Pakistan Security Brief - August 21, 2012
Drone kills five in Pakistan; black marketers hail reopening of NATO supplies; car bomb kills one in Quetta; Interior Minister says government negotiating release of slain governor’s kidnapped son; President orders probe into arrest of girl on blasphemy charges; India says it has proof mass panic caused by messages originating in Pakistan; Indian business to launch operations in Pakistan.
A U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan killed at least four suspected militants and injured two more on Tuesday. The strike took place on a vehicle in Shnakhura village, six miles from the main town of Miram Shah. Security officials said they could not tell if any prominent targets had been killed in the attack.
NATO Supply Routes
A report in the Christian Science Monitor examines the impact of the opening of supply chains through Pakistan to Afghanistan on black-market businesses inside Pakistan. According to the report, everyone from smugglers to arms dealers relied on the NATO supply route for access to cheap supplies and suffered heavily when the convoys stopped moving. The report says, however, that the black-market relying on the supply route is expected to normalize now that Pakistan has re-opened its border to NATO goods.
Following international outrage, President Asif Ali Zardari has called for an inquiry into the arrest of a disabled Christian girl accused of violating Pakistan’s blasphemy law, an offense that carries the death penalty. The 11-year-old mentally handicapped girl was taken into police custody for allegedly burning pages of a religious textbook. The girl’s mother was also arrested. Senior government officials and policemen were quoted as saying they believed the charges were “baseless” and expected the case would be dropped, but previous blasphemy cases have led to incidents of vigilante justice such as the killing of Punjab governor Salman Taseer early in 2011. A number of the girl’s Christian relatives have “fled their homes, fearing for their lives.”
A car bomb attack in Quetta, Balochistan killed two people and injured 11 more on Tuesday. The explosives-packed vehicle was apparently targeting a convoy of paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC) personnel. There was no claim of responsibility for the attack.
Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Tuesday that he hoped slain governor Salman Taseer’s kidnapped son Shahbaz would be recovered soon, the first official confirmation that Pakistani authorities are in talks with militants over Shahbaz’s release. Pakistani intelligence agencies have reportedly been negotiating Shahbaz Taseer’s release with Taliban militants holding him for some months now. Militants are reportedly demanding a large ransom for his safe return.
Indian officials said on Tuesday that they would share proof with the Pakistani government that threatening messages and pictures that had caused panic and an exodus of migrant workers inside India originated from Pakistan. Pakistan had earlier requested to see proof that the messages in question were being created in Pakistan.
In a further sign of improved business ties between India and Pakistan, Indian consumer goods giant Godrej has declared it plans to establish operations inside Pakistan and Burma before the end of the year.
“Christian Girl’s Blashpeny Arrest Incites a Furor in Pakistan,” New York Times, August 20, 2012. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/21/world/asia/christian-girls-blasphemy-arrest-incites-a-furor-in-pakistan.html?_r=1