Pakistan Security Brief - December 5, 2012

U.S. to fulfill Pakistan's “urgent defense needs;” NATO supply lines still not fully functional; Top Taliban war council disintegrating after Mullah Nazir attack; Suicide attack kills four, injures 20 at S. Waziristan army camp; Nine killed in Karachi in last 24 hours; Girls’ school blown up in Hangu; KP cabinet discussing gradual troop withdrawal from Malakand agency; Taliban Facebook page calls for submissions to new quarterly magazine; Interior Minister demands handover of Mullah Fazlullah; Iran to grant Pakistan $500 million loan for IP pipeline; Iran, Pakistan agree to cooperate against cross-border human trafficking; India eases visa regulations for many foreign nationals; Pakistan ranked 33 on NGO corruption index; Dr. AQ Khan not running for office in 2013; Pakistan, South Korea sign six accords during recent state visit.

U.S.-Pakistani Relations

  • On Tuesday, the United States consented in principal to “fulfill Pakistan’s urgent defense needs in the fight against terror.” A statement released after bilateral talks between Pakistani Defense Secretary Lt. Gen. (retd.) Asif Yasin Malik and U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Dr. James Miller stated that “[in recognition of] the enduring security requirements on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, the two delegations agreed to cooperate on a prioritized set of Pakistan’s defense requirements.” While no specific details have yet been released on what materials would be provided to Pakistan, it is in critical need of spare parts for the maintenance of its helicopter fleet. Pakistan is to present U.S. authorities with its full “wish list” in a March meeting in Washington, D.C.[i]

  • Despite Pakistan lifting its blockade on NATO ground supply lines to Afghanistan in July, it has proven difficult for U.S. and NATO forces to get their 7,000 stalled shipping containers moving again. U.S. officials have spent the last five months sorting out a legal agreement with the Pakistani government concerning how much it will pay for each container traveling through Pakistan and other details crucial to the transit process as the 2014 coalition troop drawdown looms. Air Force Col. Robert Brisson, Chief of Operations for the U.S. Transport Command, said that “we want to make sure that we have this clearly ironed out as we start … coming out of Afghanistan to meet the president’s mandate at the end of 2014…We want to move a significant portion of retrograde material out of Afghanistan through those Pakistan ground lines of communication. It’s a shorter distance, and it just makes sense.”[ii]

Militancy

  • According to “well-informed tribal sources” in communication with The News, a major militant alliance—the Shura-e-Muraqaba—comprising five important al Qaeda-affiliated members of the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban is “falling apart” after last week’s failed suicide attack on Taliban leader Mullah Nazir. Council members include Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commander Hakimullah Mehsud, South Waziristan Taliban commander Mullah Nazir, Afghan Taliban commander Mullah Omar, Haqqani network leader Sirajuddin Haqqani, and North Waziristan Taliban leader Hafiz Gul Bahadur. Sources say that investigations conducted by Nazir and his allies into the attack suggest that TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud was responsible; the attack has reignited deep tensions between Mehsud sympathizers and Nazir supporters.[iii]

  • A Wednesday suicide attack on Zari Noor Army Camp near Wana, South Waziristan killed four and injured 20. According to Army sources, two suicide bombers detonated their explosives at a security checkpoint just outside the camp, killing themselves and two security guards in the process. Authorities have launched an investigation.[iv]

  • Six people were killed in Karachi on Tuesday, including two Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) activists and one Sunni Tehrik worker. One MQM worker was shot near the Numaish intersection while the other was killed in Nazimabad. The Sunni Tehrik activist was gunned down in PIB Colony. Another man was killed near Banaras Chowk, while a fifth was killed in Mehmoodabad. The sixth man was stabbed to death at Afghani Camp in Sohrab Goth. On Wednesday, a prayer leader was shot in New Karachi, one man was killed in Boat Basin, and another was shot on Tariq Road.[v]

  • Unknown militants blew up a government girls’ school in the Tango Adda area of Togh Sarai in Hangu district on Tuesday. Three classrooms and a boundary wall were destroyed, though no casualties were reported.[vi]

  • The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) provincial government said on Tuesday that troops would gradually be withdrawn from restive Malakand agency, though the final timeframe and withdrawal formula had yet to be decided. KP Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain stated that “the KP government and military authorities had an understanding on gradual withdrawal but due to [militant] infiltration from Kunar and Nuristan provinces of Afghanistan, the army would stay in some parts of Malakand division.” Hussain also said that the KP cabinet had drafted a plan to divide the region into two security patrol ranges “to improve the performance of police and other security agencies in Malakand division.”[vii]

  • A media unit affiliated with the TTP has created a Facebook page and is calling for “budding propagandists” to write articles for a new quarterly magazine. In a message posted on the page, Umar Media states that “pen is mightier than the sowrd [sic]. Now you have a chance to use this mighty weapon…Would you like to be a writer for Ahyah-e-Khilifat [Sign of the Caliphate]?” The page has already garnered nearly 100 “likes.”[viii]

  • Interior Minister Rehman Malik demanded on Tuesday that Afghanistan hand over Mullah Fazlullah, whom he says is operating out of Kunar province. He protested that militants were launching attacks against Pakistan from inside of Afghanistan, and urged the Afghan government to cooperate more in sealing the border between the two countries.[ix]

