Pakistan’s military intelligence agencies have claimed that there is no concrete evidence of Islamic State (IS) presence in the country. Rejecting rumors, they have blamed the panic generated, as a consequence of ‘half-baked’ reports of the civilian anti-terror setup. During background interviews with sources from a top security agency, it was made clear that newly created civilian anti-terror sections were confusing members and affiliates of the Hizbut Tahrir with that of IS because of their inexperience and lack of skills to acquire accurate information. News that there was a real threat of infiltration by the IS, especially in Lahore and Sialkot is false, but must be taken with a pinch of salt.

IS may not have any aims in the region yet, but that does not mean that it has no linkages in Pakistan. A news report recently confirmed that three Lahore-based families, led by women, have moved to Syria to join Daesh. Reports also confirm that a married couple was arrested in Lahore for sending people to fight in Syria. The influence of IS is on the rise, but we are turning a blind eye towards it. With posters and pamphlets being disseminated by individuals and some groups, with information about the message of the Islamic State-the governments denial will only help create a wider web for them to operate within.

Our Foreign Office has taken comfort in the idea that IS is not in an organised group in Pakistan. However with the presence of IS sympathizers and affiliates within educational and religious circles, preemptive polices must be made. Pakistani authorities can keep handing the international media stories about their attempts to curtail terrorism, but that will not change the extent of local radicalisation. IS is not going to march from Iraq and Syria to Pakistan to make a claim; it will be locals who will pledge allegiance, create links and then be recruited for a mission. This is already happening.