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Islamic State expanding to nearly all Afghan provinces, Taliban unable to control

The UN envoy to Afghanistan on Wednesday said that the regional affiliate of the Islamic State group now appears present in nearly all Afghan provinces and “increasingly active”. Briefing on the Afghanistan situation following the Taliban’s takeover, Deborah Lyons, UN special representative for Afghanistan, told the UN Security Council that the Taliban “appears to rely heavily on extra-judicial detentions and killings” in its response against suspected Islamic State-Khorasan members.

“Another major negative development has been the Taliban’s inability to stem the expansion of the Islamic State in Iraq and in Levant Khorasan Province. Once limited to a few provinces and Kabul, ISILKP now seems to be present in nearly all provinces and increasingly active,” Lyons told the Council.

IS-K, a sworn enemy of the Taliban, has been responsible for a suicide bombing outside Kabul airport in August and recent multiple bombings in Shia mosques.

The UN envoy said the Taliban’s “genuine effort” to present itself as a government are partly constrained by the “lack of resources and capacity”, as well as a “political ideology that clashes with contemporary international norms of governance.” She also highlighted “serious internal division” in the Taliban set-up as an impediment to establishing full trust with much of the Afghan population and convincing them of their capacity to govern.

The Taliban’s broader acceptance among the Afghan population has been a cause of concern as the all-male cabinet is largely made of Sunni Pashtuns. The international community has been repeatedly calling for a more inclusive government where women and ethnic minorities get enough representation.

“Ultimately, however, the Taliban must decide on whether to govern according to the needs and the rights of the diverse Afghan population, or whether to rule on the basis of a narrow ideology and an even narrower ethnic base,” Lyons added.

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