Pakistan Security Brief - April 16, 2013

TTP denies involvement in Boston bombing; IED targets PML-N leader for Balochistan, kills three; Former President Musharraf, ex-PM Raja Parvez Ashraf both disqualified for participating in elections; Pakistan, Afghanistan, come to agreement over disputed border checkpost; Pakistan protests drone strike on Sunday; Suicide bomber kills three at army checkpost in North Waziristan; Taliban in North Waziristan ban children going to school in protest against army curfew; Election context narrows between PML-N, PTI; Frontier election posts labeled “sensitive;” South Waziristan Tribesmen demand access to polling stations; ANP leader sees conspiracy in lack of security for party; JUI-F manifesto includes negotiating with Taliban; President Zardari urges tribesmen to participate in elections; PPP candidates home attacked in Peshawar; Gunmen attack independent candidate in D.I. Khan; IED kills anti-Taliban fighter; Ten killed in army-militant clashes in Orakzai; Polio team attacked in Karachi; Deradicalization school says drones to blame for Taliban recruitment; Interim government forms team to talk to IMF; Massive earthquake in Iran affects Pakistan.

TTP Denies Role in Boston bombing

  • The Pakistani Taliban released a statement on Tuesday claiming that they were not behind the bombing on Monday of the Boston Marathon. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, said that although the TTP supports such attacks on the U.S. and will continue to target the U.S. wherever possible, the group had “no connection” to the Boston attack.[1]

Elections and Domestic Politics

  • According to a report by the Washington Post, the contest in Pakistan’s upcoming elections, set to take place on May 11, appears to be narrowing to the leaders of two main parties: Imran Khan of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), and Nawaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). Support for the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), however, seems to have waned considerably.[2]

  • The Peshawar High Court ruled on Tuesday that former President Pervez Musharraf is not eligible to run in the Chitral constituency, the last of four constituencies in which Musharraf tried to submit his nomination papers to run as a member of parliament. His nomination papers have been rejected by all four constituencies he applied for, for reasons including technicalities, alleged involvements in the murders of Benazir Bhutto and Baloch nationalist Akbar Bugti, violating the Constitution and illegally jailing senior judges. Musharraf will contest the decision, according to his lawyer. Also disqualified to run in the upcoming elections by the Election Commission on grounds of being unfit for leadership was former prime minister and PPP Secretary General Raja Pervez Ashraf, who has also said he will appeal the decision.[3]

  • Ninety-one polling stations in Timergara sub-district of Lower Dir District, out of 308 stations, have been designated “most sensitive”, while a further 119 are considered “sensitive.” In Swabi, 256 out of 556 have been labeled “sensitive”. Officials from the regions promise to hold peaceful elections nonetheless.[4]

  • Leaders of South Waziristan's displaced tribesmen have called on the Election Commission of Pakistan to make arrangements for polling stations to be accessible to them in militancy-hit North Waziristan.[5]

  • A senior leader of the Awami National Party (ANP), Afrasiab Khattak, said on Tuesday that he believed a conspiracy is behind attacks on ANP candidates in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and that the caretaker government and ECP are not fulfilling their duty to ensure free and safe elections.[6]

  • Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazalur Rehman outlined his party's manifesto on Monday, which gave a high priority to “bringing peace to the country” by engaging in peace talks with the Taliban through tribal jirgas. Rehman also said that he finds it improper for candidates to be prevented from seeking votes in the name of religion.[7]

  • In an address to tribal leaders from the Federally Administered Tribal Regions, President Asif Ali Zardari urged the “enthusiastic” participation of tribesmen in the upcoming elections.[8]

Militancy

  • A remote-control bomb attack targeting PML-N’s Balochistan chapter president Sardar Sanaullah Zehri killed four people on Tuesday, including three of Zehri's family members, as they were returning from a campaign gathering. Zehri himself was unhurt.[9]

