Pakistan Security Brief - August 17, 2012

 

Militants were unable to breach base security, death toll from airbase attack rises; U.S. expresses confidence in Pakistan’s nuclear security; Rumors of Pakistani operation in North Waziristan grow, top U.S. general meets Pakistani army chief; Two killed in Karachi bombing; ceasefire violation on Indo-Pak border; TTP Darra Adamkhel announces new suicide attack wing; Afghan militants raid northern Pakistan; UN Secretary General express outrage at sectarian killings.

Aftermath of Base Assault and Nuclear Fears

  • The aftermath of the brazen Taliban assault on a Pakistani airbase near Islamabad on Thursday reveals that militants were unable to breach the facility beyond its outer security perimeter. According to media reports, the base was at heightened security due to recent intelligence reports anticipating an attack of this nature, and the nine militants were engaged soon after scaling the base’s perimeter wall. Only one aircraft out of the base’s fleet, the target of the attack, was slightly damaged in the assault. One more soldier involved in the firefight succumbed to his injuries on Friday, bringing the military’s death toll from the attack to two. Security has been ramped up in the city of Peshawar following the attack.[1]

  • U.S. officials on Thursday reiterated their belief in the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, saying they had no reason to doubt official Pakistani statements that no nuclear weapons were housed on the base. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters that the U.S. had “confidence that the government of Pakistan is well aware of the range of potential threats to its nuclear arsenal and has secured its nuclear arsenal accordingly.” Defense Department spokesman George Little said he did “not have any indication that [the Kamra] attack has endangered the Pakistani nuclear stockpile.”[2]

Discussions of North Waziristan Operation

  • A report by the Associated Press makes the case that the assault on the airbase reinforces the need for a Pakistani military operation against Taliban militants in North Waziristan. The report quotes Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik as saying that four of the nine attackers were from North Waziristan. The report also quotes an unnamed military official as saying that Pakistan has recently increased the size of its force in North Waziristan from 30,000 to 34,000 with the addition of another brigade, and plans to add yet another brigade in the coming months. Pakistani military officials, however, downplayed statements by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta that Pakistan was about to launch a major assault, saying “you will see a slow ratcheting up over many months, even a year,” not the sweeping campaign mentioned by Panetta.[3]

  • Rumors of a push into North Waziristan intensified when the head of U.S. Central Command Gen. James Mattis visited Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in Islamabad on Thursday. Senior officials said discussions were being held over how to tackle the “common enemy,” a reference to the Pakistan-focused Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Pakistani military officials have said that “The idea is not to go against [the Haqqani Network] straight…we have suggested taking on [the TTP] first and the Americans have endorsed the idea.” According to media reports, North Waziristan locals have been spooked by the numerous reports of an operation and by the apparently “abnormal movement of military convoys in the area.” Kayani clarified on Friday, however, that any operation in Waziristan would be a Pakistani affair, not a joint operation with the U.S., and would not be undertaken under external pressure.[4]

Militancy and Border Clashes

  • Two people were killed and 18 wounded on Friday when a bomb exploded near a park in the Gulistan-e-Jauhar area of Karachi. The “low-intensity” bomb hit a passenger bus carrying people to a rally held by the Imamia Students Organization called Youm-e-Quds, held annually near the end of Ramadan.[5]

  • An Indian Border Security Force (BSF) official was killed and six Pakistani civilians were wounded an exchange of fire across the Line of Control in Kashmir between Pakistani and Indian security forces. Both sides accuse the other of starting unprovoked firing. The incident, which took place near Surkhpur village, 6 miles from Sialkot, was the eighth ceasefire violation across the Line of Control in the past ten days.[6]

  • The Darra Adamkhel chapter of the TTP on Thursday announced the setup of a new wing called “Al-Mansooreen” dedicated to carrying out suicide attacks across the country. Mohammad, the spokesman for the group, said “commandos” from the group had already been dispatched to launch attacks and that the TTP faction’s leader, Tariq Mansoor would himself head the Al-Mansooreen wing.[7]

