The emerging threat of Daesh to Pakistan
ISLAMABAD - There is a serious threat of spillover of Daesh’s regional affiliate, the Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISKP), into Pakistan from eastern Afghanistan. The ISKP first appeared in Afghanistan in 2014 but now boasts thousands of terrorists. For Pakistan and other regional countries like Iran and Russia, Daesh is a greater threat than the Afghan Taliban because the former is ideologically and fundamentally expansionist in nature while the latter has never expressed its desire to operate in or influence other countries. <link#_>
Reports have appeared that mysterious and sinister character Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi, after the destruction of Iraq and Syria, has been relocated to Afghanistan’s eastern provinces. Baghdadi, whose Iraqi identity has never been confirmed and his family background is also unknown, is regarded as the top agent of anti-Islam forces to harm the interests of Muslim countries through violence of all sorts and terrorism.
Former Afghan president Karzai has admitted to the presence and nurturing of the deadly terrorist group in his country. However, Commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan General John Nicholson says there could 1,500 Daesh fighters in Afghanistan operating in parts of the eastern Afghan provinces of Nangarhar and Kunar and in the northern Jowzjan province. “We have cut their numbers in half over the last two years. We have killed their ‘amirs' (chiefs), we have reduced their territory, again, we have driven their fighters out of parts of the country,” Nicholson claimed as per reports. It seems the Americans and Afghan government are underestimating the terrorist group’s strength.
While Daesh has been attacking and killing the Afghan Taliban, some analysts have pointed out that they are also threatening the Central Asian States and Russia. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov declared that thousands of Daesh or IS terrorists are present in northern and eastern Afghan regions and are being joined by militants fleeing Syria and Iraq.
According to experts, many TTP elements have joined Daesh, which has mysterious sources of funding and offers lucrative terrorist ideology and careers. Daesh has carried out many attacks in KP and Balochistan provinces while in Sindh it carried out an attack on the Sehwan shrine in 2017, which killed 90 people and injured more than 300. However, analysts say that there is no organised presence of the terrorist group in the country though there may be some facilitators and recruiters present.
The new National Internal Security Policy (NISP) recently approved by the last federal cabinet stated: “The emergence of Daesh in close proximity to Pakistan has raised new internal security challenges. The potential for spill over in Pakistan with the support and collaboration of TTP and its offshoots is not a possibility to be ignored. This situation has been compounded by the return of battle-hardened militants from Syria and Iraq.”
Pakistan has lost more than 70,000 people and suffered a loss of $123 billion over the past 15 years, revealed the new policy. A number of steps have been taken to choke terror financing, establishing a National Task Force on combating financing of terrorism, a coordinating body of over 20 federal and provincial organizations. Some 66 organisations were proscribed with 7,966 individuals placed under watch as of March 2018. Over 90 percent geo-mapping of religious seminaries (madaris) has been completed across the country while efforts to introduce wide-ranging madaris reforms are underway, it added.
In Pakistan, Muftis and leading Ulema have put their full trust in the government and the country’s armed forces by issuing a consensus Fatwa “Paigham-e-Pakistan” to refute the extremist ideologies and terrorist outfits like Daesh. According to this Fatwa, the state and the government are Islamic in accordance with Shariah and no individual or a group can proclaim its rule and Jihad in the country. Therefore, the general masses should reject the deception of Baghdadi and Daesh and they should offer full support to security forces to eliminate Daesh from Pakistan.
If the Daesh threat is not timely and fully addressed in Afghanistan, its affiliate could pose direct threats to Pakistan, Russia, and other regional countries in times to come. This is the inexorable and logical conclusion of regional analysts and security experts.
By: Waqar Ahmed