Khalilzad: Fighting ISKP could be ‘important part’ of the Taliban’s relationship with the world

Former US diplomat, Zalmay Khalilzad, who played a key role in facilitating the US-Taliban Doha deal, has emphasised that the battle against the Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISKP) could be a critical aspect of future relations between the Taliban and the international community. Khalilzad has stated that ISKP is a common adversary for both the Taliban and the global community.

“Of the available options, implementation of the Doha deal is the best way forward which addresses all the concerns of the Afghans and those of the international community,” Khalilzad said.

The US-Taliban Doha deal resulted in the withdrawal of US forces and their allies from Afghanistan. For some, the deal paved the way for the collapse of the Afghan government and the return of the Taliban to power in August 2021.

The ISKP has claimed many deadly attacks in Afghanistan in recent years.

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On Monday night, residents of Kabul reported multiple explosions followed by sustained gunfire in the Karte Naw neighborhood of the city. Shortly thereafter, Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesperson, claimed that its forces had conducted a raid on an ISKP hideout in the area, resulting in the deaths of several of its members, including some foreign nationals.

Mujahid, however, did not provide further details.

The ISKP has amassed up 6,500 members, with 4,000 along the border areas between Afghanistan and Tajikistan, the Russian General and the Chief of the Joint Staff of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), Colonel General Anatoly Sidorov, said on Tuesday.

On 7 February, Saudi Arabia evacuated its diplomats from Kabul to Islamabad, citing concerns of a potential car bomb attack by ISKP.