Pro-Islamic State Pakistan Province Media Network Publishes Long-Awaited Magazine Issue
On December 5th, pro-Islamic State Pakistan Province (ISPP) accounts published the second issue of Urdu language magazine Yalghar (Invasion). The release comes nearly eight months after the publication's introduction in late April 2021.
The magazine is 30-pages just like the first issue, though it is a more elaborated version, features more details, and primarily focuses on Pakistan. It also includes information on the publishing and distribution network behind the magazine. It is revealed that the overall supervisor and the manager are, respectively, Sheikh Abu Ajmal and Hafiz Mahasab Pakistani, while there are also three deputy editors (Sheikh Abu Wafa Khurasani, Maulana Abu Qahafi, and Abu Talha Bhatkali) and 15 other people involved in the publishing process.
Overall, the issue is an attack against Pakistan, its political and religious establishment, and against the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban. The first article is a critique of Pakistani religious scholars who are accused of spreading atheism and supporting democracy, much like the Islamic State Khurasan Province (ISKP) frequently argued in its statements against Afghan religious leaders. Particularly, many pages are dedicated to the alleged efforts from many Pakistani scholars of making Islam the religion of Hurryat (freedom) instead of the religion of submission. These scholars are accused of accepting open “blasphemy” within and outside Pakistan including Pakistani women’s slogan “My body my will”, controversial Indian priest Narsinghanand’s actions, former chairman of the UP Shia Central Waqf Board Waseem Rizvi’s statements, and the desecration of a copy of the Quran in a Hindu temple in Bangladesh. Thus, the issue praises the recent episodes of communal violence in Charsadda and Sialkot – which saw mobs set fire to a police station in response to the burning of a Quran and also murder and burn a Sri Lankan national – as signs that Muslim masses are taking action to defend the faith notwithstanding the propaganda of the “evil scholars and their masters”.
Another similar article attacks religious scholars for deceiving the Ummah about the correct interpretation of the Quran. It argues that some “heretical groups” – Jamaat-e-Islami, Madkhalis, “Parwezis” (in reference to Allama Ghulam Ahmad Parwez), and “Qadianis” (Ahmadis) – remain silent about the suffering of Muslims in Burma and Palestine while condemning IS militants for killing “infidels”, quoting verse 32 of Surah al-Ma’idah “Whoever kills a soul…it is as if he had slain mankind entirely”. The article states that the correct interpretation of the verse does not include non-Muslims, especially those who are guilty of corruption, polytheism, and apostasy; on the contrary, quoting late IS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, it is halal to kill “disbelievers” in both civilian and military clothes, and it is only haram to kill Muslims.
A third article addresses similar issues while accusing Pakistan of not being an Islamic country. It argues Pakistan was born as a British satellite in the hands of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, a “Shia loyal to the British”, and that the system of Islamic democracy was imposed on Pakistan with the help of Pakistani clerics. It dismisses any difference between the “kufr democracy” of India – where the rule belongs to the majority of the people – and the Islamic democracy of Pakistan, where only nominally the rule belongs to God but in fact, the majority is able to alter Islam and its teachings through the Parliament. The article reports the collective fatwa issued in 2018 “Paigham-e-Pakistan” (Message of Pakistan) as an example of the alliance between the government and religious scholars to justify the “war on Islam” on behalf of the US, accusing Pakistan of arresting thousands of true scholars who called for jihad against Pakistan the same way as against Afghanistan and Kashmir. In addition, references are made about the 20-points code of conduct signed by several Pakistani scholars, labelled as “puppet sheikhs”, criticising top Hanafi South Asian scholar Mufti Taqi Usmani reporting one of his Tweets and Pakistan’s Mufti-e-Azam Rafi Usmani. Finally, the idea that Pakistan is an Islamic country is completely dismissed, as it recognises international borders, hosts several religious minorities, does not support oppressed Muslims in Burma, China, Palestine, Iraq, and Syria, and kills Muslims in Waziristan and Swat. As veteran journalist Iftikhar Firdous argues, there is even “a picture of Rana Bhagwan Das, former Chief Justice of Pakistan who was a Hindu. Asking rhetorically how a Hindu can be a judge in a Muslim state”.
Other articles deal with different subjects such as an Urdu translation of an ISKP al-Millat Media pamphlet, an infographic on ISPP and Islamic State Hind Province (ISHP) activities in Pakistan and Kashmir, the second episode of a series of stories from IS female supporters in Syria, and the picture of dead ISPP commander Mumtaz Pehlawan. However, a four-page article is dedicated to the ongoing negotiations between Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Pakistani government. It claims that as the Afghan Taliban abandoned jihad to make peace with the US, and the Pakistani Taliban are also making the same mistake and selling religion for reconciliation, thus associating with disbelievers, as “democracy and monotheism can never stand together”. It adds that peace cannot be made with apostates, those who left Islam for democracy and polytheism, and calls on TTP fighters to get rid of those leaders (all “Shaykh-ul-Hadeeth, Maulana Amir Mohateram, and Mufti Sahib Hafizullah”) who support negotiations and to continue to fight for establishing Sharia.
The fact that the second issue of Yalghar has been published months after the first one is a sign that the Pakistani branch of the Islamic State is not nearly as strong as the Afghan one. This is also indicated by the relatively low number of attacks by the group in Pakistan. However, it should be noted that since mid-2021, ISKP has incorporated Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province into its administrative unit. In the last few months, the number of ISKP attacks in Pakistan has increased compared to the first half of 2021, while its propaganda activities are also extremely dynamic in terms of publications.