Defending his government performance, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah has scoffed at calls for his resignation as the ultra-extremist Middle Eastern terrorist group, the Islamic State, or IS, claimed responsibility for the gruesome attack on the peaceful Ismaili community.
“The Sindh government has done an extraordinary job in dealing with crime and terrorism in Karachi and other districts. I will tender resignation whenever I fail to deliver,” he said, assuring the bereaved families that the culprits would be brought to book.
Visibly perturbed over calls for his resignation, Shah said near-identical terrorist attacks took place in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Punjab, but no one demanded resignation from the chief ministers of these provinces.
“We have formed a high-level committee to probe into the incident. The committee will submit its report within three days,” Shah told journalists at the crime scene. He added that the Ismailis are a peaceful community and the attack was meant to whip up terror in Karachi.
Meanwhile, the IS, in a statement posted on jihadi Twitter accounts, said: “[The] attack [was] carried out by Islamic State soldiers on [the] bus transporting Ismaili[s] in the city of Karachi”. It was the first official claim of responsibility by the IS leadership of an attack in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region.
The IS, which has seized control of large swathes of land in Syria and Iraq, announced in January the creation of a branch in what it called ‘Khorasan province’, encompassing Afghanistan, Pakistan and parts of surrounding countries.
English leaflets left in the bus were headlined ‘Advent of the Islamic State!’ and read: “The attack was in retaliation against the killing of Lal Masjid students, deaths of Mujahideens in fake encounters [in Karachi], 2013 killing of Sunnis in Rawalpindi riots and the atrocities committed by Shias in the Levant, Iraq and Yemen.” It is the second time IS has left fliers at the crime scene in Karachi.
On April 17, four gunmen shot and seriously injured Debra Lobo, the vice-principal of the Jinnah Medical and Dental College, on Shaheed-e-Millat Road. In the fliers left at the site the IS claimed credit for the attack.
Pakistani security officials deny organised presence of the IS in Pakistan, though they admit that there could be individually inspired recruits of the ultra-extremist group.
Earlier, militant group Jundullah also claimed responsibility for the Safoora massacre. The group has links with the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and pledged allegiance to the IS in November. “We had four attackers [who carried out the attack]. In the coming days we will attack Ismailis, Shias and Christians,” the group’s spokesman Ahmed Marwat told Reuters. (WITH ADDITIONAL input BY AGENCIES)
Published in The Express Tribune, May 14th, 2015.