Pakistan Security Brief - August 15, 2013

TTP former spokesman claims TTP amenable to peace talks, but ready for war; Indian shelling injures two civilians along LoC; TTP to target Indians if dispute continues; Prime Minister Manmohan Singh blames Pakistan for “anti-India” activity; Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif calls for de-escalation of tensions between India, Pakistan; Foreign minister blames intelligence agencies for border tensions, indications of thawing in rhetoric; Nearly 50 percent of by-election polling sites declared “sensitive”; Gunman engaged in standoff in Islamabad; 3 policemen killed in Karachi; 7 killed in Karachi; Interior Minister condemns Egypt’s crackdown.

Taliban Negotiations

  • On Wednesday, former spokesman for the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and current member of the TTP’s Political Commission Ehsanullah Ehsan declared on Wednesday that the TTP is willing to begin preliminary peace talks with the Pakistani government, but at the same time, will be ready for war if the government “prefers the option of war.” [1]

  • During a speech on Monday, Jamaat-e-Islami chief Munawar Hassan encouraged the government to respond positively to the TTP’s proposed peace talks. Hassan also noted that the government is not taking terrorism in Pakistan seriously enough.[2]

Line of Control Clashes

  • Tension continued on the Line of Control (LoC) on Thursday as Indian army shelling reportedly injured at least two civilians and damaged a house in Naykal, Kotli. [3]  

  • In a statement on Wednesday, Ehsanullah Ehsan, a member of the TTP’s Political Commission, claimed that the TTP will begin targeting Indians if aggression along the Kashmir border continues. According to Ehsan, “we are fighting the Pakistani government for the sake of Islam, but it does not mean that we will allow the enemies of the country to attack our homeland.”[4]    

  • Rhetoric escalated between Pakistan and India on Thursday as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh claimed Pakistan is allowing its soil to be used for “anti-India activity.” For relations between the neighbors to improve, Singh urged Pakistan to control its territory and prevent extremism in the region. Singh also pledged to take firm action to prevent such attacks in the future. On the other hand, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday said that Pakistan and India “have to defuse and de-escalate tension” with one another.[5]

  • Minister for Kashmir affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Chaudhry Barjees Tahir blamed both Indian and Pakistani intelligence agencies for the current border clashes between the two nations, claiming that the dispute was planned to cancel the planned meeting at the United Nations General Assembly between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in September.[6]

  • On Thursday, the Indian Parliament  rejected the Pakistani National Assembly’s Wednesday resolution blaming India for breaking the 2003 ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan. According to India’s counter resolution, “there should be absolutely no doubt in anyone’s mind, including members of the Pakistan National Assembly that it was the Pakistan Army that was involved in unprovoked attack on an Indian Army patrol.” Indian Parliament Speaker Meir Kumar also claimed that Jammu and Kashmir in its entirety is part of India.[7]   

  • Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid remained optimistic regarding Indian and Pakistani relations in a Wednesday interview, noting that between the two countries “there are things we don’t like, things we are not happy with, but there are things that we still hope can happen and things that are good in the long run even if you look from the perspective of our national interest and, therefore, you don’t slam all doors in one go.” Separately, in a Wednesday address Indian President Pranab Mukherjee claimed that India has remained committed to peace, but will soon lose patience if territorial incursions continue to occur along the border.[8]

  • During a speech in Lahore on Wednesday, Hafiz Saeed, the suspected mastermind behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks, condemned the United States and India, claiming that the U.S. supports Indian supremacy in South East Asia and separatist movements in Balochistan. After India’s foreign minister on Wednesday called for Pakistan to arrest Saeed in order to begin peace talks with Pakistan, Saeed called for the formation of an independent Indian and Pakistani joint commission to investigate his innocence, denying any involvement in the attacks.[9]

 By-elections

  • 3,644 of the 7, 622 polling stations for the August 22 by-elections have been labeled as “sensitive” by the Election Commission of Pakistan, according to a Wednesday Dawn report. The Pakistan Army will reportedly provide security for the stations deemed the most sensitive.[10]

