Rise of Daesh in Pakistan?

WEB DESK: Those who do not see any footprints of Daesh in Pakistan may like to know what the Intelligence Bureau chief has told the Senate Committee of Interior and Narcotics.

It is a frightening picture; and it invites attention of all concerned – particularly those who may be thinking the job has been done. Daesh is an “emerging threat” to national security, and “it may take 10 years to change the mindset”.

What he disclosed was coming; sometime back, commenting on a media report, Punjab Law Minister Sanaullah had admitted that something like one hundred Pakistanis have left for Syria to join Daesh or al-Nusra (an affiliate of al Qaeda) fighters. But in actuality that figure is in “hundreds”, DG IB told the Senators. Most of the recruitment is being done through social media and cyberspace, as well with the help of local extremist networks like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipaha-e-Sahaba who nurture a “soft corner” for Daesh.

Most probably, the very votaries of religious extremism in the country, who make for the local banned outfits, are now graduating to the blood-soaked doctrine of Daesh. Historically, Daesh, more popularly known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), is a product of revenge now being taken by the remnants of Saddam’s army that was overwhelmed and defeated by the foreign forces, and therefore different from the ideological al Qaeda. In the penultimate year of war with Iran, realising that the conflict is more of a sect-based power tussle between the two Gulf rivals and is not for the territory the Baathist Saddam Hussein jettisoned his secular credentials and employed religion as a weapon of war. He had ‘Allahu Akbar’ inscribed on the national flag and replaced the Tomb of Unknown Soldier with a new monument depicting two cupped hands raised towards heaven.

But that difference between what Saddam’s successor al-Baghdadi of ISIL wants and what the al Qaeda and its genre preach is fast disappearing. The terrorists in Pakistan are reorganising and there is a marked realignment among almost all extremist banned organisations, the most active among them being the Fazlullah-led Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. However, the Daesh network has suffered an early hit. It has been busted following the Safoora Goth incident. The culprits involved in some of the famous murders like that of police officer Aslam Chaudhry and ANP leader Bashir Bilour have been arrested.

The situation in Balochistan has also improved, however relative, as the Shia community enemy, Jandullah, has suffered serious reverses at the hands of security forces. The tribal areas have been cleared of terrorists and extremists by the military operation Zarb-e-Azb. But there is no scope for complacency – now Daesh is filling the space. How to stem this tide of Daesh a two-pronged strategy is in order: it should be eradicated by force and starved of new recruits and its nexus with other extremist outfits should be broken.

At the same time there got be a de-radicalisation programme, and those who opt out of it should be rehabilitated under the National Action Plan. All in all, the picture the IB chief has presented is not all that pessimistic. The Daesh network is on the radar and its hired guns are being taken care of, or arrested. For instance, the culprits guilty of murders of police officer Aslam Chaudhry and ANP leader Bashir Bilour are now in custody.

Quite coincidentally, when Aftab Sultan was briefing the Senators in Islamabad his American counterpart in Washington, James Clapper, presented an equally disturbing report on the rise of terrorism in his country and elsewhere in the world to a committee of the US Senate. The report says the violent extremists are “operationally active” in 47 countries; seven of these countries amidst a “collapse of central authority”; and another 59 have a “significant risk of instability through 2016”.

On countering Daesh, his perception is that the Arab countries are beginning to join the fight, as they have done in case of Yemen against the Iran-backed Houthi militia. To him, it turned out that the United Arab Emirates has a “very very capable” army. But he did admit his report is credible only as much as an intelligence report can be. James Clapper is known, in his own words, for the “infamous weapons-of-mass-destruction National Intelligence Estimate” that led to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Has Aftab Sultan also made a similar confession? This question has no easy answer.

Source: Business Recorder