What was feared most in recent times has arrived, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has made its first public appearance in Pakistan with the distribution of pamphlets in the suburbs of Peshawar, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
The appearance of such pamphlets, seeking the establishment of a Khilafat, at a time when the country is going through one of the largest political crisis in years, while the military is engaged in one of the largest military operations in North Waziristan and newer militant groups have formed alliances is indicative of a larger problem which, if not resolved tactfully, forebodes a disaster in the making — not only in Peshawar, pro-ISIS graffiti also appeared in Balochistan.
The ISIS, the largest and richest of militant outfits in the world has gained strength from anarchy. It’s a combination of split warring factions which is now aided by fighters from many countries. While reports of presence of Pakistanis fighting along the group have been denied officially, there is evidence from social media and jihadist forums to believe otherwise.
The presence of dozens of militant outfits actively working in Pakistan could prove to be like a hatchery for the ISIS. But what is more disturbing is the distribution of the pamphlet which asks for support for the transnational militant outfit in Afghan refugee camps. There are at least three renowned militant commanders in Afghanistan that have offered their allegiances to Abu-Bakar al-Baghdadi, the self-declared Caliph of the Islamic State. With sectarian tensions ripe within the country, it’s impossible to think about the implication is such a movement gains momentum? The government should not take the distribution of such material lightly, with Nato wrapping up its decade long project across the border and the rise of the Taliban in across the border, Pakistan is marred with serious security concerns that need to be dealt with immediately. We have a pre-requisite in the form of the TTP which spread from the tribal areas to the entire country — can we combat a new enemy?
Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2014.