Daesh in Pakistan

Govt insists Daesh has no direct presence but the threat is becoming more real as terror group is expanding its global presence after losing in Iraq, Syria

ISLAMABAD   -  The terrorist organisation Islamic State (IS) has opened its Pakistan branch with the name of “Wilayah of Pakistan” — a move aiming at luring local militants who are largely on the run after busting of their previous networks by the country’s valiant security forces.

The IS made this announcement the other day through its official news outlet, only five days after it announced opening of its chapter in India with the name of “Wilayah of Hind (Hind Province).

Since its establishment on Wednesday (on May 15), the so-called Wilayah of Pakistan has claimed two terrorist activities in Balochistan. Earlier, the militants associated with Daesh, another name for IS, would claim all attacks in Pakistan under the banner of “Wilayah of Khorasan” – the IS chapter which also covers Afghanistan and some other neighbouring countries.

The state of Pakistan has been claiming that there’s no organised presence of Daesh in the country and that some local militant groups have allied them with IS after their parent organisations were dismantled in the military and intelligence-based operations.

However, Daesh has succeeded in proving its footprint by not only carrying out several attacks in the volatile north-western Balochistan but also making some hits in relatively much secure areas of the country.

A senior government official insisted that Daesh doesn’t have its own infrastructure and recruits in Pakistan; rather, it hires and uses local militants who were associated with different militant outfits in the past.

“This means IS has no direct presence in the country [as it is trying to portray by announcing its chapter in Pakistan],” the official asserted.

Asked about the scope of Khorasan group after the announcement of separate branches for Pakistan and India by Daesh, a security expert said that group apparently has now been limited to Afghanistan and central Asian states.

Muhammad Amir Rana, who is also director of an Islamabad based think, said that before it’s breakup the Khurasan group not only had Afghan and central Asian members but several Pakistani militants – who fled the tribal areas after military operations –also had a strong presence in the group.

“I think Khorasan chapter was facing communication, logistic and operational problems and because of this reason, IS leadership thought it convenient to further divide it into smaller units,” he added.

Rana opined the new branch of IS could pose serious security challenges to Pakistan. Having been pushed out of its mainstay in Iraq and Syria, Daesh is desperately looking for spaces in new regions, he added.

The security expert pointed out that IS was expanded its network and establishing new wings in different regions by following its predecessor’s pattern.

After losing its bastions in Iraq and Syria, Daesh’s claim of being a caliphate has lost its charm, though it continues to use the Islamic nomenclature and call its chapters “Wilayahs” of the caliphate for propaganda purposes.

The organisation is morphing into a Qaeda-like terrorist organisation – having many tentacles and no clearly identifiable head, Rana said. In its efforts to expand its global presence, Daesh would try to take as much local militant groups into its folds as possible, he added.

Pakistan is particularly appealing for the IS as it has many small and scattered militant groups whose members are desperately seeking an umbrella organisation for their survival.

“If Daesh succeeds in uniting such battered groups under its banner, it would enhance their significance and increase security threats to the state and people of Pakistan, Rana cautioned.


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