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Category — AF-PAK ISIS

ISIS graffiti appears on wall in Rawalpindi

by Israr Ahmad in The Nation, Nov 3, 2017
RAWALPINDI – Graffiti supporting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), commonly known as Daesh, appeared on the wall of a building on Mall Road, sources and police told The Nation on Thursday.

According to the sources, vandals had scrawled the word ISIS on the building of State Bank of Pakistan before it was removed by the police. A heavy contingent of the police, the Counter Terrorism Department, and other intelligence agencies rushed to the scene and removed the wall-chalking, the sources said. The law enforcement agencies have started an investigation into the incident to track down the mischievous elements, the sources said.

Potohar Division Superintendent of Police Syed Ali said that the piece of the graffiti was spotted daubed on the wall of a building. He said that an investigation was underway and a case would be registered against unknown offenders. He said police were clueless to ascertain as who carried out the graffiti in the sensitive area.

On September 24, a Daesh flag was also spotted hanging on a bridge on Islamabad Expressway. The ISIS flag was removed immediately after a citizen alerted the police.

The graffiti supporting the ISIS was also seen on the wall of a house adjacent to a mosque in Wah Cantonment on February 10 earlier this year.

November 3, 2017   No Comments

Daesh attempts to enter Pakistan: by Abdul Zahoor Khan Marwat in The News, Oct 13, 2017

Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai has recently claimed that the US has links with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or Daesh. He further said that ISIS was being supplied weapons by the United States. In an interview with Russia Today in London, published on October 4, Karzai said he has more than suspicions that the US bases in Afghanistan were being used to aid Daesh. “I get daily reports by the Afghan people that unmarked military helicopters supply Daesh in many parts of Afghanistan,” he claimed. Karzai added that from 9/11 until today, there was more extremism in Afghanistan, despite spending billions of dollars by the US.

Earlier, this year during an interview, Karzai had stated that the ISIS was a tool of the United States and that he did not differentiate between the ISIS and America. He told the VOA’s Afghan service: “After it (the US) dropped the bomb on Afghanistan, it did not eliminate Daesh. I consider Daesh their tool. I do not differentiate at all between Daesh and America.”

On the other hand, Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Lt-Gen (retd) Naseer Janjua agreed with former Afghan president Hamid Karzai that the US was supporting the organisation, Daesh, in Afghanistan. “Yes, I do agree with Hamid Karzai on his Daesh statement. I think he is right,” Janjua told a newspaper.

There is no official confirmation of the presence of ISIS in Pakistan; however the top world intelligence agencies are supporting the ISIS in Afghanistan which has its impact on Pakistan too. The ingress into Balochistan in order to sabotage CPEC would be made through Daesh, warn experts in Islamabad.

These experts point out that the trend of ISIS targeting young people is a global phenomenon that is likely to persist. According to a report, about 5,000 Westerners have traveled to Iraq and Syria (many via Turkey) to join the ISIS. Of these, more than 500 have come from the US, at least 1,000 from the UK and more than 3,500 from France and the rest of Europe, according to estimates from authorities in these countries. The organization has centered itself in Afghanistan’s northern region, bordering with Pakistan. The Nangarhar province is considered to be their stronghold, with presence in Achin, Nazian, Bati Kot, Kot and Mohmand Valley. It was reported that by September 2015, their numbers in Nangarhar had climbed to more than 1,000. Daesh’s presence in Afghanistan which has instilled fear and notoriety was confirmed in March 2015 when Abdul Salam Rahimi, chief of staff to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, said: “Daesh is here, they do exist.” In June 2015, a Daesh website claimed Afghanistan as part of the Khorasan province.

The ISIS is using a different strategy i.e. targeting the educated youth of Pakistan through the internet. Experts in internal security say that Pakistan has successfully flushed out terrorism from its soil and there is no footprint of ISIS physically. Pakistan has taken serious steps to strengthen security and management of the Pak-Afghan border.

What has the ISIS actually done on the ground except destroying Iraq, Libya and Syria and damaging the unity of the Muslim world? Whom are they serving and for what purpose? Has the ISIS ever launched an attack against Israel, their real masters? The answer is No.https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/236622-Daesh-attempts-to-enter-Pakistan

October 13, 2017   No Comments

Denial of IS footprint: Editorial in Dawn, September 30th, 2017

THE vigour and alacrity with which Pakistani authorities deny that the militant Islamic State group has an ‘organised’ presence in the country is matched perhaps only by evidence of an IS footprint in the country. On Thursday, the Foreign Office spokesperson once again denied that evidence of an IS presence in the country, or at least sympathy for IS, is of any significance.

