to a violent start. On April 21, an attack on a Shi’a mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif killed at least 10 people. Two days earlier, a terror attack targeted children at a boys’ school and killed at least six people in a Hazara neighborhood of Kabul, Afghanistan. It was likely committed by IS-K (ISIS affiliate), the same group that just last month sent a suicide bomber to kill over 50 people at a Shi’a mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an ally (or affiliate) of the Afghan Taliban sometimes referred to interchangeably as the Pakistani Taliban in reporting, announced a spring offensive inside Pakistan. The group has escalated attacks and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations office announced that 97 Pakistani soldiers were killed in the first three months of 2022 alone. These combat fatality figures resemble those experienced by the United States at the height of the troop surge in Afghanistan. In response, Pakistan conducted strikes inside Afghanistan. The death toll reported by the Afghan Taliban is at least 45, including civilians.
Spring became synonymous with the beginning of the fighting season throughout the U.S. war in Afghanistan. Now the Taliban face the specter of a fighting season with IS-K which has maintained a stronghold in Nangarhar province and can operate inside Kabul. Pakistan is squared off against an emboldened TTP insurgency that enjoys the sanctuary of the Afghan Taliban. Can the Taliban fend off IS-K and maintain relative security in Afghanistan? What is the likelihood that IS-K will grow or capture territory? Can Afghanistan-Pakistan relations survive Taliban support for the TTP? What does this all mean for US-Pakistan relations and US outreach to the Taliban? How can the region avoid a copy and paste application of tried and failed counterterrorism tactics from the War on Terror?
Join us for a panel that explores these questions and more with Tamim Asey, Executive Chairman of The Institute of War and Peace Studies in Afghanistan, Asfandyar Mir, Senior Expert at the United States Institute of Peace, Jonathan Schroden, Director of the Center for Naval Analyses’ Countering Threats and Challenges Program, and Elizabeth Threlkeld, Director of the Stimson Center’s South Asia Program. Adam Weinstein, research fellow at the Quincy Institute, will moderate.