Pakistan Security Brief - December 27, 2012

Top ANP leader assassinated by TTP; TTP rejects government offers for talks; Pakistan “serious” about Afghan reconciliation; Gen. Kayani reportedly makes Afghan reconciliation “top priority;” TTP kills two; captures 22 security personnel; Taliban claim to shoot down drone; Tahirul Qadri holds 100,000-strong rally against government in Lahore; Indefinite curfew in North Waziristan; Wounding of ASWJ leader in Karachi sparks riots, sectarian killings; Violence, killings across NW Pakistan, Karachi, Quetta; India kills two LeT militants in Kashmir; Shakai to be new sub-district in South Waziristan; Gen. Kayani pledges support for Election Commission; Pakistan lauds Kerry’s nomination for Sec’y of State; Iran kills 11 on border with Pakistan, intercepts bombs; Man murdered by mob on blasphemy allegations.

TTP Assassinates Top Leader

  • A suicide bomber on Saturday killed at least eight people at a political rally in Peshawar including Bashir Ahmed Bilour, a senior Awami National Party (ANP) politician and provincial minister for information. The blast took place at the ANP leader’s house as Bilour was leaving after making an address. Eighteen others were wounded in the attack. Ehsanullah Ehsan, the spokesman for the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), took responsibility on Saturday for the attack, claiming it was revenge for the alleged killing by the government in May 2012 of Maulana Naseeb Khan Wazir. Wazir was a leader of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Samiul Haq (JUI-S) suspected of links to the Taliban. Bilour had survived two failed assassination attempts before the attack on Saturday. Security was beefed up in Peshawar following the attack and off-duty security personnel were called back into service. Bilour was buried on Sunday and widely mourned, with several senior politicians from different parties attending his funeral. On Tuesday, during an ANP party meeting following Bilour’s assassination, ANP leader Asfandyar Wali Khan made a statement saying it “would be an exercise in futility to appease” the TTP, but indicated that his party was willing to negotiate with the group if it accepted the writ of the state.” Some political analysts have commented that the recent spate of TTP attacks could serve to threaten and disrupt Pakistan’s upcoming elections by undermining confidence in the state.[i]

  • The TTP on Wednesday responded to Asfandyar Wali Khan’s offer of peace talks, calling the offer ridiculous. TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan stated on Wednesday that the group was ready for “‘meaningful’ dialogue” with the Pakistani government but rejected government offers of talks on the condition that the TTP renounced violence, saying that “‘terms and conditions’ were unacceptable for any peace talks to be initiated.” A letter from a TTP spokesman named Amir Muawiya to the government said its conditions for entering peace talks include the adoption of Islamic law in Pakistan and a break with the U.S. The TTP said it was ready to grant the ANP and the Muttahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM) amnesty from attacks if they apologized for and altered their offending policies. The letter said it had no quarrel with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz or the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and denied that it was behind attacks on the Jamaat-e-Islami or the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam.[ii]

Afghan Reconciliation

  • According to an anonymous senior Afghan official closely involved in reconciliation efforts, Pakistan is “genuine about backing a nascent Afghan peace process” and shares the Afghan government’s aspiration of “transforming the [Afghan] Taliban insurgency into a political movement.” The remarks signal “unprecedented optimism from Afghanistan that Pakistan - long accused of backing Afghan insurgents - was now willing to put its weight behind reconciliation efforts, which are still in early stages and vulnerable to factionalism.”[iii]

  • According to a Reuters report citing military officials and Western diplomats, Pakistan Army chief Gen. Asfhaq Parvez Kayani has made “reconciling warring factions in Afghanistan a top priority.” They say Gen. Kayani is throwing his weight behind ongoing talks “partly due to fears that the end of the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan in 2014 could energize a resilient insurgency straddling the shared frontier, according to commanders deployed in the region.” Gen. Kayani reportedly reinforced his determination to support a negotiated settlement of the war during a December 7 meeting of the army’s Corps Commanders in Rawalpindi. A commenting EU official said “They seem to genuinely want to move towards a political solution….We've seen a real shift in their game-plan at every level.”[iv] 

