Pakistan Security Brief - April 16, 2012

Taliban militants attack Central Jail in Bannu and free 384 prisoners; Taliban launches “spring offensive” in Afghanistan; Sectarian violence against members of Hazara community continues in Quetta; U.S. wants to find “middle ground” with Pakistan on drone strikes; Difa-e-Pakistan Council rejects Parliament’s decision to reopen NATO supply routes; U.S. to drastically reduce number of aid projects in Pakistan; British Parliamentarian announces bounty on President Obama and former President Bush; No survivors or dead bodies found at avalanche site; Pakistan to use coal to avert its energy crisis.

Militancy

  • In a pre-dawn attack on Sunday, approximately 100 militants armed with AK-47s and rocket launchers attacked the Central Jail in Bannu, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and freed 384 prisoners. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack, in which militants blockaded the roads leading to the jail and took control of the jail for more than two hours. Officials suspect that the militants’ primary purpose was to free top militant commander Adnan Rashid, a former junior technician in the Pakistan Air Force who was allegedly involved in planning the assassination of former President Pervez Musharraf. According to a former police chief of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, this was the “largest jailbreak in Pakistan’s history.” A preliminary report submitted to the Ministry of Interior blamed the lack of sufficient security personnel for the attack on the jail, and security officials acknowledged that there was a “very serious failure” in both intelligence and security. Authorities launched a search operation, arresting 11 escaped prisoners, while 20 others turned themselves in voluntarily.[1]

  • In a series of coordinated attacks on Sunday, Taliban militants attacked embassies, NATO headquarters and the parliament in Kabul, Afghanistan and three eastern provinces as well. The fighting between militants and security forces ended on Monday after 18 hours of “gunfire, rocket attacks and explosions.” The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks, but according to U.S. and Afghan officials, initial findings confirm that the Pakistan-based Haqqani Network was behind the attacks. Thirty-five of the 36 militants involved in the attacks were killed, but the lone surviving militant confirmed the Haqqani connection when he told interrogators that he had been trained and equipped by the Haqqani Network. According to a Taliban spokesman, the attacks were a message to NATO forces that the Taliban’s “spring offensive” had begun. Eight members of the Afghan security forces and four civilians were killed, while 65 others were injured in the attacks.[2]

  • On Saturday, at least eight Shia Muslims from the Hazara community and a policeman were killed in three separate attacks in Quetta. Soon after the attacks, violent protesters took to the streets, blocking roads, burning vehicles and shooting indiscriminately. According to officials, ten Frontier Corps battalions were deployed in and around the city to “restore peace and order.” A strike was observed on Sunday to protest the recent sectarian killings that had killed 18 people, as all business and commercial activity in Quetta was shut down for the day. Two more incidents of sectarian violence occurred in Quetta on Monday, as an elderly Hazara man was gunned down on Quarry Road, while six members of the Hazara community escaped unhurt after gunmen opened fire on their cab on Spinny Road.[3]

  • Unidentified assailants threw a hand grenade into a school in the Chargo Kalay area of Peshawar on Monday, killing a six-year-old boy and seriously injuring another. Officials suspect that the grenade was hidden in a toy, and it exploded once the children began playing with it.[4]

  • In two different areas of Karachi on Sunday, two Sunni Tehrik workers were killed by unknown gunmen, while four supporters of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement were injured by four assailants.[5]

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

  • According to U.S. officials, the U.S. wants to find a “middle ground” with Pakistan on the CIA drone program, but it has no intention of ending drone strikes in Pakistan. The U.S. and Pakistan will discuss this issue in a series of high-level meetings over the next few weeks. According to an official, one such meeting will likely take place between the Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence Lt. Gen. Zaheerul Islam and CIA Director David Petraeus before the NATO summit in Chicago next month. The official said that Pakistan will likely propose that the U.S. seek permission from Pakistan before every drone strike, and that it limit the frequency of the strikes.[6]

  • The Difa-e-Pakistan Council has rejected the Pakistani Parliament’s decision to reopen NATO supply routes and announced that it will begin a countrywide protest in Peshawar on April 20. Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf leader Imran Khan also voiced his opposition, saying that the resumption of the supply line was “the biggest collusion” between the U.S. and the Pakistani government.[7]

  • A top U.S. aid official said on Friday that the U.S. is drastically reducing the number of aid projects in Pakistan, so that it can redistribute the civilian aid more effectively and “producer better, higher profile outcomes that can win hearts and minds.”[8]

Bounty

  • British Parliamentarian Lord Nazir Ahmed announced a 10 million pound bounty for the capture of President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush on Friday to offer moral support to Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Hafiz Saeed, on whom the U.S. government announced a $10 million bounty.[9]

