Pakistan Security Brief - December 30, 2014

IS distributes Urdu book through email to Pakistanis; 2008 Mumbai terror attack mastermind detained for two days;  LeJ leader detained for two weeks on murder charges; Leader of Lyari gang arrested in Dubai; Security forces arrest five LeJ militants in Karachi; Security forces arrest 14 militants in Quetta; Security forces defuse bombs, foil bid to blow up train in Quetta; High-profile prisoners shifted from Quetta amid jailbreak threat; IED destroys railway track in Balochistan; Security forces arrest TTP militant commander in Khyber Agency; Security forces arrest a militant from Khyber Agency; Security forces kill one militant commander in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa; Police arrest 115 suspects in Nowshera, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa; IED kills one in Malakand Agency; Militants set fire to schools in Kurram Agency; Tribal elder escapes assassination attempt in Bajaur Agency; Ahmadi member shot dead in Gujranwala district; Police reluctant to arrest Lal Masjid cleric; Pakistani, Afghan military officials to reactivate joint border control centers; Militant organizations operating under different names to be proscribed; National security advisor claims increased cooperation with Afghanistan on counter-terrorism operations; NADRA to assist in counter-terrorism efforts; Security forces clear out most of Bara sub-district of militants in Khyber Agency;  Prime Minister Sharif reviews implementation of National Action Plan for countering terrorism; Pakistani counter-terror experts to study other countries’ models; U.S. Congress notifies $532 million in civilian assistance to Pakistan; Iranian border forces fire mortar shells, seven Pakistanis injured in Balochistan; Pakistan, Iran reach an agreement on IP gas pipeline project; Afghan police officer directs operation in Pakistani territory; Pak-Afghan Parliamentary Security Dialogue begins in Islamabad.

Islamic State

  • According to a December 30 report in The News, Islamic State (IS) has reportedly sent out copies of an Urdu-language book via email to Pakistanis, particularly journalists. The book allegedly illustrates the history, policies and motives behind the formation of IS.  Director of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Shahid Hayat Khan, however, claims that he is not aware of any such propaganda material being distributed by IS.[1] 

 Militancy

  • On December 30, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, was again detained by the police for two days on charges of abducting a man six years ago. The Islamabad High Court suspended his previous detention orders on December 29, drawing a sharp reaction from India. According to a December 27 Dawn report, an Anti-Terrorism Court first granted bail to Lakhvi on December 25 because legal loopholes and weak evidence had complicated the government’s case against him.[2]

  • On December 24, a special court issued orders to detain Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) leader Malik Ishaq for two weeks on charges of committing murder. Ishaq was to be released on December 25 after the Punjab provincial government withdrew a request to extend his detention under public order laws. According to a December 25 report in The News, security and intelligence agencies have warned the government that the release of Ishaq could be devastating for the law and order situation in Punjab province because of LeJ’s anti-Shia ideology and collaboration with the TTP.[3]

  • On December 29, Uzair Baloch, a notorious leader of a gang in the long-running Lyari gang war, was arrested by Interpol at the Dubai airport. Baloch will reportedly be extradited to Pakistan within 30 days. In 2012, a court had declared Baloch an offender in an illicit weapons case and had issued an arrest warrant against him.[4]  

  • On December 29, security forces conducted a raid and arrested five LeJ militants in the Ittehad town of Karachi. Weapons were also recovered from the militants.[5] 

  • On December 29, security forces arrested 14 militants, including a key commander, in the Eastern Bypass area of Quetta. Arms and ammunition was also recovered from the arrested militants.[6]

  • On December 27, security forces defused two bombs planted near a railway track running through the Sariab area of Quetta. The five-kilogram bombs were allegedly planted to blow up the Rawalpindi-bound Jaffar Express.[7]

  • According to a December 27 Dawn report, 24 high-profile prisoners who are on death row have been shifted from District Jail Quetta in anticipation of a possible jailbreak.[8]

  • On December 30, an IED detonated and destroyed a railway track in the Maskhaf area of Bolan district, Balochistan. No casualties were reported.[9]

  • On December 28, security forces arrested a Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant commander in the Shahkas area of Jamrud sub-district in Khyber Agency.[10]

