Pakistan Security Brief – October 12, 2010

Pakistan Security Brief – October 12, 2010

Top U.S. officials to confront Islamabad over Taliban insurgency in Balochistan; Major US-Pakistan summit scheduled for later this month; Drone strikes kill at least a dozen militants in North Waziristan; Prime Minister Gilani claims that Taliban reconciliation is impossible without Pakistan’s “leverage”; E.U. counterterrorism officials continue to unravel al Qaeda threat; Torkham border checkpoint is reopened after ten days; Pakistani officials ask the World Bank to help monitor relief funds.

 

US-Pakistan Relations         

  • Two senior advisors to General David Petraeus are scheduled to meet this week with top Pakistani government and military officials to discuss intelligence about Taliban sanctuaries inside Pakistani territory.  According to reports, Maj. Gen. Mike Flynn and Maj. Gen. William Mayville are planning to present their Pakistani counter-parts with new intelligence reports about Taliban operations in Balochistan.  The intelligence report is said to indicate that Taliban fighters are actively smuggling weapons, bomb materials, and fighters into Afghanistan from bases in the Pakistani province.  According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, U.S. officials are increasingly adamant that unless Taliban militants are denied safe haven in Pakistan, recent successes by NATO forces in the country’s Southern province cannot be sustained.  The goal of this week’s meeting is to persuade Pakistani authorities to actively crackdown on militant activities in Balochistan.[1] 

  • The relationship between the United States and Pakistan will be the main topic of discussion during a two day round of high level meetings scheduled for October 21st and 22nd at the State Department.  Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen. Ashfaq Kayani and the directors general of Military Operations and Military Intelligence will travel to Washington for two days of meetings with Secretary of State Clinton and other senior U.S. diplomatic and military officials.  The meetings will address the recent strain in relations between the two countries following last month’s NATO airstrike that left Pakistani paramilitary soldiers dead and the Torkham border dispute that denied NATO vehicles access to Pakistani land routes for ten days.   Additionally, U.S. and Pakistani officials will discuss US-backed efforts by Afghan President Hamid Karzai to reconcile with elements of the Taliban insurgency. [2]

 

Drone Operations

  • At least seven militants were killed in a U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan on Sunday.  The strike occurred in the Spin Wam refugee camp, just outside the town of Mir Ali in the North Waziristan.  According to reports, drone aircraft fired four missiles at a compound believed to housing militants.  

  • As many as ten militants were killed in two separate U.S. drone strikes in North Waziristan on Friday.  Between four to six militants were killed in Muhammad Khel area after a drone fired missiles at their compound.  Later on Friday evening, another drone operation targeted a hideout housing militants in the village of Datta Khel.  Five militants were reportedly killed in that strike.  Security officials are working to confirm if any high value targets were killed in the weekends drone operations.  [3]

 

Karachi

  • Karachi police have arrested two militants linked to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi who were planning target killings and bombings against Shia targets.  Karachi’s new police chief, Fayaz Leghari told reporters that the men were arrested in the Orangi Town area of the city after authorities were tipped off about their activities.  Leghari indicated that Karachi police were working to indentify the two suicide attackers responsible for last Thursday’s attack on the Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine that left eight people dead.  Additionally, Mr. Leghari also indicated that Karachi police were planning to significantly increase security for upcoming elections on October 17th.  The election is being held to fill the seat vacated by Muttahida Qaumi Movement MPA Raza Haider, who was killed on August 3rd. [4]

 

Taliban Talks

  • Pakistani authorities have reiterated that any successful Taliban reconciliation talks must include Pakistani officials because of the country’s established rapport with militant groups in the region.  Prime Minister Yousaf Gilani said yesterday that US-backed efforts by Afghan President Karzai to negotiate with elements of the Taliban insurgency cannot succeed without Pakistani “leverage.”  Speaking to reporters, Gilani warned, “Nothing can happen without us… we are part of the solution.” The tempo of reconciliation efforts has increased in recent days after President Karzai and General David Petraeus both publically acknowledged that overtures had been made to certain elements within the Taliban insurgency. [5]

  • A new report from the BBC claims that al-Qaeda militants are working to infiltrate rank and file Taliban units to spread their ideology and sabotage any reconciliation process with the Afghan government.  Where possible, lower-level al-Qaeda militants are being “embedded” with insurgent groups fighting coalition forces.  The “embeds” not only help with the fighting, they also spread the supremely radical jihadi ideology of al-Qaeda among Taliban foot soldiers.  The BBC also reports that since al-Qaeda lacks the manpower to physically infiltrate every Taliban unit, they are conducting a new wave of propaganda aimed at establishing “psychological havens” within the hearts and minds of Taliban fighters in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.  These recent efforts by the group and its affiliates are said to be intended to “scupper government peace efforts and isolate moderates who might favor a negotiated settlement.” [6]

 

E.U. Terror Plot

  • German authorities are seeking the extradition of Ahmad Sidiqi, who is currently in U.S. custody at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan. The interrogation of Mr. Sidiqi by U.S. counterterrorism officials led to new revelations about al-Qaeda linked militants plotting Mumbai style attacks in Western European.   According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, German authorities have added as many 200 new investigators to track down leads related to returning jihadists and potential terror attacks in Europe.  Reports also indicate that counterterrorism officials are particularly interested in a dozen residents from Hamburg and 20 or so residents of Berlin, all of whom have ties to radical mosques and who are known to have recently traveled to Pakistan.  Despite increased measures, German officials, including Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, have publically downplayed Sidiqi’s testimony, questioned the imminence of attacks in Europe and even criticized U.S. intelligence for being too “politicized”.[7]  

 

