Will ISIS hit Pakistan to nurture Afghanistan dream?

Bengaluru, Nov 25: The ISIS, which hit Paris recently, has made a clear indication and that it is building its global capacity.

While it has made its presence felt in large parts of the world, it is common knowledge that the ISIS is nurturing a major ambition in Afghanistan as well.


While it has made an entry into Afghanistan under the name al-Khorasan, there is still a long way to go before it can be considered a player in the region.

Security experts feel that the ISIS will look to strike at Pakistan or Paktika in Afghanistan in order to enhance its strength.

Michael Kugelman, Senior Associate for South and Southeast Asia Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, says that if the ISIS can strike in Paris, then it can surely strike in Paktika or Peshawar.

ISIS making direct appeals to Pakistani recruits:

The ISIS has announced its formal expansion into what it describes as "Khorasan"-a region encompassing Afghanistan and Pakistan.

ISIS also claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on Shia Ismailis, a religious minority, in Pakistan last May.

In recent months, in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province, several hundred disaffected Taliban militants, unhappy about their organization's infighting and demoralized by the death of Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar, have defected to ISIS.

Meanwhile, according to security analysts, the Pakistani terror group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi-like ISIS, a vicious Sunni Muslim sectarian jihadist outfit-has dispatched members to fight alongside ISIS in Iraq.

ISIS appears to be making direct appeals to Pakistanis in its recruitment pitches. In its proposed prisoner exchanges, it has invoked the name of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman imprisoned on terror charges in Texas.

"Although Siddiqui is unknown in most countries, including in much of the Muslim world, she is a cause célèbre in Pakistan." Kugelman adds.

ISIS will not have it easy:

Kugelman points out that the ISIS will struggle mightily to make major inroads in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, and it certainly will not be in a position to seize large expanses of territory.

There is little chance that ISIS can do in Pakistan and Afghanistan what it has done in Iraq and Syria. There is little chance that ISIS can do in Pakistan and Afghanistan what it has done in Iraq and Syria.

Consider, first of all, that sectarian divides-which helped fueled the rise and expansion of ISIS in Syria and Iraq-are not nearly as sharp or violent in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Pakistan and Afghanistan do experience alarming levels of attacks on religious minorities, but these conflicts pale in comparison to the sectarian violence in Syria and Iraq.

Additionally, governance is not nearly as sectarian in nature. Say what you will about the Pakistani and Afghan governments, but they do not run virtual sectarian dictatorships, as former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki did for several years.

Consider as well that most militant groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan are aligned with al-Qaeda, ISIS's rival.

Al-Qaeda retains a sizable operational presence in Pakistan and Afghanistan, contrary to President Obama's infamous claim last year that al-Qaeda central has been reduced to a "jayvee" squad of militants.

Recall the recent revelation that last month, US forces had come across-and destroyed-what may have been the largest-ever al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan. And in 2014, al-Qaeda announced the formation of a new affiliate in South Asia.

One more feature of the Afghanistan-Pakistan militant environment that puts ISIS at odds with South Asian jihadists is sect.

ISIS is Salafist, and rejects the legitimacy of other sects of Sunni Islam-including Deobandism, the sect of most South Asian militant outfits. This all makes for a hostile militant milieu for ISIS. It would not be welcomed with open arms.

The bottom line is that ISIS will not extend its caliphate deep into Afghanistan and Pakistan. In these countries, ISIS is much more likely to blow up territory than to seize it.

This problem is bad enough-and not dissimilar to what the future may hold for Europe and even the United States-but it is nothing resembling what ISIS has done in Syria and Iraq.

OneIndia News

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