Pakistan Security Brief - August 20, 2012

Multiple drone strikes hit North Waziristan; TTP claims inside knowledge of North Waziristan operation, threatens retaliation; U.S., Pakistan expected to revive strategic dialogue during UN session in September; TTP damaged Saab radar aircraft in base assault; PAF jets hit TTP locations in Orakzai; TTP takes responsibility for slaying Shias; G4S to end operations in Pakistan; Legal fraternities ask Supreme Court to spare Prime Minister; India accuses Pakistan-based actors of causing panic in India; various acts of militancy plague northwest Pakistan.

Drone Strikes, Military Operation in North Waziristan

  • Numerous U.S. drone attacks in North Waziristan killed over a dozen militants over the weekend. The first strike, took place on Saturday in Shuwedar village of the Shawal area of the agency, killing five suspected militant. The strike hit a compound where a gathering of militants loyal to North Waziristan Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur was taking place. A different report quotes local officials as saying the compound struck belonged to “Mansoor,” a commander in the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Some Uzbek fighters were reportedly among the dead in Saturday’s strike. Two more strikes on Sunday in the Mana Gurbaz area of Shawal sub-district killed ten more militants. The first strike targeted two vehicles killing seven militants and the second targeted a house killing three militants. Officials say the area is dominated by militants loyal to Gul Bahadur. Pakistan issued strong protests against the attacks, calling them a violation of sovereignty.[1]

  • The TTP issued warnings on Monday claiming it had squads of suicide bombers waiting to launch attacks across the country if Pakistan launched an offensive in North Waziristan agency. The group also claims to have received privileged information regarding a potential operation from its “sources” inside Pakistan’s army headquarters. An email from TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan named the regiments, units and the commander that were expected to be involved in a possible operation the group says is planned for August 26 and that is forecasted to last one month. Military officials have not commented on the note.[2]

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

  • According to press reports citing official sources in the Pakistani embassy in Washington D.C., the revival of the strategic dialogue between the U.S. and Pakistan next month is expected to bring with it a host of goodwill gestures. According to both U.S. and Pakistani sources, both countries are planning on taking advantage of the 67th UN General Assembly session in New York in September to restart the long-stalled strategic dialogue. Sources claim a meeting between President Asif Ali Zardari and President Barack Obama may take place. Pakistan’s foreign minister and foreign secretary are planning to visit ahead of the trip to finalize the agenda which is expected to focus on the “social sector and non-security areas.”[3]

Security and Militancy

  • According to additional reporting in the aftermath of the TTP’s attack on a Pakistan Air Force base near Islamabad, militants managed to cause damage to a Saab-2000 aircraft fitted with an Airborne Early Warning and Control system. The aircraft is to be sent o Sweden for repairs.[4]

  • Pakistani jets struck the hideouts of TTP militants in Orakzai and Khyber agencies of Pakistan’s tribal areas on Saturday. According to the Pakistani military, airstrikes killed eight militants in Gawak area of Orakzai and Mathra area of Khyber. An official said one strike targeted Aslam Farooq, a top TTP commander in lower Orakzai.[5]

  • The TTP took responsibility on Thursday for the killing of 20 Shias in the Babusar area of Mansehra. TTP Darra Adamkhel spokesman Muhammad Afridi said those killed were Shias “involved in killing Sunnis against the will of Islam” and would continue to be targeted.[6]

  • Cell phone service has been restored in much of Pakistan following service blackouts in four major cities on the eve of Eid celebrations marking the end of Ramadan. The blackout was part of government-mandated security procedures in the wake of intelligence reports forecasting terrorist attacks on “key installations in sensitive areas.”[7]

  • G4S, the largest private security company in the world, is planning on ending its operations in Pakistan in the face of “an increasingly hostile environment for foreign security companies.” The company will be selling its Pakistan business to its local chairman Ikram Sehgal who was quoted as saying “The Pakistani government has decided it doesn't want foreign security companies in the region, which makes it tough for outsiders to operate.”[8]

  • Militants blew up a girls school in Dab Kot village in South Waziristan agency. The school, the only “functional higher secondary” school in the area, was badly damaged.[9]

  • Five security officials were killed on Saturday when a suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest near a checkpoint of paramilitary Frontier Corps personnel in Quetta, Balochistan.[10]

  • Over ten people were killed in Karachi on Saturday in various incidents of violence. Police and paramilitary Rangers were called in to control crowds of protestors in the aftermath of the killings. Earlier, a young man was killed in the Gulbahar area of Karachi on Friday in what police are describing as a sectarian attack. Also on Friday, two Muttahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM) activists were gunned down in Makhdoom Shah Colony of the Orangi Town area and the Nagan Chowrangi area.[11]

  • Four family members of a former peace committee (anti-Taliban militia) leader were killed when militants opened fire on them in the Michni area of Ekka Ghund sub-district in Mohmand agency. Meanwhile, peace committees in Mohmand have reportedly begun differing on whom to blame for a breakdown of the security situation in the agency. Some peace committees have pointed the finger at the government while others blaming different peace committees.[12]

  • One person was killed and 14 other injured in three separate bomb blasts across Kurram agency on Friday. One bombing in Maaz Khan market in Sadda, a town in central Kurram left one dead and twelve wounded while a landmine blast injured two people in Khwar Killay, Sadda. In neighboring Khyber agency, one person was injured in a bomb blast in a market in Landi Kotal. Mohammad, a spokesman for the TTP’s Darra Adamkhel chapter, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the group would continue to target shops selling multimedia.[13]

