Pakistan Security Brief - April 6, 2011

White House issues semi-annual report on security in Pakistan; Three LI commanders killed in Tirah Valley; Mangal Bagh asks for assistance from TTP; Five killed in Khyber; Four children killed in Kohat; Two schools and health facility blown up in Mohmand; Cameron pledges $1.1 billion in aid to schools in Pakistan; Al Qaeda resurgence in neighboring Afghanistan; Two tankers blown up in Balochistan; Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority to conduct safety review.

 

White House Report on Pakistan

  • A semi-annual report issued by the White House warned of the deteriorating security situation in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and stated that Pakistan still possesses no clear way to defeat militancy in the region “despite the unprecedented and sustained deployment of over 147,000 forces.” The report details recent security operations in Mohmand Agency, the third in two years, arguing that it has been "hampered by militant resistance, poor weather, the need to settle internally displaced people and the discovery of several caches of improvised explosive devices." However, the report does highlight positive military cooperation between the U.S. and Pakistan, amid political tensions over the Raymond Davis case. The report does not make an overt demand for Pakistan to send military forces into North Waziristan. In regards to the worsening economic situation in the country, it warns that, “The deterioration of Pakistan’s economy and slow progress on economic reforms poses the greatest threat to Pakistan’s stability over the medium term.”[i]
 

FATA

  • Three Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) commanders were killed in Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency during continued clashes with the Zakha Khel tribal lashkar. The alleged head of the LI execution squad, Khan Zakha Khel, and two other commanders were reportedly killed in the fighting. Dawn additionally reports that volunteers of Ansarul Islam, a militant group and rival to LI,"re-established control over the Sandapal area after Zakhakhel tribesmen, previously loyal to LI, had abandoned the area. The LI had ousted Ansaar from Sandapal three years ago after a fierce [gun battle]." Zakha Khel tribesmen have allegedly been assured of government support against the Mangal Bagh-led LI, though elders remain skeptical that the political administration will implement a strategy against the LI.[ii]
  • The Express Tribune reports that LI commander Mangal Bagh has asked for assistance from the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in his fight against the Zakha Khel tribal lashkar. The media outlet reports that, “This comes a day after a group of Afghan Taliban threatened to join Bagh’s rivals to avenge the beheading of Maulana Muhammad Hashim, a respected cleric from the [Zakha Khel] clan of the Afridi tribe.” Other sources allege that the TTP has worked to negotiate a truce between LI and Zakha Khel tribesmen.[iii]
  • On Tuesday, five people were killed and eight others were injured in an explosion in the Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency. The blast reportedly took place at a village fair where locals had gathered.[iv]
  • An explosive device in Kohat killed four children on Wednesday. Masood Khan Afridi, a senior police officer, declared that, “Four children have been killed and three others were wounded. The bomb disposal squad informed me that the blast was caused by a mine. Some children were swimming in the pool and some were playing there. Perhaps a child stepped on the mine and it exploded.”[v]
  • Two schools and a health facility were blown up in the Halimzai sub-district of Mohmand Agency on Tuesday. The schools in the Ghazi Baig and Daim Kor areas were damaged by a planted improvised explosive device (IED), as was the health facility in Mominabad.[vi]
 

U.K.-Pakistani Relations

  • During Prime Minister Cameron’s one-day visit to Pakistan, he pledged $1.1 billion in U.K. aid to the Pakistani education system. Cameron also called for the wealthy in Pakistan to pay more in taxes. He said, "Too many of your richest people are getting away without paying much tax at all – and that's not fair. Not fair on you, ordinary Pakistanis who suffer at the sharpest end of this weak governance. But neither is it fair on British taxpayers, who are contributing to Pakistan's future." The Independent confirms that, “Pakistan is poised to become the biggest recipient of British aid in coming years.”[vii]
 

Al Qaeda Resurgence in Neighboring Afghanistan

  • The Wall Street Journal reports that “Al Qaeda has begun setting up training camps, hideouts and operations bases in the remote mountains along Afghanistan's northeastern border with Pakistan.” Though it is unclear the exact number of al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan, the media outlet argues that camps are now scattered across Kunar province, Nuristan province, and the edges of Nangarhar province, which is located next to a major route from Pakistan. The Wall Street Journal additionally reports that, “For the most part, al Qaeda has been viewed by Western officials as a declining force in the Afghan fight. Just six months ago, U.S. intelligence estimates indicated only one or two dozen al Qaeda fighters were present in Afghanistan at any given time. Most of the few hundred fighters it had in the region were holed up in Pakistan, hiding from Central Intelligence Agency drone strikes in mountain shelters, and beset by morale and money problems.”[viii]
 

Attack in Balochistan

  • Two tankers carrying oil to NATO forces in Afghanistan were blown up in the Dhadhar area of Balochistan on Wednesday. The tankers were fired upon before being torched by unidentified assailants, who escaped from the scene following the attack.[ix]
 

Safety Review of Nuclear Plants

  • Following the recent disaster at a Japanese nuclear plant, the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA) has requested the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) “to revisit the safety aspects of the nuclear power plants at Karachi and Chashma.” Though a source said that nuclear power plants in Pakistan operate according to international standards, “PNRA will continue to study the accident at Fukushima and the response of Japanese and other regulatory authorities and may ask PAEC to take additional measures.”[x]
 
 


[i] “Report on Afghanistan and Pakistan, March 2011.” White House, April 5, 2011. Available at http://abcnews.go.com/images/Politics/UNCLASS%20Report%20on%20Afghanistan%20and%20Pakistan.pdf
[ii] “Three LI commanders killed in Tirah,” Dawn, April 6, 2011. Available at
[iii] Qaiser Butt, “Bagh seeks Taliban help in fight for Khyber,” Express Tribune, April 6, 2011. Available at
[iv] “Explosion in Khyber Agency kills five, injures eight,” Dawn, April 6, 2011. Available at
[v] “Explosion in Kohat kills 4 children,” Express Tribune, April 6, 2011. Available at
[vi] “2 schools, hospital blown up in Mohmand,” The News, April 6, 2011. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=40166&Cat=7&dt=4/6/2011
[vii] Patrick Wintour, “David Cameron tells Pakistan: raise more tax from the rich,” Guardian, April 5, 2011. Available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/apr/05/david-cameron-pakistan-raise-taxes-rich
[viii] Matthew Rosenberg and Julian E. Barnes, “Al Qaeda Makes Afghan Comeback,” Wall Street Journal, April 6, 2011. Available at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704355304576215762431072584.html
[ix] “Two Nato tankers torched in Dhadhar,” Dawn, April 6, 2011. Available at
[x] “Pakistan orders safety review of nuke plants,” Express Tribune, April 5, 2011. Available at