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Tuesday, June 23

Pakistan's False ISIS Flag Operation

See video at OneIndia of a ISIS flag-waving incident. There have been dozens of such incidents in Kashmir Valley during the past few months, the most recent one on Friday, June 19, the date the video was filmed. 

After chasing in circles, India's intelligence agencies were unable to find evidence of ISIS activity in Kashmir. This raised suspicions that the Usual Suspects were at it again.   

OneIndia reported on June 19 that the Indian government's investigation turned up two youths who were being paid by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) to hire other youths to wave the ISIS flag at events with predictably big Indian media coverage -- Kashmiri separatist rallies and street protests and after every recent terrorism incident in the valley.  

Those familiar with the ISI's modus operandi, which relies on the use of lashkars (militias) to stage proxy warfare, would have no trouble figuring out the reason for this literal false flag operation.  The ISI is trying to cast blame on ISIS for the latest uptick in terrorist violence in Kashmir Valley, which Indian intelligence has already pinned on two notorious ISI-controlled lashkars, Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Tayiba (LeT).

A sub-theory:
Indian Intelligence Bureau officials tell OneIndia that the propaganda of the ISI is clear. It wants to give an impression that Kashmir is at risk of being taken over by the ISIS. The ISI feels that the locals would look towards either the separatists or the Pakistan sponsored terrorist groups for protection against the ISIS.
Makes sense, but Pakistan's civilian government has been working hard to persuade Western governments and the United Nations that it's abandoned its bad old ways.  ISIS is a handy peg on which to hang accusations of terrorism.

My question is whether Pakistan has been running the same shell game in Afghanistan that it tried in India; if so it has plenty of marks in Washington's defense establishment and President Ashraf Ghani's faction in the Afghan government, both of which tend to confuse Pakistan's military with Tinker Bell. (If only we believe hard enough they'll change.)

If they stick to flag-waving and other hot air to give the impression that ISIS is on the loose in Afghanistan, that would be one thing.  More worrisome is that ISI has never been choosy about its mercenary fighters. Haqqani Network, LeT, "Good" Taliban, al Qaeda, little green men from Mars -- makes no difference.

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