Pakistan Security Brief - December 17, 2012

Car bomb in Jamrud kills 17; Militant attack on Peshawar air base and ensuing gunfight leave ten TTP operatives dead; Taliban, Northern Alliance, and Afghan High Peace Council to meet near Paris this week; Quetta violence kills four, injures four; Two shot dead in Karachi;  Nearly 2,000 dead in Karachi in 2012; U.S.-Pakistan nuclear working group recently met  to discuss nonproliferation, nuclear security; Sen. Kerry expected to receive Secretary of State nomination; Visa accord signed between India and Pakistan; Interior Minister says better intelligence coordination could have prevented 2008 Mumbai attacks, offends Indian opposition with remarks on attacks; Kashmiri separatist urges India and Pakistan to fully open Line of Control.

Peshawar Attacks

  • Unidentified militants remotely detonated a powerful car bomb near several government buildings in Jamrud, Khyber agency, on Monday. The blast left 17 dead and approximately 44 injured.  A local government official said, however, that neither the responsible party nor their motives could be ascertained at the moment.[i]

  • The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) launched a complex attack on the Pakistan Air Force section of the Bacha Khan International Airport in Peshawar on Saturday, killing at least eight people and wounding over three dozen. At least five militants and three civilians died in the attack, which TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said was carried out by 10 TTP operatives. The militants used rockets, grenades, explosives-laden vehicles, and suicide bombers in their attempt to infiltrate into the base. Security forces opened fire when militants wearing suicide vests began approaching airplane hangars while militants outside the base responded with grenades and rockets. A suicide car bomb was also detonated outside a wall encircling the base. While rockets and grenades landed on the airport premises, none of the actual air base buildings or planes were damaged. Some analysts say that this attack marks a change in TTP tactics from targeting “the common man” to targeting institutions that are supposed to protect citizens; reports from Pakistani think tanks note that attacks against security forces and institutions have increased 25 percent since 2011.[ii]

  • Following the Saturday air base attack, security forces launched a search operation on Sunday in nearby Pawaki village, where five remaining TTP operatives were hiding out. Police raided the village after receiving reports claiming that several militants involved in the attack were hiding in a house there; in the ensuing gun battle, two blew themselves up while the other three were gunned down by security forces. All five militants appeared to be affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.[iii]

Post-2014 Afghanistan

  • French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Sunday that Taliban leaders, Northern Alliance members, and Afghan High Peace Council members will meet in an undisclosed location north of Paris on Wednesday and Friday for discussions on the future of Afghanistan post-2014. Fabius made clear that the talks were not peace negotiations; rather, they were simply a way to bring relevant parties together and encourage dialogue and information-sharing between them. He added that France would have no direct involvement besides hosting the meetings.[iv]

Militancy

Karachi Law and Order

  • The year 2012 has been one of Karachi’s most violent in history, provoking concern that the rising death toll is providing cover for Taliban operations in the city. The Citizens’ Police Liaison Committee, a civil society group that cooperates with police in fighting crime, said that nearly 2,000 people had been killed as of November. The Supreme Court is also investigating reports that there are up to 8,000 Taliban operatives in Karachi, raising money through robberies and extortion as well as recruiting new members.[viii]

U.S.-Pakistani Relations

  • Last week, the U.S.-Pakistan Security, Strategic Stability and Nonproliferation Working Group met in Islamabad to discuss global nuclear security efforts, proliferation threats, export rules and biological and chemical weapons. While the public statement released did not provide any in-depth information on the talks, a former senior Department of Energy nuclear security official said he had seen reports that the Pakistani contingent had requested a civilian nuclear deal with the U.S. while the U.S. had likely brought up a fissile material nonproliferation treaty, though neither side was likely to have accepted the other’s requests.Pakistan and the U.S. have been at odds for years over Pakistan’s nuclear activities; Pakistan has continuously sought a deal similar one the U.S. struck with India in 2008 allowing India to buy nuclear technology and materials from the U.S., which the U.S. has refused. The U.S. has been frustrated with Pakistan’s obstruction of negotiations on arms control and the production of nuclear material for weapons at the international Conference on Disarmament.[ix]

  • Senator John Kerry is expected to be nominated by President Obama for the position of Secretary of State after Obama’s original leading candidate, Susan Rice, withdrew her name from consideration last week. Kerry has traveled to Pakistan several times to encourage better relations between the U.S. and Pakistan. In 2011, he successfully deflected a Pakistani attempt to get him to write an oath that the United States would never try to seize Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal by saying the U.S. had “no designs” on it and there was nothing to be concerned about.[x]

