IN J&K : A REALITY CHECK
1. Islamic State (IS) poses an existential
threat to a number of countries and represents a growing menace to the lives of
not only the West Asian population, but the entire world. ISIS is one of the
most serious threats that have engulfed a large portion of the Asian continent,
especially Syria and Iraq, also called “Syraq” in contemporary international
It was created with an ambitious vision to establish a Caliphate (Islamic
State) across the world, based on the Sharia law. The declaration of its leader
Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi, as the new Caliph (Leader of the Faithful) on 29 June
2014, highlights the ultimate ambition of the salafist group. The recent terror
attacks undertaken by the IS, including November 2015 massacre in Paris,
downing of Russian passenger jet over Egyptian airspace, murder of provincial
governor in Yemen, attack on airport and a subway station in Brussels Belgium,
the dreadful bombing in Beirut, the suicide attack in Indonesian capital of
Jakarta, attack at Holey Artisan bakery cafe in a diplomatic enclave of Dhaka
and suicide attack in Kabul in Jul 2016 clearly underscore its transition from
a regional terror outfit of West Asia to an international terror organization
attempting to establish the caliphate2.
2. The Islamic state has gone through
numerous change since its founding in 1999, originally known as Jamaat
al- Tawhid wal- jihad in 1999, it changed to Tanzim Qaidat al- Jihad fi Bilad
al- Rafidayn- commonly identified as Al- Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) after group swore
alliance to Osama Bin Laden. AQI was formed by Jordanian extremist Abu Musab Al
Zarkawi in 2004, which waged a terrorist war against American and coalition
forces and against the Shiite population. In 2006, when al-Zarqawi was killed in an
airstrike and Abu Ayyub al-Masri was named his successor. He changed group’s
name to Islamic State in Iraq (ISI), mainly to garner support from the people
of Iraq. Al-Masri subsequently named Abu Omar al-Baghdadi as the leader of ISI.
In 2010, when Abu Ayyub al-Masri and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi were also killed, the
onus of running ISI fell on Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The
group grew significantly under Abu- Bakr al- Baghdadi, gaining support in Iraq
as a result of alleged political discrimination against Iraqi Sunnis. He also
changed group’s name initially to ISIS (ISIL) and finally to IS in June 2014
& establishment of worldwide Caliphate was proclaimed on
29 June 2014 wherein Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi was named Caliph, to be known as
“Caliph Ibrahim”, and the group was renamed Islamic State (IS) from Islamic
state of Iraq & the Levant.
Fig 2: IS leadership1
Fig 2: IS leadership1
3. In 2015, ISIS expanded into a network
of affiliates in at least eight other countries3. In the period from June
2014 to December 2015, IS had expanded its influence across West Asia, South
Asia and North Africa and established control over territory equal to the size
of Great Britain extending from the periphery of Baghdad to Damascus and
comprising around six million people4. The
recent hoisiting of ISIS flags by Kashmiri people on multiple occasions is a
matter of concern for India as the incident also coincides with the attempts by
some Indian youths from different parts of the country trying to go to Syria to
join ISIS. The incident may be a sign of growing ISIS influence in J&K in
near future & has the potential to add another most dangerous dimension to
the existing situation in Kashmir.
4. IS’ new strategy seems to be based on a
“Core and Periphery” theory5″.
As per this theory, Caliphate is the core which needs to be heavily defended
and tightly controlled. If the IS cannot expand the core, it must attack the
periphery; which is the rest of the world. This explains the startling rise of
IS beyond Iraq and Syria, including the Af-Pak region. ISIS announced
operations to expand Libya, Sinai and other corners of Arab world in late 2014.
The timing of this announced expansion supported ISIS momentum while it faced
counter attack inside Iraq and Syria. In less than two year more than dozen
countries were attacked by ISIS6. Its grand strategy of
making international alliances and high ambition of universal expansion of IS
as the ‘Caliphate’, therefore, poses new challenges to the world.
The literature on the subject was only
available on the open source, as the topic being contemporary. However, the
review of the same presented an interesting view as the topic was being
experimented by western countries & various study groups around the globe.
The views presented a broad canvas with variety of views/ideas/assumptions in
the thought process. Thus the existing gaps were identified, as to what are the
factors which make Sunni population of Pakistan vulnerable or immune to ISIS
8. Hence the study was undertaken so as to
pinpoint the strength and vulnerabilities of Pakistani Sunni population and
analyse them in correlation to ideology of ISIS. The study mainly focused on
the available article/studies on the open source.
