Afghanistan is a nation characterized by a protracted chronicle of bloodshed, armed conflict, and acts of terrorism, thereby earning its reputation as the originating hub of global terrorism. War, instability, and proxy conflicts involving both domestic and foreign actors have consistently influenced the politics of this nation. Nevertheless, the primary faction experiencing adverse consequences in Afghanistan comprises its populace, who have endured prolonged periods of conflict and emerged as the most aggrieved victims of terrorism. Various things contribute to the prevailing status within the nation.
The geopolitical positioning of this nation is of particular significance because of its complex linkages with three unique geographical areas, namely Central Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East. The utilization of geographical connectedness as a strategic advantage has been historically observed, as it serves as a gateway for adjacent countries. As a result, this geographical area has functioned as a transit route for major global powers during historical epochs and maintains this role in contemporary times. Moreover, Afghanistan exhibits a challenging topographical landscape, predominantly comprised of mountainous regions. The presence of this particular geographic feature imposes a substantial influence on the socio-cultural dynamics of the nation and contributes to its limited sense of national cohesion. Moreover, the topographical characteristics of the area encouraged the rise of numerous groups through the employment of guerilla warfare, a tactic that was well-compatible with the local landscape. Throughout numerous historical periods, there has been a consistent pattern of decentralizing administrative structures, which has led to an increase in the power and authority granted to tribal chiefs.
The circumstances experienced a significant change following the end of the Second Anglo-Afghan War in 1880. The decentralized political framework, which was defined by tribes and regions having a notable degree of autonomy while recognizing the legal authority of the Kabul administration, was dissolved under the leadership of the recently appointed amir, King Abdur Rahman. Faced with an extensive number of rebellions instigated by his familial connections and other regional factions, he resorted to armed confrontation with his own population until he and his administration established uncontested dominance. The utilization of Abdur Rahman’s authoritative methodology, although yielding certain accomplishments, provoked a political response that ultimately resulted in adverse ramifications for subsequent leaders. The progressive erosion of their authority led to a subsequent backlash, ultimately culminating in a civil war in 1929. Consequently, King Amanullah, who happened to be the grandson of King Abdur Rahman, felt forced to step down from his position. After a series of incidents, King Habibullah Kalakani, a Tajik individual who successfully took control, established his authority in Kabul for a duration of nine months. However, the royal elite managed to mobilize the Pashtun tribes in opposition to his rule, resulting in the installation of King Nadir Shah, a distant relative, as the reigning monarch. 
However, there was a significant shift in power relations in 1992, as Burhanuddin Rabbani, an individual of Tajik ethnicity, took control after seizing authority. The historical record suggests that Afghanistan has encountered enduring difficulties in building efficient systems for power-sharing, commencing with the centralization endeavor led by Abdur Rahman and persisting up to the present era. The occurrence of violent conflicts and warfare has significantly impacted subsequent power shifts in Afghanistan. Afghanistan exhibits the distinctiveness of four significant ethnic groups, including the Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, and Uzbek. Throughout history, these groups have had considerable power and played a crucial role in preserving domestic stability inside the nation. Significantly, the Pashtun group has asserted its dominant position and experienced an extended period of authority lasting almost two centuries subsequent to the formation of Afghanistan during the reign of the Ahmad Shah Abdali dynasty. Moreover, along the course of its historical development, this nation has confronted the difficulties presented by its precarious economic state.
The issue was further compounded by a persistent structural vulnerability, namely the Afghan administration’s dependence on external help to attain financial stability. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Afghanistan encountered a significant dearth of strong international backers, marking a distinctive shift from a continuous period of 150 years. As a result, the nation had a lack of significant foreign financial resources necessary to support its central government.
Furthermore, the protracted battle spanning four decades in Afghanistan, coupled with its fragile economic conditions, has resulted in the country being a fertile environment for the emergence of low-cost insurgents. This is mostly due to the fact that participation in fighting has become an appealing form of income within Afghanistan’s borders.
