Home Contact Us  
   

Radicalism - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#4847, 4 March 2015
 
Islamic State in Af-Pak: The �Wilayat Khurasan� Conundrum
Rajeshwari Krishnamurthy
Research Officer, IReS, IPCS E-mail: rajeshwari@ipcs.org
 

In January 2015, the Islamic State (IS), in a statement, called on the militants operating in the Af-Pak region to pledge their allegiance to their chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his ‘Caliphate’. They declared ‘Wilayat Khurasan’ as active, and appointed former Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commander Hafiz Saeed Khan as the ‘Wali’ of Khurasan.

The IS identifies ‘Khurasan’ as certain areas in present-day Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Central Asia, India, and China. At the heart of this region lies the troubled Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and IS entry into this region will undoubtedly change several long-standing dynamics in the region’s many conflicts involving State and non-State actors.

The IS poses a serious threat to an Afghanistan that has just begun to take baby steps towards normalcy - because several terrorists strewn across the country have pledged allegiance. The IS has potential inroads in Western Afghanistan via Farah and Faryab Provinces. In eastern Afghanistan, IS supporters are already indulging in violence in Logar, Ghazni, Parwan and Zabul provinces.

However, despite the seriousness of the threat that Afghanistan faces from the IS, it is via Pakistan that a possible solution to halt and end the IS ingress can be found. It is not child’s play to enter and establish a terrorist outfit in the Af-Pak region without the patronage of the Pakistani army – which is far from keen on having a new group enter the fray.

A Musical Chair of Regional Dynamics
The IS’ entry has brought to fore an important issue: jihadists in the Af-Pak region, Pakistan in particular, have for long been in flux due to the frustrations rising from identity-crises, endgames, loyalties and relevance. This has resulted in a tendency to factionalise frequently.

Since June 2014, the Pakistani government has been carrying out Operation Zarb-e-Azb, a systematic offensive targeting and eliminating militants and terrorist groups along the Durand Line. The Operation has seen some positive results - and the Pakistani military appears to be making the most of the divisions underway among various terrorist outfits in the region. However, while this factionalism is proving useful for the Pakistani military in eliminating terrorists, the same fault-lines are being harnessed by the IS to gain a foothold in the region. Those militants who were flushed out of Pakistan due to this Operation are among many, along with some disgruntled former Afghan Taliban members, who have pledged allegiances to the IS.

The Afghan Taliban and the IS supporters in the region are already at loggerheads and the battle for control of the regions between the various groups is getting serious. More importantly, the Khurasan Council comprises mostly of Pakistani jihadists. Mullah Omar is the Afghan Taliban’s Amir-ul-Momineen, whereas the IS rejects Omar’s credentials. The al Qaeda, the Afghan Taliban, the TTP and other groups all have varying priorities.

And for the several young terrorists who are evidently frustrated by the lack of clarity in the agendas of al Qaeda and the Taliban, the IS is an option that offers structure and set goals and targets.

If the Pakistani army continues to exploit factionalism among the terrorists, it risks sending them straight into the IS’ hands. In fact, the cover story of the 6th issue of the IS’ official magazine, Dabiq, titled ‘Al-Qa’idah of Waziristan’, is an elaborate account by a former al Qaeda operative who lambasts the group by elaborating on its ‘flaws’.

The IS too also realises that that which is advantageous for them at the moment - factionalism - has the potential to bring great disadvantages in the future. The IS statement therefore addresses this issue by calling on the militants to “abandon disunity and factionalism.”

Regional Geopolitical Shuffle
The IS’s apparently steady entry into the region is likely to shuffle relationships not just between non-State actors but also State actors. Pakistan and Afghanistan have already set forth towards cooperation on counter-terrorism. The Pakistan-Iran relationship, long defined by their individual relationships with Saudi Arabia, will have to take a new character - one that is defined by mutual interests; neither party can afford otherwise. There is no good or bad Taliban. Pakistan must start thinking laterally for solutions. They will have to balance their fight with the IS while also curbing radicalism and extremism from within - especially vis-à-vis the sectarian schism. Counter-strategies must be simultaneously coordinated, nationally and collectively as a region. The roles of Iran and the Central Asian States are vital, and cannot be overlooked.

The IS will tread a delicate line in Af-Pak, especially in Pakistan. If they manage to establish themselves firmly in Pakistan, they cannot continue without uniting all the militant groups in Pakistan; and simultaneously, the easiest way to acquire support is by exploiting the burgeoning factionalism within the militant groups in the Af-Pak region. An alternative route the IS could adopt is to take measured steps and not gamble away the goldmine they want to acquire.

But, will the IS take the quick route in or is it willing to wait it out? Regional responses to the looming IS threat will have to be charted on these lines. Interestingly, in Af-Pak, the IS is following the same trajectory al Qaeda did two decades ago. Does that mean those charting counter-strategies are working on familiar territory? Or will the IS treat the South Asian jihadists as expendable assets?

More importantly, answers must be found for why the IS is attempting to establish control in regions geographically separated from its headquarters and that are not under its control.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
 
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Indo-Pacific
Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Indus-tan
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within


OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


 
Related Articles
Ranjit Gupta,
"Saudi Arabia and Evolving Regional Strategic Dynamics," 2 March 2015
Sushant Sareen,
"IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015," 19 January 2015

Browse by Publications

Commentaries 
Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 
China 
Myanmar 
Afghanistan 
Iran 
Pakistan 
India 
J&K  

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Indo-Pak 
Military 
Terrorism 
Naxalite Violence 
Nuclear 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
India-Afghanistan Relations: Innovating Continuity

Afghanistan and the Attempted Exhumation of the QCG

FSI Afghanistan: Limited Scope for Use

Brass Tacks of the Emerging Afghan Taliban

Forecast 2016: Afghanistan

Countering Extremist Propaganda: A Strategy for India

India-Afghanistan: Interesting Times Ahead

Afghanistan: Takeaways from the Kunduz Offensive

What is the Afghan Taliban Up To?

What�s Brewing between Afghanistan and Pakistan?

What�s on Pakistan-based Militants� Minds?

IPCS Forecast: Islamic State in 2015

China and the Uyghur Issue: Can the New Silk Route Really Help?

China in Afghanistan: Is the Engagement Really a Win-Win?

Islamic State and Foreign Fighters: Jihadists from Central Asia

Tactical Nuclear Weapons: Implications of Pakistan's Nuclear Developments

Afghanistan: The New President and a Joint Venture Government

Al Qaeda in South Asia: The Terror World Championship Begins

Islamic State and South Asia: How Real is the Threat?

The Islamic Caliphate and Sectarian Violence: Ramifications for Pakistan

Sri Lanka and Myanmar: Understanding the Rise of Buddhist Radicalism

Pakistan: Potential Blowbacks of Operation Zarb-e-Azb

A New Foreign Policy Agenda for Modi: Look West

Afghan Presidential Run-off: Things that Matter

Media in Pakistan: Divided They Fall

ADD TO:
Blink
Del.icio.us
Digg
Furl
Google
Simpy
Spurl
Y! MyWeb
Facebook
 
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2017
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
 2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009
 2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001
 2000  1999  1998  1997
 
 

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

 
Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2017, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.