Pakistan Security Brief - December 13, 2012

Pakistan, Afghanistan pushing forward on peace plan that reduces U.S. role in Afghan reconciliation; U.S. Ambassador says Afghan reconciliation policy could include Haqqani Network; Karzai, Zardari agree to jointly investigate Asadullah Khalid attack; Zardari says Pakistan committed to eliminating terrorism; Foreign Minister Khar says Afghan peace talks should be held in Kabul, not abroad; Amnesty International report accuses Pakistan Army of human rights violations, Army denies allegations; Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan sign MoU on trade; Pakistan withdraws diplomatic staff from Syria; Violent incidents in Quetta, North Waziristan, Karachi, and Lahore leave eight dead.

Post-2014 Afghanistan

  • Pakistan and Afghanistan are continuing to move forward with a reconciliation plan that decreases America’s role in the Afghan reconciliation process but grants Pakistan a “pivotal” one. According to the framework being pursued, Pakistan will replace the U.S. in arranging direct talks between insurgents and the Afghan government, most likely to be held in Saudi Arabia; additionally, the plan calls for streamlining the U.N. terrorist blacklist so that Taliban insurgents willing to travel for negotiations are completely removed from it. Pakistan’s larger role reflects the common perception that the army has a good deal of influence among the Taliban, and would allow Pakistan to select Taliban negotiators. The ultimate objective of the deal is for the Taliban to break all ties to al Qaeda, renounce violence, and “respect” the Afghan Constitution in return for receiving government posts at varying levels that would allow them to actively participate in the running of the country.[i]

  • U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson said in a Thursday interview with the BBC that peace talks with the Haqqani Network could be possible in the future under America’s Afghan reconciliation policy, though he said that taking concrete action against Haqqani militants was the responsibility of Pakistan’s government. [ii]

Afghan-Pakistani Relations

  • On Wednesday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari agreed to jointly investigate a suicide attempt against Afghan intelligence chief Asadullah Khalid last week. Karzai and his associates claimed to have proof that the plot was hatched in Quetta. Pakistan said it would provide any assistance necessary in the investigation, but that Afghanistan should ensure the integrity of its evidence before making any accusations. After meeting with Zardari on Wednesday, Karzai affirmed that “we had very good conversations and we are not going to divulge details.”[iii]

  • President Asif Ali Zardari stated on Wednesday that Pakistan was dedicated to conquering “the extremist mindset” and that the attack on Asadullah Khalid was an attempt to interfere with Afghan-Paksitani cooperation in eliminating extremism. Zardari added that it was in Pakistan’s best interest to help root out terrorism in the region.[iv]

  • Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said on Wednesday that Afghan authorities and the Taliban should hold peace talks in Kabul, not in a foreign country. Khar’s statement comes in the lead-up to a meeting between Afghan officials, the Taliban, and the Northern Alliance concerning Afghanistan’s future to be held in France later this month. She also said that Pakistan did not seek to control the Afghan reconciliation process.[v]

Human Rights Violations

  • An Amnesty International report released today accuses the Pakistan Army of engaging in human rights abuses along the Afghan border, a charge which the army vehemently rejected. The report criticizes the army for exploiting harsh new security laws and “a colonial-era penal system to act with impunity” in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP). It claims the army has arbitrarily detained thousands of people for extended amounts of time with little or no access to outside communication, and has also engaged in torture. For its part, the army has said the report is “based on fabricated stories twisted to serve an agenda” and an element in a “sinister propaganda campaign” against the army.[vi]

Trilateral Relations

  • Turkey, Pakistan, and Afghanistan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to promote trilateral trade and economic cooperation on Wednesday through the establishment of a Trilateral Trade Council as well as greater information-sharing concerning trade legislation among the three countries.  The three countries also agreed to encourage businesspeople and entrepreneurs to attend exhibitions, fairs, and similar activities to promote trade and investment.[vii]

