Does ISIS Exist in Pakistan?
Recently, propaganda intensified that the militant outfit Daish or ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) has its presence in Pakistan. Besides some newspapers and media anchors of some TV channels also misperceived that ISIS has penetrated into Pakistan. In fact, they made their observation on the basis of media announcements by the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leaders and Indian media.
Although ISIS does not exist in Pakistan, yet Pakistan government, law-enforcing agencies, media and civil society must exercise high degree of vigilance against any possible ingress by any elements like ISIS. Despite this, existence of ISIS in Pakistan needs special analysis, as its presence can not merely be propagated on the basis of wall chalking or media announcements of the TTP leaders and India.
As regards this militant outfit, on 29 June 2014, ISIS proclaimed a worldwide caliphate by its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, based in Iraq. It claims religious, political and military authority over all Muslims, while ISIS’s actions have been widely criticized around the world, with many Islamic communities judging the group to be unrepresentative of Islam. One of ISIS’s goals has been to establish a radical Sunni Islamic state in Iraq and the Levant region, which covers Syria, Jordan, Israel, Palestine etc., and southern region of Turkey. It is widely known for its violent propaganda which includes Internet videos of beheadings. The UNO and Amnesty International have held this group responsible for human rights abuses and war crimes. ISIS group has been designated as a terrorist organization by the UNO and the European Union.
Some reports suggest that as part of the double game, American CIA has also been supporting the militants of the ISIS to overthrow the Shia regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Another aim is to spread sectarian violence in the Islamic countries.
However, besides some Islamic countries, a majority of the religious extremists from the Western World and especially India has joined the ISIS. In this context, a deliberate oblivion on the part of the West about ISIS recruits from their countries also exposes their duplicity and hypocrisy.
It is notable that although various kinds of terror attacks in Pakistan have been conducted by the TTP and its banned affiliated groups in the past few years, yet the massacre of 132 school children at Army Public School and College in Peshawar on December 16, 2014 proved a watershed, as it has given a final wake up call to the nation to unite against these ruthless terrorists.
In this respect, the armed forces of Pakistan have conducted several successful military operations against the terrorists; the most recent one being operation Zarb-e-Azb, which has successfully broken the backbone of militants. Frustrated by their failures, these insurgents are resorting to coward acts like attack on innocent children in Peshawar.
Taking note of the school attack, Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif has himself started supervising the military action against terrorists, and as part of the operation, several terrorists have been killed during air strikes. Gen. Raheel stated, “We are extremely saddened, but our resolve has taken new height”, and added “We will continue to go after the inhuman beasts, their facilitators till their final elimination.”
Undoubtedly, as a result of ongoing operations in Waziristan and Khyber Agency especially operation Zarb-e-Azb, militants are finding no place other than Afghanistan to flee and save their skin.
In this context, Gen. Raheel accompanied by the DG of Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI), rushed to Kabul on December 17, 2014. During his meeting with his Afghan counterpart, President Ashraf Ghani and the ISAF commander, he presented evidence of the Peshawar massacre’s linkage with TTP sanctuaries in Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan. He also asked the extradition of TTP chief Mullah Fazlluah, and handing over to Pakistan. In response, they assured him to take action against the TTP.
In fact, Afghanistan has become a hub of anti-Pakistan activities from where external secret agencies, especially Indian RAW are sending logistic support to Baloch separatist elements and TTP insurgents in Pakistan. Posing themselves as Pakistani Taliban, these enemies have joined TTP and other banned extremist outfits. In the recent years, especially TTP’s insurgents and its affiliated banned groups conducted many terror-activities in various regions of the country like suicide attacks, ruthless beheadings of tribesmen, assaults on security personnel and prominent figures including Shias, Ahmadis, Sufis, Christians and Sikhs as part of the scheme to create chaotic situation in the country.
It is of particular attention that spokesman of the Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), Usama Mehmood and some other militant groups have also condemned the TTP in relation to the massacre of innocent children at Peshawar school.
Nevertheless, after Peshawar incident, strong public reaction against extremism/terrorism and dislike for Taliban/TTP elements—has been equally condemned by the political leadership as a national policy, showing solidarity with the armed forces. In this connection, on January 2, this year, political and military leaders agreed on a draft of legislative measures which would pave the way for establishment of special military trial courts. The participants also reiterated the commitment for dismantling and destroying all forms of terrorism and terrorist networks operating within the country. It was unanimously resolved that the 20 points enunciated in the All Parties Conference (APC) Resolution of December 24, 2014 shall be acted upon expeditiously—the bill as 22nd (Constitutional) Amendment, will be enforced soon after its approval from the parliament.
Meanwhile, media has reported that an Indian person namely Mehdi Masoor of Banglore remained affiliated with ISIS, and is running a pro-ISIS tweeter account. So question arises as to how India justifies its propaganda of ISIS linkage with Pakistan? As a matter of fact, New Delhi has been frustrated by the successes achieved against the Taliban/TTP insurgents by Zarb-e-Azb. Therefore, sinister aim of Indian false propaganda about the presence of ISIS in Pakistan is to distort country’s image in the eyes of international community, while ISIS does not exist in Pakistan.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations