The Pakistani military has launched a new operation to counter Islamic State (IS), which according to the DG ISPR, is gaining a presence close to Afghan border. The newly launched operation has been described by the military as a part of the ongoing operation Radd-ul-Fasaad, but the fact that a new plan of action had to be formed to deal with IS means the army is now seeing the global terror group as a real threat which might affect the progress of Radd-ul-Fasaad and Zarb-e-Azb. The number of IS-claimed attacks has significantly increased in the Balochistan province during the past few months. Moreover there are young people from various cities of Pakistan being recruited by the terrorist group to fight in Syria. Not too long ago, pro-IS graffiti was spotted in parts of Pakistan and a number of local terror groups pledged allegiance to IS. IS-linked terror groups of a local origin, such as Jamat-al-Ahrar, have retained the ability carry out large scale terror attacks even after Operation Zarb-e-Azb. All of this suggests that tackling the global terror group and preventing it from establishing a foothold in the country will be a challenge for Pakistani authorities.
While the military has announced it would act against the terror group, the civilian government is yet to come up with a plan to tackle the growing influence of IS. A de-radicalisation plan is needed immediately and the civilian government will have to take the lead in this regard. The military’s action against militants will not gain complete success as long as the mindset that supports them continues to thrive in the country. The relative lack of enthusiasm from the civilian government in the fight against militancy and the failure to implement the National Action Plan (NAP) are among the reasons why horrific terror attacks continue to take place in the country. The government has so far been unable to provide a counter-narrative to that of Islamic fundamaentalist terrorists.
For the foreseeable future, it seems, Pakistan and its people must be prepared for more horror at the hands of the nihilistic men and women drawn to groups such as IS. *
Published in Daily Times, July 17th , 2017.