Pakistan Security Brief – August 22, 2011
Karachi violence continues as Prime Minister chairs meeting seeking an end to violence, army says it is ready to step in if asked; Multiple attacks in Waziristan kill two soldiers; top Taliban militant and Haqqani affiliate killed in militant infighting in North Waziristan; Pakistan looking to Saudi Arabia, UAE for FATA aid; IED, gunfight, kills soldiers in Khyber; dozens of NATO tankers destroyed in Balochistan; Benazir assassination probe developments; New anti-terror laws may be implemented; No developments in case of kidnapped American; India kills 12 militants infiltrating from Pakistan.
Violence continues to plague Karachi as seven more people were gunned down on Monday in different areas of the city. The killings coincide with a visit to the city by Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to chair a meeting to discuss the breakdown in law and order. Gilani reportedly said the government would take “all steps and necessary measures to stabilize Karachi.” Trade bodies and businessmen in Karachi called on the army to step in to restore order in the city, saying that regular law enforcement agencies “had failed to restore peace” in the city of 18 million. In an interview with The News, Pakistan’s army chief General Ashfaq Kayani stated that the army was ready to step in to quell the violence “if the civilian government asked it to do so,” but qualified the statement by saying that “the police and paramilitary [forces] would, if properly deployed be able to stem the unrest.” Prime Minister Gilani reiterated this stance saying that military action in Karachi was not the ideal solution and that “optimal use” of the police and Rangers forces would be enough to resolve the violence. Meanwhile, Iftikhar Chaudhry, the country’s chief justice, took suo moto notice of the killings in Karachi, promising to investigate the bloodshed.
Multiple attacks on Pakistani military forces in North and South Waziristan killed two soldiers on Sunday, and wounded more than a dozen others. In the first incident, militants attack a military outpost in the South Waziristan town of Ladha, killing one soldier and wounding another. In another attack in the Pasht Ziarat area of the region on the border between the two Waziristans, a gunfight between militants and soldiers left one soldier and three militants dead, and six soldiers and seven militants wounded. A third incident in Miram Shah, the headquarters of North Waziristan, left five soldiers wounded after their convoy was hit by a roadside bomb.
A prominent militant commander affiliated with the Haqqani Network was killed during militant infighting in North Waziristan on Sunday. Muhammad Hanif, a close ally of North Waziristan Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur, died during a confrontation with several other Taliban militants from a separate group. Hanif had intercepted the militants after they bombed a Pakistani military convoy in Miram Shah in violation of a local peace deal. Locals say they expect an “angry reaction” from the Hafiz Gul Bahadur group and that the killing had increased tensions in the area.
Pakistan is reportedly looking to Saudi Arabia and the UAE for financial assistance for development of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the repatriation of internally displaced people (IDPs) in the face threats of cuts in development assistance from the U.S., according to a report in the Express Tribune. A government official said that Saudi Arabia and the UAE had already promised $100 million towards development and repatriation efforts in the FATA.
Three soldiers were killed and six wounded when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device (IED) in Khyber agency on Saturday. At least two soldiers and ten militants were killed during a search operation in the Aka Khel area of Khyber agency launched in response to the earlier IED attack. The attack came a day after 51 people were killed in a suicide bomb attack on a mosque in Khyber.
On Friday militants destroyed at least five NATO oil tankers in the Dash area of Balochistan, 12 miles south of Quetta. Gunmen fired on the tankers with small arms, causing them to catch fire. Nineteen more tankers were destroyed when a dozen gunmen attacked a NATO convoy in Mastung district. No claims of responsibility have yet been issued.
Benazir Bhutto Assassination
A Pakistani anti-terrorism court expects to indict seven men accused of participating in the assassination of slain former prime minister Benzair Bhutto. The hearing is to be held on August 27. Among those to be indicted will be several members of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Saud Aziz, then head of Rawalpindi’s police force, is being indicted as well on charges of destroying evidence in the aftermath of the murder.
New Anti-Terror Law
According to a report in the Express Tribune, two “western models” will be used in the promulgation of new laws to help try and convict people arrested on charges of terrorism. The new methods proposed include the “Sicilian model” and the Witness Protection Act, two measures used to prevent intimidation or harm of prosecutors, judges and witnesses in judicial proceedings. Anti-terror courts in Pakistani frequently acquit people for lack of evidence.
There have been no breakthroughs in the case of the abducted American aid expert Warren Weinstein as lie detectors used on Weinstein’s household staff have failed to provide more clues or evidence. Police have also not received any further information following the release of a sketch of one of the suspects in the kidnapping.
On Saturday Indian soldiers shot dead 12 militants trying to cross into Indian-administered Kashmir from Pakistan. An Indian army spokesman called the killing of the militants “the biggest success so far this year,” saying they had foiled a “major infiltration attempt.”
“Karachi violence: PM says govt will take ‘all steps necessary,’” Express Tribune, August 22, 2011. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/236842/violence-continues-3-more-killed-pm-arrives-in-karachi/
“Trade bodies seek army’s help to restore order,” The News, August 20, 2011. Available athttp://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=63627&Cat=3
Zeeshan Haider, “Pakistan army says ready to restore Karachi peace,” Reuters, August 21, 2011. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/21/us-pakistan-army-karachi-idUSTRE77K0LQ20110821
Amjad Mahmood, “Wave of violence in Karachi: PM for optimal use of police, Rangers,” Dawn, August 21, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/08/22/wave-of-violence-in-karachi-pm-for-optimal-use-of-police-rangers.html
“Two security personnel, five militants killed in gunfight in Khyber Agency,” Express Tribune, August 20, 2011. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/235922/two-security-personnel-five-militants-killed-in-gunfight-in-khyber-agency/
“Nineteen Nato tankers torched in Balochistan,” Dawn, August 21, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/08/22/nineteen-nato-tankers-torched-in-balochistan.html