Indo-Pakistani Relations

  • On Friday, Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Indian Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde signed a deal easing harsh visa regulations for travelers between the two countries in a continuing effort to promote more peaceful relations between India and Pakistan. Prior to the new arrangement, Pakistani businessmen were only allowed to travel to three cities in India and had to report to police stations every evening; now, they will be allowed to travel to five cities and will be able to receive multiple-entry visas, thereby exempting them from reporting to police stations.[xi]

  • In a Sunday lecture, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that if intelligence and other relevant agencies in Pakistan and India had cooperated and interacted more, they could have prevented the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks. Malik said that the lack of information-sharing had allowed the attack planners to carry out multiple reconnaissance missions in the lead-up to the bombings unnoticed by law enforcement officials in both states. Other comments Malik made concerning the attacks, however, provoked outrage among Indian opposition party officials. Malik suggested that one of the terrorist handlers involved in the attack had been appointed by an Indian intelligence agency and had recruited others for the agency before “turning rogue.” He also stated that India had not provided enough evidence to warrant the arrest of Jamaat-ud-Dawa leader Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind of the attacks.[xii]

Kashmir

  • Kashmiri separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Sunday urged Pakistan and India to fully open the Line of Control in Kashmir to aid in the peace process. He is due to meet with Pakistani officials in Islamabad this week. Farooq stated that “limited movement of people and goods is not enough,” and that “no [peace] solution without the involvement of Kashmiris will be acceptable to us as we are an important party in the Kashmir dispute.”[xiii]               



[i] Declan Walsh, “Car Bomb Kills at Least 17 in Pakistan Tribal Region,” The New York Times, December 17, 2012. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/18/world/asia/car-bomb-wreaks-carnage-in-pakistan-tribal-region.html?_r=0.
[ii] Haq Nawaz Khan, “In Pakistan, Taliban militants attack air base with grenades, rockets,” The Washington Post, December 15, 2012. Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/in-pakistan-taliban-militants-attack-air-base-with-grenades-rockets/2012/12/15/482ed90c-46dd-11e2-8061-253bccfc7532_story.html; “Militants attack airport in Peshawar; nine killed,” AP, December 15, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/15/three-blasts-heard-in-peshawar/; Mahvish Ahmad, “Taliban attack on Pakistani airport highlights changed tactics,” Christian Science Monitor, December 16, 2012. Available at: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-South-Central/2012/1216/Taliban-attack-on-Pakistani-airport-highlights-changed-tactics.
[iii] Javed Aziz Khan, “Five more attackers killed as Peshawar airport cleared,” The News, December 17, 2012. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-19521-Five-more-attackers-killed-as-Peshawar-airport-cleared.  
[iv] “France says Afghan officials to meet Taliban near Paris,” Reuters, December 16, 2012. Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/17/us-france-afghanistan-idUSBRE8BF0K320121217.
[v] “Public Relations official, three policemen shot dead in Quetta,” Dawn, December 17, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/17/public-relations-official-and-three-killed-policemen-shot-dead-in-quetta/.
[vi] “Karachi: One killed, one injured in fresh spate of violence,” Geo News, December 17, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=79969; “Health worker shot dead in Sohrab Goth,” Geo News, December 17, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=80032.  
[vii] “Four hurt in Quetta Grenade attack,” The News, December 16, 2012. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-79901-Four-hurt-in-Quetta-Grenade-attack.
[viii] Rebecca Santana, “Violence in Karachi gives Taliban an opportunity,” AP, December 16, 2012. Available at: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/dec/16/violence-in-karachi-gives-taliban-an-opportunity/?page=2.
[ix] Chris Schneidmiller, “Pakistan-U.S. Talks Keep Lines Open, Offer Little Else, Experts Say,” NTI, December 14, 2012. Available at: http://www.nti.org/gsn/article/pakistan-us-talks-keep-lines-open-little-else-experts/.
[x] David E. Sanger, “Obama Expected to Name Kerry as Secretary of State,” The New York Times, December 16, 2012. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/17/us/politics/obama-expected-to-name-kerry-as-secretary-of-state.html?_r=0.
[xi] Annie Banerji, “India and Pakistan seal accord to ease visa restrictions,” Reuters, December 14, 2012. Available at: http://news.yahoo.com/india-pakistan-seal-accord-ease-visa-restrictions-173215975--spt.html.
[xii] “‘Cooperation could have prevented ’08 attack,’ says Rehman Malik,” Dawn, December 16, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/17/cooperation-could-have-prevented-08-attack/;  Amit Chaturvedi, “Why was Pak minister Rehman Malik invited to Delhi at all, asks BJP,” NDTV, December 17, 2012. Available at: http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/why-was-pak-minister-rehman-malik-invited-to-delhi-at-all-asks-bjp-306310.
[xiii] “Indian Kashmiri separatist demands opening of border,” AFP, December 16, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/16/indian-kashmiri-separatist-demands-opening-of-border/.