Pakistan Security Brief - December 28, 2012

TTP sends message to government saying it will not disarm, stands with Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda; Drone strike kills four in North Waziristan; Pakistani officials pressure tribesmen to help recover kidnapped policemen; Bilawal Bhutto Zardari makes major political speech; Drone strikes decrease in Pakistan, up in Yemen; Pakistan receives $688 million from U.S. in CSF; MQM, Tahirul Qadri, plan long march against government; Several dead, wounded in northwest Pakistan, Quetta; Pakistan may delay granting India MFN status; Zardari planning tri to Iran.

Militancy and Negotiating with the Taliban

  • In a 40-minute video given to Reuters on Friday, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Hakimullah Mehsud delivered a message saying his group would negotiate with the Pakistani government but would not disarm. “We believe in dialogue but it should not be frivolous….Asking us to lay down arms is a joke,” Mehsud said in the message. Mehsud appeared in the video next to TTP deputy chief Wali-ur-Rehman, and denied claims by military officials that the two had fallen out over leadership decisions. Mehsud said “Wali ur-Rehman is sitting with me here and we will be together until death.” Mehsud reiterated the group’s support for the Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda and said that the TTP would follow the Afghan Taliban’s lead vis-à-vis forming policy following NATO’s withdrawal from the region in 2014. "We are Afghan Taliban and Afghan Taliban are us….We are with them and al Qaida. We are even willing to get our heads cut off for al Qaida,” Mehsud said on camera. In reference to the recent assassination of a senior Awami National Party politician, Mehsud said the TTP would continue to attack the party and all other groups that supported the “un-Islamic” constitution of Pakistan.[1]

  • Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Thursday that a conditional offer for a truce presented to the government by TTP leader Asmatullah Muavia was an attempt to “dictate to the government” and thus unacceptable. Malik said the government would only consider a peace offering from the main head of the TTP, Hakimullah Mehsud. Other ministers stated separately that the government would hold talks with the TTP but “only under the sphere of law and the Constitution.” Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, railways minister and brother of the recently slain ANP leader Bashir Bilour said his party would only consider the TTP offer if it was made in good faith and not just as an attempt to create divisions among the parties.[2]

  • Pakistani officials on Friday tried to pressure tribesmen to help rescue some 23 Levies personnel kidnapped by the Taliban on Thursday. The tribal policemen were kidnapped following attacks by four hundred Taliban militants on checkposts variously reported as being in Khyber agency, Frontier Region Peshawar and Darra Adam Khel. Government officials gave local tribal elders till Monday to help rescue the missing Levies or the government would consider taking punitive action against them, including suspending various allowances they are granted. In addition to the central TTP’s spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for the TTP’s Darra Adam Khel faction, Mohammad, also claimed responsibility for the attack.[3]

  • The bodies of three people who were reported missing last week were discovered in Baggan, Kurram agency on Thursday. The three men were killed and then dumped in Kakray Bagh, Baggan.[4]

  • Seven people were injured when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off outside a mosque in Hajiabad, in Umarzai sub-district in Charsadda district on Thursday.[5]

  • Two people, reportedly members of an “intelligence agency,” were killed in Quetta on Thursday when they were fired on “indiscriminately” in the Satellite Town area. Another person was wounded in a shooting on Alamdar road.[6]

Drone Strikes

  • A U.S. drone strike on a compound in Gurbaz village in North Waziristan’s Shawal sub-district killed five people on Friday. No further details are currently available on the strike.[7]

  • According to figures compiled by the New America Foundation, the number of drone strikes in Pakistan in 2012 decreased compared to 2011 and 2010. In 2012, Pakistan saw 46 drone attacks compared with 72 the year before and 122 in 2010. The majority of strikes in Pakistan took place in North Waziristan agency and killed “between 189 and 308 militants and at least seven civilians” in 2012. Yemen, by contrast, as seen an increase in the number of drone strikes from years previous.[8]

Domestic Politics

  • On Thursday during a political rally by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) marking the fifth death anniversary of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Bhutto’s son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari made his first major political stump speech. The rally was held in Garhi Khuda Bux, the Bhuttos’ ancestral home in Sindh. Analysts say the speech was well received by PPP loyalists and was significant since Bilawal was able to comfortably deliver a speech laden with populist slogans in Urdu despite having a weak grasp of the language as he has spent most of his life in the U.K. While the speech marked a distinct political ‘coming of age’ for Bilawal, he cannot contest parliamentary elections until his 25th birthday in September. Elsewhere, large rallies were held in major cities to mark Bhutto’s death anniversary and to drum up support for the PPP in the upcoming polls.[9]

  • The Muttahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM), in a meeting with cleric Dr. Tahirul Qadri’s Minhajul Quran International (MQI) on Thursday, have reportedly decided to join Qadri and the MQI in participating in a “million-man march” to press the government to set up a neutral caretaker government and hold “free, fair and transparent elections.” The two groups agreed to hold the march on January 14th and will reportedly finalize the decision during a meeting on Saturday.[10]

