Is Daesh in Pakistan? Answering such a question should be easy, but instead many remain unsure due to contradictory reports from government and military leaders. In few short weeks of this year alone, so many different statements have been given that the public has been left confused and unable to know how to respond. Below is a timeline of official reports that show how
29th December: Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) reports arrest of six Daesh militants in Punjab.
2nd January: Interior Ministry reports that Daesh is recruiting youngsters from Pakistan and training them at camps in Afghanistan.
3rd January: Intelligence agencies report that no evidence of Daesh in Pakistan.
4th January: Punjab Law Minister says ‘not more than 100 Pakistanis‘ have joined Daesh.
That was last month, though. Have things changed?
10th February: DG-IB says Daesh presence in Pakistan is growing.
11th February: Foreign Ministry categorically denies Daesh presence in Pakistan.
Both statements cannot be true. Is Intelligence Bureau or Foreign Ministry misleading? Either way, it gives a terrible image for Pakistan. Some will agree and argue that this is why all agencies must follow the official line, but this too is incorrect. What should be followed is the truth. It is precisely the attempts to cover up the truth that creates confusion and damages the national image.
Speaking of damaging the national image, any post about statements on Daesh must include the top prize for insanity which goes to Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Dr Tahirul Qadri who claimed that government is importing Daesh militants to undermine success of Army operations. As crazy as this obviously sounds, this is the perfect example of trying to use Daesh issue to score political points at the risk of undermining stability.
This is the point. The problem is not only damaging the national image, it is that Daesh and other extremists use confusion as a cloak to camouflage their presence and their evil intentions. How can someone report suspicious activities if they are told that there is nothing to be suspicious about? What reason will law enforcement agencies go after extremists if officials call them liars when they bust a terrorist cell?
Pakistan faces an existential threat from extremism. We will never defeat the extremists as long as we continue to pretend that they do not exist.