Pakistan Security Brief - December 24, 2014

Security forces arrest TTP militants in Balochistan; Two militants killed in Karachi; IED detonates, injuring 36 people in Quetta; Terror plot foiled in Rawalpindi district; Security forces kill six militants in Mohmand Agency; IED destroys gas pipeline in Dera Bugti district; Increased security at sensitive buildings in Peshawar following terror threat; LeT leader’s bail order to be challenged by government prosecutor next week; Army spokesman denies reports that 11 terrorists were involved in Peshawar school attack; Prime Minister vows to protect all citizens of Pakistan; Army chief calls for “bold decisions” on fighting terror; NAPC submits recommendations to Prime Minister; Interior Minister outlines provisions of national action plan against terrorism; Court dismisses stay order on execution of five terrorists; U.S. says it has no position on Pakistan’s resumption of executions; EU condemns death penalty; U.S. working with other partners to prevent terror attacks, says U.S. State Department spokesperson; Indian security forces fire on Pakistan Army posts in Sialkot; IMF predicts 5 percent growth for Pakistan in 2014-15.

Militancy

On December 23, security forces arrested five TTP militants in the Qila Saifullah district of Balochistan. Weapons and explosives were also recovered from the militants.[1]

On December 24, police conducted a raid, killing two militant commanders, in Surjani town of Karachi.[2]

On December 24, an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated outside a shop, injuring at least 36 people, on Prince Road in Quetta.[3]   

On December 23, a terror plot was foiled when an unattended bag with a bomb was found on a wagon in Taxila, Rawalpindi disrict. The bomb was successfully defused by the Bomb Disposal Squad.[4]

On December 23, security forces conducted a search operation, killing six militants, in lower Mohmand Agency.[5] 

On December 23, unidentified men blew up an eight inch gas pipeline with an IED in the Pirkoh gas field area of Dera Bugti district, Balochistan.[6]

According to a December 24 report in The News, security of jails, courts, Bacha Khan International Airport and other important buildings in Peshawar has been increased following fresh threats from militants to carry out an attack similar to the December 16 Peshawar school attack.[7]

On December 24, government prosecutor Mohammad Azhar Chaudhry announced that he will challenge the bail order of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi chief Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi in court next week. Lakhvi was granted bail by an anti-terrorism court last week and is set to be released from detention on December 25. Chaudhry could not file the appeal on December 23 as originally intended because of the unavailability of a copy of the bail order.[8] 

Peshawar School Attack

On December 23, Director-General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Asim Bajwa denied reports that 11 militants were involved in the Peshawar school attack. Bajwa said the rumors were baseless and that seven militants were involved.[9]

Counter-Terrorism Efforts

On December 23, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif declared that the state will protect each and every citizen of Pakistan, irrespective of their religion, caste or sect and that he would himself lead the war against terrorism. Prime Minister Sharif reiterated that no distinction will be made between those who commit acts of terror and those who harbor, facilitate and finance them.[10]  

On December 24, army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif declared that the country’s leadership owed it to the next generation to eliminate the scourge of militancy once and for all. Gen. Sharif added that it was the right time to take “bold decisions.”[11]

On December 23, the National Action Plan Committee (NAPC) adopted a majority of the recommendations provided by a working group of anti-terror experts who had proposed an action plan based on 17 recommendations. According to sources, the committee has left it to the leadership of political parties to decide on the establishment of military courts for speedy trial of terrorism-related cases and how madrassas should be reformed. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is expected to discuss the NAPC’s recommendations at an all parties’ conference on December 24.[12]

On December 24, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan declared that army troops will be withdrawn from the three provinces of Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, if requisitions were not made by those province’s provincial governments for an extension of the deployment of armed forces under Article 245 of the Constitution. Khan clarified that without the enforcement of the article, army personnel can be summoned in court on the request of terrorists’ representatives and held accountable for their actions. Khan made these remarks at the National Action Plan Committee meeting held at Prime Minister Sharif’s house in Islamabad. Khan added that the army will support the police in provincial governments since the police are not trained for counter-terrorism efforts and that an estimated 10,000 army personnel will be deployed in all four provinces. [13]

According to a December 24 report in The News, a Lahore High Court Rawalpindi bench has dismissed a stay order on the execution of five terrorists convicted by a military court. The terrorists had filed appeals to have their cases heard by a civilian court.[14]

Foreign Affairs

On December 24, U.S. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf declared that the Pakistani government’s decision to reinstate the death penalty was Pakistan’s internal business and that the U.S. did not have a position on the issue. Meanwhile, the European Union condemned the lifting of the moratorium on the death penalty and demanded its immediate restoration, citing the ineffectiveness of the death penalty as a tool for fighting terrorism.[15]

