ISIS Is Gaining Influence In Pakistan
Article RadarTHIS ARTICLE CONNECT:
The last week was a very grim week for the people of Pakistan because three bomb blasts managed to take scores of lives in various parts of the country. The first blast hit Awami National Party (ANP) leader Haroon Bilour’s corner meeting. 13 lives were lost that day, including Haroon Bilour himself.
The news was earth-shattering for the Bilour family because this is not the first time they have come under attack
The party and particularly the family is known for its anti-extremist, and anti-Taliban stance, which is why Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) targets them regularly. Haroon Bilour’s father, Bashir Bilour, also lost his life at the hands of these extremists.
There has always been a clear threat to the ANP leadership, which is why they cannot hold large political gatherings and their political campaign is reduced to corner meetings and door to door canvassing. However, despite the clear threat, the security arrangements were not properly managed.
While the country was still absorbing the shock from this attack, and anticipating the return of the former premier, two more blasts hit the country – the first in Bannu and the second in Mastung
The blast in Bannu took four lives and left almost a dozen injured. Whereas the blast in Mastung killed over 120 people and left many injured. It is being labeled as the deadliest attack in the history of Pakistan, taking more lives than the APS attack of 2014.
However, the one detail which should not go unnoticed is “so-called” Islamic State (IS) claiming responsibility for the attacks. This information alone should alarm people because first it was only the TTP that we had to fight but now another faction is also increasing its influence in the region. The authorities conveniently have been feeding us the narrative that the security situation in Pakistan has improved.
There is no denying that many extremist outfits have been made to leave their hubs due to the military operations but the authorities have been blatantly denying the presence of IS in the region
Several incidents in Pakistan have pointed to their activities and the growing influence too. Back in 2015, the Safoora Goth shooting in Karachi which left 46 members of the Ismaili community dead was also linked to the IS. The group who was involved had links with the IS and their commander fled to Syria after the incident.
ISIS was linked with several attacks that took place in Balochistan. In 2016, a 14 years old ISIS bomber managed to take over 50 lives in a bomb blast. This happened two weeks after a gunman entered a police training center. The attacks generally target religious minorities which is why the alliance between Lashkar-e-Jhangvi was inevitable. Al-Alami spokesman Ali bin Sufyan told Reuters that “wherever there are attacks taking place [in Pakistan] Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al Alami is cooperating with [ISIS] either directly or indirectly.”
The group also managed to put up its flag in the capital of the country, where the safe city project is up and running and all activities can be monitored. However, the authorities failed to find the person responsible for the activity.
Time and again we are witnessing the group claim responsibility for their activities in the country but our authorities are bent towards denying their existence and growing influence
The attack in Mastung was the deadliest attack in the history of the country and must not be taken lightly. The first step towards the resolution of the problem is to accept that it exists. It is, of course, the disgruntled factions of TTP and Afghan Taliban pledging allegiance to the “so-called” IS.
These security lapses are resulting because of two reasons. First is that Balochistan has always been ignored while commenting about the improvement in the security situation. Second, because the existence of IS is denied and the entire focus right now is the general elections, and the armed forces are heavily involved in its preparation. Lives are at stake and the least we can demand is correct information, the acceptance of the problem and a concrete plan to resolve it.
We as citizens are the ones at the losing end. We are the ones who lose our lives in the process. Everyone is well aware of the ideology of the “so-called” IS
We are fighting the extremist ideology day in and day out. There is already very less implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) and radical elements are being mainstreamed. This means that extremism will seep further into the country’s social network and these attacks will get rampant. The thought itself should be very scary and prompt us to demand action from the authorities and devise policies to prevent any further damage.