The incident in which a version of the IS flag was confiscated by the police from the outskirts of Islamabad following a civilian report is troubling because authorities were not only unaware the flag was on display but once their attention was brought to the matter, they have been unable to explain who is responsible for the act. Across the board, the security apparatus seems unwilling or unable to recognise the threat that IS may pose.

In Pakistan, the absence of an organised IS network like in the Middle East or that of the TTP can be misleading. A wave of attacks in Europe have demonstrated that a combination of sophisticated propaganda via the internet and the presence of disaffected individuals in society can have terrifying consequences. Pakistan’s vulnerability is also deeper: IS ideology can penetrate existing terror networks or their remnants and morph into a menacing new threat.

Instead of recognising that reality and developing a strategy to combat it, the state seems to be repeating many of the mistakes it made early on in the fight against the TTP and other anti-Pakistan militant groups.

Then too there was a belief a soft approach to militancy or so-called peace deals would prevent the problem from growing out of control. But it did grow out of control, to the point that the state has had to launch the largest internal security operations in its history to fight militancy and terrorism.

Troubling too is the glib manner in which counterterrorism operations are reported by the police.

In yet another incident where individuals who are mysteriously eliminated in police ‘encounters’ are later labelled as members of all manner of terrorist groups, the Karachi police on Thursday killed five individuals, one of whom was identified as a member of Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent. The individuals were, according to the police, planning to carry out attacks on Muharram processions. While Al Qaeda does have a sectarian strain in its militant ideology, more details are needed about the victims and their alleged militant affiliations before firm conclusions can be drawn.

What is striking about the police claims is that a hotchpotch of militants was found together — and a typically large number of attacks have been attributed to them. While the incident will soon be forgotten, the broader pattern is clear: the state seems to be lurching from incident to incident without a clear idea of the nature or scale of the threat it faces. https://www.dawn.com/news/1360857/denial-of-is-footprint

October 1, 2017   No Comments

IS graffiti appears in Wah: by Mohammad Asghar in Dawn, Sept 30th, 2017

RAWALPINDI: Five days after the flag of militant Islamic State (IS) group was seen in Islam­abad and a day after chalking of a local banned sectarian outfit cropped up on electric poles in the strictly guarded Pakistan Ordi­nance Factory area of Wah, graffiti of ‘Daesh’ — Arabic acronym for the IS — was noticed on a traffic signboard in the Wah area on Friday, police sources said.

After the IS flag app­eared in the capital, panic gripped law enforcement agencies and political circles were equally concer­ned. On Monday the flag was removed and an FIR was registered by police under the terrorism law.

On Thursday chalking of the proscribed Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) was seen on electric poles in the Wah Cantt area, to be followed by the appearance of graffiti of ‘Daesh’ on a traffic signboard on Budho Road near Muhallah Sadiqueabad in the same area.

A senior police official of Rawalpindi said that an investigation had been launched after the registration of the FIR about the SSP chalking. Police would initiate legal action over Friday’s Daesh graffiti also, he added.https://www.dawn.com/news/1360962/is-graffiti-appears-in-wah

October 1, 2017   No Comments

Growing Influence Of IS: edit in the Nation, September 27, 2017

One of the major denials of the government of Pakistan has always been the insurgency in Baluchistan, and the growing influence of the so called Islamic State (IS) in that region and across the country.The earlier proof of the extremist organisation’s presence in the region was the abduction and murder of a Chinese couple in Quetta.The second incident, fairly recent, which supports their presence is the IS flag which was put up on major thoroughfare in the city of Islamabad on Sunday.

This incident in particular raises a few questions, the first being the lack of acceptance on the part of our authorities regarding Daesh’s presence in the country.When incidents are being blatantly ignored and their implications not acknowledged, this means that agenda setting and policy making for that particular issue cannot be pushed through.This kind of wilful negligence by the authorities will not only put Pakistan in a critical position, but also delay the operational efforts significantly to give IS the room to become important non-state actors in the country.While authorities contend that such acts are conducted by self-styled sympathisers and do not denote a significant presence of the group in the country, such brazen acts tell another story.

