The Islamabad police on Monday registered a first investigation report (FIR) regarding the appearance of a flag supposedly belonging to the self-styled militant Islamic State (IS) group on the outskirts of the capital.
Law enforcement agencies swung into action on September 24 after the flag, spotted on a bridge near Iqbal Town in Khanna police precincts, triggered a debate on social and electronic media over whether it belonged to the IS or not.
Taking notice of the rumours, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, before leaving for a trip to China, had asked the Islamabad inspector general of police (IGP) to look into the matter and submit a report.
The flag came to the attention of authorities after a had citizen reported it to police. A team from Khanna police had reached the spot and removed the flag.
Investigators were not able to determine who had hoisted the flag and when questioned, the citizen who gave police the initial information said that he saw the flag while passing through the area and assumed that it belonged to the terrorist organisation, as it was similar to IS flags he had seen in television reports.
The flag, which was black in colour, bore the message “The caliphate is coming”, along with names of Allah, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) and the first Kalma.
The last time such flags were spotted near the federal capital was in Nov 2014, when a number of flags were seen on electricity poles near the highly-secured Pakistan Ordnance Factories at Wah.
The ISIS threat cannot be undermined in Pakistan as well as it has claimed the responsibility of most of the recent terror attacks in Pakistan, especially in Balochistan. Lal Masjid ‘burqa cleric’ Maulvi Abdul Aziz had pledged allegiance to ISIS in 2004 while the bus attack in Safoora Goth in May, 2015 was also claimed by ISIS.
Recently, the responsibility of the attack outside Quetta’sCivil Hospital on 8 August that took more than 70 lives was claimed by a militant faction of Taliban, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, that has pledged allegiance to the ISIS. ISIS also took the credit of the attack on Police Training Centre, Quetta on 24 October killing 61 cadets, and suicide blast at Shah Norani Shrine in Khuzdar District of Balochistan on 12 November killing at least 52 people, which is certainly an eye-opener for the Pakistani civil-military leadership that seems to be in a state of denial regarding the presence of ISIS in the country.
The recent arrests of militants belonging to ISIS in Karachi and Lahore show that they have a presence in Pakistan but appearance of flag in federal capital has rung serious alarm bells for Pakistan because Pakistan has been long fighting terrorism and ISIS presence would be another front for embattling Pakistan.