Is Daesh Coming to Pakistan? – I

16 Jan
The most notorious and controversial organisation of the history Daesh is a hot topic and talk of the town these days. Rarely it has happened that some organisation or group attain fame and publicity in such a short span of time. However, Daesh, a living example is very much there. The strategists of the organisation ISIS also known as Daesh know well that how to cash the Muslim majority in Mid-East’s sympathies. Hence they carefully worked on most popular attire and props and tried to win the Middle Eastern hearts. The most eye catching prop with them is a black flag having first Kalimah written on it. That’s enough to drive, any simple and straight Muslim, crazy. This is one side of this group who claims to be the flag bearer of Caliphate, while the other side; more horrific and barbaric is shown to the world by western media, surprisingly.  According to the media reports, the organization of Daesh in Mosul wants to rewrite the Holy Quran. According to the “Afaq Al-Iraq” channel, the organization intends to remove various verses which are distorted and incorrect. As reported by the site of “Al-Mowaten” members of Daesh continued by saying the verses they wish to remove we’re placed by corrupt distorted clerics to serve other religions and sects such as Christianity and others. The Lebanese Al-Jadeed Newspaper published an article quoting Iraqi media that states that ISIS is planning to rewrite the Quran and omits verses that it believes have been wrongfully inserted by the enemies of Islam. Similarly, the report stated that the chapters which the organization of Daesh wish to alter include the chapter of “Al-Kafiroon” and verses of purification.

Far from the militants’ self-proclaimed ‘caliphate’ in Iraq and Syria, the name of Daesh has cropped up several times in militant circles in recent weeks in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the historic homeland of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The Daesh organisation is starting to attract the attention of radicals in Pakistan and Afghanistan, long a cradle for militancy, unnerving authorities who fear a potential violent contagion. Leaflets calling for support for Daesh were seen in parts of northwest Pakistan, and at least five Pakistani Taliban commanders and three lesser cadres from the Afghan Taliban have pledged their support. Pro-Daesh slogans have appeared on walls in several cities in both countries and in Kabul University, where a number of students were arrested.

Security and official sources strongly insist that these are local, individual initiatives, and at this stage Daesh has not established a presence in the region. But the success of Daesh in the Middle East is a matter of concern for both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Although due to the peculiar nature of Pakistani political and military structure there is no immediate threat of Daesh to Pakistan however, Daesh is becoming the major inspiration force for both violent and non-violent religious groups in the region.

Recently, Pakistan’s National Counter Terrorism Agency wrote to a dozen government agencies warning them to be on their guard against the Daesh group. Again not due to any immediate threat but purely because of the organisations successes which are playing a very dangerous, inspirational role in Pakistan, where more than 200 organizations are operational. The letter rightly came at a time when Pakistan army is fighting a major offensive in insurgent fortresses of the tribal northwest and which appears to be weakening its major enemies, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and allied Al Qaeda fighters.

Following the army offensive, the TTP, a coalition of disparate militant groups, has fragmented into rival factions over recent weeks, fuelling rumours the movement could be overtaken by Daesh. The TTP say they broadly support both the Daesh and Al Qaeda. They also say they have sent 1,000 fighters in recent years to help the militant struggle in Syria – an estimate confirmed by a Pakistani government source – and plan to send 700 more. Currently both the TTP and the Afghan Taliban officially recognise only one leader, Mullah Omar. The Taliban and their supporters say that ‘Amir ul Momineen’ (the commander of the faithful) has already been chosen, hence we reject Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi as Caliph.

So far the Taliban and Al Qaeda’s new South Asia wing have steered clear of criticising Daesh, maintaining a united front against ‘Western aggression’. US officials say the group is generating tens of millions of dollars a month from black market oil sales, ransoms and extortion. This financial heft is proving a big draw – including for the five Pakistani Taliban commanders who announced their support for the Daesh group. To spread in the region, Daesh must also eat away at the authority of the state but, unlike Iraq and Syria, Pakistani state structures look solid and are supported by a powerful army which would proved to be a big hurdle in Daesh’s attempts to make a way in Pakistan.

Afghanistan, much more fragile, is more worrying – particularly Kunar and Nuristan, mountainous provinces on the Pakistani border, which have long been refuges for militants from the hard-line branch of espoused by Daesh and Al Qaeda. Several sources say that in Kunar there is at least one camp training hundreds of fighters sympathetic to Daesh. Hafiz Tahir ul Ashrafi, head of Ulema Council is of the view that the people here face problems with the lack of justice, the corruption and the inefficiency of the state, and therefore they need a counter-narrative, and Daesh provides one with religious content.

The more recent gossip is that Daesh has set up its network in Pashto-dominated areas of Karachi. Even if these are rumours, still the security agencies are taking it very seriously and are on high alert after news surfaced about the presence of terrorist organization Daesh in Karachi and Pakistan. Hence, they have made their best attempt to collect complete information about Daesh presence in the city.

According to different sources people, witnessed graffiti splashed in favor of Daesh in metropolitan city of Pakistan.

There seems to be a big confusion at the government level, where the political elite and the bureaucracy is not at one pitch. On one hand the interior minister Chaudhry Nisar once again rejected reports of ISIS’s presence in Pakistan while some other ministers fear that Daesh militants are making their way in Pakistan.

(to be concluded)

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