Pakistan Security Brief - December 18, 2012

U.N. eases travel restrictions on blacklisted Taliban; Pakistan would prefer Afghan factions to meet in Afghanistan instead of abroad; U.S. to pay Pakistan almost $700 million for hosting troops along Afghan border; Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry head urges U.S. to help Pakistan meet energy needs; Female parliamentarians accuse PTI Chairman of discrimination; Five health workers killed in Karachi and Peshawar; KP violence kills at least one, injures more than 10; TTP and IMU relationship growing.

Afghan Reconciliation Process

  • On Monday, the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) renewed its “Taliban sanctions regime” but acquiesced to easing some travel restrictions on blacklisted members to enable them to travel outside of Afghanistan for peace negotiations. The UNSC invited the Afghan government in conjunction with the Afghan High Peace Council to submit the names of Taliban negotiators deemed key to peace talks for consideration. The resolution stipulates that Afghan authorities must provide the passport or travel document number of the traveler, the exact location to which they are going, and the specific amount of time not to exceed nine months that they will be traveling.[i]

  • According to a senior Pakistani official, Pakistan would prefer that Afghan factions meet in Afghanistan rather than abroad to discuss peace and reconciliation post-2014. With regards to the meetings between Afghan factions to be held in France this week, the official said that “we certainly have no objections, but it would have been far better if the Afghans could meet in their own country, as it gives an impression that they need a western capital to come and solve their problems.” Commenting on Afghan-Pakistani relations, other officials express optimism that relations have been improving “at every level” and that the “trust [deficit]” between the two countries is shrinking, though Pakistan is still frustrated with Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s inaction concerning the capture and arrest of militant leader Mullah Fazlullah.[ii]

U.S.-Pakistani Relations

  • The Pentagon recently informed Congress that it would repay Pakistan almost $700 million to fund the stationing of 140,000 troops along the Afghan border. The $700 million reimbursement, in the form of Coalition Support Funds, covers the cost of providing food, ammunition, and other expenses from June to November 2011, and it has elicited little protest from Congress since its submission on December 7. This initiative is yet another step in reducing U.S.-Pakistani tensions in the lead-up to the 2014 departure date for coalition troops in Afghanistan.[iii]

  • Zafar Bakhtawari, president of the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), said on Monday that “instead of thwarting Pakistan’s efforts to tackle its energy crisis, [the U.S.] should play a positive role and help Pakistan in overcoming its energy problem.” Bakhtawari said he regretted India’s withdrawal from the IP pipeline deal “due to U.S. influence,” and protested that while the U.S. had offered India civil nuclear technology to persuade it to back out of the pipeline deal, it had made no such offer to Pakistan and therefore Pakistan had no choice but to move forward with the pipeline.[iv]

Women in Parliament

  • Following Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s recent remarks that he opposed reserving a percentage of parliament seats for women legislators, female parliamentarians have vociferously accused him of discriminating against women, protesting that he wants to “drag 50 percent [of the] population of the country into obscurity” and appeared to be “ignorant of the Constitution as well as social justice.” Anusha Rehman, a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) parliamentarian, declared that Khan had no right to speak against women who had obtained their seats through constitutional processes and party nominations when he himself had no representation in parliament, and lacked the same educational credentials as many of the women currently serving.[v]

Militancy

  • Unknown assailants in Karachi and Peshawar killed five health workers participating in an anti-polio drive in coordinated attacks on Tuesday. Four victims were killed in Karachi’s Landhi, Orangi Town, and Mochko areas while a fifth was shot in Peshawar’s Mathra suburb. Several other health workers were injured in the firings. All five killings took place within a span of 20 minutes. Pakistan is one of only three countries worldwide in which polio has yet to be eradicated.[vi]

  • At least one security official was killed while at least three others were injured in a Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) attack in Lakki Marwat. Reports conflict as to the attack’s target; some say it was a security checkpoint, others say it was a security convoy. The News reports that the militants stormed the checkpoint with guns and rockets, killing three security officials and wounding three others; the Express Tribune reports that militants exchanged gunfire with troops in the convoy and killed one security official while injuring five others.[vii]

  • Two attackers threw several hand grenades at the main gate of a Risalpur, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa army recruiting center on Tuesday. Ten people were injured in the blasts. No one has yet claimed responsibility; police have launched an investigation.[viii]

  • A Tuesday report by The News highlights the growing relationship between the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) over the last several years. When Baitullah Mehsud founded the TTP in 2007, then-leader of the IMU Tahir Yuldashev offered Mehsud his support early on in exchange for providing sanctuary to IMU fighters. The IMU was driven out of South Waziristan in 2009 following military operations in the area. Following the 2009 death of Yuldashev, and the 2012 death of Yuldashev’s replacement Abu Usman Adil, the IMU’s new leader Usman Ghazi relocated his fighters to North Waziristan and formed alliances with al Qaeda, the Haqqani Network, and Hakimullah Mehsud’s TTP, says the report. Mehsud and Ghazi are reportedly collaborating on attacks against Pakistani security forces throughout the country; additionally, IMU militants played a significant role in the April 2012 Bannu jailbreak in which Taliban fighters released over 400 prisoners after storming the jail. Most recently, five IMU militants participated in the Saturday TTP attack on a Pakistan Air Force base in Peshawar, though all five were killed on Sunday.[ix]                



[i] Michelle Nichols, “U.N. makes it easier for blacklisted Taliban to travel for peace talks,” Reuters, December 17, 2012. Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/18/us-afghanistan-sanctions-un-idUSBRE8BH00020121218
[ii] Mariana Babar, “Pakistan says Afghan factions should hold talks inside their country,” The News, December 18, 2012. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-19547-Pakistan-says-Afghan-factions-should-hold-talks-inside-their-country.
[iii] Eric Schmitt and David E. Sanger, “In Sign of Thawed Relations, U.S. to Send Aid to Pakistan,” The New York Times, December 17, 2012. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/18/world/asia/pentagon-to-reimburse-pakistan-688-million.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0.
[iv] “Energy woes: US urged to help Pakistan tackle crisis,” Express Tribune, December 18, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/480817/energy-woes-us-urged-to-help-pakistan-tackle-crisis/.
[v] “Women MPs slam Imran for opposing quota,” APP, December 17, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/18/women-mps-slam-imran-for-opposing-quota/.
[vi] “Gunmen kill five polio workers in Pakistan,” Dawn, December 18, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/18/gunmen-kill-four-female-polio-workers-in-karachi/.
[vii] “Three security officials killed in Lakki Marwat,” The News, December 18, 2012. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-19555-Three-security-officials-killed-in-Lakki-Marwat; “Exchange of fire: Security officer killed in TTP attack,” Express Tribune, December 18, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/481001/exchange-of-fire-security-officer-killed-in-ttp-attack/.   
[viii] “Grenade attack at Nowshera army facility wounds 10,” Dawn, December 18, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/18/grenade-attack-in-nowshera-injures-seven/.
[ix] Amir Mir, “TTP using Uzbeks to conduct terrorist attacks,” The News, December 18, 2012. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-149025-TTP-using-Uzbeks-to-conduct-terrorist-attacks.