Foreign Relations

  • The Pakistani Minister of State for Finance Salim Mandviwala on Friday confirmed that Pakistan had received the latest tranche of coalition support funds (CSF) from the U.S. to the tune of $688 million.  The figure was also confirmed by officials at Pakistan’s State Bank.[11]

  • The Afghan-Pakistan border crossing at Torkham was closed on Friday after truck drivers launched a protest following allegations that two of their colleagues were tortured by Afghan officials. The officials also reportedly destroyed the drivers’ passports and documentation. Similar incidents were reported and the border briefly closed on December 22 when 29 Pakistani laborers complained of maltreatment by Afghan officials.[12]

  • The Sixth Round of Expert Level Talks on confidence building measures (CBMs) was held between India and Pakistan on Thursday in New Delhi. The two sides “reviewed the implementation of existing CBMs, including the ceasefire along the LoC, exchanged ideas to further advance the CBM process and reaffirmed their commitment to continue discussions with the aim of strengthening conventional CBMs.” The extension of most favored nation status may be delayed, however, following statements from Pakistan’s foreign office implying that Pakistan may not be ready to grant India the status by December 31 when a “negative list” of tradable goods is supposed to become defunct.[13]

  • A Foreign Office statement on Thursday addressed several topics, noting that relations with the U.S. were improving, India would be granted Most Favored Nation status soon, and that consultations were currently ongoing with Iran in order to fix dates for President Asif Ali Zardari’s upcoming visit to the country.[14]



[1] “Pakistan Taliban Chief Will Negotiate,” Reuters, December 28, 2012. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2012/12/28/world/asia/28reuters-pakistan-taliban.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0
[2] Imtiaz Hussain, “Only Hakimullah’s truce offer to be considered: Malik,” The News, December 28, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-19778-Only-Hakimullahs-truce-offer-to-be-considered:-Malik
“Govt ready for talks with Taliban: Ministers,” The News, December 28, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-19777-Govt-ready-for-talks-with-Taliban:-ministers
[3] Riaz Khan, “Pakistan seeks help to rescue 23 missing police,” AP, December 28, 2012. Available at http://news.yahoo.com/pakistan-seeks-help-rescue-23-missing-police-073230136.html
Akhtar Amin & Syed Yasir Shah, “400 militants storm checkposts in FR Peshawar,” The News, December 28, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-19772-400-militants-storm-checkposts-in-FR-Peshawar
[4] “Three bodies found in Kurram,” The News, December 28, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-150934-Three-bodies-found-in-Kurram
[5] Sabz Ali Tareen, “7 injured in Charsadda blast,” The News, December 28, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-150934-Three-bodies-found-in-Kurram
[6] “Two sleuths shot dead in Quetta,” Dawn, December 27, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/12/28/two-sleuths-shot-dead-in-quetta/
“Two killed in Quetta firing incidents,” The News, December 27, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-81368-Two-killed-in-Quetta-firing-incidents
[7] Zahir Shah Sherazi, “Five killed in North Waziristan drone strike: officials,” Dawn, December 28, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/12/28/five-killed-in-north-waziristan-drone-strike-officials/
[8] “US drone strikes go down in Pakistan, up in Yemen,” AFP, December 28, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/12/28/us-drone-strikes-go-down-in-pakistan-up-in-yemen/
[9] Nasir Habibn and Shaan Khan, “Benazir Bhutto’s son steps into Pakistan’s political spotlight,” CNN, December 27, 2012. Available at http://edition.cnn.com/2012/12/27/world/asia/pakistan-bhutto-anniversary/index.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rss%2Fedition_asia+%28RSS%3A+Asia%29&utm_content=Google+Reader
“PPP turns Benazir’s anniversary into electioneering,” Dawn, December 27, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/12/28/ppp-turns-benazirs-anniversary-into-electioneering/
[10] “MQM, Tahirul Qadri join hands for ‘million-man march,’” Express Tribune, December 28, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/485718/mqm-tahirul-qadri-join-hands-for-million-man-march/
[11] “Pakistan receives $688 million from US under CSF,” Geo TV, December 28, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=81456
[12] Zahir Shah Sherazi, “Pak-Afghan border gate at Torkham closed,” Dawn, December 28, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/12/28/torkham-border-closed/
[13] “Pakistan, India agree to reinforce conventional CBMs,” Dawn, December 27, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/12/27/pakistan-india-agree-to-reinforce-conventional-cbms/
“MFN status to India: Trade normalization may hit deadlock,” Express Tribune, December 28, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/485745/mfn-status-to-india-trade-normalisation-may-hit-deadlock/
[14] “Pak against arms race in region: FO,” The News, December 27, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-81364-Relations-with-US-improving:-FO-