  • The home of PPP candidate Zulfiqar Afghani in Peshawar was the target of a hand grenade attack on Tuesday. There were no casualties.[10]

  • On Monday in Dera Ismail Khan district, gunmen opened fire on a car filled with campaigners for independent candidate Abdul Rahim Burki and killed two people. No group has yet claimed responsibility.[11]

  • A suicide attack at a check post in North Waziristan resulted in the deaths of three soldiers and injured four others. The attack reportedly took place in the Syed Gai area of the agency.[12]

  • The Hafiz Gul Bahadur Taliban Shura in North Waziristan issued a decree on Monday prohibiting students from going to school in the area, in response to increased security and barricades on a main road. The closed road means girls have to walk through markets to get to school, which the Taliban claim is against Shariah and Pashtun norms. The group is protesting curfews levied by the army in Miram Shah in response to recent attacks on security forces.[13]

  • On Monday, a bomb exploded in a bunker in the Tirah valley of Khyber agency, killing a volunteer of the Tauheedul Islam (TI) militia fighting against the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Islam incursion into the region.[14]

  • A clash between soldiers and militants in Daburai area of Orakzai agency on Monday killed one soldier and nine militants.[15]

  • Unknown attacks opened fire on an anti-polio vaccination team on Tuesday in Baldia town, Karachi; no one was hurt in the attack. Police arrested four people in connection with the attack and have suspended the vaccination campaign for one day.[16]

  • Police are investigating the source of a “powerful” blast heard near Rainbow Centre in Karachi on Tuesday.[17]

Afghan-Pakistan Relations

  • According to a senior Afghan official, Afghanistan and Pakistan have reached an agreement to remove a controversial border gate and checkpoints on the Pakistani side of the border. The Afghan National Army’s chief of military operations said an agreement was reached on Monday for the posts to be dismantled on Tuesday. President Karzai had earlier instructed security officials to take “immediate action” in removing the border gate and checkpoint. On Monday, hundreds of Afghan university students came onto the streets to protest what they called the installation of new checkpoints along the Afghan-Pakistan border.[18]

Drones

  • On Monday, Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement strongly condemning Sunday's drone strike in North Waziristan that killed at least four people, and has asked that the U.S. cease such attacks.[19]

  • The director of a specialized school in the Swat valley for rehabilitating child and teenage ex-Taliban members claims that the primary factor radicalizing the boys in the school is U.S. drone strikes. According to the school’s head, stories of women and children killed in strikes are what the Taliban use to recruit new members, though poverty and poor education create the atmosphere in which Taliban recruiters are able to radicalize individuals.[20]

Economy and IMF Talks

Earthquake

  • An earthquake originating in Iran on Tuesday resulted in the deaths of at least 34 people so far across Balochistan province in Pakistan. Tremors were felt as far as Karachi and Islamabad. The Pakistan Army is reportedly busy with relief efforts.[22] 