At the same time, this incident did not happen anywhere remote.We are talking about Islamabad; the capital of Pakistan – a city heavily guarded and monitored via surveillance mechanisms.If the people responsible for this can still get away with it; this means that the forces that we have assigned are not doing their job properly nor do they have the right setup to deal with such issues.The stringing up of IS’s black flag in the heart of Islamabad is a huge test for our police; especially with the inauguration of the Safe City Project which is supposed to monitor all activity in the city.http://nation.com.pk/editorials/27-Sep-2017/growing-influence-of-is

September 27, 2017   No Comments

Police remove IS flag waving in Islamabad

report in Daily Times,September 25th 2017.
ISLAMABAD: A flag similar to that of the militant Islamic State (IS) group was seen waving in Islamabad’s Khana area on Sunday morning, before being removed by the local police after a citizen reported the matter.

Police removed the flag, hoisted on a pole by an unidentified person, in the afternoon after one Naveed Khan — a resident of Dera Ismail Khan — informed Rescue 15 of the matter.

Khan, who was taken in by the police, said in his statement that he was travelling on the Sixth Road in Islamabad when he saw the flag. Khan added that he recognised the flag as he had seen it on the television before.

The flag had ‘Khilafat is coming’ written on it, in addition to the Arabic verses.

Taking notice of the matter, Minister of Interior Ahsan Iqbal asked the inspector general of police to file a report on the said matter.

Pakistan has repeatedly denied the presence of the militant organisation on its soil, while acknowledging the rise of IS in Afghanistan as a point of concern.

Over the past couple of years, reports of IS leaflets and pamphlets found in different parts of the country have circulated.

In January last year, IS leaflets were found in a girls school in Gujrat warning the administration to close down the school.

In 2014, leaflets calling for support of IS were seen in parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while pro-IS slogans appeared on walls in several cities across the country.

September 25, 2017   No Comments

Nacta compiles Pak-based militants’ data fearing blowback effects of IS defeat in Iraq

by Imran Mukhtar in the Nation,August 30, 2017
ISLAMABAD – National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) has compiled and started verifying data of Pakistan-based suspected militants, who have been allegedly involved in foreign conflicts, fearing blowback effects especially after the defeat of Islamic State (IS) in some parts of Iraq.

National Coordinator (NC) Nacta Ihsan Ghani Tuesday informed the National Assembly Standing Committee on Interior that the authority had completed data of Pakistan-based suspected militants who have been fighting in foreign conflict zones like Iraq, Syria or Yemen etc.

“We are now getting this data verified from the federal and provincial institutions to know their exact figure,” he said while briefing the committee on the implementation of National Action Plan (NAP). After the verification of data, policy recommendations would be formed to avoid any blowback effect on Pakistan, said a non-working paper prepared by the authority.

Giving the reason of collecting the information, Ghani told the committee, which met under the chair of MNA Rana Shamim Ahmad Khan, that the militants would start returning their native countries especially after the defeat of IS from Iraq on the pattern the militants had returned from Afghanistan. It is yet to be verified that whether these people had gone to conflict zones for fighting or to earn their livelihoods, he said.

While talking to The Nation after the meeting, the Nacta chief without giving the exact number of the would-be militants said that the authority had got data of those Pakistanis who led towards conflict zones but did not return home till their visas expired. “Now we are verifying about their activities from their home addresses,” he added. An official source in the authority informed that NACTA has also collected the data of those Pakistanis who travelled to such zones via Iran or through other destinations.

Ihsan Ghani also informed the committee said that NACTA had formed National Counter Extremism Violent Policy as part of the soft steps to eradicate terrorism and the same had been approved by the government. This includes improvement of governance as well as cultural revival. MNA Shazia Marri commented that the draft of the policy should be shared with the parliament.

While giving the point-wise briefing on implementation of 20 points of NAP, the NC NACTA said Task Force on Choking Financing for Terrorism (CFT) had been established at the authority to coordinate efforts of all stakeholders. “Similarly, choking financing for terrorism (CFT) units in provincial counter terrorism departments (CTDs) have been established as part of the implementation of the action plan with regard to choking of terror financing,” he said.

He said that provinces had been asked to legislate model law for regulation and facilitation of charities. Asia Pacific Group of Financial Acton Task Force (FATF) will evaluate Pakistan’s efforts to check terror financing in October 2018, he added.

Ghani said that NACTA had got rationalised list of those activists of militant organisations placed on the Fourth Schedule of the Anti-terrorism Act (ATA) 1997 in consultations provinces during six months.