The nation of Afghanistan is characterized by a predominantly Muslim populace, with around 99 percent of its inhabitants adhering to the Islamic faith. The religious convictions held by the Afghan populace exert a substantial impact on their daily routines, while their cultural customs are firmly grounded in the principles of Islam. Furthermore, it is important to highlight that the population of Afghanistan exhibits a wide range of historical backgrounds and cultural traditions, which are both diversified and profound in nature. The nation has experienced a notable level of radicalization throughout the past forty years as a result of persistent hostilities. It is worth mentioning that the southern and western regions of Afghanistan, along with northern Pakistan, have exhibited a heightened vulnerability to the deliberate propagation of extremist beliefs. Pakistan is home to a significant number of madrassas, which are educational institutions that focus on Islamic academics. It is noteworthy to mention that a considerable proportion of these establishments operate without adequate legal authority or registration.
Furthermore, it is worth noting that a considerable percentage of the present Taliban leadership has obtained their education from Pakistani madrasas. During the early stages of the Taliban’s rise, a notable amount of its membership was recruited from Darul Uloom Haqqania Madrasa, a notable seminary located in Pakistan. This institution holds the distinction of being one of the largest and oldest educational establishments in the country. Significantly, this specific madrasa has played a crucial role in influencing the leadership of the Taliban, as it has produced a larger number of Taliban commanders compared to any other educational institution worldwide. The Madrasa is situated approximately 60 miles from the Afghan border, and its influence in this area is notably disproportionate. Samiul Haq, the chancellor of this educational institution often known as the spiritual father of the Taliban, has garnered prominence for his significant involvement in the rise of the Taliban movement. The concept commonly known as “the unity of jihad” has faced significant scholarly criticism due to its purported role in sustaining conflict within the region for a prolonged duration.
Afghanistan’s susceptibility to the presence of Islamic State- Khorasan (IS-K) may be attributed to many key reasons, including sectarianism, extremism, a fragile government, and the availability of low-cost insurgents. Additionally, the country’s geo-political position, mountainous geography, and involvement in the drug trade further contribute to its appeal as a conducive environment for IS-K. Afghanistan has successfully met all the necessary criteria to potentially transform into another Middle Eastern crisis, as it exhibits similar conditions that have facilitated the establishment of the Daesh/Islamic State in the Middle East.
It is imperative to acknowledge that there exist noteworthy parallels between the initial wave of the Daesh and the IS-K. In 2003, the Daesh emerged in close proximity to the United States and carried out very perilous attacks targeting both the Shia population and the government in its initial phase. Nouri al-Maliki, a prominent Shia politician who enjoyed initial favor from the United States, became victorious in the election and initially showed a cooperative approach toward fostering national unity in Iraq. Furthermore, the Iraqi government received military assistance from the United States, which enabled it to effectively counter the Daesh threat. Ultimately, the initial wave of the Daesh resulted in its collapse and the arrest of numerous insurgents among its ranks.
In the context of Afghanistan, subsequent to one year of President Ghani’s tenure in 2016, a study conducted by TOLO TV, a renowned privately owned media entity in Afghanistan, in collaboration with an independent civil society organization, revealed a notable decrease in his level of public support. According to the poll findings, a relatively low proportion of participants (27.5 percent) conveyed contentment with the individual’s leadership. Moreover, due to its Pashtun-centric orientation, the regime experienced a rapid decrease in its non-Pashtun supporters as it confronted accusations from its opponents over the implementation of a Pashtunization agenda inside the governing body.
In the context of Afghanistan, during the period of United States intervention, Ashraf Ghani, a member of the Pashtun ethnic group, emerged as the successful candidate in the 2014 elections, despite the presence of controversy surrounding the electoral procedures and a subsequent agreement to distribute power.
Consequently, notable ethnic disparities existed between the Pashtun and non-Pashtun communities. After the political events that transpired in 2015, Afghanistan witnessed the rise of the initial wave of the IS-K. The IS-K deliberately directed its attacks towards several Shia congregations, leading to a substantial loss of life, with numerous individuals perishing as a consequence. The involvement of American and coalition forces in Afghanistan, akin to the situation in Iraq, disrupted the existing balance. By means of strategic offensives executed by the Afghan government and coalition forces, a considerable proportion of individuals and leaders affiliated with the IS-K were either captured or rendered ineffective. Consequently, there was a notable decline in the level of violence perpetrated by IS-K in Afghanistan during the calendar year of 2020.
The second wave of the Daesh arose following the withdrawal of the United States and the onset of the Arab Spring, within the framework of the ongoing turmoil in Iraq and Syria. A considerable proportion of individuals associated with the Daesh, including Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, were released from detention institutions and soon resumed their operations. Furthermore, it might be argued that Nouri al-Maliki, the previous Prime Minister of Iraq, demonstrated authoritarian inclinations through his involvement in the repression of Sunni communities within the nation.