Iran-Pakistan Relations

  • Adviser to the Prime Minister on Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr. Asim Hussain confirmed on Tuesday that “Pakistan and Iran have signed an initial deal of $500 million for financing of the IP gas pipeline project.” Under the agreement, Iran will fund Pakistan’s part of the IP pipeline and will be reimbursed partially through gas prices; additionally, an Iranian company will lay the pipeline in Pakistan. Hussain also commented that Pakistan would be implementing taxes on compressed natural gas to encourage phasing out its use in favor of more oil exploration projects.[x]

  • In a Tuesday meeting between Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Iranian Chairman of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the two ministers agreed to increase cooperation against cross-border human trafficking and to exchange information on traffickers’ identities.[xi]

Indian Visa Regulations

  • India has recently decided to ease its restrictions on tourist visas to “make India again a hot tourist destination.” After the 2008 Mumbai attacks, India implemented strict visa rules in an effort to better monitor people traveling in and out of the country, including a rule stating that foreign nationals had to wait two months in between visits to India. While the two-month ban has been lifted for many foreign nationals, it still applies to those from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, China, Bangladesh, and Sudan.[xii]

Domestic Affairs

  • On Wednesday, Transparency International Pakistan (TIP) released its annual corruption report, placing Pakistan at number 33 out of a list of 176 countries ranked by their perceived levels of public sector corruption.  This marks a regression from Pakistan’s rank of number 42 last year. TIP has expressed concern about growing corruption in Pakistan over the last five years.[xiii]

  • After registering his new political party Tehreek-e-Tahafuzz Pakistan for the 2013 general elections last week, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan said on Tuesday that he himself did not plan to run for office but would guide his party through the elections as its chairman. Khan commented that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had failed to “[deliver] on their promises” and that he would ask young voters not to support these parties. Political analysts in Pakistan suspect, however, that despite the respect the Pakistani population has for him as the father of its nuclear program, he is “unlikely to gain any significant vote bank or public support” as his ideas and electoral approaches are not novel enough.[xiv]

South Korea-Pakistan Relations

  • In a recent state visit to South Korea, President Asif Ali Zardari signed six different accords with the South Korean government pertaining to railroad modernization, banking cooperation, and business promotion. Zardari praised Pakistani-South Korean relations; he and his counterpart President Lee Myung-bak agreed on the need to boost trade and investment and reaffirmed their commitment to support international business initiatives between the two countries.[xv]                                      



[i] Baqir Sajjad Syed, “US to fulfill Pakistan’s urgent defence needs,” Dawn, December 4, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/05/strategic-dialogue-resumes-after-18-month-break-us-to-fulfil-pakistans-urgent-defence-needs/.
[ii] Andrew Tilghman, “Pakistan war supply routes still not fully open,” Military Times, December 4, 2012. Available at: http://militarytimes.com/news/2012/12/military-pakistan-supply-routes-border-crossings-120412w/.
[iii] Amir Mir, “Key Taliban coalition falling apart after Nazir attack,” The News, December 5, 2012. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-19266-Key-Taliban-coalition-falling-apart-after-Nazir-attack.
[iv] “Suicide attack kills two soldiers in Wana,” Geo News, December 5, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=78298.
[v] “Two MQM activists, ST man among six killed,” Dawn, December 4, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/05/two-mqm-activists-st-man-among-six-killed/; “Three including prayer leader gunned down in Karachi,” Geo News, December 5, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=78349.
[vi] “Another govt school blown up in Hangu,” The News, December 5, 2012. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-146686-Another-govt-school-blown-up-in-Hangu.
[vii] Khalid Kheshgi, “Army to stay in parts of Malakand Division,” The News, December 5, 2012. Available at:  http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-146682-Army-to-stay-in-parts-of-Malakand-Division.
[viii] Rob Crilly, “Pakistan Taliban launches new Facebook page,” The Telegraph, December 4, 2012. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/9721423/Pakistan-Taliban-launches-new-Facebook-page.html.  
[ix] “Malik demands Afghanistan to hand over Maulvi Fazlullah,” Dawn, December 4, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/04/malik-demands-afghanistan-to-hand-over-maulvi-fazullah/.
[x] Zafar Bhutta, “Gas pipeline project: Pakistan, Iran sign $500m initial agreement for IP,” Express Tribune, December 5, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/475356/gas-pipeline-project-pakistan-iran-sign-500m-initial-agreement-for-ip/.
[xi] “Pakistan, Iran to cooperate against human trafficking,” Dawn, December 5, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/05/pakistan-iran-to-cooperate-against-human-trafficking/.
[xii] Vibhuti Agarwal, “India Eases Tourist Visa Rules,” Wall Street Journal, December 4, 2012. Available at: http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2012/12/04/india-eases-tourist-visa-rules/?KEYWORDS=tourist+visa.  
[xiii] “Corruption in Pakistan on the rise: TIP,” Geo News, December 5, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=78300.
[xiv] Zahid Gishkori, “AQ Khan bows out of 2013 elections,” Express Tribune, December 4, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/474925/early-exit-aq-khan-bows-out-of-2013-elections/.
[xv] “Six accords signed with S. Korea,” APP, December 4, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/05/six-accords-signed-with-s-korea/