Pakistan Security Brief - December 4, 2012

Obama administration seeks resumption of Taliban peace talks; NATO affirms support for Pakistan; FM Khar meets with U.S. Sec’y of State, EU representative to discuss Afghan peace process and bilateral relations; Indian minister accuses Pakistan of supporting militant camps along Kashmir border; Pakistan among the five countries most impacted by terrorism;Over 100 Hazara Shias killed in past year; Eight injured in Bannu suicide attack; Karachi firecracker attack wounds four; 100 Ahmaddiya graves desecrated in Lahore; JUI-F Chief says no Taliban movement in Pakistan; Pakistan missile test fails; Pakistan reiterates support for Iranian relations; Peshawar High Court Chief Justice says illegal weapons root of law and order problem in Karachi; PTA says no decision on lifting YouTube ban yet; Pakistan Supreme Court calls for commission to probe 2007 Lal Masjid Mosque operation.

Af-Pak Regional Security Discussions

  • According to a Washington Post article published on Monday, the Obama administration allegedly seeks to resume its peace talk efforts with the Taliban. The administration is reportedly conveying its position on exchanging prisoners with the Taliban to Pakistan during meetings between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, advisor for Afghanistan and Pakistan Douglas Lute, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Kayani in Brussels this week. Although Pakistan’s cooperation with Afghanistan in restarting peace talks with the Taliban would be an asset, an Obama administration official worries “whether [Pakistan] has both the willingness and the ability to do so.”[i]

  • On Tuesday, NATO expressed to Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar that it was eager for political dialogue with Pakistan and supported the country in its fight against terrorism. In a statement, NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen said, “the pursuit of peace and security in your region is in the interest of the broader international community. That includes peace in Afghanistan, where Pakistan has a particular role to play.”[ii]

  • U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Monday to discuss “cooperation in counter-terrorism, support for the Afghan-led peace process and the transition in 2014.” Khar and Clinton also emphasized “the need to move the U.S.-Pakistan economic agenda from aid to trade, emphasizing market access and investment.” Foreign Minister Khar also met with E.U. High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Lady Catherine Ashton concerning the Afghan peace process, economic relations with the E.U., and Pakistan’s efforts to improve human rights in the country.[iii]

Indo-Pakistani Relations

  • Indian junior home affairs minister Mullappally Ramachandran on Tuesday alleged that Pakistan was supporting more than 40 militant camps along the border region of Kashmir. Speaking to the Indian parliament, Ramachandran said Pakistan was maintaining 25 militant camps in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and 17 in Pakistan with an estimated 2,500 militants. He stated that intelligence inputs had revealed that with Pakistani military support, militants had made 249 attempts to infiltrate across the Indian border. Ramachandran reiterated that terrorism, “in Pakistan or Kashmir remains intact and infiltration attempts from across the border still continue to pose a challenge to the security forces.”[iv]

Militancy

  • According to a study released on Tuesday by the Global Terrorism Index and the Institute for Economics and Peace, the number of terrorist attacks each year since September 11, 2001 have quadrupled, with Pakistan being among the countries most severely affected. The survey stated that Pakistan, behind Iraq, is the second country to be most negatively impacted by terrorism. Although fatalities from terrorist attacks have decreased by 25 percent since 2007, founder and excutive chairman of the Institute for Econmics and Peace Steve Killelea states that “Pakistan and Afghanistan account for over 50 percent of fatalities” over the last decade.[v]

  • According to a New York Times article, over 100 members of the Hazara Shia community have been killed by Sunni extremists in the last year. Hazaras are increasingly discontented with the state’s response to such killings; one Hazara engineer protested that “after every killing, there are no arrests…So if the government is not supporting these killers, it must be at least protecting them. That’s the only way to explain how they operate so openly.” Sectarian violence has been a growing problem throughout Pakistan in the last decade; sectarian groups such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi often operate in a “wink-and-nod netherworld,” wherein they are officially banned but still operate with relative impunity.[vi]

  • A foiled suicide attack early Tuesday morning in Bannu district, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa left eight people injured, five policemen and three civilians. The driver of a vehicle laden with explosives was shot before he could crash his payload into the Habib police station; the explosives were detonated during the shooting. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan claimed responsibility for the attack.[vii]

  • A Monday night firecracker attack in Karachi’s Banaras area injured four people. The attackers have yet to be identified.[viii]

  • Unknown attackers vandalized over 100 tombstones in an Ahmadiyya Muslim community graveyard in Model Town, Q Block, Lahore on Monday morning. The attackers beat one of the graveyard guards and allegedly bound 20 visitors and guards’ family members with ropes before vandalizing the graves. The attackers claimed to belong to the Taliban and another banned organization.[ix]

  • Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman declared on Monday that there was no such thing as a “Taliban movement” anywhere in Pakistan, and warned against labeling anyone a terrorist. He claimed that a conspiracy against seminaries, clerics, and religious students was afoot, and stated that “we do not recognize the movement, which the forces have officially acknowledged as Taliban’s. It was simply unacceptable to us…no one can be allowed to brand someone as a terror-monger.” He added that JUI-F had always worked to promote sectarian harmony in Pakistan.[x]

