Lahore police have launched a manhunt to track down the elements behind an “ISIS campaign” after discovering distribution of pamphlets and display of posters on the boundary walls in some parts of the city.
“We are investigating the matter. This is a very serious issue. A criminal case has been lodged against unidentified persons with Nawab Town police,” a senior official told this reporter, seeking anonymity.
Sources revealed that the Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif also took notice of the campaign after looking at some intelligence inputs. The Punjab Inspector General of Police has been directed to submit report to the CM Secretariat within days.
Police are investigating the development, which shook the security agencies too, after ISIS pamphlets and flags appeared in some parts of Lahore. Another official said the pamphlets were being distributed by an unidentified group and some ISIS graffiti also appeared on the walls of the buildings. A police officer said a few youngsters carrying ISIS flags at a crossing were seen but they were yet to be identified. Security experts say it must be investigated whether the ultra-radical Islamist group is trying to inspire miscreants in the provincial metropolis.
Police and intelligence operatives are also investigating where the pamphlets were printed and who distributed the banned material. The pamphlet’s logo features an AK-47 assault rifle and calls on youngsters to support the militant group, said an official, who is familiar with the development. ISIS stickers have also been spotted in some educational institutions, he added.
A splinter group of the Taliban insurgents, Jamat-ul Ahrar, recently declared its support for the ruthless Islamic State of Iraq and Syria fighters, who have captured large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria in a drive to set up a self-declared caliphate.
Country’s security agencies have already warned the government about the increasing threat from the ISIS militant group.
Most recently, a classified report by the provincial government of Balochistan conveyed to the federal government and law enforcement agencies warning of increased footprints of the terrorist group ISIS or Daish. The report says that the ISIS has claimed to have recruited 10,000 to 12,000 followers from the Hangu district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Kurram tribal district. The ISIS’s presence has not been officially established so far. The Balochistan chief minister however said he had no information about the presence of ISIS in the volatile province. The report also states that the ISIS plans to attack military installations and government buildings in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in retaliation to military operation Zarb-i-Azb in North Waziristan. The provincial government has called for heightened vigilance and security measures in the province to avert any attempt of sabotage.
Monitoring Desk adds: According to America’s NBC News channel, the ISIS has created a 10-man ‘strategic planning wing’ with a master plan on how to wage war against the Pakistani military, and is trying to join forces with local militants, according to a government memo obtained by NBC News.
“They are now planning to inflict casualties to Pakistan Army outfits who are taking part in operation Zarb-e-Azb,” says the alert, referring to the military offensive against the Pakistani Taliban and other militants that was launched in June in a tribal region near the Afghan border. The document suggests that ISIS has Pakistan in its cross-hairs, warning that the group aims to stir up sectarian unrest by dispatching the local militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi on offensives against Shiites.
ISIS has seized large areas of Syria and Iraq. It claims to have recruited 10,000 to 12,000 followers in tribal areas on the Afghan border, including in Hangu, which is known for hostility between Shiites and Sunnis, the memo says.
The memo recommended “strict monitoring” of militants and “extreme vigilance” to ward off any attacks.
There have been other signs of ISIS flexing its muscles in the region. In late September, a pamphlet apparently made by the self-proclaimed caliphate was distributed among Afghan refugees in Pakistan exhorting them to pledge allegiance and lashing out against America.