Pakistan Security Brief - December 12, 2012

Obama administration to keep 6,000-9,000 troops in Afghanistan post-2014; U.S. State Department supports direct dialogue between Kabul and Islamabad; Afghan refugees granted extended deadline to leave Pakistan; French President Hollande meets with President Zardari to discuss Afghanistan’s future, Pakistan’s role in peace process; 2012 a violent year for Shia Muslims in Pakistan, Iran accuses U.S. of fanning sectarian violence; Bomb blasts, gunfire incidents leave 14 dead in Karachi; 11 jail wardens sacked over Bannu jailbreak; Report says 60 percent of Pakistani cabinet did not pay taxes in 2011; ECP to begin door-to-door voter verification in Karachi in new year; 75 percent of Pakistani girls not enrolled in primary school.

Post-2014 Afghanistan

  • U.S. officials said on Tuesday that the Obama administration intends to keep 6,000 to 9,000 troops in Afghanistan after 2014, despite military commanders’ requests for a larger force of 15,000 or so. The troops will reportedly be stationed mainly in fortified garrisons around Kabul, leaving Afghan forces out in the field with less access to American advisors as they continue their struggle against the Taliban insurgency. Large U.S. bases constructed in Helmand and Kandahar will likely be transferred to Afghan forces, as will several combat posts located near Jalalabad.[i]

U.S.-Pakistani Relations

  • State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Wednesday that the U.S. encouraged Afghan and Pakistani officials to engage in direct dialogue regarding the Afghan peace process rather than “doing it by public statements.” She said the U.S. hoped that talks between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari in Turkey this week would be productive in addressing “issues of concern.”[ii]

Afghan Refugees

  • Pakistan extended its December deadline on the residency papers of the 1.6 million Afghan refugees currently living within its borders on Wednesday. The refugees now have until June 2013 to move out of the country.[iii]

Franco-Pakistani Relations

  • French President François Hollande met with President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday to discuss Afghanistan’s future post-2014 and Pakistan’s role in the reconciliation process. Hollande emphasized Pakistan’s key role in peace negotiations, and praised Pakistan for “working against the threat of the terrorism mindset.” Hollande said France was willing to help Pakistani meet its energy needs; he and Zardari also discussed the possible development of a strategic partnership to improve bilateral relations in politics, security, trade, culture, science, and education.[iv]

Sectarian Struggles

  • The year 2012 has been a particularly violent one for Shia Muslims in Pakistan, who have witnessed at least 375 members of their community killed in targeted attacks since January. Community leaders say that increasing violence has often forced Shias to look to human smugglers to transfer them out of the country, and they have criticized the government for its lack of response. Others, most notably senior Iranian officials, have accused the U.S. CIA of fomenting sectarian violence in an effort to destabilize the region and target Iran specifically.[v]

Militancy

  • A bomb blast in the Muzzafarabad colony of Landhi, Karachi left two people dead and six injured on Wednesday. The bomb was allegedly planted near the Ghareeb Nawaz hotel restaurant; it is unclear who is responsible.[vi]

  • Twelve people were killed in Karachi on Wednesday in various gunfire incidents. A father and his son, both customs employees, were killed in Sherpao Colony while two other men were shot in Metroville area. A policeman was gunned down in Baldia Town and a doctor was killed in Zia Colony, Korangi. Three other men were shot in Bolton Market, Ferozabad, and Landhi.[vii]

  • Unknown assailants threw grenades at the houses of two transporters in Mianwali Colony, Karachi on Wednesday. No casualties were reported, though several nearby shops and a mosque were damaged in one of the blasts. The attackers’ motivation appears to be extortion-related.[viii]

Jail Wardens Fired

  • On Wednesday, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) authorities fired 11 jail wardens for facilitating an April 2012 jailbreak in Bannu in which the Pakistani Taliban freed more than 400 prisoners after storming the jail with arms. The KP Home Department called it the worst jailbreak in Pakistan’s history, and commented that the guards’ “involvement and their gross misconduct” rendered them fully responsible parties.[ix]

Government Tax Evasion

  • A report released by investigative journalist Umar Cheema on Wednesday said that 60 percent of Pakistan’s cabinet and two thirds of its federal lawmakers did not file any tax returns last year. Many of those who did, including Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, and Religious Affairs Minister Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah, allegedly made minimal contributions, with Shah paying as little as $446. The most paid was $118,677 by State Minister for Commerce Abbas Khan Afridi. President Asif Ali Zardari and Interior Minister Rehman Malik were both among those who did not pay any taxes, according to the report. Cheema wrote that “the problem starts at the top. Those who make revenue policies, run the government, and collect taxes have not been able to set good examples for others.”[x]

2013 Elections

  • After a December 5 Supreme Court ruling ordering the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to conduct door-to-door voter verification in Karachi, ECP Secretary Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan announced on Wednesday that the ECP would begin the process on January 1, 2013 and would finish within two months.[xi]

Girls’ Education

  • A new U.N. report reveals that almost 75 percent of Pakistani girls are not enrolled in primary school, and that the number of girls even finishing five years of school has been decreasing for the last five years. The report explains that due to discrimination, economic necessity, family tradition, or militant targeting, many females in Pakistan are barred from pursuing an education; half of Pakistanis and nearly 75 percent of females are illiterate.[xii]            



[i] David S. Cloud, “U.S. force in Afghanistan may be smaller than expected after 2014,” Los Angeles Times, December 11, 2012. Available at: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-us-afghan-20121212,0,6043156.story.
[ii] “Prefer Pak-Afghan dialogue rather than public statements: US,” APP, December 12, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/12/prefer-pak-afghan-dialogue-rather-than-public-statements-us/.
[iii] “Pakistan gives Afghan refugees six more months,” AFP, December 12, 2012. Available at:  http://dawn.com/2012/12/12/pakistan-gives-afghan-refugees-six-more-months/.
[iv] “France assures Pakistan of help in energy sector: Zardari holds talks with Hollande on Afghan issue,” Dawn, December 11, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/12/france-assures-pakistan-of-help-in-energy-sector-zardari-holds-talks-with-hollande-on-afghan-issue/.
[v] Ayaz Gul, “Worry Grows Over Rising Sectarian Attacks in Pakistan,” Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, December 12, 2012. Available at: http://www.rferl.org/content/worry-grows-rising-sectarian-attacks-pakistan/24795551.html.
[vi] “Blast in Karachi kills two,” Dawn, December 12, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/12/blast-in-karachis-landhi-area-reports/.
[vii] “Doctor, cop among seven killed in Karachi,” Geo News, December 12, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=79320; “Trader among two killed in Karachi, death toll touches 12,” Geo News, December 12, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=79355.
[viii] “Two hand grenade attacks in Karachi’s Mianwali Colony,” Dawn, December 12, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/12/two-hand-grenade-attacks-in-karachis-mianwali-colony/.
[ix] Zahir Shah Sherazi, “Bannu jailbreak case: KP prison dept sacks 11 wardens,” Dawn, December 12, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/12/bannu-jailbreak-case-kp-prison-dept-sacks-11-wardens/.
[x] “Over 60 percent of Pakistani lawmakers evade taxes: report,” AFP, December 12, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/12/over-60-per-cent-of-pakistani-lawmakers-evade-taxes-report/.
[xi] “Karachi vote verification to start from Jan 1: Secretary ECP,” Dawn, December 12, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/12/karachi-vote-verification-to-start-from-jan-1-secretary-ecp/.
[xii] “Nearly three-quarters of Pakistani girls not in school: report,” AFP, December 12, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/12/nearly-three-quarters-of-pakistani-girls-not-in-school-report/.