Pakistan Security Brief – August 26, 2011

Governor Taseer’s son kidnapped; Drone crashes inside Pakistan; Al Qaeda strong inside Pakistan; LeT says its man killed top Kashmiri separatist; Bomb in NW Pakistan kills 11, Suicide bomber killed in Swat; Karachi operation arrests 70 more; 11 militants killed in Orakzai; No agreement on NATO supply chain 10 years on.

Slain Governor’s Son Kidnapped

  • Shahbaz Tahsir, the son of slain Punjab governor Salman Taseer, was kidnapped from an upscale neighborhood of Lahore on Friday. There has been no claim of responsibility so far and it is unclear if the kidnapping had financial motives or was related to the death of Taseer’s father. Salman Taseer was murdered in January in Islamabad by one of his own bodyguards because of his controversial opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. The Taseer family claims they have continue to receive threats from militant groups even after Governor Taseer’s death. The kidnapping is the second high-profile abduction this month after unknown men kidnapped an American development expert from his home in Lahore.[1]

Drone Crashes Inside Pakistan

  • An unmanned U.S. surveillance drone crashed inside Pakistani territory on Thursday evening. According to witnesses, the unarmed drone was monitoring the Pak-Afghan border when it possibly encountered a technical fault and came down near a Frontier Corps compound in Chaman, 300 meters inside Pakistan. Pakistani security officials reportedly took custody of the drone wreckage. Officials say the aircraft was not brought down by fire.[2]

Al Qaeda Hold in Pakistan Firm

  • An article by the AFP reports that al Qaeda has established a firm foothold in northwest Pakistan, with its fighters being able to freely travel around the country. According to the article, al Qaeda operatives move with near impunity between the tribal areas and the rest of the country, and are increasingly blending into and marrying into the local tribal cultures and structures. While the fighters are mostly foreign, including Arabs, Uzbeks and Chechens, more and more Pakistanis are joining the ranks and dead fighters are quickly and easily replaced. Many fighters rent homes for themselves and for less well off al Qaeda and Taliban militants with funds gleaned from kidnappings for ransom. The increase in militancy and influx of fighters in places like North Waziristan has had an indelible impact on life in the area, according to tribal locals.[3]

LeT Militant Kills Kashmir Separatist

  • According to a spokesperson for Pakistani terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), one of its own men was responsible for the assassination of Maulana Shaukat Ahmad Shah, a senior Kashmiri separatist leader, in April of this year. LeT claimed it had initially blamed Shah’s murder on Indian security forces trying to weaken the Kashmiri separatist movement, but stated that an internal probe by the group had found that one of its own men was behind the bomb blast on April 8. The man responsible has already been arrested by Indian authorities for Shah’s murder. This incident is the first time that a militant group in Pakistan has publicly released a report investigating the rogue activities of one of its own members.[4]

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa

  • A bomb attack on a restaurant in Risalpur in the district of Nowshera killed 11 people and wounded 25 more on Thursday evening. Five of the dead were Pakistan Air Force officials. The device, reportedly a bomb affixed to a child’s tricycle, detonated when the restaurant was crowded with people breaking their daily fast. Police have arrested 22 people in a search operation following the blast.[5]

  • A local anti-Taliban militia in the Kabal area of Swat district shot dead a suicide bomber trying to enter a mosque on Friday during afternoon prayers. Security officials in the area confirmed the incident but claimed the bomber was killed by security officers. One person was injured in the ensuing explosion. In other news, two suspected Taliban commanders were arrested in the Khwazakhela area of Swat district on Thursday.[6]

  • A school was blow up by militants in the district of Swabi on Thursday morning. There were no casualties as a result of the blast but the school was completely destroyed in the explosion.[7]

Karachi Unrest

  • According to Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik, more than 70 people believed to have links to recent violence in Karachi have been arrested during an ongoing law-enforcement crackdown in the city. Malik further stated that the paramilitary Rangers force had been given the authority to act “anywhere and anytime.” 500 men from the Frontier Constabulary had also been deployed in the city. The Muttahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM) party stated on Thursday that it was ready to facilitate the Supreme Court in its judicial inquiry into violence in Karachi. [8]

