Islamabad : Experts believe that Daesh may be struggling because of the setbacks it suffered in the Middle East, but could still exploit the ‘opportunities’ in South Asia to keep itself alive.
They were speaking at a round table discussion hosted by Islamabad Policy Institute (IPI) on ‘South Asia’s Geo-Strategic Conundrum: A New Theatre for ISIS’.
The discussion was held in the context of Easter Day bombing in Sri Lanka by the terrorist group and its announcement regarding setting up of Kashmir based ‘Vilay-e-Hind’.
US based terrorism expert, Prof Max Abrahms said the landscape, presence of large disenfranchised segments of society, and existence of militant groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan offered opportunity for Daesh to recruit and carry out its activities. “ISIS may not be doing well on the aggregate, but is moving into these areas (South Asia) to keep itself alive,” he said. ISIS, he believed, by claiming to have set up cells in newer territories was trying to change the narrative that it had been defeated. He opined that ISIS’ capability could be much lower than few years back, when it held territory in large parts of Syria and Iraq, and was definitely struggling, but has not been comprehensively defeated as yet.
Security analyst and Director Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies Amir Rana agreed with Prof Abrahms’ assessment that the terrorist group’s faulty strategy resulted in its defeat in Middle East. He, however, said the terrorist group may do few new things to inspire like-minded individuals and groups and revive itself. “Daesh may seek to regroup and review its strategy and ideological and political paradigm to make its narrative attract other extremists. This is expected in coming days,” he said. “New ideological inspiration can attract militant groups,” the expert further said and recalled how it had collaborated with defunct Lashkar-e-Jhangvi to carry out attacks in Pakistan.
Mr Rana said the potency of the terrorist group may have declined and it may not be in a position to hold territory, but could still continue to pose a dilemma for law enforcement agencies. The challenge for Pakistani security agencies, he said, was to prevent this sectarian terrorist organisation from exploiting existing sectarian fault lines in the country.
Executive Director Centre for International Strategic Studies (CISS) Ambassador (r) Ali Sarwar Naqvi maintained that Daesh threat may not balloon into huge presence, but would continue to have enough capacity to cause havoc.
IPI Executive Director Prof Sajjad Bokharisaid recent developments in which Daesh looked to be on the retreat in Middle East created a sense of hope that finally the world may get rid of these enemies of humanity, who misuse the name of Islam for their gruesome acts. “But, the horrific Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka were a rude awakening for all of us that the terrorist group, whom we believed to be close to annihilation, was looking at greater presence in our region,” he said adding the subsequent resurfacing of Abu Bakar Baghdadi and announcement of Kashmir based ‘Vilay-e-Hind’ were by no means a coincidence. Rather, he contended, these were well choreographed acts by the terrorist group to keep itself alive.