The government has finally moved in to rein in Islamic State’s (IS) presence in Pakistan, blacklisting all groups which have expressed their sympathies for the ultra-extremist group, also known as Dai’sh.
“We have formally included IS/Dai’sh to the list of banned outfits this month,” an interior ministry official confirmed to The Express Tribune on Friday. “We have notified it and with this new addition, 213 organisations have been formally proscribed in Pakistan.”
Although the government has long denied that IS – which is banned under a United Nations sanctions regime – has a footprint in Pakistan, the official said security forces have been tasked with foiling the efforts of local terrorists to join up or develop links with the ulta-extremist group in the Middle East.
He said the interior ministry had also previously banned some 171 groups proscribed under multiple UN resolutions on the request of the Foreign Office. The ministry had also proscribed 61 other organisations involved in anti-state and terrorist activities locally.
“Under the UN Security Council’s resolutions, Pakistan is bound to include IS in its list of proscribed organisations,” an FO official said.
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The foreign ministry, in a seven-point strategy document – a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune – said Pakistan’s top security agencies have been directed to immediately adopt measure to counter ‘the emerging IS threat’ in the country. The strategy has also been shared with the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Former interior minister Rehman Malik termed the move to ban IS and its affiliates in Pakistan a positive step. However, he stressed that the government will have to find a way to rein in the group’s sympathisers in the country and choke the foreign funding they receive.
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Defence analyst Brig (retd) Mahmood Shah, meanwhile, said the move would give a clear message to certain Muslim countries which are reportedly funding IS activities. He added that it would pave the way for Pakistan’s security forces and law-enforcement agencies to choke the funding of the group and other banned outfits in Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 29th, 2015.