Militancy    

  • According to a leader of the American Security Force Assistance Advisory Team (SFAAT), Lieutenant Colonel David Hamann, “madrassas are emptying in Pakistan,” as militants are preparing a final push in Afghanistan for the last few months of the fighting season. According to Maj. Gen. James McConville, the top U.S. commander for Regional Command-East, insurgents will attempt to achieve objectives they have not managed yet, including attacks on high-ranking government officials, as the Haqqani network has called for “every house, every family” to send fighters from Pakistan to Afghanistan. Afghan National Security Forces are also reportedly planning operations to counter any large-scale attacks. [11]

  • On Wednesday, Chief Minister of Balochistan Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch invited Baloch militant groups and religious parties to the negotiating table, noting that he hopes to resolve ongoing violence through dialogue. In the same statement, Baloch also noted that he would not allow Pakistan to be held hostage by extremist groups.[12]

  • In London on Wednesday, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Rehman Malik met with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Raibta Committee to discuss challenges which face Pakistan, ultimately deciding that inter-party unity is necessary to combat terrorism. Punjab governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar provided a similar message during an address to the Press Council of International Affairs on Wednesday, noting that terrorism is the nation’s biggest problem and that a country-wide effort will be needed to quell extremism.[13]

  • During an Independence Day speech on Wednesday, Muttahida Quami Movement chief Altaf Hussain declared that extremism must be eliminated for a “prosperous Pakistan.”[14]  

  • An armed man opened fire in the center of Islamabad outside of the President’s residence on Thursday evening. The man managed to slip his vehicle past several checkpoints and is reportedly armed with two assault rifles. Details of the incident are still being collected.[15]

  • Police conducted operations near Safari Park, Karachi on Wednesday, killing three suspected militants. Three policemen were also killed in the raids, and no arrests were made. Two other policemen were wounded as well; approximately 300 policemen were involved in the operation.[16]

  • Five people were gunned down in separate incidents throughout Karachi on Wednesday.[17]   

  • On Thursday, two people were shot and killed in Karachi in separate acts of violence.[18]

  • In Dera Ismail Khan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on Wednesday, police recovered a suicide vest and rocket launcher in open fields on Arra Road. In a separate incident, unknown gunmen opened fire on a member of the Kaniguram peace committee on Wednesday at Cantonment Police Station; no casualties were reported in the incident.[19]

  • On Thursday, the Supreme Court of Pakistan began a hearing regarding acts of terrorism throughout Balochistan, as well as forced disappearing throughout the province.[20]

Egyptian Protests

  • On Thursday Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan condemned the Egyptian military’s use of force on protestors throughout Wednesday in Cairo, noting that the military crackdown is a setback for Egypt’s fledgling democracy.[21]       



