Underestimating the IS threat in Pakistan | Pakistan Today

Underestimating the IS threat in Pakistan

It is all around us. It is within us.

In January last year the terrorist network had announced its organisational structure for ‘Khorasan’, the name it gives to the Pakistan-Afghanistan region. A former leader of the TTP from Orakzai, Hafez Saeed Khan, as IS chief for Khorasan. A former Afghan Taliban leader, Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim, was named his deputy

Throughout this year Ch Nisar has insisted that the lslamic State (IS), also called Daesh, does not simply exit in Pakistan.

“Daesh does not exist in Pakistan. Other terrorist groups, which are involved in activities against the state, are using Daesh’s name and are causing death and destruction in the country.”

Daish members do not carry party cards duly signed by a party office bearer. Nor does the part need to register itself with the Election Commission or open an office in Islamabad. It is a clandestine organisation which works in the shadows. Anyone who conducts killings of innocent people in the name of IS and says he has sworn allegiance to its chief all practical purposes is an IS member.

Does Ch Nisar want to create a false perception that IS is against attacks inside Pakistan? ’.

In January last year the terrorist network had announced its organisational structure for ‘Khorasan’, the name it gives to the Pakistan-Afghanistan region. A former leader of the TTP from Orakzai, Hafez Saeed Khan, as IS chief for Khorasan. A former Afghan Taliban leader, Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim, was named his deputy.

The main hindrance in the way of the IS in Pakistan is the country’s strong army which is presently committed to the elimination of all terrorist groups which fight the state. Had Operation Zarb e Azb not been launched the IS would have set up its headquarters in North Waziristan like other local and foreign terrorist organisations.

Meanwhile the terrorist network has not been idle in the country.

In December 2015, four well-educated young men were held on terrorism charges in Karachi for their involvement in the Safoora attacks. The wives of some of them and their accomplices were accused of brainwashing educated and rich women through sermons and videos about IS.

In January this year Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah told media that 42 IS supporters had been arrested in Punjab. According to Sanaullah those arrested had been tasked with setting up sleeper cells for IS. They included the purported IS Islamabad chief Amir Mansoor, his deputy Abdullah Mansoor and the group’s chief for Sindh province, Umer Kathio.

Sanaullah said the operation against alleged IS militants was launched after a raid last week in Daska district, when 13 other IS suspects were arrested.

The minister’s statement came nearly a week after the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) claimed busting an IS terror cell in Sialkot. The CTD said it arrested eight suspects and seized weapons, explosives and laptops, as well as a large number of compact discs containing publicity material, during the raid. An ‘IS recruiter’ was also arrested in Karachi earlier this week.

A few days later a software engineer in Islamabad was nabbed by the agencies over links with Islamic State. He had allegedly hired many people for IS and sent them to Syria and was, according to the agencies, planning a terrorist attack in Rawalpindi.

On January 13, three unidentified assailants riding a motorbike lobbed a hand grenade on ARY News office and fired several shots. Security guards present at the office entrance retaliated, forcing the attackers to flee. They however dropped pamphlets carrying the name of IS which claimed responsibility for the act. The pamphlets called Operation Zarb-e-Azb a continuation of the medieval crusades against the Muslims. They also accused media of hiding facts and spreading lies about IS.

In February three police officials were killed in Faisalabad. The attackers who escaped the scene dropped copies of a pamphlet addressed to security officials. It was claimed in the pamphlet that the regional chapter of IS had launched the recent attacks on security forces. It warned police against “protecting the un-Islamic system” of democracy and urged them to quit their jobs or face violent consequences, according to a copy of the pamphlet seen by Reuters.

A few days later Aftab Sultan, director general Intelligence Bureau (IB), told the Senate Standing Committee on Interior that IS was emerging as a threat in Pakistan because several militant groups had a soft corner for it. The IB chief specifically named Lashkar-i-Jhangvi and Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan as examples.

IS has also been trying to infiltrate the military.

In May this year five ‘IS-linked’ navy officers were awarded death sentence in the dockyard attack case. According to media reports, the attackers were purportedly planning to hijack the warship PNS Zulfiqar to use it in an attack on one of the US navy’s refuel ships. Two militants were killed and four others were apprehended on the spot by the security personnel. A fifth one was nabbed later. According to the father of one of the convicts the five were charged with having links with the militant Islamic State group as well as for mutiny, hatching a conspiracy and carrying weapons in the dockyard.

IS need not come to Pakistan from Iraq or Syria. It is within us.

There is an IS sympathiser in a large number of people including Ch Nisar. Soon after Nisar took over as interior minister, there were horrendous attacks on the Shia community in Quetta, duly claimed by the TTP. Nisar however adamantly refused to condemn the network by name. Later he insisted on talks with the TTP calling it more patriotic than many Pakistanis.

Hundreds of Ahmadis have been killed by religious fanatics in the last one decade, over one hundred on a single day in 2010. The society acted with a characteristic apathy. There are several reports every month of individuals belonging to the community being targeted. Not to speak of taking action to stop the killings, Ch Nisar has maintained total silence over the matter as if nothing unusual had happened. Meanwhile advertisements seeking donations have been published in newspapers by organisation spreading poison against the community. This too has gone unnoticed.

One hears a lot of poppycock about reforming the madrassas by introducing ‘modern subjects’ in their curricula. Imran Khan calls the exercise ‘mainstreaming the madarssas’. Nothing is being done however to stop the sectarian hatred and intolerance about other religions being imparted in these sect based seminaries. How can the teaching of information technology, maths or science subjects change the narrow and hate-ridden mindsets of those under training in seminaries? The introduction of modern subjects will in fact provide the IS in Syria and Iraq with a whole lot of media savvy radicals that the terrorist organisation badly needs.

There is an IS in those also who write text books taught in the mainstream schools. The IS thinking prevails in the managements of the English medium schools which decided to ban ‘I am Malala’ from their libraries and rejected the inclusion of comparative religion in the curriculum. As long as those preaching intolerance and hatred are not weeded out and text books thoroughly revised with an aim to impart a tolerant outlook, well-educated murderers like Saad Aziz will continue to be produced.

There is IS in media also. Thanks the religious and sectarian hatred imparted in mainstream educational institutions many in the media regularly contribute to the prevailing intolerance in society which exhibits itself in several ways from honour killings to sectarian attacks.


  1. samir said:

    Bravo for this excellent article that exposes the corruption of Imran Khan and his support for terrorist Madrassahs…the toxic ideology being taught at Darul Uluim,Haqqania and other places is the real issue that must be addressed…giving them more money without identifying any reforms is just Government financing and support of terrorism…

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