After sifting of list, there are total of 8,333 activists on the Fourth Schedule and out of these accounts of 5,023 suspected persons have been frozen besides placing embargo on issuing them passports as well as arms licenses and getting financial serves through banks , says the non-working papers presented to the committee. “Similarly Rs300 million have been frozen of such suspected persons,” he added.

Ghani said that NACTA was deeply assessing the acquittals and convictions in terrorism cases to improve conviction rates and provinces would be advised in this regard. He said the counter terrorism authority was in process of developing an app for assessing the hate speech. The local authorities could upload any hate speech to the app and the same would be seen by the authority.

Commenting on the briefing, PPP MNA Nawab Yousaf Talpur said that US should inform about these achievements who was criticising Pakistan with regard to its efforts on war on terrorism for no reasons. NC NACTA said that the authority had shared a brief with the important foreign missions of Pakistan about the achievements made so far to ensure reduction in terrorism. “They have been asked to share with the foreign governments if they are challenged at this front,” he said.

MNA Naeema Kishwer Khan asked for complete ban on foreign funding of terrorists and deplored that the activity was still going on.

A number of lawmakers complained that the government was misusing the law of placing activists of militant organisations under Fourth Schedule and using it for political motives. They said that people were wrongly included in the schedule and then it took years to get the name excluded. Ihsan Ghani viewed that there was no problems with ATA 1997 that permits for placing any name under the schedule but the issue was of its implementation. The law in details describes the procedure for including or excluding any name in the Fourth Schedule, he said.

The additional secretary of the interior ministry told the participants that a national wide campaign would be started for the confiscation of unlicensed arms after the grace period of 90 days being given to all arms license holder to get these re-validated from the ministry.

He said that the people have revalidated more than 0.2 million arms licenses out of them more than 0.4 million, both prohibited and non-prohibited, issued by the federal government. He also said that a committee had been formed under the chair of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to review the policy of prohibited and automatic weapons as the premier completely wanted to ban these.

DG (Operations) NADRA Brigadier (Retd) Nisar Ahmed said that the district level committees formed through the notification of the Ministry of Interior to clear blocked CNICs of allegedly confirmed aliens were getting poor response from the card holders. He said that only 3,423 cases were under process and 2,064 have been cleared as 5,513 applicants have applied so far out of the 162,315 blocked cases of such CNICs. http://nation.com.pk/national/30-Aug-2017/nacta-compiles-pak-based-militants-data

August 30, 2017   No Comments

ISIS Claims Suicide Bombing That Killed at Least 15 in Pakistan

ISIS Claims Suicide Bombing That Killed at Least 15 in Pakistan
By SALMAN MASOOD in The NY Times, AUG. 13, 2017
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A suicide bomber riding a motorcycle rammed into a military truck near a busy bus station in southwestern Pakistan, killing at least 15 people, including eight soldiers, and wounding at least 40 others, military officials said on Sunday.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack on Saturday in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan Province in the southwest. A military spokesman said the attack had been aimed at sabotaging Independence Day celebrations, as Pakistan will mark its 70th anniversary on Monday.

Active-duty troops in the Pakistani Army have rarely come under attack in Quetta, although paramilitary forces and police officers have repeatedly faced assaults by militants in the city.

The explosion, which was heard far away and set off a fire that engulfed vehicles nearby, left several people critically injured. The wounded were taken to Civil Hospital and Combined Military Hospital.

The attack, near several important government and private buildings — including the provincial assembly — renewed concerns about security arrangements in the city, which has long reeled under militant and sectarian violence despite the heavy presence of security forces and paramilitary soldiers.

Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, the Pakistani army chief, arrived in the city on Sunday morning to chair a high-level security briefing and visit the wounded at the military hospital, officials said. The interior minister, Ahsan Iqbal, had also traveled to the provincial capital on Saturday for meetings with senior civil and military officials.

The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has claimed to be behind several terrorist attacks in the province, which borders Afghanistan and Iran, in recent months.

Pakistani officials, however, played down the presence of the Islamic State in the province, asserting that the group does not have an organized presence there.https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/13/world/asia/pakistan-suicide-bomber-motorbike.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fasia

August 14, 2017   No Comments

15 killed as IS bomber hits military truck in Quetta:

by Sharif Khan in The Nation, August 13, 2017
QUETTA – At least 15 people, including eight security men, were martyred and 25 others sustained injuries in a suicide attack on a security vehicle near FC headquarters at Pishin Stop on Saturday.

“A suicide bomber on a motorcycle hit an FC vehicle at Pishin Stop,” said the bomb disposal squad’s initial investigation report. It added the bomber used a 20kg to 25kg explosive vest in the attack.

