Pakistan Security Brief - December 14, 2012

U.S. pushes Pakistan to ban calcium ammonium nitrate fertilizer; Afghan president to meet with Obama in January; Pakistan, Afghanistan developing “road map for peace” together; Supreme Court issues contempt notice to MQM Chief; New Pakistani tax chief threatens tax evaders with national identity card suspension; PML-N and JI likely to form electoral alliance in KP provincial elections; One dead, at least six injured in violent incidents in Balochistan; Militants threaten to bomb church school for praying for Malala Yousafzai; TTP in Afghanistan dispatch operatives to attack Shias; Information Minister says U.S. unwilling to accept Pakistani stance on drones; Pakistan running out of natural gas, demand for oil on the rise; Italian oil giant Eni purchases over 7,500 square kilometers of Indus Basin for offshore oil exploration; Interior Minister travels to India for visa agreement finalization; Australian government awards over $100,000 to two Pakistani foundations working to prevent acid attacks.

Countering IEDs

  • On Thursday, U.S. officials in the Department of Defense urged Pakistan to do more to crack down on the production of calcium ammonium nitrate fertilizer, the primary component of over 70 percent of the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) used against coalition forces in Afghanistan. Kabul has already banned the fertilizer, and while U.S. officials have praised Pakistan for “taking the issue more seriously,” they say that the Fatima Group, the company in charge of the fertilizer production factories, has been “less than cooperative.” Senior Pentagon official Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero said that U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan will be increasingly vulnerable to IEDs as troops pull out in the next year; already, IEDs account for 60 percent of U.S. and coalition casualties in the war. Barbero stated that “IEDs will continue to be the weapon of choice against our forces” if their production is not stunted. [i]

Post-2014 Afghanistan

  • Afghan President Hamid Karzai confirmed on Thursday that he will meet with U.S. President Barack Obama in January to outline a post-war U.S. role in Afghanistan as well as discuss remaining troop levels, immunity for U.S forces, and develop a plan to pursue peace with the Taliban. President Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta have both assured Karzai that the U.S. will not abandon Afghanistan after 2014.[ii]

  • Outgoing U.S. Special Representative for Pakistan Marc Grossman highlighted Afghanistan’s and Pakistan’s cooperation in the development of the Afghan peace plan and commented that the two countries had been collaborating on a “road map” for the peace process over the last several weeks. He also remarked that the 2013 elections in Pakistan would be a critical triumph as they will mark the first time that a democratically-elected civilian government has completed a full term and peacefully handed over power to another elected civilian government.[iii]

Tracking Tax Evaders

  • Pakistan’s new Federal Board of Revenue Chairman Ali Arshad Hakeem and his team have assembled large amounts of personal information on tax evaders from combining multiple information databases and reportedly intend to use that as leverage to force tax evaders to pay their dues if they do not take advantage of the government’s recent 90-day tax amnesty. If not, Hakeem said the government would suspend their national identity cards and thereby prevent them from traveling abroad, maintaining bank accounts, and buying or selling property. He also plans to publicize information on tax evaders in newspapers and online in an effort to “name and shame” them into paying their taxes.[iv]

2013 Elections

  • On Friday, the Supreme Court issued a contempt of court notice to Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) Chief Altaf Hussain and ordered him to appear in person on January 7. The notice comes after Hussain criticized the Supreme Court’s order to delimit voting constituencies and conduct voter verification in Karachi prior to the 2013 general elections. Hussain had called the judges’ orders “unconstitutional” and “undemocratic,” and said they expressed an “open enmity” for the people of Karachi.[v]

  • Sources said on Thursday that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders have been in touch with Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) leaders to begin negotiating the establishment of an electoral alliance in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) polls. While no official statements have been released yet and PML-N provincial general secretary Rehmat Salam Khattak denied any formal meetings in this regard, he did say that the JI could be a useful ally in the KP province.[vi]

Militancy

  • A motorcycle bomb blast on Quetta’s Sariab road injured six to eight people and destroyed two rickshaws on Friday. The bomb detonated near a security forces vehicle. It is unclear who is responsible.[vii]

  • Unknown gunmen killed Panjgur Airport Manager Yasir Arafat in Panjgur bazaar, Balochistan on Thursday. Authorities say this was a targeted killing.[viii]

  • A small group of militants called the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Suicide Attackers Group has threatened to bomb a church school in Islamabad unless it pays them a $51,000 ransom. The militants accused the church of conducting prayers for Malala Yousafzai, a young education activist shot by the TTP in October. Authorities have arrested three men in conjunction with the threats; an investigation is still under way.[ix] 

  • An intelligence report circulated among police and other security agencies warns that Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants based in Afghanistan’s Kunar province have dispatched nine operatives across the border to conduct attacks against public gatherings, specifically those organized by Shias.[x]

