ISIS in Pakistan can now be a reality. After the Islamic State (ISIS) declared a province in Jammu and Kashmir, the terror group says it has established a “province” in Baluchistan, Pakistan. There is no organized presence of ISIS in Pakistan but this could be the beginning of bloody battle especially in the volatile Baluchistan region, warn defence experts.

ISIS In Pakistan

Both of the divisions (Baluchistan, Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir, India) previously fell under the “Khorasan Province” or ISKP — the name the Middle East-based terrorist group uses for its regional operations started in 2015 from the border region of Afghanistan — according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist threats.

The “Islamic State Pakistan Province,” its global propaganda mouthpiece Amaq News Agency, took credit for killing a Pakistani police officer this week in Mastung, Baluchistan and it reported shooting at a gathering of militants linked to the banned Pakistani Taliban militant group in Quetta.

Both the districts are located in restive Baluchistan province, which borders Afghanistan and Iran. Several separatist Baluchistan groups and sectarian organisations also are active in the province.

According to experts, the emergence of ISIS in Pakistan could be a big headache to Pakistan security agencies especially after they find support from local militants groups. For now, the experts state, the already restive Baluchistan could end up becoming another Syria if counter-measures are not taken.

Islamabad maintains there is no “organised” presence of ISIS in Pakistan. Pakistani military officials emphasise that there is an ongoing nationwide military-led “intelligence-based campaign” is fundamentally directed towards eliminating space for any radical movements.

Initially, the Islamic State released no details about the boundaries, but various international media reports have clearly depicted Baluchistan as the area. In the previous ISIS announcement, all of Afghanistan and most of Pakistan, parts of modern Iran and Central Asia make up the so-called Khorasan Province.

ISIS In Pakistan Claimed Jammu And Kashmir

For the first time, the Islamic State (IS) has established a ‘province’ in India called Wilayah of Hind. In an official statement through its mouthpiece, Amaq News Agency, the notorious group says the new province will bolster its standing after the group was driven from its self-styled ‘caliphate’ in Iraq and Syria in April this year.

On Friday, the security forces had neutralised the group’s commander Ishfaq Ahmad Sofi. Before pledging allegiance to Islamic State, Sofi had been involved in several militant groups in Kashmir for more than a decade.

According to a military official, the militant was suspected of several grenade attacks on security forces in the region. He said Sofi would have been the only militant left in Kashmir with IS ties. A police spokesman said it was a clean operation and no collateral damage took place during the exchange of fire.

Terror Attacks By ISIS In Pakistan And South Asia

ISIS also took responsibility for a suicide blast in Quetta city that killed 20 people and left nearly 50 injured. The targets of the attack were ethnic Hazara Shiite Muslim community.

Moreover, IS also took responsibility for Sri Lanka’s Easter Sunday church bombings that left more than 250 people dead. The group claims to have inflicted casualties on Indian army soldiers in Amshipora in Kashmir’s Shopian district.

“As ISIS seeks to strengthen and restructure foundations of insurgencies across the globe after its losses in Iraq and Syria, it is striving to recruit also from Pakistan, a country with a strong jihadi population,” tweeted Rita Katz, the director of the SITE Intelligence Group.

The presumed re-branding of ISKP comes as the United Nations termed the “Khorasan Province” as a global terrorist, noting the group was established in January 2015 by former members of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) who pledged allegiance to Abu Baker al-Baghdadi.

Washington has already blacklisted ISKP as a foreign terrorist organisation, and the US troops are launching regular airstrikes against the group’s bases in Afghanistan with the help of local forces, killing thousands of terrorists.

Analysts say American counter terrorism airstrikes and clashes with the Afghan Taliban have prevented ISIS from expanding its regional influence and the rebranding strategy could have stemmed from those challenges.

“Khorasan chapter has been struggling to establish a footprint in Afghanistan and the region in general, and they may be following al-Qaida’s strategy to create regional affiliates,” says Muhammad Amir Rana, who heads Islamabad-based Pakistan Institute for Peace and Studies (PIPS).

Formation of ISIS – A Brief History

ISIS was established in October 2006 as a result of the merger of several radical Sunni units led by the al-Qaeda unit in Iraq called the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS). The ISIS set a goal to seize the Sunni part of Iraq and turn it into a militarized Islamic state. In 2010, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi the emir of the group became one of the leaders of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

In April 2013, through the merger of two “affiliates” of Al-Qaeda in Iraq and Syria – the Islamic State of Iraq and the Syrian Jebhat AL-Nusra (a terrorist group) an organization was formed called “Islamic The State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), whose goal was to create an Islamic emirate on the territory of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

On April 10, 2013, ISIS fighters swore allegiance to Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. However, due to enmity and regular clashes between the Iraqi and Syrian factions az-Zawahiri in November 2013 decided to dissolve the ISIL so that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Jebhat AL-Nusra act independently of each other, in Iraq, and the other in Syria. However, ISIS continued to operate on the territory of both states. In September 2015, Ayman al-Zawahiri suggested that the Islamic State militants should act as a united front against the “crusaders and atheists,” while emphasising that they do not recognise the caliphate they declared.

In June 2014, the ISIS terrorists took control of several oil fields near the cities of Mosul and Kirkuk (Iraq). Capturing large military bases in Iraq, they received a large number of weapons and military equipment, including portable anti-aircraft missile systems, tanks, armoured personnel carriers and howitzers of American manufacture. According to US intelligence and statements by the Iraqi authorities, IS fighters also possess chemical weapons and repeatedly used mustard and chlorine, containing ammunition in Syria and Iraq.

In June 2014 ISIS announced the establishment of the “Islamic Caliphate” in the occupied territories of Iraq and Syria, and the leader of the organisation Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was appointed “caliph”. At the same time, it was decided to rename the group into the Islamic State.

The CIA estimates that the strength of the group is about 30,000, while the Iraqi authorities claim 200,000. According to estimates by the Russian Defence Ministry in December 2015, the ISIS has 60,000 people. Citizens of 80 countries are fighting in the ranks of militants, including about 2000 Russian citizens.