[1]“Pakistani Taliban deny role in Boston Marathon blasts,” Dawn, April 16, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/04/16/pakistani-taliban-deny-boston-marathon-blasts/
[2] Leiby, Richard. “Pakistani prime minister race narrows,” The Washington Post, April 16, 2013. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/pakistani-prime-minister-race-narrows/2013/04/16/2f81162a-a4f4-11e2-9e1c-bb0fb0c2edd9_story.html
[3] “Tribunal Disqualifies Musharraf From Election Bid,” Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, April 16, 2013. Available at http://www.rferl.org/content/pakistan-case-musharraf-candidacy/24958979.html
 “Game over: Musharraf out of election race,” Express Tribune, April 16, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/536227/musharraf-rejected-from-3-out-of-his-4-chosen-constituencies/
 “Musharraf thrown out of election race,” Dawn, April 16, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/04/16/musharraf-out-of-election-race/
 “Ex-PM Ashraf thrown out of election race,” Dawn, April 16, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/04/15/ex-pm-ashraf-thrown-out-of-election-race/
[4] “91 polling stations in Dir declared sensitive,” Dawn, April 16, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/04/16/91-polling-stations-in-dir-declared-sensitive/
[5] “SWA elders want polling stations for IDPs in NWA,” The News, April 16, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-171727-SWA-elders-want-polling-stations-for-IDPs-in-NWA
[6] Hazrat Bacha, Ali. “ANP sees plot behind security withdrawal,” Dawn, April 16, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/04/16/anp-sees-plot-behind-security-withdrawal/
[7] Anis, Muhammed. “Fazl seeks Jirgas for talks with Taliban,” The News, April 16, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-22284-Fazl-seeks-Jirgas-for-talks-with-Taliban
[8] “President urges FATA people to participate in election process,” Geo, April 15, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=96893
[9] “Sardar Sanaullah Zehri's convoy attacked, 3 family members killed,” Express Tribune, April 16, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/536257/nawab-sanaullah-zehris-convoy-attacked-3-family-members-killed/
Shah, Syed Ali. “Bomb targets PML-N Balochistan chief, kills three family members,” Dawn, April 16, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/04/16/blast-targets-pml-n-leader-zehris-convoy-three-killed/
[10] Sherazi, Zahir Shah. “House of PPP election candidate attacked in Peshawar,” Dawn, April 16, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/04/16/ppps-na-1-candidate-house-attacked-in-peshawar/
[11] “Gunmen kill two election campaigners in DI Khan: Police,” Express Tribune, April 15, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/535801/gunmen-kill-two-pakistan-election-campaigners-police/
[12] “Three security men martyred in North Waziristan suicide blast,” Geo, April 16, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=97036
[13] Gul, Pazir. “Taliban stop students from going to schools,” Dawn, April 16, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/04/16/taliban-stop-students-from-going-to-schools/
 “Taliban bar boys, girls from schools in protest at checkpoints,” The News, April 16, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-171750-Taliban-bar-boys,-girls-from-schools-in-protest-at-checkpoints
[14] “Member of lashkar killed in Tirah blast,” The News, April 16, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-171746-Member-of-lashkar-killed-in-Tirah-blast
[15] “Soldier, 9 militants killed in Orakzai clash,” The News, April 16, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-171745-Soldier,-9-militants-killed-in-Orakzai-clash
[16] “Anti-polio team attacked in Karachi's Baldia town,” Dawn, April 16, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/04/16/anti-polio-team-attacked-in-karachis-baldia-town/
[17] “Blast heard in Karachi,” Geo, April 15, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=96904
[18] “Pakistan To Remove Border Installations After Afghan Objections,” Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, April 16, 2013. Available at http://www.rferl.org/content/pakistan-afghanistan-border-durand-remove-dispute/24958928.html
 “Tensions rise over Afghan, Pakistan border dispute,” Reuters, April 15, 2013. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/15/us-afghanistan-pakistan-border-idUSBRE93E0D620130415
[19] “Pakistan strongly condemns US drone attack in N Waziristan,” Dawn, April 15, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/04/15/pakistans-foreign-office-strongly-condemns-us-drone-attack-in-n-waziristan/
[20] Robertson, Nic. “In Swat Valley, U.S. drone strikes radicalizing a new generation,” CNN, April 15, 2013. Available at http://edition.cnn.com/2013/04/14/world/asia/pakistan-swat-valley-school/index.html
[21] Kiani, Khaleeq. “Khoso appoints finance advisor, forms team for IMF talks,” Dawn, April 16, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/04/16/khoso-appoints-finance-adviser-forms-team-for-imf-talks/
[22] “Pakistan death toll from earthquake rises to 34: Officials,” Express Tribune, April 16, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/536264/earthquake-felt-in-parts-of-pakistan/
 “Massive quake kills 34 in Pakistan: officials,” Dawn, April 16, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/04/16/tremors-felt-in-karachi-badin-quetta-hyderabad/