ISLAMABAD: Days after the interior minister denied the presence of Islamic State (IS) in South Asia, particularly Pakistan, the Foreign Office said the militant group poses a threat to the country.
“The government is on alert to the IS threat in the region,” Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said while briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs in Islamabad at Parliament on Monday.
The foreign secretary further said the government has directed all concerned authorities to ensure that no organisation or individual remain in contact with IS in the country.
The Islamic State, is a militant group that has has set up a self-proclaimed caliphate on large swathes of land in Syria and Iraq.
A bipartisan parliamentary panel discussed the potential threat posed by IS or Daish to Pakistan amid reports that the ruthless militant outfit is seeking a foothold in the country.
However, Chaudhry clarified Pakistan has no desire to become part of the international coalition against IS.
The cabinet meeting presided over by Senator Haji Adeel was called to address the potential threat posed by the IS in Pakistan.
The government has long denied the presence of the militant group in the country.
“As of now, I can say with confidence that the ISIS only exists in the Middle East,” he said. “It absolutely has no presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar said while speaking at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington on Thursday.
He said that the terrorist space in South Asia was totally occupied; however, if the issues were not addressed, a grand alliance between different groups could not be ruled out in the future.
IS wall chalkings in DI Khan. PHOTO: PPI
Last year as well, the interior minister had quashed speculation about the presence of the militant group.
His statement had come a few days after Balochistan Home Secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani denied claims of the presence of IS militants on ground in the province.
However, wall chalkings in favour of the militant group have earlier appeared in major cities, including Lahore, Quetta and Karachi.
IS wall chalking in a Quetta street. PHOTO: ONLINE
Earlier, splits within the Taliban, and doubts over whether its elusive leader is even alive, were said to be driving a growing number of militant commanders in Afghanistan and Pakistan towards IS for inspiration.
Security and intelligence sources believed there are no operational links yet between IS and South Asia, and that the region is not a priority for a group that occupies areas of Syria and Iraq and is focused on the Arab world.
Earlier, this year intelligence sources had also claimed security forces arrested a man believed to be the commander of the IS group in the country as well as two accomplices involved in recruiting and sending fighters to Syria.
However, sources revealed that al Salafi was actually arrested sometimes in December last year and it was only disclosed on January 22.
Yousaf al Salafi – allegedly the Pakistan commander of IS – had confessed during investigations that he has been receiving funds through the United States.