Pakistan Security Brief - August 24, 2012
U.S. drones kill 18 in North Waziristan, hundreds flee in anticipation of military operation; Five militants killed in attack on military outpost in lower Dir; Eight militants killed in shelling in Orakzai; ISPR says militants taking revenge on civilians; PTI releases economic strategy document; Pakistan considering cancelling refugee status for 1.7 million Afghans; Indian, Pakistani legislators discuss improving relations.
Drone Strikes and North Waziristan Operation
U.S. drone strikes killed at least 18 suspected militants in North Waziristan on Friday. The attack took place in the Dray Nishtar area of Shawal sub-district with at least six missiles fired at three locations. The strikes appeared to target hideouts of militants loyal to North Waziristan Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur. The strikes also injured 14 people and were said to be the fourth attack within a week. These strikes come a day after the Pakistani Foreign Office summoned a U.S. diplomat to protest the recent string of drone attacks. According to the Associated Press, both local tribesmen and militants have begun fleeing parts of North Waziristan in anticipation of a military operation to be launched by the Pakistani military. The report says hundreds of militants and their family members, particularly those of Central Asian origin, have left the agency. Four villages close to Mir Ali, a key militant stronghold in the agency, have seen over a thousand people leave as of Friday.
Militancy and Violence
Pakistani security forces killed at least five militants on Friday when they were attacked at a check-post in Lower Dir along the Pak-Afghan border. Officials said the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was responsible for the attack.
Pakistan security forces killed at least eight militants and destroyed two hideouts in lower Orakzai agency on Friday. According to the Nation, the militants were killed while security forces conducted a search operation in the Gawak area of lower Orakzai.
Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) wing stated on Thursday that militants are targeting civilians in revenge for civilians strengthening village defense committees against them. A recent ISPR press release said that militants are targeting civilians to make federal security forces appear incompetent.
Ongoing violence in Karachi claimed another eight lives on Thursday and Friday. Two individuals were gunned down in the Gullistan-e-Jauhar area, while two bodies were discovered in Surjani Town and Napier. A tortured man’s body was found in the Sohrab Goth, another body with stab wounds was discovered in the Korangi No 2 area and a third with gunshot wounds was found in New Karachi’s Ayub Goth area. A body was also found in a factory near Libra Square.
Political party Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) made public its Economic Policy Vision on Friday; the platform includes health, education, governance reform, and tax reform in its top priorities. PTI Senior Vice President Asad Umar declared all state-owned institutions a “disaster.” Among other policies, the PTI intends to privatize the Railway Ministry and Pakistan International Airlines; establish district finance commissions; reduce the number of federal ministries from 37 to 17; reduce taxation and develop a better method of tax collection; increase health spending from 0.86% of GDP to 2.6% over five years; and double the number of girls’ high schools.
The Pakistani government is considering whether or not to remove the refugee status of 1.7 million registered Afghan refugees living in Pakistan for the last thirty years. There are estimated to be an additional 1 million living in Pakistan illegally. There is growing frustration among the Pakistani population, who say that the refugees are taking an economic and social toll on the already-troubled country. Refusing to renew refugee status of the current registrants will not force their eviction, but will “encourage” them to return to Afghanistan, said a Pakistani government official.
At the end of the India-Pakistan Parliamentarians Dialogue in New Delhi on Friday, both countries agreed it was the right time to take, “unilateral initiatives to improve relations.” Parliamentarians from both India and Pakistan pushed for a more liberalized visa regime and the immediate release of prisoners who have completed their terms for inadvertently crossing into the other country’s territory.
Zulfiqar Ali, “US drone attack kills 16 suspected militants in North Waziristanm” AFP/Express Tribune, August 24, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/425656/us-drone-attack-kills-5-in-north-waziristan/
“US drones kill at least 18 in northwest Pakistan,” Dawn, August 24, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/08/24/drone-strike-kills-five-in-n-waziristan/