9. The above mentioned topic has the following Research
What appeal does ISIS have for the Islamic
fundamentalists in Pakistan?
Can Pakistan’s military establishment tackle the threat
posed by ISIS given the same has invested a lot in the past many decades
towards Islamisation and radicalisation of the population of Pakistan?
and weaknesses of Sunni population of Pakistan will ISIS counter or cash upon
to be successful in the country?
Statement of Problem
10. The conflict in Iraq and Syria has brought to the forefront, a
major scuffle between two sects in Islam. The militant group Islamic State of
Iraq and Syria has been trying to impose the most extremist form of Islam, and
the effects of this are being seen in several parts of the world.
11. Pakistan has an increasingly Islamised population. Pakistanis
have always been taught to regard their country as the ‘Fortress of Islam’.
Pakistanis have always considered the various jihadist groups operating the
world over with a certain positive
affinity. Even Osama Bin
Laden enjoyed immense popularity in Pakistan for his actions in the name of
Islam. The success achieved by various terror groups operating within
Pakistan also points to the
fact that they must enjoy some popular support albeit from differing sections
of populace depending on the cause they espouse.
12. Sections of population amongst Pakistanis are thus bound to
admire the ISIS and support the Caliphate proclaimed by it. In view of the
above, this dissertation seeks to study
the likely impact of ISIS ideology on Sunni population of Pakistan.
of the Study
13. The specific objectives of the study are as follows:-
To understand the Ideology of ISIS.
To assess the critical strengths and
vulnerabilities of Sunni population of Pakistan.
To identify important trends and finding the
14. ISIS is not likely to
succeed in influencing the ideology of Sunni population of Pakistan.
15. Method of Data
Collection- Primary. A
questionnaire comprising eight questions was prepared. The questionnaire
attached as Appendix A was fielded
in ‘Google Forms’. Responses
obtained from 106 service officers of DSSC on the abovementioned questionnaire
is attached as Appendix B.
16. Method of Data
Collection- Secondary. Books
and articles on Pakistan, Islam and Sunni dynamics were referred to. For ISIS
ideology and ongoing scenario various articles and write ups available in the
environment were referred to. Data collection also included the references to
various websites on the dynamics of Shia, Sunni, Islam and ISIS.
17. Method of Data
The study analyses the ideology of ISIS.
The study also brings out the present
condition of Pakistan Sunni Population.
The study also analyses the various ISIS
Ideology against Pakistan Sunni population.
primary data were analyzed in accordance with the research objectives using
analysis based upon the survey response.
18. It is proposed to study the subject in the following chapters:-
I : Introduction and Methodology. This chapter gives out the research problem, methodology and
hypothesis on which the research is based upon.
II : Fault Lines and Strengths of Pakistan. This chapter brings out
the various social, religious, ethnic and sectoral fault lines in Pakistan. It
also includes study of strengths of Pakistan as a nation.
III : Ideology of ISIS and Sunni Population of Pakistan. This chapter gives out the ideology of
ISIS and their concept of Caliphate. It also includes the various schools of
thought within Sunni community, their madhhabs, and revivalist movements in
Islam with special reference to Pakistan Sunni population.
V : Data Analysis & Inferences. Survey analysis is applied
in this chapter to validate the hypothesis.
VI : Way Forward & Recommendations. This chapter brings out the likely way
forward and the various recommendations with respect to Pakistan State to
counter the ISIS threat effectively and promptly.
1 Stanly Johny. “To Defeat or to
Contain Islamic State?”. The Hindu. 11 December 2015.
accessed on 11 Sep 2016.> accessed on 03 Nov 2017.
2 Erick Schmitt and David D
Kirkpatrick. “IS Shifts Strategy to Inflict Terror in Distant Lands”. The
Hindu. 27 November 2015.
accessed on 25 Oct 2017.
3 Cameron Glenn ” Timeline: Rise &
Spresd of the Islamic State”. 05 Jun 2016. www.wilsocentre.org.
4 Stanly Johny. “Understanding and
Countering IS”. 08 July 2015. The Hindu. 08 July 2015.
accessed on 09 July 2016.
5 Stanly Johny. “To Defeat or to
Contain Islamic State?”. The Hindu. 11 December 2015.
accessed on 11 Sep 2016.
6 Greg Myre
.npr.org/sections/parallels/3016/03/23/471559544/squeezed at its base grow more