ISIL in Pakistan: genuine rise or desperate militants?

Rumours of ISIL leaflets being handed out in Pakistan have raised fears about their rise in South Asia, but authorities deny the group has any real presence

ISIL in Pakistan: genuine rise or desperate militants?

Reports of propaganda pamphlets and graffiti slogans cropping up in northwestern Pakistan began to emerge not long after a so-called caliphate was declared by militants in Iraq and Syria in June. This apparent support for the ISIL has been denied by officials and religious leaders, who either accuse the media of spreading rumours or say existing militant groups are hoping to gain ISIL's support. 

Leaflets with a crude black and white ISIL header, distinct from slickly-produced propaganda aimed at western audiences, have been handed out in the South Waziristan tribal area. A leaflet obtained by Anadolu Agency threatens its opponents and praises the local population for the support it claims they have given militants operating in the region. 

The group has found numerous opponents. Religious scholars have denounced ISIL and called for Muslim youth around the world to resist them. Even the main Taliban network, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, has dismissed commanders who have sworn allegiance to ISIL. Another opponent, tribal chief Malik Ajmal, was warned by the ISIL in the leaflet for his alleged collusion with U.S. drone operators. 

Despite the leaflets, the spokesperson for Pakistan's Foreign Office Tasnim Aslam denied the group's presence in September.

An army spokesperson, who would only be named as Colonel Nadeem, said there is little chance of any new militant groups making in roads in South Waziristan. He said the area is now secure and pointed towards an ongoing anti-polio drive that has not faced the same security issues as other campaigns -- which militants view as a front for U.S. intelligence agencies. 

He added the apparent proliferation of militant groups announcing allegiances to either ISIL or Al Qaeda in Pakistan is simply a product of an increasingly fractured Taliban leadership forcing different factions into competition with each other. 

“Besides that one thing is worth noting that these local militant outfits announce their affiliations to international militant organizations but they didn’t get any response from ISIS,” he said, pointing out that most who have declared allegiance to ISIL have then gone into hiding. 

Despite the official denials, ISIL logos and slogans have been chalked up in major Pakistani cities, including the commercial hub Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar. 

“Now local militant organizations have been changing their allegiances looking into the resourcefulness of the organizations they are going to affiliate with them,” said a senior police officer in Peshawar, on condition of anonymity. He said most local militants fight for financial, not ideological, purposes. 

Rahimullah Yousafzai, a Peshawar-based veteran journalist and expert on militancy in the region said the same militants have simply switched their allegiance.

"ISIS has found fertile ground in Syria and Iraq, and I don’t think this militant body will consume most of its energies on Pakistan or South Asia,” Yousafzai said. “ISIS has nothing new to offer in order to gain ground in this region.” 

A Taliban commander said, on condition of anonymity, that there are only a handful of ISIL-affiliates but some are new recruits. 

"They are few in numbers presently but in future their number can grow depending on their activities and determination," he said. "The aim of all Mujahideen is the same that is supremacy of Sharia and Khilafa but varies in approach.”

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Last Mod: 03 Aralık 2014, 16:53
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