He may be living in exile thousands of miles away but Altaf Hussain is among the most proactive political leaders in Pakistan. Governing his party, the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), from London, he is the first to react to any developments in the Pakistani political scene, often managing to outdo the politicians living in Pakistan. Mr. Hussain possesses a keen insight into the foreign affairs of Pakistan and has always maintained a neutral stance regarding bilateral relations with other countries. This is why his remarks about the alleged presence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Pakistan should not be taken lightly.
One thing which we cannot forget is the fact that Mr. Hussain was the first one who warned the government about the presence of Taliban in Pakistan. The government took his comments in their stride and now the entire country is paying the price for their negligence. So much so, the ex-Army Chief admitted that terrorism is the foremost issue plaguing the sovereignty and survival of Pakistan. Mr. Hussain had the foresight to predict this scenario some six or seven years ago, which shows the level of involvement he still has in Pakistani politics.
So, it seems foolish to dismiss his comments as a ploy to attract attention. For all intents and purposes, the ISIS could well have established their base in Pakistan. Moreover, Mr. Hussain claimed that several members of the Taliban are now switching allegiances and are joining the ISIS. If the ISIS and the Taliban merge, Pakistan could be embroiled in terrorism and infighting for the next several years. This situation is not to be taken lightly, especially after the Additional IG of Police in Karachi accepted that the ISIS is indeed present and active in the city of lights.
Originally, there were reports that the ISIS would target Muharram procession for their first major attack in Pakistan but thankfully that did not come to fruition. However, that does not in any way indicate or validate the fact that the ISIS is not present in Pakistan and what their strength is. It might be some time before the people in positions of power wake up to the threat. By then, it could be too late to do anything to curb the danger to the innocent citizens of the country, a similar situation to the one we are facing with the Taliban and other militant groups at present.
The ISIS is notorious for its brutality, often making the Taliban seem like a conservative militant wing. They have posted pictures and videos of people being killed and shot brutally. They even shared pictures of the beheaded people on their website and other platforms. This is one group that Pakistan can definitely do without and Mr. Hussain appears to be the only politician interested in preventing this scenario. Let’s hope the government wakes up and smells the coffee before the situation gets out of hand.
One thing citizens can do is spread the word about the threat posed by the presence of the ISIS in Pakistan. The easiest way to go about this is to start using #ISISinPakistan in your status updates and tweets from now. Keep in mind the more people you are able to alert about the situation, the more lives can be saved in the long run. For now, we can only hope the ISIS is not in Pakistan but to doubt Mr. Hussain’s information could indeed prove to be a huge mistake, especially in context of the situation the country is in already.