The Islamic State (IS), also known as Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), is just reported to have increased its presence in Pakistan in a big way and recruited up to 12,000 people from the restive Balochistan province. (Find more details of this IS recruitment drive in Balochistan here.)
Does it mean that the already tinderbox situation that Pakistan is in would be further exacerbated? If so, is it good or bad for India? How does it impact India?
Answering the first question is easier. Pakistan is a country that is in the cross hairs of jihadist terrorism that it had itself fawned and encouraged. Pakistan has been using terrorism as an instrument of its foreign policy for over three decades.
Pakistan is now faced with the Frankenstein monster. The ‘creation’ now wants to gobble up the ‘creator’.
There are umpteen number of jihadist outfits, owing allegiance to Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and the Al Qaeda, which are vying with one another in wreaking havoc on Pakistan through the means they know the best: terrorism.
Now the entry of IS in the volatile Pakistani theatre is set to complicate things further for Islamabad as well as Rawalpindi.
The development is a new challenge for Pakistan, and a very serious one. Not only will it inevitably roil the already volatile waters in the country further but will also harm it diplomatically and would eventually cast a shadow on Pakistan’s all-weather strategic ties with China.
Forget the Indian angle for a moment, the rise of IS in Pakistan is an alarm bell for Pakistan’s best friend China.
Wu Sike, China's special envoy to the Middle East, recently remarked that up to 100 Chinese citizens may be fighting for IS; most of whom, if not all, are Uighurs from Xinjiang, China’s restive Muslim dominated region.
News of the first Chinese national captured in Iraq while fighting on behalf of the IS came in early September 2014.
The IS has already spoken of revenge against China for its alleged various sins of omission and commission.
A few months ago, IS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi had remarked that "Muslim rights are forcibly seized in China, India, and Palestine". This was the first time when China was mentioned on al-Baghdadi’s list. The IS has already released its China-specific plans and a map which shows that IS plans to control a significant portion of Xinjiang in the next five years.
(Incidentally, Al-Baghdadi may have been killed or seriously injured in a US-led air strike on the IS in the western Iraqi border town of al-Qaim on Friday, 7 November.)
Nothing perturbs the Chinese than the very talk of terrorism in China, particularly the jihadist brand of terror, given Beijing’s concerns about Xinjiang. Therefore, the rise and spread of IS in Pakistan should worry China more than India.
Now let’s turn to the India angle and how the rise and spread of IS in Pakistan may affect India.
The Islamic State is an anathema for India too. The outfit is already attracting large number of youths from various parts of India in its fold. Though there is no official count of Indians who have joined the IS, the number may well be in hundreds.
Therefore, from that perspective it would be a nightmare for India if IS were to expand its presence its presence in its immediate neighbourhood. The news about IS recruiting up to 12,000 men in Balochistan means that this newest terror outfit is knocking on the Indian doors.
The implications of the IS threat on India are not lost on the Indian strategic establishment. The fact that India is home to the second largest population in the world (after China) heightens the IS threat further. But India has been tackling such threats practically on a day-to-day basis for several decades and has thus acquired a significant degree of resilience in this context.
However, the most immediate impact of the IS rise in Pakistan will be on Pakistan itself. Conditions in Pakistan are ripe and favourable for any jihadist terror outfit to do business. The world may soon get to hear of the exploits of IS in Pakistan.
This will inevitably rock the Pakistani boat further. A nation which is already grappling with myriads of blood-letting jihadist terror outfits would find it extremely difficult to tackle yet another high-profile terror merchant like IS.
The current Pakistan situation proffers a ready-to-go kind of environment for all terror outfits of all hues and ideologies and IS has joined the list of such outfits active on that country. But IS won’t be just another addition. It can be a veritable game changer in the current situation for Pakistan which is already struggling hard to stay afloat in fighting the Frankenstein monsters. This can hasten the fall of Pakistan as a nation.
The writer is Firstpost Consulting Editor and a strategic analyst who tweets @Kishkindha.
Published Date: Nov 10, 2014 07:20 am | Updated Date: Nov 10, 2014 07:39 am