Debate continues over the probability and likelihood of a nuclear ISIS. While reportedly improbable, Central Asia could be a starting point for the Islamic State’s nuclear ambitions.
ISIS in Central Asia
In March, terrorists handed out hundreds of notices on official ISIS letterhead before and after the bombing of a Shi’ite mosque.
Though officials continue to deny an Islamic State presence in Pakistan, “they’re operating there,” says Bruce Allen of Forgotten Missionaries International (FMI).
“Their recruiting pamphlets are there across Pakistan; brick-and-mortar office buildings.”
Yet, a bigger concern is the growth of ISIS in neighboring Afghanistan.
Earlier this week, the top commander of U.S. forces in the region called for more troops because ISIS and al-Qaeda were increasing in strength.
“The ISIS influence is stronger in Afghanistan than in Pakistan,” claims this security analyst.
“However, Pakistan would not be able to counter the threat alone if he conflict in Afghanistan worsens and Pakistani and Afghani militants inspired by the ISIS try to capture territory along the Pak-Afghan border for establishing a ‘caliphate.’”
While clearly present in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Islamic State’s “hold” on Central Asia as a whole is arguable.
“No Central Asian government has produced much by way of proof that Islamic State is operating in any substantial fashion within the region,” said a blogger on Eurasianet.org.
According to Bruce Allen of Forgotten Missionaries International (FMI), terrorists aren’t the only source of persecution for Pakistani Christians.
Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws were first put into place in 1927, but the amendment that has made the laws infamous for persecution wasn’t added until 1986. Between 1927 and 1986, there were only seven violations of Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy law; however, from 1986 onward, as many as 4,000 cases were formed.
According to Contributoria.com, half of the people charged were minorities.
Today, the laws are mostly used to persecute Pakistan’s religious minority groups, such as Christians and Shi’ite Muslims.
“What is so ironic is Pakistan itself was founded for the protection of minorities,” says Allen, referring to the Pakistan-India split of 1947.
He says those belonging to the “religious majority” in Pakistan follow Sunni Islam. Shi’ite Muslims comprise 10% of the remaining population, while Christians and Hindus make up less than 4%. Less than one-percent of Pakistani’s are evangelical Christ-followers.
Nevertheless, “They’re ALL being affected by these anti-blasphemy laws,” says Allen.
“We operate several safe houses where they can go for crisis or transition and receive medical care, a safe place to live; perhaps some vocational training,” says Allen.
“Pray for the repeal of the anti-blasphemy laws. They are being so abused in Pakistan,” Allen suggests.
“[Pray] that God moves in the hearts of the political leadership to see that justice — true justice — gets done.”