  • On December 26, security forces killed one militant and arrested five others in the Jamrud sub-district of Khyber Agency.[11]

  • On December 28, security forces arrested a militant from the Kamar Khel area of Bara sub-district in Khyber Agency. The militant was reportedly involved in supplying arms to terror groups.[12]

  • On December 28, security forces conducted a search operation, killing one militant commander, in the Janikhel area of Bannu, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.[13] 

  • On December 26, police arrested 115 suspected persons, including eight Afghans, in a search operation in Nowshera district, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.[14]

  • On December 29, an IED killed one and injured two in a local steel mill in the Dargai area of Malakand Agency. [15]

  • On December 30, militants set fire to two primary schools in Kurram Agency, destroying the buildings.[16]

  • On December 29, a tribal elder narrowly escaped an assassination attempt when an IED detonated near his vehicle in the Salarzai sub-district of Bajaur Agency.[17]

  • On December 27, unidentified gunmen shot dead a member of the Ahmadi religious minority in Gujranwala district, Punjab. The incident occurred five days after a Muslim leader denounced Ahmadis on a television show.[18]

  • According to a December 27 Dawn report, police officers are reportedly reluctant to implement an arrest warrant issued against Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz on the grounds that his detention may create a law and order situation. The cleric had earlier threatened to launch a countrywide protest if he was arrested.[19]

Counter-Terrorism Efforts

  • According to a December 29 Express Tribune report, Pakistani and Afghan military officials have decided to reactivate two joint border control centers at Torkham and Spin Boldak to coordinate operations against militants. The decision was reportedly taken at a recent meeting between senior Pakistani and Afghan military officials in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. The border control centers were originally set up in 2008 to help NATO, Afghan and Pakistani forces to coordinate counter-terror operations along the Pak-Afghan border. Pakistan had withdrawn its military officers from these centers in 2011.[20]

  • According to a December 29 Express Tribune report, security agencies are drawing up a list of militant organizations that will be proscribed as a part of the new anti-terror strategy. Authorities are also reportedly finalizing a list of those organizations which have resurfaced with new names despite being banned by the government. According to a Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies report, there are 65 proscribed organizations in Pakistan and 23 out of these are functioning with different names. Islamic State (IS) is likely to be proscribed in Pakistan in order to preempt efforts of IS to make inroads in the country.[21]

  • According to a December 29 report in The News, Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said in an interview that Pakistan was committed to fighting against all militant outfits in the country without discrimination between the’ good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban. Aziz added that this policy has resulted in improved counter-terrorism cooperation with Afghanistan and that the cooperation will be further strengthened.[22]

  • According to a December 29 report in The News, the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) is assisting the counter-terrorism operation by providing identification services for tracing militants and their facilitators in the country.[23]

  • According to a December 27 Dawn report, security forces have formally cleared out most militants from the Bara sub-district of Khyber Agency. Following the withdrawal of the notification declaring Bara sub-district as a conflict zone, the repatriation of around 100,000 displaced families will begin in from January 15, 2015.[24]

  • On December 30, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired a high-level meeting to review the progress on the implementation of the National Action Plan for countering terrorism. Prime Minister Sharif said during the meeting that special military courts are a part of the National Action Plan and are meant to provide an “extraordinary solution for an extraordinary problem.” Separately on December 30, former Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry said that military courts are illegal and unconstitutional and that military courts cannot be established in the presence of an independent judiciary.[25]

  • According to a December 30 Express Tribune report, Pakistani counter-terrorism experts will study different counter-terrorism and de-radicalization models adopted by other countries to combat terrorism in Pakistan. These models are being studied to make them relevant to the present national action plan. According to security officials, successful de-radicalization programs in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Indonesia, Algeria and the U.K. will be followed while counter-terrorism strategies from Sri Lanka, Algeria, the U.K and Turkey will be preferred.[26]

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

  • On December 29, the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Richard G. Olson declared during a meeting with the federal finance minister that the U.S. Congress has notified a $532 million civilian assistance package for Pakistan under the Kerry-Lugar Act. Olson also discussed the breakup of the assistance for different sectors such as energy, security, economic growth, community building, education and health.[27]

