The Islamic State’s meteoric rise has awed and frightened many, to the extent that its abilities and reach are often exaggerated. At the moment IS has no official plan of establishing itself in Pakistan; considering the fact that it is facing a resolute fight in Iraq and Syria, it seems unlikely that it will expand its territories before securing existing ones. Despite this conclusion, the black flags of IS have made worrying inroads in the region. Over the past months IS propaganda, symbols and flags have been seen in various locations. These events are isolated and small scale yet must not be considered negligible. Independent intelligence reports have warned the government of IS recruitment drives and increasing presence in Balochistan and Sindh. The arrest of an alleged IS commander in Lahore is perhaps the most serious of these events, which confirms the fact that IS is present and intent on increasing their numbers.

The fact that IS faces a stern battle in Iraq and Syria should not lull the government into a false state of security. The IS threat comes not from foreign fighters infiltrating Pakistan, but from local militant groups taking up the mantle. IS has emerged as a stellar organisation in global Jihad; it holds vast lands, is financially stable, has established an ultra strict Sharia law in its lands and blatantly baits the west. Contrast this to the TTP, which after years of battle has little to no land to its name, is under extreme pressure from the military, while its diffuse leadership is elusive as ever. Al-Baghdadi’s rival claim to the title of caliph is being taken seriously, with numerous TTP factions breaking away from Mullah Omar and pledging fealty to Baghdadi; an unprecedented event. With the Taliban steadily losing influence, the IS emerges as a strong alternative in the resulting power vacuum. Faltering factions, bewitched by the IS legend will pledge allegiance to boost morale of their fighters and receive aid. For now, IS activities in Pakistan are limited to voluntary acts by groups, mostly aimed at sending recruits to Iraq, a time will come when enough factions would have gathered under the black flag to mount an offensive here at home.