According to a December 24 Dawn report, U.S. State department spokesperson Marie Harf clarified that the U.S. intelligence community has been working with all its partners over the last six years to prevent attacks such as the 2008 Mumbai terror attack. These remarks were made in response to a December 22 New York Times report claiming that the Mumbai terror attack could have been prevented if there was better coordination among India, British and American intelligence agencies.[16]  

Indo-Pak Relations

On December 24, Pakistani security forces were reportedly fired upon by Indian forces in the Bara Bhai sector of Sialkot. Pakistani forces responded with retaliatory firing. No casualties were reported.[17]

Economy

On December 23, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released a detailed report of Pakistan’s economic performance which predicts five percent growth for Pakistan and an easing of inflation to below eight percent in fiscal year 2014-15. The report warns, however, that political and security conditions in the country will continue to pose a serious challenge to the national economy.[18]


[1]“Security forces arrest five suspected TTP militants in Balochistan,” Dawn, December 23, 2014. Available at
http://www.dawn.com/news/1152693/security-forces-arrest-five-suspected-ttp-militants-in-balochistan
[2]“Two commanders of banned outfit killed in shootout,” Geo News, December 24, 2014. Available at http://www.geo.tv/article-169621-Karachi-Two-commanders-of-banned-outfit-killed-in-shootout-
[3]“Blast leaves over 36 injured in Quetta,” The News, December 24, 2014. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-169683-Blast-leaves-over-36-injured-in-Quetta-
[4]“Threat averted: Bomb on Taxila-bound van defused,” Express Tribune, December 24, 2014. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/811322/threat-averted-bomb-on-taxila-bound-van-defused/
[5]“Six militants killed in Mohmand,” The News, December 24, 2014. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-34880-Six-militants-killed-in-Mohmand
[6]“Gas pipeline blown up in Dera Bugti,” The News, December 24, 2014. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-292021-Gas-pipeline-blown-up-in-Dera-Bugti
[7]“Security beefed up in Peshawar after fresh threats,” The News, December 24, 2014. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-292053-Security-beefed-up-in-Peshawar-after-fresh-threats
[8]“Mumbai attack case: Govt to challenge bail for Lakhvi,” Express Tribune, December 24, 2014. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/811466/mumbai-attack-case-govt-to-challenge-bail-for-lakhvi/
“Lashkar-e-Jhangvi leader Malik Ishaq set to be freed,” The News, December 24, 2014. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-34868-Lashkar-e-Jhangvi-leader-Malik-Ishaq-set-to-be-freed
[9]“DG ISPR terms ‘rumor’ of 11 terrorists baseless,” The News, December 23, 2014. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-169597-DG-ISPR-terms-rumour-of-11-terrorists-baseless
[10]Decisive battle: Nawaz to spearhead the country’s war on terror,” Express Tribune, December 24, 2014. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/811428/decisive-battle-nawaz-to-spearhead-the-countrys-war-on-terror/
[11]“We owe it to our next generations to eliminate militancy: army chief,” Express Tribune, December 24, 2014. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/811506/we-owe-it-to-our-next-generations-to-eliminate-militancy-general-raheel-sharif/
[12]“NAPC meeting: No consensus on army courts, madrassa reforms,” Express Tribune, December 24, 2014. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/811431/napc-meeting-no-consensus-on-army-courts-madrassa-reforms/
[13]“Army to be withdrawn from 3 provinces if Article 245 not invoked: Nisar,” Dawn, December 24, 2014. Available at http://www.dawn.com/news/1152892/extraordinary-situation-requires-extraordinary-measures-nawaz
“Army to assist all provinces in bid to root out terrorists: Nisar,” Express Tribune, December 24, 2014. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/811465/interior-minister-outlines-plan-to-counter-terrorism/
[14]“Death penalty of 5 terrorists upheld,” The News, December 24, 2014. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-169654-Death-penalty-of-five-terrorists-convicted-by-military-court-upheld-
[15]“No position on Pakistan lifting death penalty moratorium: US,” Dawn, December 24, 2014. Available at http://www.dawn.com/news/1152907/no-position-on-pakistan-lifting-death-penalty-moratorium-us
“EU Condemns Pakistan for Return To Capital Punishment,” RFERL, December 24, 2014. Available at http://www.rferl.org/content/eu-condemns-pakistan-for-return-to-capital-punishment/26760329.html
[16]“US working with India to prevent Mumbai-like attacks,” Dawn, December 24, 2014. Available at http://www.dawn.com/news/1152809/us-working-with-india-to-prevent-mumbai-like-attacks
[17]“Exchange of fire between Indo-Pak reported along Sialkot working boundary,” Dawn, December 24, 2014. Available at http://www.dawn.com/news/1152888/exchange-of-fire-between-indo-pak-reported-along-sialkot-working-boundary
[18]“IMF predicts 5% growth for Pakistan, reduction in inflation,” Dawn, December 24, 2014. Available at http://www.dawn.com/news/1152848/imf-predicts-5-growth-for-pakistan-reduction-in-inflation