Islamic State group claimed the responsibility for the attack.

“At least seven civilians among 15 were martyred in the attack on a security vehicle in Quetta,” the Inter-Services Public Relations said in a press release.

ISPR statement said the explosion targeted an on-duty vehicle and set several other vehicles on fire. “Incendiary explosive was used. As a result, nearby vehicles caught fire,” the statement added.

The blast instantly engulfed vehicles, rickshaws and motorcycles at Pishin Stop. It also smashed windows of nearby buildings and houses.

Heavy contingents of Frontier Corps and police reached the scene and cordoned off the area. Rescue teams along with fire brigade also rushed to the spot and shifted the injured to Civil Hospital Quetta. “As many as 13 dead bodies and 30 injured were shifted to Civil Hospital Quetta,” a doctor said.

Health Minister Mir Saleh Baloch placed Quetta Civil Hospital under emergency to efficiently deal with the disaster. Doctors and paramedics were summoned to the hospital while messages for blood donations were also circulated.

Later, eight injured were shifted to Combined Military Hospital in view of their critical condition.

Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti and government spokesman Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar confirmed the death toll, but said number of the wounded was 32. Bugti said firefighters were working to put out the blaze. The home minister visited the blast site. He also reached Quetta Civil Hospital to inquire after the injured.

Pishin Stop, surrounded by FC headquarters, Law College, Heart Hospital and Ayub Stadium, falls into the heart of Quetta city.

President Mamnoon Hussain, Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa and deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attack. The blast occurred two days before Pakistan’s 70th Independence Day.

The army chief said it was an attempt to mar the celebrations. “Our resolve won’t succumb to any challenge,” he said in a statement.

The Islamic State Khorasan Province – the Middle Eastern group’s affiliate in Afghanistan and Pakistan – released a statement claiming the attack, according to the US-based monitoring group SITE. A suicide motorbike bomber was behind the blast, the statement said.

The local affiliate has been known to work with Pakistani militant groups in previous attacks. http://nation.com.pk/national/13-Aug-2017/15-martyred-as-is-bomber-hits-mily-truck-in-quetta

Quetta blast was attack on Army truck: ISPR
Report in The Nation, August 12, 2017, 10:59 pm
Web Desk: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa condemned the terrorist attack in Quetta that killed at least 15 and injured 32 other people, Director General ISPR said in a tweet.
Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR) head claimed that the blast was aimed at affecting the Independence Day’s festivities and the main target of the attack was Army truck.
Earlier, Security officials said the explosion set on fire multiple vehicles at Pishin Stop in the provincial capital of Balochistan.http://nation.com.pk/national/12-Aug-2017/quetta-blast-was-attack-on-army-truck-ispr

August 13, 2017   No Comments

Tell-tale signs of IS presence in Balochistan:

By Shezad Baloch in The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2017.
The writer is a research student at UW-Madison’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication and a former correspondent of The Express Tribune
In the wake of a large-scale security operation in Mastung, the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) -– the media wing of the Pakistani Army — issued a statement denying the existence of any directly or indirectly Islamic State-affiliated infrastructure in Balochistan or anywhere else in Pakistan.

A day earlier, on June 3rd, every major newspaper in the country reported that IS infrastructure had been targeted in the raid and that the army had faced tough resistance. During the exchange of fire at least 12 extremists — described by an army spokesperson as hardcore terrorists — were killed. Army personnel also sustained serious injuries during the three-day operation.

Intelligence reports indicated that the IS has set up an infrastructure in the caves of the Isplingi area known as Koh-i-Siah/Koh-i-Maran, 36 kilometres southeast of Mastung. The ISPR, however, claims that the base was set up by the Lashgar-e-Jhangvi Al Almi (LeJA), a group widely recognised as having IS sympathies and eager to establish contact with them.
Poorly administered and one of the least developed districts in Balochistan, Mastung lies less than 45 kilometres southeast of Quetta. Shias have often been targeted in Quetta by terrorists affiliated with the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) organisation, which already has an IS connection and considers itself almost a regional franchise. As always, the government wastes no time in taking credit for any temporary lessening in the level of sectarian violence, however small. At the same time it is reluctant to admit that mass killings of civilians have, in fact, increased at an alarming rate. And while it may be true that attacks are less frequent, they have become more accurate and deadly and are clearly designed with a view to maximising the number of casualties.