In like trends, Bashar al-Assad implemented stringent tactics to suppress demonstrations and dissent directed toward his regime in a manner characterized by extreme brutality. The implementation of sectarian and authoritarian policies by Al-Maliki and al-Assad has given rise to considerable unrest, finally culminating in a civil war within the region, an unstable system of governance, and a notable surge in recruitment for the Daesh.
The start of the second wave of IS-K occurred on August 28, 2021, marked by a significant suicide strike carried out by IS-K in close proximity to Kabul Airport. This incident resulted in the loss of several lives, including those of U.S. military personnel. The aforementioned operation effectively sent a distinct message about the reemergence of IS-K to the global community, with a particular emphasis on the United States. Following the resurgence of the Taliban, the formerly optimistic era of democracy and freedom has transitioned into a repressive authoritarian system whereby individuals are unable to exercise their inherent and essential human rights. Like in Iraq, after the Taliban’s assumption of governmental control, a considerable number of IS-K members were either pardoned or freed from prison. Consequently, it is evident that a significant portion of these individuals have subsequently reengaged with the organization and are poised to persist in their illicit undertakings. The determination of whether the next head of IS-K will be included among the individuals who have been freed remains uncertain and will be revealed over time.
Like under Assad’s rule, the Taliban is now engaging in the suppression of their opponents, mostly targeting those who do not identify as Pashtun. According to a recent study by Human Rights Watch, “Taliban security forces in northern Afghanistan’s Panjshir province have unlawfully detained and tortured residents accused of association with an opposition armed group.”
The Taliban is reputed for employing coercive tactics to forcibly evict individuals from non-Pashtun ethnic backgrounds, alongside indulging in acts of violence and cruelty. Subsequently, the possessions of these displaced individuals are often reallocated to Pashtun communities. According to recent sources, there has been an indication that the Taliban is engaged in the relocation of people affiliated with the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to northern territories. This strategic action is being undertaken with the aim of creating distance between these individuals and the Pakistani border.
The National Resistance Front (NRF), alternatively referred to as the National Resistance, came into being under the leadership of Ahmad Massoud as a later organization to the National Resistance, which was originally founded by Ahmad Shah Masoud, a significant Afghan personality and esteemed guerrilla leader. The establishment of this entity occurred as a reaction to the Taliban among the civil conflicts that transpired in 1994 and subsequent years. Following the collapse of the governing body in 2021, Ahmad Masoud, the son of Ahmad Shah Massoud, emerged as an early proponent of armed resistance subsequent to the breakdown of peace negotiations with Taliban representatives. According to Ali Mansour Nazary, the individual in charge of external relations at the NRF, the NRF is actively engaged in lobbying for the creation of a democratic and decentralized Afghanistan that adheres to the ideals of equal rights for all individuals, including gender equality.
The NRF is a notable participant in Afghanistan, actively involved in numerous combat operations against the Taliban inside the northern portion of the nation. In a similar vein, the formation of the Afghanistan Freedom Front (AFF), mostly operational in the northern territory of Afghanistan, was officially announced. This organization has successfully carried out numerous operations targeting the Taliban. Moreover, a number of additional factions have openly voiced their opposition to the Taliban.
Additionally, after to the downfall of the republic, the Taliban declared a comprehensive amnesty. But, according to a recent report, the United Nations documented a cumulative count of 424 occurrences of arbitrary arrests and detentions pertaining to former government officials and individuals affiliated with the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). Furthermore, the report provides a comprehensive account of 144 instances of torture and ill-treatment, encompassing a range of abusive practices including physical assaults with pipes and wires, with the use of verbal threats.
Moreover, the Wall Street Journal has reported on instances when a significant number of former members of the ANDSF have been found to be aligning with the IS-K group.