FATA

  • Eleven militants were killed and four others injured when security forces shelled their positions in Orakzai agency on Thursday. Militants reportedly came under military artillery fire in their hideouts in the Mamuzai area of upper Orakzai. Two strongholds were destroyed in the shelling. A spokesperson for the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Orakzai, Hafiz Saeed, denied the reports. In neighboring Khyber agency, two militants from Lashkar-e-Islam were killed in clashes with members of the TTP in Khyber’s Tirah valley. The two militant groups have frequently clashed in the past.[9]

No Agreement on Supply Chain

  • A report in the Express Tribune looks at the NATO supply chain running through Pakistan and comments that no formalized agreement has so far been signed between Pakistan and the “28 nations’ group” to regulate the movement of the cargo, ten years since the start of the war in Afghanistan. According to the report, overloaded trailers had caused extensive damage to road networks throughout the country to the tune of $1.4 billion.[10]

Bomb Hoax

  • A letter found in the Supreme Court parking lot in Islamabad threatened to assassinate Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and Pakistani President Asif Zardari on Friday or Saturday. Bomb squad and police officials responded to the threat and searched the premises, but no bomb was discovered.[11]

Afghanistan

  • Five Pakistanis who were kidnapped inside Afghanistan’s Paktia province on August 14 were found dead on Thursday. The victims were kidnapped inside Afghanistan on their way to Parachinar, Kurram. The kidnappers had demanded a substantial ransom for their release. According to reports, the dead were all Shias.[12]

Libyan Embassy Switches Sides

  • The Libyan embassy in Pakistan has raised the flag of the pre-Qaddafi monarchy over the mission, signaling its change in allegiance and new support for Libyan rebel forces. Pakistani foreign office officials claimed they were unaware of any changes.[13]

 


[1] Salman Masood, “Son of Assassinated Pakistani Governor Is Kidnapped, Police Say,” New York Times, August 26, 2011. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/27/world/asia/27pakistan.html?_r=1
[2] Shehzad Baloch, “US reconnaissance drone crashes in Chaman,” Express Tribune, August 26, 2011. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/239387/us-reconnaissance-drone-crashes-in-chaman/
[3] “Al Qaeda firmly rooted in Pakistan tribal fiefdom,” AFP, August 26, 2011. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/239865/al-qaeda-firmly-rooted-in-pakistan-tribal-fiefdom/
[4] “Lashkar-i-Taiba says its man killed Kashmir separatist,” AFP, August 26, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/08/26/lashkar-i-taiba-says-its-man-killed-kashmir-separatist.html
[5] Mushtaq Paracha, “Five PAF personnel among 11 killed in Nowshera blast,” The News, August 26, 2011. Available at http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=8389&Cat=13
[6] Iftikhar Firdous, “Suicide bomber shor dead by peace Lashkar in Swat,” Express Tribune, August 26, 2011.Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/239901/suicide-bomber-shot-dead-by-peace-lashkar-in-swat/
“Two terrorists arrested,” Daily Times, August 26, 2011. Available at http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\08\26\story_26-8-2011_pg7_10  
[7] “School blown up in Swabi,” Daily Times, August 26, 2011. Available at http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\08\26\story_26-8-2011_pg7_9
[8] “Karachi search operation: 70 arrested, FC personnel deployed,” Express Tribune, August 26, 2011.Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/239880/karachi-search-operation-12-arrested-fc-personnel-deployed/
“MQM ready to facilitate SC on Karachi unrest,” Daily Times, August 25, 2011. Available at http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\08\26\story_26-8-2011_pg1_4
[9] “11 Militants killed in Orakzai shelling,” The News, August 26, 2011. Available at http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=8408&Cat=13
[10] Shahbaz Rana, “10 years on, lawmakers wonder who is in charge of Nato cargo,” Express Tribune, August 26, 2011. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/239539/10-years-on-lawmakers-wonder-who-is-in-charge-of-nato-cargo/
[11] “Bomb hoax: Letter reveals plot to assassinate president, CJ,” Express Tribune, August 26, 2011. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/239264/letter-issuing-threats-to-president-cj-found-on-sc-premises/
[12] Tahir Khan, “Journey to death: Five kidnapped Pakistanis killed in Afghanistan,” Express Tribune, August 26, 2011. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/239544/journey-to-death-five-kidnapped-pakistanis-killed-in-afghanistan/
[13] “Libyan embassy in Pakistan raises rebel flag,” Daily Times, August 26, 2011. Available at http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\08\26\story_26-8-2011_pg1_7