Pakistan Security Brief - December 3, 2012

Pakistan agrees to release more Taliban; Preconditions established for release of Mullah Baradar; Interior Minister warns of potential operation against Swat Taliban chief; FM Khar, COAS Gen. Kayani arrive in Brussels for talks with NATO, EU, and U.S.; Growing tension between Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan over Afghan water supply; Yemeni al Qaeda leader killed in S. Waziristan drone strike; Tribal jirga dictates expulsion of Mehsud militants, IDPs in Wana, S. Waziristan; Militant attack in Swat kills three; Four killed in Peshawar bomb attacks; Suicide bomber killed in Mohmand agency; Ten killed in Karachi firing; Three TTP operatives arrested, Swedish woman wounded in Lahore; Interior Minister says cellphones and motorcycles are tools of terrorists; Kashmir landslides kill 15, three still missing;  PTI will not ally with incumbent political parties; JUI-F leader says no decision on electoral alliances yet; Two prison guards convicted for aiding imprisoned Dr. Shakil Afridi make secret telephone calls; President Zardari travels to S. Korea to promote trade, bilateral relations.

Afghan-Pakistani Relations

  • On Friday, Pakistan consented to the release of another group of Afghan Taliban prisoners in an effort to further aid the Afghan reconciliation process, though the specific number to be freed has not yet been disclosed. A senior Pakistani official also commented that “no decision” had yet been made concerning the release of former Taliban number two Mullah Baradar. He added that “we have to ascertain how important he can be. Pakistan believes Baradar may not be enjoying the same clout he used to have before being arrested in Karachi two years ago.” Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar also presented Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul with a draft of a Strategic Partnership Agreement to promote bilateral relations between the two countries, as well as to set up a Joint Commission on Prisoners to “[expedite the] reconciliation process and [discourage] violence.”[i]

  • According to a senior Pakistani official interviewed by the Express Tribune, Pakistan has established preconditions for the release of former Taliban number two commander Mullah Baradar. Allegedly, Pakistan’s reluctance to free Baradar is the result of a lack of a “clear mechanism” and fear of U.S. reprisal. The official remarked that “At the moment, the US has not come up with a clear position on this issue, so we can’t take [the] risk…What if talks fail even after we release all the Taliban? Chances are that Pakistan will be held responsible for this…. That is why we are seeking a clear-cut policy not only from Afghanistan but also from the US.” Another official, however, said that Baradar himself was unwilling to be handed over to either Afghan or U.S. custody and was still very loyal to the Taliban.[ii]

  • In a Monday rally in Chitral city, Interior Minister Rehman Malik warned that Pakistan would carry out a secret operation against Swat Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah and his associate Faqirullah in Afghanistan if they did not cease attacking Pakistanis. He did not provide further details.[iii]

International Relations

  • Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani arrived in Brussels on Monday for a two-day visit with NATO and EU officials, as well as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to discuss “issues of mutual interest and matters related to the progress and prosperity of [Pakistan].” In a meeting with Foreign Minister Khar, NATO leader General Fogh Rasmussen emphasized Pakistan’s importance as a NATO ally in the fight against terrorism, and praised Pakistan’s sacrifices in such efforts. NATO’s North Atlantic Council highlighted that “Pakistan’s positive engagement [is] needed to ensure long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region.” [iv]

Seeking Water in Afghanistan

  • A special TIME report profiles potentially rising tensions between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran over Afghanistan’s water supply, a resource coveted by other countries in the region. Iran and Pakistan are dependent on four out of the five rivers that flow from the Afghan basin to irrigate their crops; currently, Pakistan’s energy crisis is made it even more dependent on Afghan water, while Iran is presently using 70 percent more water than it agreed to in a prior treaty with Afghanistan. Though Afghanistan has enough water to meet its needs, its weak infrastructure and ineffective water storage capacities inhibit large parts of the country from using their own water resources. Securing funding for dams and other similar projects has also been a challenge, as has protecting the water supply from growing encroachment by Pakistan and Iran.[v]

