Pakistan

Govt says IS has no presence, intelligence thinks otherwise

Citing intelligence, the Punjab Home Department has alerted police and other agencies in the province that the self-styled Islamic State (IS) has planned attacks on civil and military targets.

Dawn has learnt from official sources that, in view of the threat level, divisional police chiefs and the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) have been directed to undertake ‘foolproof security measures’.

Police patrols, military vehicles and private establishments are supposedly on the hit list of militants affiliated with IS, also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh.

These intelligence-based directions seem to contradict the assertions made by the federal government that IS has no presence in Pakistan. Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, however, described the ‘threat alert’ to Dawn as being ‘a routine matter’.

“There is no existence of Daesh in Pakistan, especially in Punjab,” the minister said. “There are some troublemakers belonging to banned outfits and the government is making efforts to eliminate these criminals,” he said.

Rawalpindi Regional Police Officer Mohammad Fakhar Sultan Raja, on the other hand, is considering “sensitising private establishments” to the threat alert, to discuss “precautionary measures” soon.

Indeed, the Punjab government’s alert specifically mentioned that IS-affiliated militants are out to strike army vehicles moving on Jalalpur Jattan Road and police patrols on GT Road in Gujrat district.

Intelligence on their plans for private targets was even more specific. It said a group of five terrorists has reached Lahore, and plans to storm private establishments by indiscriminately killing their security guards.

According to an intelligence official, their likely targets could be minorities and foreigners.

Security agencies and police in the provinces have been implementing the counterterrorism National Action Plan (NAP).

In Punjab, two to three cases are registered daily, for disruptive wall-chalking, renting out properties without informing the area police and more. But the flow of illegal arms continues.

In December 2014, the Punjab Home Department warned provincial police that Chechen and Uzbek militants fleeing the military operation in Waziristan were seeking shelter with people sympathetic to IS.

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