LONDON: Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif has said that his country would not allow “even a shadow” of the Daesh extremist organisation to fall on Pakistan, and termed the group a greater threat than al-Qaeda.
“As far as Daesh (Islamic State) is concerned, in Pakistan, even a shadow of Daesh would not be allowed,” Gen Raheel Sharif said in an address to The Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies in London on Friday.
In May, the Daesh militant group claimed the killings of at least 43 members of Ismailis in Karachi.
Leaflets backing Daesh jihadists have been seen recently in parts of northwest Pakistan and pro-Daesh slogans have appeared on walls in several cities.
“There are people in Islamabad who want to show their allegiance to Daesh. So it’s a very dangerous phenomenon,” Raheel Sharif said.
The army chief said dealing with the extremist group was set to become an ever greater challenge than the al-Qaeda network behind the 9/11 attacks in the United States.
“I feel the future challenge is Daesh. It’s a bigger name. Al-Qaeda was a name but Daesh is now a bigger name,” Raheel Sharif said.
General Raheel, who is popular for taking on militants from the northwestern tribal areas bordering Afghanistan to criminal gangs in Karachi, emphasised reconciliation between the Afghan Taliban and the Afghan government. He expressed his fear the Taliban could seek an alliance with Daesh 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 would go for a bigger name and that is Daesh,” Raheel Sharif said.
Islamabad organised the first set of direct peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government in July. But another round scheduled around later that month was stalled following the announcement of the death of Taliban founder Mulla Omar.