In the face of growing international concern that Pakistan could be ISIS next target, Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam has stated that ISIS is not operating on Pakistani soil. Reading the headline, I was reminded immediately of another categorical denial that terrorists were operating from Pakistan:
“I categorically deny the presence of Osama bin Laden, his deputy Aiman al-Zawahiri and even Mullah Omar in any part of Pakistan,” said [Interior Minister Rehman] Malik while speaking to the media on Monday.
And we all know how that worked out.
The fact of the matter is that Deobandi extremist groups such as ASWJ are declaring support for international terrorist group ISIS and Karachi terrorist groups are also aligning with ISIS. Pamphlets supporting ISIS have started appearing in Peshawar and Iran has reported arresting Pakistani ISIS recruits, and pro-ISIS slogans have been found painted on walls across the country.
Nobody wants to believe that yet another jihadi group has chosen to infiltrate Pakistan, but the fact is that Pakistan cannot afford another global terror group to be found in Pakistan. The danger of denials, however, is not only the consequences we could face from the rest of the world, but the consequences we would suffer from continuing to turn a blind eye to increasing extremism and militancy at home.