Iran-Pakistan Relations

  • On December 29, Iranian border guards fired mortar shells into the Pakistani town of Zamuran in Balochistan’s Turbat district, injuring at least seven Pakistani civilians. The cross-border firing was in retaliation to a December 28 attack by Pakistan-based rebels that killed three Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) personnel near the city of Saravan in Iran’s Sistan-Balochistan region. The rebels reportedly fled to Pakistan after the attack.[28]

  • According to a December 29 report in The News, Pakistan Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said that Islamabad and Tehran have reached some agreement on the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project. Abbasi added that some officials from Iran’s National Iranian Oil Company will visit Islamabad in the next few days to discuss the implementation of the project and clear all outstanding issues. Iran has reportedly suggested that Pakistan should engage a third party to pay for gas supplies from Iran due to the reluctance of international banks to process transactions involving Iran.[29]

Pak-Afghan Relations

  • According to a December 29 report in The News, Kandahar Police chief General Abdur Raziq has directed Afghan border forces to target the hideouts of anti-Afghanistan militants everywhere, including in Pakistani territory. Both Pakistan and Afghanistan have so far refrained from sending their forces across the border to target anti-state militants.[30]

  • On December 29, a 16-member Afghan Parliamentary delegation arrived in Islamabad for the Pak-Afghan Parliamentary Security Dialogue which will be held over a two-day period. Pakistani and Afghan Parliamentarians began consultations on key security-related issues on December 30. These sessions were first initiated in October 2013.[31]


