A terror attack ripped through an election rally in northwestern Mastung in the western Pakistani province of Balochistan. The body count – at 159, is still steadily rising as casualties among the 200 injured succumb.
The attack has been claimed by Islamic State. If true it can be start of a new chapter of death and misery in the subcontinent. Islamic State’s presence in Pakistan has remained low-key, except for the February 2017 bombing of Sufi shrine in Sindh that killed almost 100 people. While minor attacks on the christian minorities has been a key signature of IS, ths kind of direct political impact is a new for group. As a matter of fact this attack does not fit IS’s profile at all.
All of IS’s previous attacks in Pakistan have had a religious angle to it. Sufi worshipers were viewed as heretics, while Christians were the obvious enemy. Indiscriminate attack – which does not echo the (now lost) cause of Khalifat doesn’t help the group. The target themselves – the supporters and leaders of Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) came together only in March 2018 to found the party. The BAP is in principal comprised of political dissidents of the Pakistan Muslim League (N) and the Pakistan Muslim League (Q).
If it were actually an IS attack then question must be asked as to why? IS always has a better chance of growing under a weak civilian government than under the iron fist of an institution called Pakistan army. This attack doesn’t draw any funding or sympathy for the group either.
The political timing of the blast suggest larger objectives.
مسلم لیگ (ن) کی ریلی لاہور ایئر پورٹ کی طرف رواں دواں pic.twitter.com/Zna9TYlWt1
— PML(N) (@pmln_org) July 13, 2018
While People wept for Mutang the Sharif’s were quietly hand cuffed. All their efforts to arouse passions were buried by the debris of Mustang attack.
If that were the case, it would be an attack by the Boys in Khaki or their sneaky cousin the ISI. Pakistani intelligence and armed forces has almost always indulged in cross border false flag attacks – from Taliban to Kargil – and have disowned their own troops, but attack on civilians would be a new low.
However the mere mention of IS should raise concern for the Indian intelligence apparatus. The claim itself has been taken at the face value by most of world media and that can suggest dawn of a new era of ISI-IS relashionship.