In recent years, the presence of IS in Pakistan’s troubled southwestern province has become increasingly evident. In 2015 graffiti began to appear in many parts of Quetta bearing slogans in support of the IS. Addul Razzaq Cheema, Quetta police chief at the time, denied that the IS had infiltrated the area, saying only that “certain people” were deliberately trying to create an atmosphere of fear in the province. But the evidence continued to mount. After several raids against hardline Baloch separatists in remote areas of Makran, IS-inspired graffiti started to appear there too.

Government denials notwithstanding, a year later the IS claimed responsibility for deadly attacks at the Shah Noorani shrine, the police training centre, and at civil hospital, where lawyers were gathered after the shooting of one of their colleagues. Each of these deadly and well-planned attacks killed about one hundred people. It seemed that the focus was shifting, from deadly attacks on Hazara Shia to the killing of other civilians, with members of the professional classes and foreign citizens now becoming the primary target.

According to the Home Department of Balochistan, as of mid-May of this year there have been 183 terror incidents in the province. These incidents have resulted in a death toll of 238, including members of the security forces, with a further 517 people sustaining injuries. By comparison, the 226 terror incidents reported in all of 2015 resulted in 202 deaths and 310 injured. This would suggest that the attacks are becoming more effective and more deadly.

This year has also seen an uptick in the number of IS-inspired attacks. On January 7th five people from the Hazara Shia community were targeted and critically injured in Spiny Road of Quetta. Two months later, a man and a woman from the same ethnic group were shot dead. On May 12th a suicide bomber in Mastung struck the convoy of Deputy Chairman of the Senate Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, killing 27 people. Then, immediately after the operation against the LeJA, the IS claimed responsibility for the abduction and murder of two Chinese citizens in Quetta.

Some security officials in Quetta see the LeJA as the face of IS in Pakistan, targeting civilians, shrines, and professionals on a large scale. Adherents to the ISIS worldview are also found in other groups active in parts of Pakistan, including Balochistan. One such group is the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Nazaryati (JUI-I), which is present in parliament and holds public gatherings in Quetta and in northern areas of Balochistan.

I still remember the case of Amir Muhammed Dasti, the brave police officer who killed four Lashkar-e-Jhangvi terrorists in Quetta in 2012. He was humiliated by then chief justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry for not taking action against religious extremists involved in the mass killing of Shias. A distraught Dasti argued that he could be targeted at any time, since many officials believe the actions of religious terrorists are in fact justified. On several occasions the terrorists delivered burial shrouds to Dasti as a warning that his days were numbered. In 2013 he was killed in broad daylight in Quetta, along with his guards.

Another senior police official who had killed some LeJ members in a raid later approached the terrorist organisation with the help of religious clerics and tribal elders and offered an apology. Such is the terror inspired by the LeJ that even a senior police officer can feel threatened by them and fear for his life. And that fear is not misplaced. Many police officers have died at the hands of LeJ and many others have been forced to leave Quetta for their personal safety.

Whether openly acknowledged or not, it is clear that the LeJ has established contact with the IS and that Balochistan is a potential breeding ground for IS fighters. Finding IS supporters and sympathisers in the province is not hard. The extremists have even been encouraged to take advantage of their organisational structure to radicalise young students at the University of Balochistan.

In the face of mounting evidence to the contrary, the government continues to declare that external players, namely India and Afghanistan, are providing logistical support to banned organisations like the LeJA, the LeJ and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). It might be true to some extent, but again it is the security forces that are responsible for protecting the porous border with Afghanistan.

If the IS has strongholds in Afghanistan, then it is very easy for them to have bases in places like Quetta and adjoining districts.

It is a poorly kept secret that the banned LeJ and other terrorist groups collect money from mosques after Friday prayers, and especially after Eid prayers, urging the faithful to contribute to the funding of the Jihadist fight against Shia, infidels and Western countries engaged in Afghanistan. This happens not only in Quetta but also at a large scale in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar. The LeJ and other extremists also collects animal skins to raise money in the name of Jihad.

Another means of garnering support for their cause is religious education. There are hundreds of unregistered religious seminaries in Balochistan which get funding from rich countries and ironically there is no check on them. I personally know of many kids in Quetta who tell me they are being paid a monthly stipend to attend these seminaries, and yet nobody really knows what is being taught there.

In the current climate, it seems inevitable that extremists will find fertile ground for consolidating their position, gradually eroding what liberal and secular forces remain.

June 23, 2017   No Comments