Failed Missile Test

Iranian-Pakistani Relations

  • In a Monday meeting with an Iranian Parliament and Foreign Affairs Committee delegation, Pakistani Chairman of the Senate Defence and Defence Production Committee Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed praised Pakistan and Iran’s bilateral relations and emphasized Pakistani commitment to enhancing dialogue between both countries’ defense ministries. He stated that Pakistan had no conflict of interests regarding its relations with Iran, and that all of Pakistan supported the construction of the IP gas pipeline as it is “for peace and prosperity in the region.” Sayed also expressed support for “the right of Iran to undertake nuclear research and enrichment for peaceful purposes in accordance with IAEA safeguards.”[xii]

 

Karachi Law and Order

  • Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan stated on Monday that “the availability of illegal arms and ammunition is the main reason for rampant violence in [Karachi].” Khan said that Karachi had previously been a peaceful area, but as soon as illegal weapons were “dumped” and sold throughout the city, its security situation had deteriorated significantly.[xiii]

YouTube Ban

  • Director General Farooq Awan of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority said on Monday that no decision had been made to unblock YouTube as of yet. Several Internet service providers (ISPs) had re-opened the site for a short period of time earlier in the day, though Awan said such action was not official and that those ISPs could be subject to legal action for violating the ban, implemented over three months ago due to a controversial anti-Islam film uploaded to the site.[xiv]

Lal Masjid Judicial Commission

  • Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Tuesday called for a judicial commission to be formed to further investigate the 2007 Lal Masjid operation, a military raid under the command of former president Pervez Musharraf that killed at least 58 Pakistani troops and seminary students. Tariq Asad, a lawyer associated with the case stated, “Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry observed today that police have failed to satisfy the court and ordered a judicial commission to probe the matter.” The commission has 45 days to address numerous questions around the operation, which include what were the reasons behind its orchestration, if all identified dead bodies were returned to their next of kin, and if the victims’ families received the government compensation they were promised.[xv]

 



[i] Karen DeYoung and Anne Gearan, “U.S. pushes to restart peace talks with Taliban,” Washington Post, December 3, 2012. Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-pushes-to-restart-peace-talks-with-taliban/2012/12/03/31c76850-3d5f-11e2-ae43-cf491b837f7b_story_1.html
[ii] “NATO ready for ‘political dialogue’ with Pakistan,” Daily Times, December 4, 2012. Available at : http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\12\04\story_4-12-2012_pg1_1
[iii] Huma Imtiaz, “Pakistan, US agree to deepen bilateral, trade ties,” Express Tribune, December 4, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/474958/pakistan-us-agree-to-deepen-bilateral-trade-ties/.
[iv] “Pakistan ‘maintaining militant camps along border: Indian minister,” AFP, December 4, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/04/pakistan-maintaining-militant-camps-along-border-indian-minister/
[v] Peter Apps, “Terrorist attacks soar, deaths down from 2007 peace: study,” Reuters, December 4, 2012. Available at : http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/04/us-security-attacks-idUSBRE8B306M20121204.
[vi] Declan Walsh, “Pakistan Reels With Violence Against Shiites,” New York Times, December 3, 2012. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/04/world/asia/pakistans-hazara-shiites-under-siege.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0&partner=rss&emc=rss.
[vii] Ijaz Muhammad, “Suicide Truck Bomb Wounds 8 in Pakistan” AP, December 3, 2012. Available at: http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/gunman-severely-wounds-swedish-woman-pakistan-17868295#.UL4gIoPAfTq;  Zahir Shah Sherazi, “TTP claims Bannu blast, condemns attack on Mullah Nazir,” Dawn, December 4 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/04/ttp-claims-bannu-blast-condemns-attack-on-mullah-nazir/.
[viii] “Cracker blast hurts 4 in Banaras,” The News, December 4, 2012. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-78143-Karachi:-cracker-blast-injures-four-in-Banaras.
[ix] Rabia Mehmood, “Religious intolerance: Ahmadi graves vandalized in posh Lahore neighborhood,” Express Tribune, December 4 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/474914/religious-intolerance-ahmadi-graves-vandalised-in-posh-lahore-neighbourhood/.
[x] “Fazl says there is no “Taliban” movement in Pakistan,” Geo News, December 3, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=78095.
[xi] Usman Ansari, “Pakistani Ballistic Missile Test Failed,” Defense News, December 3, 2012. Available at : http://www.defensenews.com/article/20121203/DEFREG03/312030008/-1/7daysarchives/Pakistani-Ballistic-Missile-Test-Failed.
[xii] “Pakistan rejects nuclear double standards, says Mushahid,” APP, December 3, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/03/pakistan-rejects-nuclear-double-standards-says-mushahid/.
[xiii] “Karachi unrest: CJ Khan says illegal weapons root cause of increased violence,” Express Tribune, December 4, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/474746/karachi-unrest-cj-khan-says-illegal-weapons-root-cause-of-increased-violence/.
[xiv] “No decision to unblock YouTube: PTA,” Geo News, December, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=78086.
[xv] “SC forms judicial commission to probe Lal Masjid operation,” Dawn, December 4, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/04/sc-forms-judicial-commission-to-probe-lal-masjid-operation/