SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)
The Islamic State has grabbed the attention of the entire world. Most people, especially in the Middle East and Af-Pak, had long become accustomed to al Qaeda’s beheadings and mass murders. But the Islamic State’s methods are so brutal that even al Qaeda has distanced itself. It has taken the Takfiri lobby’s intolerance of religious/sectarian/ethnic differences to an unprecedented level. It kills thousands at a time, beheads almost all its victims – sometimes barbequing severed heads and parading them on streets – and has laid waste to entire cities of Christians, Shi’a, and other minorities in Iraq and Syria.
Surprisingly, it has built a following not only in the Muslim world, but also in mainland Europe and the North American continent. That means its philosophy of genocide is finding an increasing following among the more radicalised Muslims. And now that it is making inroads into Pakistan, relevant authorities must take all necessary steps to nip this evil in the bud. We are no strangers to such initiatives snowballing. In fact, had we reacted in time, the TTP would never have grown to claim the 50,000-plus lives that it did before Zarb-e-Azb was launched.
So far, the tendency in the media is to dismiss it as a minor inconvenience. The NW operation has been a success and blowback, which was expected, has been minimal. In such times, it would be difficult for another militant force to wedge itself in the tribal area. But senior TTP commanders switching over to the IS command large militias. And they might stay put for now, and wait for a while before beginning their usual strike-and-hide insurgency, but they will be a reinvigorated fighting force if they have foreign help, that too from an entity that has claimed large territory in two countries and boasts a caliphate. It has pressed on despite aerial bombardment by the US and its allies, including Arab countries.
Therefore the military, which is definitely in the lead in the COIN arena, must take this development very seriously. It should explore all possible outcomes of TTP bad guys lending their forces to the far-away caliphate. And it can’t be stressed enough that it must build a thorough counter-narrative, which will be necessary to oppose the Islamic State’s vicious information onslaught. The NW operation is going well, but a lot still needs to be done to contain the terrorist threat.