Pakistan’s denial mode on IS presence, despite an ever increasing footprint, appears to be a part of its time tested soft approach to Islamist militancy with the fond hope of co-opting the IS too into the state policy of targeting India and Afghanistan through proxies.
Notwithstanding the denials by the diplomats at the Foreign Office in Islamabad, and by the Generals at the GHQ in Rawalpindi, Pakistan cannot wish away the growing presence of the Islamic State on its soil. This is not because of the periodical appearance of IS graffiti but because of the fact that army cantonment also find a place on IS agenda. This is clear from the IS graffiti on a traffic signboard in what Dawn correspondent reports as the strictly guarded Pakistan Ordinance Factory area of Wah.
Five days after the flag of militant Islamic State (IS) group was seen fluttering in the national capital, Islamabad, and a day after chalking of a local banned sectarian outfit, Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan, (SSP), cropped up on electric poles, graffiti of ‘Daesh’, — Arabic acronym for the IS — was noticed on a traffic signboard in the Wah area on Friday, Sept 29, 2017. The signboard and the electric pole were on the same busy Budho Road near Muhallah Sadiqueabad.
After the IS flag appeared on the outskirts of the capital, panic gripped law enforcement agencies and political circles were equally concerned. Significantly, the police were unaware of the flag till a local civilian reported the matter. Though a case has been registered, police are unable to explain who was responsible for the act.
The Police are said to have launched an investigation but such action is neither here nor there as long as Pakistani leadership – both civilian and military remains in denial mode on the IS footprint in Pakistan.
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. It leads to the inescapable conclusion that the Pakistan State is unwilling or unable to recognise the threat posed by the new Islamist monster. As a commentator says, Pakistan’s vulnerability is deep; IS ideology can penetrate existing terror networks or their remnants and morph into a menacing new threat.
But Islamabad based political executiveand the Rawalpindi based permanent establishment appear to be adopting the old soft approach to militancy that has paid dividends in making India bleed and turning Afghanistan a battle ground. Put simply, the plan appears to be aimed at co-opting the IS too for the Pakistani state policy. Will such a policy yield dividends in the near to short term? Unlikely, going by the IS template.
Pakistan refuses to learn from its own history that has seen large internal security operations not once but multiple times.