Pakistan Security Brief - December 19, 2012

Afghan factions to meet in France today; Pakistan’s new engagement in Afghan reconciliation may be strategic change; Pakistani defense companies building own drones; Three killed in KP violence; KP Information Minister reveals nationalities of PAF base attackers; India disappointed in U.S. government affidavit affirming prosecution immunity for ISI; PTI Chairman says no military solution to Kashmir issue.

Post-2014 Afghanistan

  • Representatives from the Taliban and Hezb-e-Islami will meet with officials from the Afghan High Peace Council and the Northern Alliance today in France to share their viewpoints and policy ideas concerning post-2014 Afghanistan. Participating factions have made it clear that these are not peace negotiations, rather they are simply a way for relevant parties to better understand each other’s perspectives and objectives in the lead-up to coalition combat troop departure in 2014. Meetings will go on until December 21. Senior officials in the U.S. State Department have also expressed support for these meetings.[i]

  • A Foreign Policy op-ed released on Wednesday suggests that Pakistan’s new engagement in the Afghan reconciliation process may reflect a change in foreign policy strategy rather than a change of heart. The article implies that Pakistan is considering its Afghanistan strategy on the basis of ethnic and factional lines, as it sees a Taliban-controlled southeast and the remainder of Afghanistan under non-Pashtun control post-2014. Such an arrangement could allow Pakistan to “push the TTP and other Pakistan-based militant groups, including Kashmir-focused jihadis, into the Haqqani- and Taliban-controlled parts of Afghanistan” and later use them to “browbeat the Indians and the government in Kabul, or keep the Pashtun nationalists in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan in check.”[ii]

Pakistani Drones

  • Pakistani defense companies are currently trying to build a fleet of drones to supplant those used by the U.S. to target militants in Pakistan’s restive tribal areas. Many Pakistanis oppose U.S. drone strikes while the Pakistani government has repeatedly condemned the strikes as counterproductive.  Government leaders are not entirely opposed to them, however, but do seek more control over where and how strikes are conducted. Several defense companies have said they have requested drone technology from the U.S. but that their requests have not been met. Pakistan is also looking to China for aid in developing drones.[iii]

Militancy

  • Two more polio drive workers were killed by unknown attackers in Charsadda on Wednesday while another volunteer was injured in Peshawar’s Khazana area. These attacks, which follow the coordinated killing of five other polio drive workers in Karachi and Peshawar on Tuesday, have prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to halt its vaccination campaign in Pakistan until further notice. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the Tuesday assaults; no immediate claims were made regarding Wednesday’s killings. Four female health workers in Nowshera were also targeted in an attack, but managed to escape unharmed. Along with the WHO and UNICEF, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attacks as “senseless and inexcusable” and called on government leaders to do more to protect health workers and improve the security situation in the region. [iv]

  • Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said on Tuesday that officials had identified the nationalities of the terrorists involved in Saturday’s attack on the Pakistan Air Force base in Peshawar, and that blood samples had been sent in for DNA testing. According to Hussain, the five militants killed on Saturday included two Chechens and three Pakistanis while the other five killed in a Sunday search operation included a Pakistani, an Uzbek, a Chechen, a Dagestani, and a man from Kyrgyzstan. Previous reports suggest that the non-Pakistani terrorists were affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).[v]

  • On Tuesday, TTP operatives killed the leader of a peace committee and injured his associate in Manglawar village, Swat. The TTP claimed it was in revenge for the committee’s active anti-Taliban efforts in the region.[vi]

ISI Prosecution Immunity

  • In response to a recent affidavit filed in a U.S. court affirming that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) enjoyed immunity from prosecution as a component of a foreign state, Indian authorities seeking a lawsuit against the ISI for alleged involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks called it “a matter of deep and abiding concern.” India accuses the ISI of conspiring with Lashkar-e-Taiba to conduct the attacks, which left 166 people dead. The affidavit was presented in court as part of a case that a group of U.S. survivors has filed against the ISI for alleged participation in the planning of the attacks.[vii]  

Kashmir

  • In a Tuesday press conference, Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan said that a military solution to contentions in Kashmir would be ineffective and that only a political solution would be viable. Speaking alongside Khan, Kashmiri separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq stressed that Kashmiris had to be included in the dialogue between India and Pakistan, and that a permanent improvement in relations between both countries would be impossible without a resolution of the Kashmir issue.[viii]              



[i] “Afghan Factions Meeting in France,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, December 19, 2012. Available at: http://www.rferl.org/content/afghanistan-talks/24802681.html; Wajid Ali Syed, “US backs meeting of Afghan factions,” The News, December 19, 2012. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-149252-US-backs-meeting-of-Afghan-factions.
[ii] Daud Khattak, “For Pakistan, a change of heart in Afghanistan?” Foreign Policy, December 18, 2012. Available at: http://afpak.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/12/17/pakistans_change_of_heart_in_afghanistan
[iii] Dion Nissenbaum, “Pakistan Moves to Build Its Own Drones, Push Aside U.S.,” The Wall Street Journal, December 18, 2012. Available at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324712504578133483559620340.html?mod=googlenews_wsj.
[iv] “Two killed as polio teams attacked in KP; WHO tells field staff to stop work,” Dawn and AP, December 19, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/19/polio-teams-attacked-in-peshawar-nowshera/; Declan Walsh, “U.N. Halts Vaccine Work in Pakistan After 2 More Killings,” The New York Times, December 19, 2012. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/20/world/asia/un-suspends-immunization-wo... ; “UN condemns deadly attacks on polio workers,” Geo News, December 19, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=80208.
[v] “Peshawar airport attackers identified: Mian Iftikhar,” APP, December 18, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=80169.
[vi] “Lashkar head killed in Swat,” The News, December 19, 2012. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-149231-Lashkar-head-killed-in-Swat.
[vii] “Mumbai attacks case: India ‘disappointed’ at US immunity for ISI,” AFP, December 19, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/19/mumbai-attacks-case-india-disappointed-at-us-immunity-for-isi/.
[viii] Bakhtawar Mian, “No military solution for Kashmir: Imran,” Dawn, December 18, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/19/no-military-solution-for-kashmir-imran/.