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Is IS in Pakistan or not? A continuous hide-and-seek game

A report that Lashkar-e-Jhangvi chief Malik Ishaq was all set to become the head of IS (Da’esh) in Pakistan before he was killed in a police encounter on July 29, 2015, has again brought the issue of IS’s purported presence in the country in the spotlight.

 

IS Balochistan graffiti

Graffiti from the Balochistan in favour of IS. It says “Long Live IS” and says “Khalifa Abubakr Baghdadi Move Forward” and is signed “Lashkar-e-Khurasan”.

 

IS

Pro-IS graffiti in the capital of Balochistan, Quetta

 

For the longest time, despite the appearance of pro-IS graffiti in various parts of the country, especially in Balochistan, Multan in south Punjab and other cities and towns, the Government of Pakistan has been constantly saying for the past many months that IS has “no footprint in Pakistan”. Government officials have repeatedly downplayed the appearance of graffiti saying that they were made by people who are not necessarily members of the group.

Perhaps the biggest proponent of this is Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisal Ali Khan who has been quoted several times as saying that there is no presence of IS in Pakistan. Notwithstanding his statements, several Tehrik-e-Taliban commanders earlier this year broke ranks and pledged allegiance to the head of the IS Abubakr Al Baghdadi saying that he was now their leader.

Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan

Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan

 

psycho

IS chief Abubakr Al Baghdadi in a file photo

 

However, in recent weeks, officials of Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, in response to questions on the presence of the group have begun saying that Pakistan’s endeavour is to fight IS and ensure that it gains no foothold in the country, but the ministry’s spokesman still does not deviate from the official line that the group has no footprint in the country. It is worth remembering that several recent attacks have taken place in Afghanistan and these have been claimed by IS (Da’esh).

Malik Ishaq and IS?

The report regarding LeJ chief Malik Ishaq joining the IS as chief says that security forces realized that this after seizing pro-IS flags and literature from LeJ members and activists in raids prior to the chief’s death in an encounter with police in Punjab on July 29, 2015. In that encounter near the city of Muzaffargarh in south Punjab, 13 others were killed as well including his two sons.

Read also: The life and times of Malik Ishaq

In the past, the banned outfit is known to have coordinated and collaborated on attacks in Pakistan on government installations and figures and even the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team.

The revelation about the LeJ should be worrying for the state as well given that its official stance is still very much that the IS not even present inside Pakistan. This is not good since a problem can only be dealt with once its existence is at least acknowledged and recognized.

 

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