By Saber Amini*
Extremism and terrorism are twin phenomena ,but unfortunately for years in Afghanistan we fight against terrorists with no plan against extremists, where extremism is a preparatory (radical thoughts) but terrorism is the practice of violence act.
Extremism is a ground for terrorism. Extremism appears first in the form of some very radical ideology which opposes to the acceptable laws, norms of the society, government and foundations, then extremism turns to the terrorism. Therefore, to break the cycle of violence, efforts to counter- extremism should be done simultaneously while countering- terrorism.
When the government increased joint Afghan-US military operations, we had seen some positive result in fight against terrorists group like Al Qaeda and Daesh branch of Khurasan but extremism is still active in the country.
The Daesh branch of Khurasan in North of Afghanistan claimed to gain the territory and want to make their own government in Khurasan (part of Afghanistan, Iran and Turkmenistan) but after their military defeat in North and East the establishment of Wilayah Khurasan remains a part of propaganda that Daesh continues to push.
As Afghan and US governments announced new approach of peace process with Taliban the concerns increased regarding extremism in the country. Taliban fighters in Khogiani district of Nangarhar province, Afghanistan.
Since 2011, Qatar has hosted Taliban leaders who have moved there to discuss peace in Afghanistan.
In 2014 US and NATO ended their combat mission in Afghanistan, staying only to train Afghan forces (RS) so, the message was clear; both Afghan and US government announced there is no military solution to end war in Afghanistan.
Finally, US and Taliban signed the peace agreement in Doha, Qatar in February 2020 that mentioned US government should decrease their forces and Taliban accepted refraining from using the Afghan territory against US.
Meanwhile, the intra-Afghan peace process is on the way and the government selected the team to start negotiation with Taliban and agreed to release 5000 prisoners of Taliban.
So far, two important points increase extremism in Afghanistan: First, in Doha, while the Taliban accepted refraining from the use of the Afghan territory against US and other countries, however they did not mention stopping extremism and terrorist acts in Afghanistan.
Therefore, Taliban have open hand to continue their terrorist attacks against Afghan national defense and security forces.
As per national Security Council report which announced on 22 June 2020 Taliban killed at least 41 Afghan defense and security forces each day.
Second, the Taliban precondition for Afghan peace talks the government should release their prisoners and if the peace process succeeds a large number of Taliban fighters will return to cities with their radical ideology.
In the absence of intervention strategies, it is without doubt that both the Taliban prisoners and Taliban Fighters will continue their extremist’ path in Afghanistan and It is plausible, these extremists may gradually transform into domestic terrorist group or join regional terrorist groups. Furthermore they can cross the Afghan borders and operate on an international level.
Releasing the Taliban prisoners with no monitoring system and rehabilitation programs can prove a large strategic threat in the long run.
Then returning of Taliban fighters from battlefield with their radical ideology to cities will increase the concerns regarding heightened extremism in the country and will as a result threaten national, regional and international security.
As mentioned above counter- extremism should be addressed simultaneously with countering – terrorism. We need to develop the firm monitoring system and rehabilitation programs for extremists especially for Taliban prisoners and their fighters. A strong legal framework against extremism is a necessary step forward because we can`t fight against extremism when there is no criminal responsibility for acts, which are characterized as extremist.
*Saber Amini, ANP-MOI Kabul, Afghanistan