 
[1] Tahir Khan, “Open options: Taliban say ready for war and peace,” Express Tribune, August 15, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/590507/open-options-taliban-say-ready-for-war-and-peace/
[2] “Taliban ‘ negotiations’: JI chief accuses govt of towing IMF line, urges peace talks,” Express Tribune, August 14, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/589862/taliban-negotiations-ji-chief-accuses-govt-of-towing-imf-line-urges-peace-talks/
[3] “Mortar shelling by Indian army injures 3, damages home in Kotli,” Express Tribune, August 15, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/590542/mortar-shelling-by-indian-army-injures-one-woman-in-kotli/
[4] Tahir Khan, “Open options: Taliban say ready for war and peace,” Express Tribune, August 15, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/590507/open-options-taliban-say-ready-for-war-and-peace/
[5] “India PM tells Pakistan to stop ‘anti-India activity,’” Express Tribune, August 15, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/590539/india-pm-tells-pakistan-to-stop-anti-india-activity/   
Baqir Sajjad Syed, “Nawaz calls for de-escalation of tension on LoC,” Dawn, August 15, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/news/1035931/nawaz-calls-for-de-escalation-of-tension-on-loc
“Manmohan accuses Pakistan of anti-India activity,” The News, August 15, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-113674-Manmohan-accuses-Pakistan-of-LoC-attack 
“India PM Manmohan Singh: Pakistan ‘attack dastardly,’” BBC News, August 15, 2013. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-23707479
[6] Irfan Ghauri, “LoC tensions: Minister blames Indian army, agencies for flare-up,” Express Tribune, August 15, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/590476/loc-tensions-minister-blames-indian-army-agencies-for-flare-up/
[7] “India’s two houses reject NA resolution,” Dawn, August 15, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/news/1035927/indias-two-houses-reject-na-resolution  
Aditi Phadnis, “Soaring tensions: Indian Lok Sabha condemns ‘Pakistan aggression’,” Express Tribune, August 15, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/590483/soaring-tensions-indian-lok-sabha-condemns-pakistan-aggression/
[8] “India committed to peace, friendship with Pakistan but warns its patience has limits,” Express Tribune, August 15, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/590468/india-committed-to-peace-friendship-with-pakistan-but-warns-its-patience-has-limits/
[9] “Foe of U.S., India Raises Profile in Pakistan,” Wall Street Journal, August 14, 2013. Available at http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB10001424127887324139404579012983198685814-lMyQjAxMTAzMDEwNDExNDQyWj.html?mod=wsj_valettop_email  
“Hafiz Saeed challenges India to prove he is a terrorist,” Dawn, August 15, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/news/1035946/hafiz-saeed-challenges-india-to-prove-he-is-a-terrorist
[10] Iftikhar A. Khan, “All polling stations for Sindh by-polls declared ‘sensitive’,” Dawn, August 15, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/news/1035947/all-polling-stations-for-sindh-by-polls-declared-sensitive
[11] Carlo Munoz, “US commanders ‘planning for the worst’ as Afghan fighting season winds down,” The Hill, August 15, 2013. Available at http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/operations/317049-us-commanders-planning-for-the-worst-as-afghan-fighting-season-winds-down
[12] Mohammad Zafar, “Independence Day: Dr Malik offers olive branch to insurgents,” Express Tribune, August 15, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/590491/independence-day-dr-malik-offers-olive-branch-to-insurgents/  
“Terrorists can’t be allowed to hold Baloch hostage: Malik,” The News, August 15, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-24795-Terrorists-cant-be-allowed-to-hold-Baloch-hostage%3a-Malik
[13] “Unity needed to tackle terrorism challenge: Rehman Malik, MQM,” Express Tribune, August 15, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/590469/unity-needed-to-tackle-terrorism-challenge-rehman-malik-mqm/  
“Terrorism is biggest challenge for Pakistan: Punjab Governor,” Express Tribune, August 15, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/590555/terrorism-is-biggest-challenge-for-pakistan-punjab-governor/
[14] “Altaf for end to extremism,” The News, August 15, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-4-195995-Altaf-for-end-to-extremism
[15] “Gunman demanding Islamic system opens fire in Islamabad,” Dawn, August 15, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/news/1036052/gunman-demanding-islamic-system-opens-fire-in-islamabad
[16] “Police battle dacoits in Karachi, 3 policemen killed,” Express Tribune, August 15, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/590528/police-battle-suspected-militants-in-karachi-2-policemen-killed/  
“Karachi: Three police officials killed in encounter near Safari Park,” The News, August 15, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-113684-Police-officer-killed,-2-injured-in-Karachi-encounter
[17] “Five more shot dead,” The News, August 15, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-4-195988-Five-more-shot-dead
[18] “Fresh violence claims two more lives in Karachi,” The News, August 15, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-113694-Two-more-gunned-down-in-Karachi-
[19] “Suicide jacket, arms recovered,” The News, August 15, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-196014-Suicide-jacket,-arms-recovered
[20] “Supreme Court hears Balochistan unrest case,” The News, August 15, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-113715-Supreme-Court-hears-Balochistan-unrest-case
[21] “Pakistan condemns violence in Egypt,” Express Tribune, August 15, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/590545/chaudhry-nisar-condemns-violence-in-egypt/