In addition to the intra-factional discord within the Taliban, the group is confronted with a notable challenge concerning its engagements with international terrorist organizations, namely those emanating from the Central Asian region. During the past two decades, a considerable number of transnational terrorist organizations have been involved in armed confrontations with the main goal of expelling coalition forces from Afghanistan. Furthermore, these factions have endeavored to augment their sphere of influence by disseminating their radical ideology throughout the Central Asian territory. The legitimacy of the Taliban has been compromised as a result of its involvement in peace discussions with the United States. In the event that the Taliban were to intensify their existing endeavors to abandon extremist tactics and pursue greater concessions with the international community, there exists a notable probability that transnational factions would align themselves with IS-K. Moreover, the IS-K adopts a pragmatic strategy in its endeavors to attract individuals hailing from nations in Central Asia. This is evidenced by their utilization of rocket assaults targeting Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The collective purpose of insurgent organizations in Central Asia is the dissemination and enforcement of Islamic Sharia within the confines of the Central Asian territory.
The IS-K is currently engaged in efforts to sustain its influence and regain its membership. This is primarily achieved through a strategic focus on recruiting and training new followers, with a particular emphasis on those who may have affiliations with the Taliban group that opposed the Taliban-US peace deal.
In addition, the leadership of the Daesh core saw Afghanistan as a strategic location for expanding their influence into Central and South Asia, aligning with their objective of establishing a “great caliphate”. This has been substantiated by a proactive use of social media platforms, taking into consideration the time after the departure of the United States. In recent times, there has been a notable escalation in the frequency and intensity of assaults carried out by the TTP inside the borders of Pakistan. Consequently, the Taliban is under significant external pressure from the Pakistani government, which has accused the Taliban of providing assistance and shelter to TTP members. However, the Taliban refrained from implementing robust measures against TTP operatives inside the borders of Afghanistan. According to Annas Abbas, a scholar from Pakistan, the Afghan Taliban’s reluctance to take decisive measures against the TTP stems from their perception that TTP members who are currently seeking refuge in Afghanistan may be inclined to align themselves with IS-K if they perceive the Afghan Taliban to be abandoning them. The basic membership of IS-K consisted mostly of disenchanted TTP individuals.
Moreover, it is crucial to emphasize that the Taliban has further challenges, like the lack of a well-trained military infrastructure, inadequate financial resources, and a lack of aircraft support, all of which have shown to be highly effective in countering the IS-K. Furthermore, after a span of two and a half years, the Taliban has failed to secure recognition from any nation at the international level. Plus, with the utilization of harsh tactics to suppress individuals belonging to non-Pashtun ethnicities, alongside the establishment of a government structure that demonstrates biased favoritism towards the Pashtun ethnic group, the Taliban’s efforts to attain significant internal legitimacy have been unsuccessful. Moreover, this specific approach has deepened sectarian divisions and fostered the emergence of other armed groups that are in direct opposition to the Taliban. The convergence of multiple factors collectively contributes to the intrinsic vulnerability of the Taliban when faced with formidable adversaries, such as the IS-K.
The onset of the second wave of IS-K has been observed, leading to a substantial loss of human lives inside the geographical confines of Afghanistan. Based on reports from the press, there has been a notable surge in activity observed within the IS-K, leading to increased concerns among both regional and global communities. The circumstances that contributed to the emergence of the Daesh in the Middle East may also be observed in present-day Afghanistan. The emergence of IS-K in Afghanistan can be linked to a collision of causes, encompassing a debilitated economy, political volatility, interethnic and sectarian tensions, and the existence of global terrorism.
If the theory mentioned above is proven false, it prompts inquiries regarding the feasibility of attaining peace, stability, and particularly, counterterrorism objectives in Afghanistan by means of engaging with the Taliban, an entity that has 130 of its cabinet members listed on the United Nations’ roster of prohibited individuals.
During the past twenty years, a considerable proportion of teenagers have been taught extremist teachings inside the educational framework of the Darul Uloom Haqqania madrasa. As a result, a considerable number of persons have subsequently returned to Afghanistan, equipped with weapons and holding extremist ideologies. In the current context, the prevailing group has acquired authority over the entire nation, thereby instituting modifications to the educational syllabus to harmonize it with their radical ideas. Furthermore, the authorities have implemented the closure of educational institutions, while simultaneously initiating the establishment of new madrasas across diverse regions inside Afghanistan. It is expected that over the upcoming years, the younger generation of Afghanistan will exhibit a significant presence of current ideologies associated with terror, extremism, and violence. Currently, the international community is faced with the dilemma of an extremist faction, but in the upcoming era, it will be confronted with the establishment of an extremist Nation.