NATO Supply Chain

  • The Torkham Border checkpoint was reopened to NATO resupply vehicles on Sunday morning.  After clearing customs at the Torkham checkpoint, hundreds of NATO supply trucks were allowed to enter into Afghanistan via by-pass roads in the Khyber agency.  Pakistani authorities closed the Torkham border checkpoint for ten days in response to a NATO air strike that killed Pakistani Frontier Corps soldiers.  During the ten-day border standoff, over a 120 NATO supply vehicles were destroyed in as many as eight attacks allegedly perpetrated by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.    While U.S. and NATO forces have remained adamant that the border closure did not impact the Afghan war effort, a spokesmen for the U.S. embassy in Islamabad, Rick Snelsire, told reporters that U.S. officials were “pleased” by Pakistan’s decision to reopen the checkpoint.  [8]

 

FATA

  • Three schools were destroyed over the weekend in the Mohmand tribal agency.  In the Safi area of the agency, militants blew up two primary schools for girls and one that catered to boys.  While no injuries were reported, all three schools were destroyed and surrounding buildings were also damaged.  As many as 56 schools in the tribal agency have been destroyed by militants in the last few years. [9]

 

Kyber-Pakhtunkhwa

  • Seven militants were arrested over the weekend after clashes with security forces in Mardan.  According to officials, the captured militants are linked to the murder of Dr. Mohammad Farooq Khan.  Prior to his death, the prominent liberal minded social advocate was slated to serve as the first vice chancellor of the University of Swat.[10] 

  • According to government officials, several schools destroyed by militants during the Swat valley insurgency, have not been rebuilt.  In the Bara Bandai area of Swat, as many as 800 school girls are forced to receive their education in homes vacated by retreating Taliban soldiers who fled during the Pakistani military campaign to recapture Swat.  For more information about the Swat Valley insurgency, please click here. The president of the local defense committee told reporters, “We have asked the central and provincial governments again and again for the reconstruction of the girls schools and have waited a lot but they paid no attention.”[11]

 

Floods

  • EU officials are scheduled to call on countries around the world to provide aid and trade deals with Pakistan to help offset the financial impact of this summer’s floods.  On Friday, representatives from 23 countries will meet in Brussels to discuss long-term financial assistance to Pakistan.  E.U. officials are expected to offer Pakistan new trade breaks and economic incentives in exchange for promises from Pakistani officials to reform administrative practices and more effectively tax income.  A spokesmen for the meeting told reporters, “The aim is to send a strong signal of solidarity to Pakistan” and “it’s an opportunity for Pakistan to present a plan for reconstruction, including economic and institutional reforms.” [12]

  • Finance Minister Dr. Abdul Shaikh asked the World Bank to help Pakistan more effectively distribute aid money to those impacted by the floods.  Pakistani authorities are worried about aid “bottlenecks,” where aid money is received but not effectively dispensed to those desperately in need.  Additionally, Finance Minister Shaikh sought input from the World Bank on how best to monitor the massive aid donations and international emergency funding programs that now being made available to Pakistan.[13] 



[1] David Cloud, "Taliabn border haven in U.S. sights," The LA Times, October 11, 2010.  Available at http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-afghan-assess-20101012,0,4078281.story.
[2] Qaiser Butt, "Pak-US ties to be reviewed in Oct.21 dialogue," The Express Tribune, October 12, 2010.  Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/61436/pak-us-ties-to-be-reviewed-in-oct-21-dialogue/.  
[3] Federick Pleitgen, "Suspected drone strike kills eight in Pakistan," CNN, October 10, 2010.  Available at http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/10/10/pakistan.drone.attack/.  “US drone kills five in northwest Pakistan: officials,” AFP, October 9, 2010.  Available at http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jydV9V7DnFE7EPP5BRKsb_3Tvrhw?docId=CNG.5eafcba4bf53b470f39c1ecb5aaf1e29.bc1.
[4] “Two suspected 'target killers' arrested,” The Express Tribune, October 11, 2010.  Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/60821/two-suspected-target-killers-arrested/.
[5] Zarar Khan, "Pakistan says it is key to Taliban peace talks," Associated Press, October 12, 2010.  Available at http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101012/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan_afghanistan/  “‘Pakistan attending Kabul peace talks’,” Dawn, October 11, 2010.  Available at http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/front-page/pakistan-attending-kabul-peace-talks-100.
[6] Dawood Azami, "Al-Qaeda sets sights on Taliban recruits," BBC World Service Kabul, October 12, 2010.  Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-11444334.
[7] David Crowford and Marcus Walker, "Germany Steps Up Terrorism Probes," The Wall Street Journal, October 11, 2010.  Available at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704127904575544553355801366.html.
[8] Fred Pleitgen, "Supply route for NATO convoys opened in Pakistan," CNN, October 10, 2010. Available at http://articles.cnn.com/2010-10-10/world/pakistan.supply.route_1_torkham-drone-strikes-pakistani-taliban?_s=PM:WORLD.
[9] “Two girls, one boys school blown away in Mohmand,” GEO, October 10, 2010.  Available at http://www.geo.tv/10-10-2010/72668.htm.
[10] Jane Perlez, "Killing of Doctor part of Taliban war of educated," The New York Times, October 8, 2010.  Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/09/world/asia/09pstan.html?_r=1.
[11] “Govt unable to reconstruct schools,” The Express Tribune, October 8, 2010.  Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/59869/govt-unable-to-reconstruct-schools/.
[12] “EU to urge trade breaks to help Pakistan,” Dawn, October 12, 2010.  Available at http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/03-eu-to-urge-trade-breaks-to-help-pakistan-ss-01.
[13] Khaleeq Kiani, "Govt Seeks WB help for monitoring foreign aid," Dawn, October 12, 2010.  Available at http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/front-page/govt-seeks-wb-help-for-monitoring-foreign-aid-200