Drone Strike

Militancy

  • In a Saturday meeting, a jirga (local council) of Mullah Nazir’s Taliban faction as well as Ahmadzai tribal elders and religious clerics in Wana, South Waziristan declared that as of December 5, any tribesmen found giving shelter to the TTP Mehsud group’s militants or internally displaced persons (IDPs) of the Mehsud tribe would be fined Rs 1 million (approx. $10,340) and have their house razed by a tribal militia. The verdict comes shortly after a suicide attack wounded Taliban commander Mullah Nazir in Wana on Friday.[vii]

  • A militant attack in the Qalagey village of Kabal sub-district, Swat agency left three dead and one wounded on Monday. Unknown attackers also burned down two schools in Sarbala village, Kabal on Saturday night. No casualties were reported in this instance.[viii]

  • Two policemen were killed while two others were injured on Monday in a targeted bomb attack on a police vehicle on Kohat Road, Badaber, on the outskirts of Peshawar. It is unclear who planted the device.[ix]

  • A bomb planted on a motorcycle killed at least two people in Dir Colony, Peshawar on Sunday. Police say the two victims were suicide bombers.[x]

  • A suicide bomber and his accomplice were killed when his vest detonated in Pindiali area, Mohmand agency on Sunday. No other casualties were reported; it is unclear if the detonation was premature.[xi]

  • Ten people including a madrassah administrator were killed in Karachi on Monday. The administrator was shot on Abul Hasan Isphahani road by unknown assailants. A police inspector was killed in Bilal Colony, Orangi; elsewhere in the area, two men were killed near Sabir Chowk. Another person was shot at Al Asif Square, while two bodies were discovered close to the Sohrab Goth police station.[xii]

  • An unknown assailant shot and critically wounded a Swedish woman in Lahore on Monday. The woman was the director of the Full Gospel Assemblies of Pakistan Church. It is unclear if this was a targeted attack.[xiii]

  • Crime Investigation Agency (CIA) authorities arrested three TTP operatives in Lari Adda area, Lahore on Saturday, recovering a large supply of weapons and explosives in the process.[xiv]

  • In a Sunday press conference, Interior Minister Rehman Malik warned that cellphones and motorcycles had become the tools of terrorists, and that that was the reason the government had been implementing bans and blockages lately. He added that within three months, all cellphone companies would be obligated to adopt a biometric data system to sell SIM cards in Pakistan.[xv]

Kashmir Landslides

  • Recent landslides in Pakistan-administered Kashmir have resulted in 15 deaths so far. Police discovered three bodies on Sunday, and three people are still missing. Heavy snowfall on Friday caused the two landslides near a remote outpost in the Kel area near Muzaffarabad; the victims included nine soldiers and six civilians.[xvi]

Domestic Politics

  • Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan stated on Sunday that the PTI would not form electoral alliances prior to the 2013 elections with any parties currently represented in parliament or provincial assemblies, though it was open to discussing with parties not represented in the incumbent government.[xvii]

  • Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leader Maulana Attaur Rehman declared on Sunday that all political parties wanted to forge electoral alliances with the JUI-F due to its rising popularity among Pakistanis, but that JUI-F has not yet made any decisions concerning political alliances in the lead-up to the 2013 general elections. Rehman affirmed that “our leadership has not contacted any other party for the electoral alliance or seat-to-seat adjustment. Several parties, including the ANP, have expressed the wish to [forge an] alliance with the JUI-F.” He added that the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) would be welcomed in the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) religio-political party alliance if its leaders wished to join.[xviii]

Dr. Shakil Afridi

  • According to sources interviewed by The News, two security guards at the Peshawar Central Prison have been found guilty by “an intelligence agency” of assisting imprisoned Dr. Shakil Afridi make illegal phone calls from his cell. Afridi had allegedly made 58 national and international calls with a secret satellite phone, which authorities discovered in early October after Fox News claimed to have conducted a 40-minute telephone interview with Afridi in September. The guards are currently being held in custody.[xix] 