Militancy

  • Dozens of heavily armed TTP militants on Thursday killed two and kidnapped at least 22 paramilitary Levies personnel following three attacks on three checkposts, Zaray, Zarka Kohi Hassankhel and Ghaki Sar, in Khyber agency. Of the more than 100 men deployed to the posts over 22 are missing and believed to have been taken hostage. A TTP spokesman in Khyber agency said 30 men had been captured. Central TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said 33 were in custody.[v]  

  • On Thursday the Pakistani Taliban claimed to have shot done a U.S. drone that had crashed in South Waziristan the day before. Local villagers claim, however, that the drone crashed due to a “technical fault” as they had not heard any firing prior to the crash, and reported that militants from the Commander Shamsullah group later seized the drone wreckage which had landed in Kaja Panja village of Birmal sub-district. Differing reports claim the drone was Pakistani.[vi]

  • A Frontier Corps personnel of the Mehsud Scouts was killed when militants attacked a checkpost in Sial Khan Kallay, Akka Khel, in Bara sub-district of Khyber agency on Wednesday. In Jamrud, Khyber agency, a teenage girl was killed when security forces raided a house in the Ghudi Abdalkhel area. Two women and two children were injured when a stray mortar hit a house in Bara on Wednesday. In Charsadda district, militants planted an IED outside the house of an NGO worker on Wednesday, damaging the structure.[vii]

  • Three soldiers were wounded when an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting their convoy went off in Frontier Region (FR) Bannu on Sunday. The attack took place in Khwajdarkhel village in Jani Khel, near the Bakka Khel police station.[viii]

  • Militants blew up the house of a prominent tribesman and former politician on Tuesday in Bara sub-district of Khyber agency. On Monday, two people were shot dead in separate incidents in Mazang, Bannu district.[ix]

  • Back and forth killings left three, including a militant commander, dead in the Tirah valley in Khyber agency on Sunday. Asad Khan, a commander of militant group Ansarul Islam was killed by another militant in Bagh Bazaar who was then killed in return. Supporters of Khan then went to the shooter’s house in Khato Chena village and killed his father in revenge.[x]

  • A suspected TTP “target killer” escaped from Karachi’s Peerabad police station on Wednesday. Abid alias Chhotu had been arrested in Kunwari colony on December 13 and was believed to be involved in 25 murders.[xi]

  • Militants blew up a boys school in Mushtarzai village near Badaber police station in Peshawar district on Wednesday. Elsewhere, police defused an IED planted near an electrical grid on Canal Road.[xii]

  • An oil tanker was destroyed and another set alight when unknown militants fired rockets an oil plant in Karak on Sunday.[xiii]

  • Two policemen were killed in Quetta in attack on police checkpoints in the Eastern Bypass area of the city on Monday. Two policemen were wounded in the attack.[xiv]

  • On Tuesday 11 people were killed in violent incidents in Karachi and several others wounded, including Maulana Oranzaib Farooqi, a senior cleric of the hardline Sunni religious party Ahl-e-Sunnat-Wal-Jamaat (ASWJ). The attack on the ASWJ leader was reportedly a sectarian attack linked to attacks on Monday in which three Shias and a Sunni cleric were gunned down. Elsewhere, three people were killed in Orangi Town, another in Shah Faisal Colony, a fifth in Landhi and a sixth in Clifton’s Darakshan in shooting incidents. Six others were killed in various shooting incidents on Monday.[xv]

  • Five people were injured in Karachi on Wednesday when an IED planted on a motorcycle exploded outside a mosque in Sohrab Goth. The blast came on the same day that the city was partially shut-down in observance of a day of mourning called by ASWJ following the attack that wounded Maulana Farooqi and killed four other activists.[xvi]

