Army chief General Raheel Sharif has said that his country will not allow ‘even a shadow’ of the Islamic State on Pakistani soil and termed the group a greater threat than al Qaeda.
“As far as Da’ish (Islamic State) is concerned, in Pakistan, even a shadow of Da’ish will not be allowed,” he said in an address to The Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies in London the other day.
“There are people who want to show their allegiance to Da’ish. So it’s a very dangerous phenomenon,” he added.
The army chief said dealing with the extremist group was set to become an ever greater challenge than the al Qaeda network. “I feel the future challenge is Da’ish. It’s a bigger name. Al Qaeda was a name but Da’ish is now a bigger name,” Gen Raheel said.
The general emphasised the reconciliation between Afghan Taliban and the Afghan government. He expressed his fear the Taliban could seek an alliance with Da’ish unless they were brought back to the negotiating table.
“This reconciliation in Afghanistan is very important. If we do not do it in the proper manner and the Afghan Taliban splinter, they will go for a bigger name and that is Da’ish,” he said.
Pakistan has blown hot and cold over the insurgency while contending it was working to bring about Afghan reconciliation.
Islamabad organised the first set of direct peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government in July. But another round scheduled later that month was stalled following the announcement of the death of Taliban founder Mullah Omar.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 4th, 2015.