  • Yet another militant has died of a reported heart attack in while in the custody of security forces in Swat district. The death brings the number of militants who have died of cardiac arrest while in custody to 14. Three militants were arrested by security forces in Jehangirabad village of Mardan district, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on Friday.[14]

Civil-Judicial Crisis

  • Top Pakistani legal fraternities including the Pakistan Bar Council and the Supreme Court Bar Association have called on the Supreme Court of Pakistan to exercise restraint in its pursuit of a case accusing Prime Minister Raja Parvez Ashraf of being in contempt of court. The bodies asked the Court not to dismiss a second prime minister in a row on contempt charges; Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Iftikhar Chaudhry assured the bar council that the matter would dealt with “through consultation.”[15]

Indo-Pak Relations

  • Pakistan has asked India to provide proof that a series of threatening web and phone messages that caused panic among, and the exodus of, certain migrant communities in India originated in Pakistan. India claims that non-Muslim migrants from northeastern India were fleeing major Indian cities after receiving messages that claimed Muslims would target their communities as part of an ongoing conflict between Bengali Muslims and local tribes in northeastern India. The Indian government claims the messages are fabricated and originated in Pakistan.[16]

    


[1] Munir Ahmed, “U.S. drone kills 5 militants in northern Pakistan,” AP, August 18, 2012. Available at http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-08-18/suicide-car-bomber-kills-5-pakistani-troops
“Eight die in Waziristan drone strikes,” Dawn, August 19, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/08/20/eight-die-in-waziristan-drone-attacks/
Zulfiqar Ali, “Two US drone strikes kill 6 militants in North Waziristan: Officials,” AFP, August 19, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/424117/us-drone-strike-kills-four-militants-in-pakistan-officials/
“US missiles kill 10 suspected militants in Pakistan, officials say,” AP, August 19, 2012. Available at http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/08/19/us-missiles-kill-7-militants-in-pakistan-officials-say/
“Pakistan strongly protests US drone attacks in North Waziristan,” Dawn, August 18, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/08/18/pakistan-strongly-protested-us-drone-attacks-in-north-waziristan/
[2] “Pakistani Taliban threatens attacks on military,” AFP, August 20, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/08/20/pakistani-taliban-threatens-attacks-on-military/
[3] Sumera Khan and Kamran Yousaf, “Resumption of strategic dialogue to boost Pak-US ties,” Express Tribune, August 20, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/424354/resumption-of-strategic-dialogue-to-boost-pak-us-ties/
[4] Ejaz Haider, “Analysis: The bigger questions surrounding Kamra,” Express Tribune, August 18, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/423709/analysis-the-bigger-questions-surrounding-kamra/
[5] “Air strikes kill eight militants: Officials,” Express Tribune, August 20, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/424090/air-strikes-kill-eight-militants-officials/
[6] “Shia killing: TTP claims responsibility for Mansehra attack,” Express Tribune, August 16, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/422907/sectarian-attack-16-sunnis-gunned-down-near-gilgit/
[7] “Eid security: Cellphone services restored,” Express Tribune, August 20, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/424554/cellphone-services-partially-restored-in-parts-of-pakistan/
[8] “G4S to pullout from Pakistan: FT,” Reuters, August 19, 2012. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/20/us-g4s-pakistan-idUSBRE87J00520120820
[9] “Girls school blown up in South Waziristan,” Express Tribune, August 20, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/424580/girls-school-blown-up-in-south-waziristan/
[10] Munir Ahmed, “U.S. drone kills 5 militants in northern Pakistan,” AP, August 18, 2012. Available at http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-08-18/suicide-car-bomber-kills-5-pakistani-troops
[11] “Overnight targeted attack claim 10 lives in Karachi,” Dawn, August 18, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/08/18/sporadic-firing-kills-two-near-water-pump-in-karachi/
“Young man killed in sectarian attack,” Dawn, August 18, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/08/18/young-man-killed-in-sectarian-attack/
“Two MQM activists gunned down,” Dawn, August 18, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/08/18/two-mqm-activists-gunned-down/
[12] Mureeb Mohmand, “Targeted: Son, 3 nephews of former peace committee leader killed,” Express Tribune, August 18, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/423792/targeted-son-3-nephews-of-former-peace-committee-leader-killed/
Mureeb Mohmand, “Mohmand agency: Peace committees criticize administration,” Express Tribune, August 19, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/423927/mohmand-agency-peace-committees-criticise-administration/
[13] “1 killed, 14 injured in Kurram blast,” The News, August 18, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-127092-1-killed,-14-injured-in-Kurram-blast
“One injured in Landikotal bomb blast,” The News, August 19, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-127303-One-injured-in-Landikotal-bomb-blast
[14] “Another militant dies in forces’ custody,” The News, August 18, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-127094-Another-militant-dies-in-forces-custody
“Three militants held in Takht Bhai,” The News, August 18, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-127090-Three-militants-held-in-Takht-Bhai
[15] Azam Khan, “Dealing with PM: Top lawyer bodies call for restraint by SC,” Express Tribune, August 19, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/424080/dealing-with-pm-top-lawyer-bodies-call-for-restraint-by-sc/ 
[16] “Pakistan seeks proof if India exodus messages,” BBC, August 20, 2012. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-19314937