  • Police in Indian-administered Kashmir say two suspected militants and a police officer were killed in an exchange of fire in on Monday in the southern Kashmiri village of Dodhiporao. Officials claim the dead militants belonged to Lashkar-e-Taiba.[xvii]

Federally Administered Tribal Areas

  • The government on Wednesday declared an indefinite curfew in North Waziristan agency, according to an announcement by senior officials. The declaration reportedly worried local tribesmen as they have not been given a reason for the curfew.[xviii]

  • The political administration in Kurram agency is planning on forming some 1,400 village defense committees with a “special focus” on militancy-hit sub-districts in order to prevent the “resurgence of militants in the area.” Under the plan, the government would arm and pay the committees, each 10- to 25-men strong. The government has set up defense committees in other FATA agencies but has not, to-date, provided them compensation.[xix]

  • The Shakai region of South Waziristan agency was formally declared a sub-district of the agency on Wednesday. Tribesmen were informed by the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) Secretariat on December 17 that Shakai’s status would be upgraded.[xx]

Domestic Politics and Security

  • On Sunday, religious leader Tahir-ul Qadri held a 100,000-strong rally in Lahore demanding that the government carry out “electoral and political change” or he would start a “long march” to the capital with “millions” of supporters if his demands are not met. The abrupt “re-emergence” of Qadri, a “moderate religious scholar with political ambitions, surprised many analysts” and sparked debate about his political intentions.[xxi]

  • During a rare meeting on Wednesday between Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Pakistan’s Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), Gen. Kayani assured the CEC of the army’s “full cooperation in holding general elections in a transparent manner.” The CEC later announced that Gen. Kayani had offered full army support to the Election Commission in conducting the task of voter verification.[xxii]

  • Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Friday visited Lahore and Gujranwala and witnessed an artillery regiment demonstrate a new Automate Fire Order System being developed indigenously by Pakistan.[xxiii]

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

  • Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Sherry Rehman on Saturday welcomed the nomination of Sen. John Kerry to the post of Secretary of State, calling Kerry a “‘steadfast’ friend of the country,” and saying he had “demonstrated through the years an extraordinary understanding of the complexities of South and Central Asia.”[xxiv]

Iran-Pakistan Relations

  • Eleven Pakistanis and Afghans were shot dead near the Iranian border in the Puktan area of Balochistan on Friday night. Balochistan’s home secretary claimed the dead were trying to travel illegally into Iran when they were intercepted by unknown armed men. In other news, Iranian officials claim to have intercepted 20 bombs and explosive devices from “subversive groups” on the border with Pakistan and called on Pakistan to better control its border regions.”[xxv]

Blasphemy Killing

  • A mob in Seeta, Dadu district, Sindh on Saturday beat to death and then burned the body of a man accused of blasphemy. The unnamed victim had been turned over to police after being accused of burning pages of the Quran but an angry mob seized the man from the police station and killed him. Thirty people have been detained in connection with the killing and local police officials have been arrested for failing to protect the victim.[xxvi]

 