After the fall of the democratic regime in Afghanistan, the country fell into a black hole of war and extremism, no one can anticipate what kind of Afghanistan will rise from the ashes of these crises.
 Thomas Barfield, A Cultural and Political History (New Jersey: Princeton Uniersity Press, 2010), 6.
 Ibid, 7
 Jamila Achakzai, “Pakistan: Why is the number of illegal madrassas rasing?,”DW, October 10, 2022. Accessed October 27, 2023, https://www.dw.com/en/pakistan-why-is-the-number-of-illegal-madrassas-rising/a-63607470.
 Zia ur-Rehman, “Where Afghanistan’s New Taliban Leaders went to School,” The New York times, accessed October 27, 2023, https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=Taliban+haqqania+maddrasa&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8.
 Pamela Constable, “ Afghanistan has many problem. may be the president be one of them,” The Washington Post, September 2, 2016. Accessed October 27, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/afghanistan-has-many-problems-its-president-may-be-one-of-them/2016/09/01/8e00cd00-6e11-11e6-993f-73c693a89820_story.html.
 Ali Reza Sarwar, “Ashraf Ghani and the Pashtun Dilemma,” The Diplomat, January 15, 2015. Accessed October 27, 2023, https://thediplomat.com/2015/01/ashraf-ghani-and-the-pashtun-dilemma/.
 Jason M, Breslow and Evan Wexler, “Who is Nouri al-Maliki,”Frontline, July 29, 2014. Accessed October 27, 2023, https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/who-is-nouri-al-maliki/.
 Katherine Marsh and Simon Tisdall, “Syrian troops shoot dead protesters in day of turmoil” April 11, 2011. Accessed October 27, 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/apr/22/syria-protests-forces-shoot.
 Afghanistan: Taliban Torture Civilians in Panjshir,”Human Rights Watch, June 10, 2022. Accessed October 27, 2023, https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/06/10/afghanistan-taliban-torture-civilians-panjshir#:~:text=(New%20York)%20–%20Taliban%20security,Human%20Rights%20Watch%20said%20today.
 Ayaz Gul, “Taliban Move to Address Pakistan’s Cross-Border Terror Complaints,” VOA, June 04, 2023. Accessed October 27, 2023, https://www.voanews.com/a/taliban-move-to-address-pakistan-s-cross-border-terror-complaints/7122978.html.
 Phillip Wasielewski, “The Afghan National Resistance Front Outlines Its Strategy: Implications for US Foreign Policy,” Foreign Policy Research Institute, November 21, 2022. Accessed October 27, 2023, https://www.fpri.org/article/2022/11/the-afghan-national-resistance-front-outlines-its-strategy-implications-for-us-foreign-policy/.
 Ansia Shaheed, “The formation of seven groups for armed and civil struggle against the Taliban,” Independent, March 15, 2022. Accessed October 27, 2023, https://www.independentpersian.com/node/222276/سیاسی-و-اجتماعی/شکل%E2%80%8Cگیری-هفت-گروه-برای-مبارزه-مسلحانه-و-مدنی-علیه-طالبان.
 Rahim Raiez, “More than 200 former Afghan officials and security forces killed since Taliban takeover, UN says,” the Associated Press, August 22, 2023. Accessed October 27, 2023, https://apnews.com/article/un-report-taliban-killing-right-violations-75c5111add0db5e1f7884be5399722f7#.
 Yaroslav Trofimov, “Left Behind After U.S Withdrawal, Some Former Afghan Spies and Soldiers Turn to Islamic State,” The Wall Street Journal, October 31, 2021. Accessed October 27, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/left-behind-after-u-s-withdrawal-some-former-afghan-spies-and-soldiers-turn-to-islamic-state-11635691605.
 Explainer: ISIS-Khorasan in Afghanistan,” Wilson Center, August 27, 2021. Accessed October 27, 2023, https://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/explainer-isis-khorasan-afghanistan.
 Hassan Abbas, The Return of the Taliban: Afghanistan After the Americans Left, (Yale University Press, 2023), 195.
 Afghanistan International,” The regime with the highest number of people on the United Nations blacklist,” Facebook, August 17, 2023. Accessed October 27, 2023, https://www.facebook.com/watch/?extid=CL-UNK-UNK-UNK-IOS_GK0T-GK1C&mibextid=2Rb1fB&v=1464986444246831.