Pakistan Security Brief - December 20, 2012

Another anti-polio health worker dies on Thursday; Karachi police kill two militants allegedly involved in anti-polio worker shootings; Religious council condemns attacks on health workers; Foreign Minister says Pakistan helping Afghanistan maintain sovereignty in reconciliation process; Saudi Arabia invites Foreign Minister for “urgent talks;” Three dead in Quetta violence; President signs 2012 education bill into law.

Attacks on Anti-Polio Drive Workers

  • A ninth polio drive worker died on Thursday after succumbing to gunshot wounds to the head. The man was shot by unknown attackers in Peshawar on Wednesday.[i]

  • On Wednesday, Karachi police launched a search operation in Sohrab Goth in pursuit of militants involved in the shooting of polio drive workers in Karachi on Tuesday. Police followed suspects into Qayyumabad, where two suspects were then killed in a gun battle and six others were arrested. District East Deputy Inspector General Shahid Hayat allegedly found a note on one of the deceased militants in which he had written: “Respected Ameer Sahib…as per your instructions, we have targeted the workers involved in the [anti-]polio campaign and succeeded in foiling their move.”[ii]

  • The Pakistan Ulema Council, an organization of religious clerics, has united in protest against the killing of nine polio workers in several areas of Pakistan over the last three days. The Council’s leader, Tahir Ashrafi, said on Thursday that 24,000 mosques in Pakistan would preach against the killings on Friday, adding that “neither Pakistani customs nor Islam would allow or endorse [the killings]. Far from doing something wrong, these [workers] are martyrs for Islam because they were doing a service to humanity and Islam.”[iii]

Foreign Relations

  • In a Wednesday television interview, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said that terrorism, militancy, and violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan held grave regional security implications and negatively affected the economies of both countries. She emphasized that Pakistan wished to help the Afghan government achieve its peace objectives, and that Pakistan viewed itself as a “facilitator [aiding] Afghans [in maintaining] their sovereignty and [making] decisions according to their own needs.”[iv]

  • According to diplomatic sources, Saudi Arabia is increasingly concerned with Pakistan’s growing economic and trade relations with Iran and has invited Foreign Minister Khar to Riyadh for “urgent talks” to be held soon. Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have been encouraging Pakistan to back out of a natural gas pipeline deal with Iran, and have expressed willingness to help Pakistan work its way out of the current energy crisis through alternate means.[v]

Militancy

  • Unidentified assailants targeted a man and his brother in Musa Colony, Quetta on Thursday, killing one and injuring the other. The attackers’ motivation is unclear, but police have launched an investigation. Elsewhere in Quetta’s Haftwali area, a man was killed in a landmine blast.[vi]

  • The bodies of two teenage girls were discovered in the Faizabad area of Sariab, Quetta on Wednesday. Both bodies bore marks of torture, and it appeared that both girls had been strangled to death.[vii]

Education Law

  • On Thursday, President Asif Ali Zardari signed into law the “Right to Free and Compulsory Education Bill 2012.” The new law aims to ensure that all children ages 5 to 16 receive a quality education. Among other things, it stipulates that the government will provide uniforms and textbooks to students in schools under its jurisdiction; that no children are subjected to corporeal punishment at school; that private schools must provide free education to disadvantaged students; and that committees be established to encourage parents and the community to support children’s education.[viii]        

 


[i] “Ninth death reported in polio team attacks,” AP, December 20, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/20/ninth-death-reported-in-polio-team-attacks/.
[ii] Faraz Khan, “Attack on polio vaccinators: Two ‘militants’ killed in Karachi operation,” Express Tribune, December 20, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/481876/attack-on-polio-vaccinators-two-militants-killed-in-karachi-operation/.
[iii] “Pakistani clerics unite to condemn polio workers’ killings,” Reuters, December 20, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/20/pakistani-clerics-unite-to-condemn-polio-workers-killings/.
[iv] “Terrorism threat to regional peace, economic stability: Khar,” APP, December 19, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/20/terrorism-threat-to-regional-peace-economic-stability-khar/.
[v] Kamran Yousaf, “Bilateral relations: As Pak-Iran ties grow, Saudis invite Khar,” Express Tribune, December 20, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/481957/bilateral-relations-as-pak-iran-ties-grow-saudis-invite-khar/.
[vi] “Quetta: Man gunned down in Musa Colony,” The News, December 20, 2012. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-80352-Quetta:-Man-gunned-down-in-Musa-Colony-.
[vii] “Quetta incident: Two teenage girls found dead,” Express Tribune, December 20, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/481951/quetta-incident-two-teenage-girls-found-dead/.
[viii] Tahir Hasan Khan, “President signs The Right to Free and Compulsory Education Bill,” The News, December 20, 2012. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-19596-President-signs-The-Right-to-Free-and-Compulsory-Education-Bill.