22 February 2017
The recent suicide bombing of a popular Sufi shrine in Sindh is the latest operation of a recently formed alliance of militant jihadist and sectarian groups that includes Islamic State (IS) and organisations associated with the Pakistani Taliban.
The bombing of the shrine of Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in the southern Pakistani town of Sehwan by a female suicide bomber that killed 83 people, including 20 children, was the alliance’s ninth attack in a week. The grouping earlier targeted the Punjabi parliament, military outposts, a TV crew, and a provincial police station. The alliance represents a joining of forces by Pakistani and Afghan jihadists and groups who trace their origins to sectarian organisations that have deep social roots. The alliance’s declared aim is to challenge the state at a time that Pakistan is under external pressure to clean-up its counterterrorism act. A recent Pakistani crackdown on militants has been selective, half-hearted, and largely ineffective.
Pakistan has blamed Afghanistan-based militants for the attacks, demanded that Afghanistan hand over 76 militants allegedly associated with the alliance, and closed its border in Afghanistan while it hunts down alliance operatives on its own territory. Counterterrorism officials said the alliance of eight organisations formed late last year included IS, the Pakistani Taliban and some of its associates, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami (LJA), Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), and Jundallah.
… James M. Dorsey PhD is a Senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies and, co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture. Azaz Syed is an award-winning Pakistani investigative reporter for Geo News and The News. He is the author of the acclaimed book, The Secrets of Pakistan’s War On Al-Qaida.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 24/02/2017