Syrian-Pakistani Relations

  • Due to the deteriorating security situation in Syria, Pakistan has temporarily withdrawn its diplomatic staff, including its Ambassador to Syria. Pakistan did not shut down its Embassy, however, and all staff will return “once the situation returns to normal.”[viii]

Militancy

  • Various gunfire incidents left at least three people dead and three others wounded in Quetta, Balochistan on Thursday. Unknown attackers opened fire in the Qandahari Bazar, injuring three people, two of whom were members of the Hazara ethnic group. Another Hazara man was also killed elsewhere in Quetta. Assailants killed a man on Sarki Road while a well-known doctor was shot in Mastung district.[ix]

  • A Pakistan Army soldier was killed and three workers of the Frontier Works Organisation were injured by unknown attackers near Mir Ali, North Waziristan on Wednesday. They had been working along the Bannu-Ghulam Khan Highway when the assailants attacked.[x]

  • Two people were killed in Karachi on Thursday. One man was gunned down in the Joharabad area of Malir city, while another was shot dead in the Ranchor Line area of Old City.[xi]

  • Unknown assailants killed Head Constable Riaz Ahmed outside the Police Training School in Lahore on Thursday while he was on night duty.[xii]

  • A Swedish church volunteer injured by an unknown gunman on December 3 in Lahore succumbed to her wounds on Thursday. While the motive of the attack is still unclear, local media said that the woman had received threats from an unidentified group of men prior to the incident.[xiii]

  • Unknown assailants threw a hand grenade at the Pirabad police station in Karachi but managed to escape after police retaliated. No casualties were reported.[xiv]             

 


[i] Saeed Shah and Jonathan S. Landay, “Pakistan, Afghanistan moving ahead on peace plan that cuts U.S. peace role,” McClatchy, December 11, 2012. Available at: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/12/12/177249/pakistan-afghanistan-moving-ahead.html
[ii] “Talks with Haqqani group possible: Olson,” The News, December 13, 2012. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-19447-Talks-with-Haqqani-group-possible:-Olson.
[iii] Jonathon Burch, “Afghanistan, Pakistan agree to investigate spy attack,” Reuters, December 12, 2012. Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/12/us-turkey-afghanistan-pakistan-idUSBRE8BB1LV20121212.
[iv] “Pakistan committed to eliminating extremist mindset: President Zardari,” Geo News, December 12, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=79369.
[v] “Afghan peace talks should be held in Kabul, says Khar,” AFP, December 12, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/13/afghan-peace-talks-should-be-held-in-kabul-says-khar/.
[vi] “Pakistan Army calls Amnesty report ‘a pack of lies,’” AFP, December 13, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/13/pakistan-military-guilty-of-abuses-alleges-amnesty/.
[vii] “Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan ink MoU on trade,” APP, December 12, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/12/turkey-pakistan-afghanistan-ink-mou-on-trade/.
[viii] “Pakistan withdraws embassy staff from Syria,” AFP, December 13, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/13/pakistan-withdraws-embassy-staff-from-syria/.
[ix] “Doctor shot dead in Mastung; two others gunned down in Quetta,” Dawn, December 12, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/13/doctor-shot-dead-in-mastung-two-others-gunned-down-in-quetta/.
[x] “Soldier killed in Mir Ali firing,” The News, December 13, 2012. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-19449-Soldier-killed-in-Mir-Ali-firing.
[xi] “Two killed in violent incidents in Karachi,” Geo News, December 13, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=79468.
[xii] “Head Constable gunned down in Lahore,” Geo News, December 13, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=79429.
[xiii] “Swedish church volunteer dies after Pakistan shooting,” AP, December 13, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/13/swedish-church-volunteer-dies-after-pakistan-shooting/.
[xiv] “Another hand grenade attack in Karachi,” The News, December 13, 2012. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-79407-Another-hand-grenade-attack-in-Karachi.