  • Afghan militants reportedly crossed the Afghan-Pakistan border on Friday to raid a village in the Kalash valley in Chitral district. According to local security officials, militants from Nuristan in Afghanistan made off with hundreds of goats and kidnapped a shepherd. Armed locals reportedly pursued the fleeing militants into Afghanistan and were able to recover the herd as well as the shepherd.[8]

  • Militants fired multiple rockets and missiles at a military checkpost in the Marghan area of lower Orakzai on Thursday. Soldiers fired artillery barrages against suspected militant hideouts in retaliation. No casualties were reported.[9]  

Protests against Violence

  • UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon expressed his outrage over the execution of over 20 Shias in northern Pakistan on Thursday. Gunmen dragged the Shias off a passenger bus on its way from Rawalpindi to Gilgit. Parts of Gilgit-Baltistan, a heavily Shia area, held strikes for the second straight day in protest against the killings.[10]

  • Doctors in Balochistan continued a strike into its seventeenth straight day in protest against the kidnapping of a doctor who was abducted from Quetta on August 1.[11]     



[1] Rashid Ali, “Alert air force repels militant raid on key base,” Express Tribune, August 17, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/423248/alert-air-force-repels-militant-raid-on-key-base/
“Kamra base attack: Soldier succumbs to injuries, takes deatrh toll to 2,” Express Tribune, August 17, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/423315/kamra-base-attack-soldier-succumbs-to-injuries-takes-death-toll-to-2/
“Security clampdown in Peshawar after Kamra attack,” Dawn, August 17, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/08/17/security-clampdown-in-peshawar-after-kamra-attack-2/
[2] “US confident of Pakistan nuclear security,” AFP, August 17, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/08/17/us-confident-of-pakistan-nuclear-security/
Carlos Munoz, “Taliban raid never endangered Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile, says DOD,” The Hill, August 16, 2012. Available at http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/operations/244035-taliban-raid-never-endangered-pakistans-nuclear-stockpile-says-dod-
[3] “Brazen attack underscores need for offensive against Pakistani Taliban’s tribal sanctuary,” Associated Press, August 17, 2012. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/brazen-attack-underscores-need-for-offensive-against-pakistani-talibans-tribal-sanctuary/2012/08/17/9ee80d7a-e834-11e1-9739-eef99c5fb285_story_1.html
[4] Kamran Yousaf and Zia Khan, “Mattis, Kayani to discuss North Waziristan operation,” Express Tribune, August 17, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/423258/mattis-kayani-to-discuss-north-waziristan-operation/
“Army will not launch a joint operation in North Waziristan: Kayani,” Dawn, August 17, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/08/17/army-will-not-launch-a-joint-operation-in-nw-kayani/
[5] “2 killed, 18 injured in Karachi blast,” Express Tribune, August 17, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/423349/blast-near-safari-park-in-karachi/
[6] “Indian soldier dead, six Pakistani civilians unjured in cross border firing,” Dawn, August 17, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/08/17/indian-soldier-dead-six-pakistani-civilians-injured-in-cross-border-firing/
[7] Yasir Shah, “Darra TTP sets up wing to carry out suicide attacks,” The News, August 17, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-16867-Darra-TTP-sets-up-wing-to-carry-out-suicide-attacks
[8] Mohkam-ud-din, “Afghan militants storm Kalash Valley, steal herd of goats,” Express Tribune, August 17, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/423491/afghan-militants-storm-kalash-valley-steal-herd-of-goats/  
[9] “Two missiles, four rockets fired at Orakzai agency,” The News, August 17, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-16869-Two-missiles,-four-rockets-fired-at-Orakzai-Agency
[10] “UN leader ‘apalled’ by Mansehra sectarian killing,” AFP, August 17, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/423332/un-leader-appalled-by-mansehra-sectarian-killing/
“Parts of Gilgit-Baltistan shut down to protest Shia killings,” Express Tribune, August 17, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/423357/parts-of-gilgit-baltistan-shut-down-to-protest-shia-killings/
[11] “Doctors’ strike in Balochistan enters day 17,” Dawn, August 17, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/08/17/doctors-strike-in-balochistan-enters-day-17/