News / Asia

    Law Minister Says 100 Pakistanis Joined IS in Syria, Iraq

    FILE - Pakistani suspects allegedly affiliated with the Islamic State group, wait to appear in the anti-terrorist court, in Gujranwala, Pakistan, on Dec. 29, 2015.
    FILE - Pakistani suspects allegedly affiliated with the Islamic State group, wait to appear in the anti-terrorist court, in Gujranwala, Pakistan, on Dec. 29, 2015.

    A state law minister said Monday that around 100 Pakistanis have left the country to join Islamic State fighters in Syria and Iraq.

    Rana Sanaullah, Punjab's law minister, also said 42 Pakistanis were arrested in recent days for trying to establish IS sleeper cells. The raids came in four Punjab cities over the weekend and IS literature and weapons were found, he said.

    "According to our probe and investigation, those who left the country to join the IS are not more than 100," Sanaullah said.

    It is the first time that a senior minister has released figures about Pakistani citizens who left the country to join IS.

    Pakistani officials have consistently denied that IS has a presence in the country. But recent arrests, raids and intelligence reports indicate IS may be gaining a foothold, analysts and government critics say.

    No ‘footprint’

    Despite his revelations, Sanaullah attempted to downplay IS's presence in Pakistan, telling VOA's Urdu service that unlike many other countries, there is no IS "footprint" in Pakistan. He said only a few Pakistanis have been lured through social media or literature to join IS abroad, and that does not mean the group has a presence in the country.

    "Hundreds of people from different countries have fled to Iraq and Syria to join IS," he told VOA. "However, only a very few Pakistanis have left the country in hopes of joining the militant group."

    Sanaullah said the group has no network inside the country that could plan or carry out terror activities.

    FILE - Pakistani students shout slogans against the Islamic State group in Islamabad, Nov 20, 2014.
    FILE - Pakistani students shout slogans against the Islamic State group in Islamabad, Nov 20, 2014.

    Among the 42 detained over the weekend were alleged IS Islamabad chief Amir Mansoor; his deputy, Abdullah Mansoori; and the group's chief for Sindh province, Umer Kathio, officials say.

    Previous arrests

    The raid came days after Pakistan's counterterrorism authorities told VOA that they had arrested a group of 13 suspected militants last week and accused them of operating a recruiting and training facility for IS in Punjab state.

    Security forces found "an underground training center and seized automatic weapons, communication equipment, bomb-making material, laptops, CDs containing IS propaganda material, maps of Pakistan military's bases and other facilities," the officials said, requesting anonymity.

    The officials told VOA the suspects confessed that they pledged allegiance to IS leader Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi. One of the detainees facilitated contacts between the suspects and a Pakistani national who was in charge of recruiting Pakistani militants to Syria.

    The man helped nine suspected militants reach Syria through Turkey, Pakistan's Dawn newspaper said, citing official documents.

    Turkish officials arrested two Pakistanis last week, along with a Briton, in Istanbul for links to IS.

    And according to Pakistani news reports, three women, along with their children, reportedly left Punjab's capital city of Lahore recently to join IS in Syria and Iraq.

    Authorities in Karachi last month discovered a network of women raising funds for IS. And Pakistan's Counter-Terrorism agents apprehended a suspect last week who allegedly was involved in generating funds for IS in Sindh province.

    A divided Pakistan

    The reports of a possible growing IS presence in the country are causing concern among some Pakistani politicians and analysts.

    FILE - This photograph taken on Sept. 3, 2014, shows a Pakistani man holding a pamphlet, allegedly distributed by the Islamic State (IS), in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar.
    FILE - This photograph taken on Sept. 3, 2014, shows a Pakistani man holding a pamphlet, allegedly distributed by the Islamic State (IS), in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar.

    A leader of the opposition parties in Pakistan's parliament, Sayed Khurshid Shah, accused the government of not doing enough to counter the militant group's activities in Pakistan. He said recruitment for IS has been going on in Punjab, and lists of the enrollees have been prepared.

    Pakistan's former secretary of the interior, Tasneem Noorani, told VOA's Urdu Service that the Pakistan government must stop Pakistanis from leaving the country to join IS in Syria and Iraq.

    They could pose a greater threat to the country once they return, he said, and they will be equipped with "real life" experience and would have established contacts with IS's global leadership.

    The increasing presence of the militant group in Pakistan could further widen the sectarian divide that has hard hit the country for decades, analysts say.

    "This is very dangerous, as the country has been divided into two parties," former Pakistan military brigadier Syed Nazir told VOA's Deewa service. "One group is fighting against the IS and the other group is supporting IS."

    "This is very dangerous. … this war may expand, which will have extremely dangerous consequences for Pakistan," he said. "IS's influence needs to be countered."

    IS activity in Pakistan is blending into IS's growing stronghold in neighboring Afghanistan, where the group has launched attacks against government facilities in eastern Nangarhar province, which borders Pakistan. The group also has been engaged in fierce fighting with rival Taliban militants.

    "IS is present with full strength and capability in the Afghan-Pakistan border region," Pakistan-based analyst Aqeel Yusafzai told VOA.

    Several Pakistani militants who have joined IS have been killed in ongoing clashes between IS and Taliban militants in Nangarhar during the past few days, he said.

    You May Like

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora