The recent bombing by the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) in Bajaur district, Pakistan, targeted a rally of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam — Fazl (JUI-F) religious party, killing 54 people and injuring over 100. The ISKP claimed responsibility for the attack and stated that it was part of their ongoing war against democracy. The JUI-F has been specifically targeted by the ISKP in Bajaur due to its perceived ties with the Afghan Taliban. The JUI-F has a strong presence in the Pashtun belt and is supported by Deobandi madrassas in Pakistan. The ISKP considers the JUI-F to be the political wing of the Afghan Taliban and has been targeting its leaders and activists in Bajaur since 2019. The ISKP has claimed responsibility for multiple attacks against the JUI-F in Bajaur and has issued fatwas allowing the assassinations of the party’s scholars and activists. Several individuals from Bajaur have held positions in the Taliban administration in Afghanistan, leading to connections between the JUI-F and the Taliban. Haji Usman Turabi, a relative of the JUI-F leader, was appointed as the Governor of Kunar province in Afghanistan and initiated operations against the ISKP, resulting in retaliatory attacks on JUI-F leaders in Bajaur. The ISKP and the Taliban have been in conflict since 2015, with the ISKP facing pressure from various groups. Despite setbacks, the ISKP has maintained its strength and continues to target the Taliban and international entities in Afghanistan. The sustained attacks and the recent bombing in Bajaur indicate that the conflict between the Taliban and ISKP has entered Pakistan.
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