U.S.-Pakistani Relations

  • Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said on Thursday that Pakistan had repeatedly presented its stance on drone strikes to the U.S. but that “the superpower” refused to accept it. He also said that Pakistan had been forced into the war on terror and had no choice but to comply.[xi]

Energy Crisis

  • Pakistan’s growing energy crisis has led to long lines and fuel shortages at gas pumps throughout the country. The crisis stems from vast demand for compressed natural gas (CNG) versus oil and dwindling supply. Former President Pervez Musharraf had invested heavily in the use of CNG for vehicles and had imported equipment for vehicles to run on CNG instead of oil; now, however, Pakistan cannot keep up with the demand for CNG for vehicles while also using it to fuel power plants and other businesses dependent on it to function. Officials are now trying to “wean cars back onto gasoline” to reduce demand for CNG, as Pakistan’s two largest natural gas fields are due to run out by 2022. Pakistan also suffers from a very inefficient fuel distribution system, as well as fuel theft and lack of funding from consumers.[xii]

  • Italian oil giant Eni recently signed a deal with Pakistani state oil company OGDCL to purchase 25 percent of the offshore Indus Block G oil license as well as operatorship in the area. Eni officials say more than 7,500-square-kilometer block is “in ultra deep water of an underexplored and promising area off [the] shore [of] Pakistan.”[xiii]    

Indo-Pakistani Relations

  • Interior Minister Rehman Malik arrived in India today to meet with Indian officials and put the “final touches” on a visa agreement between the two countries in the next few days.[xiv]

Australian-Pakistani Relations

  • The Australian government awarded both the Acid Survivors’ Foundation and the Jinnah Institute approximately $102,300 each on Monday to help promote human rights awareness and aid acid attack survivors.  The Acid Survivors’ Foundation plans to use its grant to ensure that attackers are prosecuted to the fullest extent under the law, while the Jinnah Institute aims to develop human rights education programs to incorporate into school curricula.[xv]

 


[i] “US presses Pakistan on bomb fertilizer,” AFP, December 14, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/14/us-presses-pakistan-on-bomb-fertiliser/; “Pentagon official says US forces more vulnerable to threat of explosives in Afghan drawdown,” AP, December 13, 2012. Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/pentagon-official-says-us-forces-more-vulnerable-to-threat-of-explosives-in-afghan-drawdown/2012/12/13/97688064-4551-11e2-8c8f-fbebf7ccab4e_story.html.    
[ii] “Karzai says he’ll meet with Obama in Washington,” AP, December 14, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/14/karzai-says-hell-meet-with-obama-in-washington/.
[iii] “Kabul has roadmap for peace, says Grossman,” The News, Decmeber 14, 2012. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-148262-Kabul-has-roadmap-for-peace,-says-Grossman.
[iv] Alex Rodriguez, “In Pakistan, new tax chief plans to get evaders to pay up,” The Los Angeles Times, December 13, 2012. Available at: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-pakistan-taxes-20121214,0,4546265.story.
[v] “SC issues contempt notice to Altaf Hussain,” Express Tribune, December 14, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/479772/delimitation-issue-sc-issues-contempt-notice-to-altaf-hussain/.
[vi] Ali Hazrat Bacha, “PML-N likely to enter poll alliance with Jamaat,” Dawn, December 13, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/14/pml-n-likely-to-enter-poll-alliance-with-jamaat/.
[vii] “Blast in Quetta injures six,” Dawn, December 14, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/14/blast-in-quetta-injures-six/; “Quetta: 8 injured in Sariab Road bicycle blast,” Geo News, December 14, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=79619.
[viii] Saleem Shahid, “Airport manager, doctor shot dead,” Dawn, December 13, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/14/airport-manager-doctor-shot-dead/.
[ix] “‘Militants’ threaten Pakistan church school for Malala support,” BBC News, December 14, 2012. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20726022.  
[x] Asad Kharal, “Terrorism: TTP planning string of attacks on security forces, public places,” Express Tribune, December 13, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/479262/terrorism-ttp-planning-string-of-attacks-on-security-forces-public-places/.
[xi] “Pakistan drone stance unacceptable to superpower: Kaira,” Geo News, December 13, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=79506.
[xii] “Long lines at the pump: Pakistan’s gas crisis exposes country’s deepening energy crisis,” AP, December 14, 2012. Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/long-lines-at-the-pump-pakistans-gas-crisis-exposes-countrys-deepening-energy-crisis/2012/12/14/175f2cca-45b4-11e2-8c8f-fbebf7ccab4e_story.html.
[xiii] “Eni to buy new exploration block in Pakistan,” Reuters, December 13, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/13/eni-to-buy-new-exploration-block-in-pakistan/.
[xiv] “Rehman Malik arrives in New Delhi,” Geo News, December 14, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=79648.
[xv] Waqas Naeem, “Australia helps acid victims in Pakistan get back on their feet,” Express Tribune, December 14, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/479623/australia-helps-acid-victims-in-pakistan-get-back-on-their-feet/