South Korea-Pakistan Relations

  • On Monday, President Asif Ali Zardari traveled to South Korea for a three-day state visit with President Lee Myung-bak to promote bilateral relations between the two countries. Their meetings will focus on how to increase trade, investment, infrastructure-building, and development between South Korea and Pakistan.[xx]

                             


[i] “Pakistan agrees to free more Afghan Taliban,” The Daily Times, December 1, 2012. Available at: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012%5C12%5C01%5Cstory_1-12-2012_pg1_1.
[ii] Kamran Yousaf, “Pak-Afghan relations: Preconditions set for release of senior Taliban cadres,” Express Tribune, December 3, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/474331/pak-afghan-relations-preconditions-set-for-release-of-senior-taliban-cadres/.
[iii] “Malik warns of secret operation in Afghanistan against Fazlullah,” Geo News, December 3, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=78082.
[iv] “Kayani, Khar arrive in Brussels,” Geo News, December 3, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=78049; “NATO stresses shared ‘terror’ fight with Pakistan,” AFP, December 3, 2012. Available at:  http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=78070.
[v] Mujib Mashal, “What Iran and Pakistan Want from the Afghans: Water,” TIME, December 2, 2012. Available at: http://world.time.com/2012/12/02/what-iran-and-pakistan-want-from-the-afghans-water/.
[vi] Zahir Shah Sherazi, “Yemeni al Qaeda operative killed in South Waziristan drone attack: reports,” Dawn, December 1, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/01/yemeni-al-qaeda-operative-killed-in-south-waziristan-drone-attack-reports/; Amir Mir, “50th al-Qaeda leader killed in 338th drone strike,” The News, December 3, 2012. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-146255-50th-al-Qaeda-leader-killed-in-338th-drone-strike.  
[vii] Zulfiqar Ali, “Mullah Nazir orders Mehsud tribes to vacate Wana,” Express Tribune, December 1, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/473723/mullah-nazir-orders-mehsud-tribes-to-vacate-wana/.
[viii] “Militancy: Three killed in Swat ambush; two schools torched,” Express Tribune, December 3, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/474374/militancy-three-killed-in-swat-ambush-two-schools-torched/.
[ix] “Peshawar police van targeted, two killed,” Geo News, December 3, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=78015.
[x] “Two killed in Peshawar motorcycle blast,” Geo News, December 2, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=77880.
[xi] “Mohmand Agency: Suicide bomber [and] his accomplice killed,” Geo News, December 2, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=77910.
[xii] “Seminary administrator among ten killed in Karachi violence,” Geo News, December 3, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=78042.
[xiii] Zaheer Babar, “Gunman severely wounds Swedish woman in Pakistan,” AP, December 3, 2012. Available at: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/A/AS_PAKISTAN?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT.
[xiv] “Three Tehrik-e-Taliban terrorists held in Lahore,” Geo News, December 1, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=77843.
[xv] “Motorcycles and mobile phones becoming tools for terrorists: Malik,” PPI, December 2, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/02/motorcycles-and-mobile-phones-becoming-tools-terrorists-malik/.
[xvi] “Pakistan rescuers find more bodies in landslides,” AFP, December 2, 2012. Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gPl-8hsjzptSFuLXDfIsFevrifng?docId=CNG.d23836ceb4f582573aa995abec20b9dc.631.
[xvii] “Imran rules out alliance with parties represented in current parliament,” Express Tribune, December 3, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/474320/imran-rules-out-alliance-with-parties-represented-in-current-parliament/.
[xviii] “No decision yet on electoral alliance: JUI-F leader,” The News, December 3, 2012. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-146269-No-decision-yet-on-electoral-alliance:-JUI-F-leader.
[xix] Akhtar Amin, “Two guards charged with helping Dr. Afridi in phone calls,” The News, December 3, 2012. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-146241-Two-guards-charged-with-helping-Dr-Afridi-in-phone-calls.
[xx] “President Zardari leaves for Seoul,” PPI, December 3, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=78063