[i] “Pakistan blast in Peshawar kills provincial minister,” BBC, December 22, 2012. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20824815
Amir Mir, “TTP killed Bilour to avenge JUI-S leader’s death,” The News, December 24, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-19672-TTP-killed-Bilour-to-avenge-JUI-S-leaders-death
Ali Hazrat Bacha, “Police, FC reinforced in Peshawar suburbs against terror attacks,” Dawn, December 24, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/12/25/police-fc-reinforced-in-peshawar-suburbs-against-terror-attacks/
Zahir Shah Sherazi, “Bashir Ahmed Bilour laid to rest,” Dawn, December 23, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/12/23/funeral-of-bashir-bilour-reaches-army-stadium-for-prayers/
“Khalid Kheshgi, “ANP ready to hold talks with Taliban: Asfandyar,” The News, December 26, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-19725-ANP-ready-to-hold-talks-with-Taliban:-Asfandyar
“Surge in violence raises fears for elections in Pakistan,” AFP, December 24, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/12/24/surge-in-violence-raises-fears-for-elections-in-pakistan/
[v] Zahir Shah Sherazi, “Two killed, 22 Levies personnel missing in checkposts attack,” Dawn, December 27, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/12/27/two-killed-22-soldiers-missing-in-security-checkposts-attack/
Jibran Ahmed, “Taliban seize 22 Pakistani paramilitary fighters,” Reuters, December 27, 2012. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/27/us-pakistan-taliban-idUSBRE8BQ0D020121227?feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Reuters%2FworldNews+%28Reuters+World+News%29&utm_content=Google+Reader
[vi] “Taliban claim shooting down US drone,” The News, December 22, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-19645-Taliban-claim-shooting-down-US-drone
[vii] “Mehsud scout killed in Khyber attack,” Dawn, December 26, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/12/27/mehsud-scout-killed-in-khyber-attack-2/ 
[viii] “Three soldiers injured in FR Bannu IED blast,” The News, December 24, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-150150-Three-soldiers-injured-in-FR-Bannu-IED-blast
[ix] “Militants blow up ex-MP’s house in Bara,” The News, December 26, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-150601-Militants-blow-up-ex-MPs-house-in-Bara
“Two killed in Bannu incidents,” The News, December 25, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-150376-Two-killed-in-Bannu-incidents
[x] “Militant commander among 3 killed in Tirah valley,” The News, December 24, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-150152-Militant-commander-among-3-killed-in-Tirah-valley
[xi] “TTP ‘target killer’ escapes from police station in Karachi,” The News December 27, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-150747-TTP-target-killer-escapes-from-police-station-in-Karachi
[xii] “School blown up in Peshawar,” The News, December 27, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-150751-School-blown-up-in-Peshawar
[xiii] “Rocket fired at Karak oil plant,” The News, December 24, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-150174-Rocket-fired-at-Karak-oil-plant
[xiv] “Two cops killed in attack,” The News, December 25, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-19710-Two-cops-killed-in-attack
[xvi] “Blast in Karachi injures at least five: police,” Dawn, December 26, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/12/26/two-loud-blasts-reported-near-karachis-sohrab-goth/
[xvii] “Two militants, one policeman killed in Kashmir fighting,” AP, December 24, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/12/25/two-militants-one-policeman-killed-in-kashmir-fighting/
[xviii] “North Waziristan placed inder indefinite curfew,” The News, December 27, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-150743-North-Waziristan-placed-under-indefinite-curfew
[xix] Zulfiqar Ali, “Defence Bodies for Kurram Villages,” Dawn, December 24, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/12/24/defence-bodies-for-kurram-villages-2/
[xx] “Shakai notified as tehsil of S Waziristan,” The News, December 27, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-150741-Shakai-notified-as-tehsil-of-S-Waziristan
[xxi] Salman Masood, “Official Killed in Bombing Is Mourned in Pakistan,” New York Times, December 23, 2012. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/24/world/asia/bashir-ahmad-bilour-taliban-opponent-is-buried-in-pakistan.html?partner=rss&emc=rss 
[xxii] “COAS pledges help for fair polls: CEC,” The News, December 27, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-19748-COAS-pledges-help-for-fair-polls:-CEC
[xxiii] “Gen Kayanbi witnesses demo of Automated Fire Order System,” The News, December 22, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-149871-Gen-Kayani-witnesses-demo-of-Automated-Fire-Order-System
[xxiv] “Pakistan welcomes Kerry’s nomination for top diplomatic post,” APP, December 22, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/12/22/pakistan-welcomes-kerrys-nomination-for-top-diplomatic-post/
[xxv] Muhammad Ejaz Khan, “Pakistanis, Afghans among 11 killed near Iran border,” The News, December 22, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-19631-Pakistanis,-Afghans-among-11-killed-near-Iran-border
[xxvi] Pakistan mob beats to death Muslim accused of blasphemy,” BBC, December 22, 2012. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20823531