[1]“Daesh sends out book in Urdu to Pakistanis,” The News, December 30, 2014. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-34981-Daesh-sends-out-book-in-Urdu-to-Pakistanis
[2]“Second FIR registered against Mumbai attacks mastermind,” Dawn, December 30, 2014. Available at http://www.dawn.com/news/1154032/second-fir-registered-against-mumbai-attacks-mastermind
“Legal loopholes led to Lakhvi’s bailing out,” Dawn, December 27, 2014. Available at http://www.dawn.com/news/1153407/legal-loopholes-led-to-lakhvis-bailing-out
[3]“Malik Ishaq held for two more weeks in murder case,” Express Tribune, December 25, 2014. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/812086/malik-ishaq-held-for-two-more-weeks-in-murder-case/
“Ishaq’s release may perk up TTP-LeJ terror nexus,” The News, December 25, 2014. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-292324-Ishaqs-release-may-perk-up-TTP-LeJ-terror-nexus
[4]“Uzair Baloch arrested in Dubai, confirms Pakistani consulate,” Dawn, December 29, 2014. Available at http://www.dawn.com/news/1153848/uzair-baloch-arrested-in-dubai-confirms-pakistani-consulate
[5]“Five LeJ suspects arrested in Karachi,” Dawn, December 30, 2014. Available at http://www.dawn.com/news/1153847/five-lej-suspects-arrested-in-karachi
[6]“Security forces apprehend 14 suspected militants in Quetta,” Dawn, December 29, 2014. Available at http://www.dawn.com/news/1153836/security-forces-apprehend-14-suspected-militants-in-quetta
[7]“Attempt to blow up train foiled in Quetta,” Dawn, December 29, 2014. Available at http://www.dawn.com/news/1153761/attempt-to-blow-up-train-foiled-in-quetta
[8]“24 prisoners shifted from Quetta district jail amid prison break fears,” Dawn, December 27, 2014. Available at http://www.dawn.com/news/1153477/24-prisoners-shifted-from-quetta-district-jail-amid-prison-break-fears
[9]“Miscreants blow up railway track in Bolan,” Dawn, December 30,2014. Available at http://www.dawn.com/news/1154034/miscreants-blow-up-railway-track-in-bolan
[10]“TTP militant arrested in Jamrud raid,” The News, December 29, 2014. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-293027-TTP-militant-arrested-in-Jamrud-raid
[11]“One killed, five held in Jamrud operation,” The News, December 27, 2014. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-292696-One-killed,-five-held-in-Jamrud-operation
[12]“Suspected militant arrested in Bara,” The News, December 29, 2014. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-293031-Suspected-militant-arrested-in-Bara
[13]“ ‘Militant’ killed in Bannu,” Dawn, December 29, 2014. Available at http://www.dawn.com/news/1153755/militant-killed-in-bannu
[14]“115 suspects arrested in Nowshera operation,” The News, December 27, 2014. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-292718-115-suspects-arrested-in-Nowshera-search-operation
[15]“Malakand Agency blast kills 1,” The News, December 29, 2014. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-170115-Bomb-blast-in-Malakand-Agencys-mill-kills-a-person
[16]“Militants torch two primary schools in Kurram,” Dawn, December 30, 2014. Available at http://www.dawn.com/news/1154040/militants-torch-two-primary-schools-in-kurram
[17]“Tribal elder escapes attempt on life,” The News, December 30, 2014. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-293143-Tribal-elder-escapes-attempt-on-life
[18]“Ahmadi man gunned down in Gujranwala,” Dawn, December 27, 2014. Available at http://www.dawn.com/news/1153496/ahmadi-man-gunned-down-in-gujranwala-after-cleric-calls-them-enemy
[19]“Police ‘reluctant’ to execute warrants for Lal Masjid cleric’s arrest,” Dawn, December 27, 2014. Available at http://www.dawn.com/news/1153394/police-reluctant-to-execute-warrants-for-lal-masjid-clerics-arrest
[20]“Regional security: Islamabad, Kabul to ‘reactivate’ border coordination centers,” Express Tribune, December 29, 2014. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/813800/regional-security-islamabad-kabul-to-reactivate-border-coordination-centres/
[21]“Preemptive measure: Govt likely to ban more outfits including IS,” Express Tribune, December 29, 2014. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/813799/preemptive-measure-govt-likely-to-ban-more-outfits-including-is/
[22]“Improved Pak-Afghan ties key to fighting Taliban: Sartaj,” The News, December 2, 2014. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-34958-Improved-Pak-Afghan-ties-key-to-fighting-Taliban:-Sartaj
[23]“Nadra providing identification services to counter-terrorism,” The News, December 29, 2014. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-293050-Nadra-providing-identification-services-to-counter-terrorism
[24]“Most of Bara cleared of militants,” Dawn, December 27, 2014. Available at http://www.dawn.com/news/1153415/most-of-bara-cleared-of-militants
[25]“Military courts part of National Action Plan: PM Nawaz,” Dawn, December 30, 2014. Available at http://www.dawn.com/news/1154046/pm-nawaz-chairs-high-level-meeting-to-review-progress-on-national-action-plan
“Former CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry says military courts ‘unconstitutional,” Dawn, December 30, 2014. Available at http://www.dawn.com/news/1154042/former-cj-iftikhar-chaudhry-says-military-courts-unconstitutional
[26]“Pakistan to employ anti-terror strategies of other states,” Express Tribune, December 30, 2014. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/814386/pakistan-to-employ-anti-terror-strategies-of-other-states/
[27]“US Congress notifies $532 million assistance package for Pakistan,” Dawn, December 29, 2014. Available at http://www.dawn.com/news/1153856/us-congress-notifies-532-million-assistance-package-for-pakistan
[28]“7 injured as Iranian border guards fire rockets in Balochistan’s Kech,” Dawn, December 29, 2014. Available at http://www.dawn.com/news/1153842/7-injured-as-iranian-border-guards-fire-rockets-in-balochistans-kech
“Retaliatory action’: Iran fires 42 mortar shells into Balochistan,” Express Tribune, December 29, 2014. Available at http://www.dawn.com/news/1153842/7-injured-as-iranian-border-guards-fire-rockets-in-balochistans-kech
[29]“Pakistan, Iran reach accord on gas pipeline: Khaqan,” The News, December 29, 2014. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-293019-Pakistan,-Iran-reach-accord-on-gas-pipeline:-Khaqan
“Iran asks Pakistan to hire third party for payments,” Express Tribune, December 30, 2014. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/814258/iran-asks-pakistan-to-hire-third-party-for-payments/
[30]“Senior Afghan cop threatens to take war to Pakistan,” The News, December 29, 2014. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-293056-Senior-Afghan-cop-threatens-to-take-war-to-Pakistan
[31]“United against terror: Pakistan, Afghanistan size up security challenges,” Express Tribune, December 30, 2014. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/814028/united-against-terror-pakistan-afghanistan-size-up-security-challenges/