Balochistan

  • On Sunday, former President Pervez Musharraf spoke via video conference at a conference titled, “Problems of Balochistan,” and said that “foreign elements” were supporting the small minority of Baloch separatists who were committing acts of terrorism against Pakistan.[10]

Avalanche

  • The Associated Press reported that rescue workers searching for the 139 people buried alive in last week’s avalanche at Siachen Glacier in northern Kashmir have yet to find any survivors or dead bodies. The avalanche has put a spotlight on the “65-year-old conflict over Kashmir” and has many Pakistanis questioning whether the barren glacier with its harsh climate is “worth fighting over.”[11]    

Energy

Osama bin Laden

    

 

 

 


[1] “Prison break: Taliban attack Bannu jail, nearly 400 inmates escape,” Express Tribune, April 15, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/365064/prison-break-militants-attack-bannu-jail-over-900-inmates-freed/
“Bannu attack investigation: Police, agencies blamed for incident,” Express Tribune, April 16, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/365505/bannu-attack-investigation-police-agencies-blamed-for-incident/
Ismail Khan and Declan Walsh, “Taliban Free 384 Inmates in Pakistan,” New York Times, April 15, 2012. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/16/world/asia/pakistani-taliban-assault-prison-freeing-almost-400.html?_r=1
[2] “Attacks in Afghan capital have subsided, say officials,” Reuters, April 16, 2012. Available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/apr/16/afghanistan-attacks-kabul-subsided?newsfeed=true
“Insurgent says Haqqani was behind Afghanistan attacks,” CNN, April 16, 2012. Available at http://edition.cnn.com/2012/04/16/world/asia/afghanistan-violence/
Tahir Khan, “Retribution: It’s a message for NATO, says Taliban,” Express Tribune, April 16, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/365398/retribution-its-a-message-for-nato-says-taliban/
[3] Saleem Shahid, “Eight Hazaras shot dead in Quetta;15-day toll rises to 26,” Dawn, April 14, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/04/15/15-day-toll-rises-to-26-strike-call-for-today-eight-hazaras-shot-dead-in-quetta/
“Quetta shuts down to mourn Shia killings,” Daily Times, April 16, 2012. Available at http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012%5C04%5C16%5Cstory_16-4-2012_pg1_3
Shehzad Baloch, “Sectarian violence: Another Hazara shot dead, six escape separate attack,” Express Tribune, April 16, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/365542/sectarian-violence-another-hazara-shot-dead-six-escape-separate-attack/
[4] “Heartrending: ‘Toy bomb’ takes life of one schoolchild in K-P,” Express Tribune, April 16, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/365502/peshawar-blast-kills-one-schoolchild-injures-two/
[5] “Settling scores?: Sunni Tehreek and MQM workers attacked in separate incidents,” Express Tribune, April 16, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/365259/settling-scores-sunni-tehreek-and-mqm-workers-attacked-in-separate-incidents/
[6] Kamran Yousaf, “Middle ground may be found on drone campaign,” Express Tribune, April 16, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/365388/middle-ground-may-be-found-on-drone-campaign/
[7] “Resumption of NATO supplies: DPC, PTI put their foot down over decision,” Express Tribune, April 15, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/364925/resumption-of-nato-supplies-dpc-pti-put-their-foot-down-over-decision/
[8] “AP Interview: Focusing US aid projects in Pakistan,” Associated Press, April 13, 2012. Available at http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/04/13/ap-interview-big-us-aid-project-cuts-in-pakistan/
[9] “‘Sterling’ bounty offered for Obama, Bush,” Express Tribune, April 15, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/364863/sterling-bounty-offered-for-obama-bush/
[10] Sameer Mandhro, “Baloch separatists have foreign backing: Musharraf,” Express Tribune, April 16, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/365390/baloch-separatists-have-foreign-backing-musharraf/
[11] “Pakistan yet to find 139 buried in avalanche,” Associated Press, April 14, 2012. Available at http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/04/14/pakistan-yet-to-find-13-buried-in-avalanche/
Declan Walsh, “Disaster Reignites Debate Over Battle at Earth’s Ceiling,” New York Times, April 14, 2012. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/15/world/asia/siachen-avalanche-puts-spotlight-on-india-pakistan-conflict.html?_r=1
[12] “Pakistan to tap coal riches to avert energy crisis,” Reuters, April 13, 2012. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/13/pakistan-coal-idUSL6E8FC45O20120413
[13] “Bin Laden family to be deported next week: Lawyer,” Reuters, April 14, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/364482/bin-laden-family-to-be-deported-next-week-lawyer/