Pakistan Security Brief - December 6, 2012

TTP preparing for possible leadership change; Three killed in NWA drone strike; Proposed civilian personnel presence to be scaled back in Afghanistan post-2014; Failed assassination attempt on Afghan intelligence chief; Mehsud tribesman vacating SWA after Maulvi Nazir threats; TTP denies involvement in attack against Maulvi Nazir; Three militants killed in Balochistan; Landmine blasts injure one, kill two on Wednesday; Govt school blown up in Mohmand agency; China offering $10 billion loan for Central Asian development projects; ECP to conduct door-to-door voter verification in Karachi; Army Chief Gen. Kayani, ISI Chief Lt. Gen. Islam on Forbes’ most powerful list.

Shifting TTP Leadership

  • According to Pakistani military officials, the Hakimullah Mehsud-led Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) may be preparing itself for a leadership change that would formally replace Mehsud with the more moderate deputy TTP leader Wali-ur-Rehman. A senior Pakistani army official said that Mehsud had “lost operational control of the movement and the trust of his fighters” due to his brutality and ruthlessness in commanding. The official noted that Rehman is a “far more pragmatic [TTP commander] for whom reconciliation with the Pakistani government has become a priority.” Another official said that Rehman had even engaged in secret reconciliation talks with the Pakistani government, but that Mehsud had “always stood in his way” and hindered any negotiations. Retired Pakistani diplomat Riaz Mohammad Khan stated, however, that a shifting TTP focus on attacking Western troops in the region instead of the Pakistani government could raise complications for the Afghan stabilization process as ISAF combat troops prepare for their 2014 departure.[i]

Drone Strike

  • At least three suspected militants were killed in a drone strike in the Mubarak Shahi village of Mir Ali sub-district, North Waziristan on Thursday. The drone targeted a house in the area.[ii]

Afghanistan

  • U.S. officials have confirmed that the Obama administration is planning on scaling back proposed civilian personnel presence in Afghanistan post-2014 by about 20 percent. Concerns have arisen over whether or not the U.S. is capable of protecting a large diplomatic compound in Kabul as well as four other consulates around the country plus other civilian posts, and whether or not it even needs these offices.[iii]

  • A suicide bomber attempted to kill Asadullah Khalid, chief of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security, on Thursday. The attack took place in Kabul’s Taimani neighborhood. While Khalid suffered chest and abdomen wounds, it is unclear if there were other casualties. Khalid is known to be “a particularly dedicated opponent of the Taliban and has stepped up the intelligence service’s operations against [them]” ever since he began his tenure in summer.[iv]

Militancy

  • Following threats made last week by South Waziristani Taliban leader Maulvi Nazir and his Ahmadzai Wazir tribal allies, tribesmen sympathetic to Hakimullah Mehsud have been fleeing parts of South Waziristan. After a failed suicide attempt against Nazir allegedly traced back to Mehsud, Nazir ordered all Mehsud tribesmen and supporters to vacate the Wana area by December 5 or face hefty fines and the destruction of their homes. Recent reports say that 1,000 Mehsud tribesman have fled, though 700 families are still present in the area.  Dozens of Mehsud elders filed an application on Wednesday with South Waziristan’s political agent requesting more time to leave the area, saying that it was impossible to vacate thousands of Mehsud tribesmen in such a short time span.[v]

  • On Thursday, TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan denied any TTP involvement in the November 29 attack against Maulvi Nazir. He condemned the attack and said that while Nazir’s South Waziristan Taliban may have had “organizational differences” with Hakimullah Mehsud’s TTP, their ideologies were the same. He added that “the problem in South Waziristan is a tribal feud between the [Ahmadzai] Wazir and Mehsud clans,” not a conflict between militant leaders. So far no group has officially claimed responsibility for the attack..[vi]

  • A gunfight between suspected militants and paramilitary forces in the Gebon area of Turbat, Balochistan left at least three people dead. When Frontier Corps personnel conducted a raid on a suspected militant’s house, the militants opened fire on them. Three attackers were killed on the spot and another two were arrested. Police recovered explosives, a machine gun and ammunition, and a remote-controlled bomb from the house.[vii]

  • A soldier was injured in a landmine blast in the Dabori area of Orakzai agency on Wednesday. Allegedly the mine had been planted by security forces. Two people were killed in another landmine explosion in Kohlu, Balochistan the same day. It is unclear who planted this device.[viii]

  • Unknown militants blew up a government middle school in Ekkaghund sub-district of Mohmand agency on Wednesday. The building was destroyed but no casualties were reported.[ix]

Chinese Loan

  • In an effort to expand its reach into Central Asia, China is calling on Central Asian states to take advantage of a $10 billion loan package it is offering for investment in road, rail, and energy projects to facilitate regional economic growth.  Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao also said that China and Russia had been working together to develop and launch a satellite in the region that could be used as an “anti-terror” platform by member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), of which Pakistan is an observer state.[x]

Electoral Lists

  • In the lead-up to the 2013 general elections, the Supreme Court on Wednesday officially ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to engage in door-to-door verification of voters in Karachi. The presiding justices directed the Pakistan Army and the Frontier Constabulary to provide security to ECP officials during the verification process as local police are too “ill-equipped” to do so. Supporters of voter list verification had previously asserted that almost 50% of Karachi voters had had their votes shifted to permanent addresses elsewhere in the country while names of unverified voters had been substituted for them in Karachi. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) had all moved the Court to conduct voter verification; the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), which forms the government in Karachi, opposed the initiative. The MQM had said that the Karachi electoral lists were already complete and that they ought to be “varied and altered at the behest of individual voters only, and not on the request of any political party.” [xi]

Powerful Figures

                   


[i] Mehreen Zahra-Malik, “Exclusive: New Pakistan Taliban chief emerging, will focus on Afghan fight,” Reuters, December 6, 2012. Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/06/us-pakistan-taliban-idUSBRE8B50G920121206.
[ii] “Three killed in Mir Ali drone strike,” Geo News, December 6, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=78421.
[iii] Karen DeYoung, “U.S. reducing plans for large civilian force in post-2014 Afghanistan,” Washington Post, December 5, 2012. Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-reducing-plans-for-large-civilian-force-in-post-2014-afghanistan/2012/12/05/67c7d9a8-380f-11e2-8a97-363b0f9a0ab3_story.html.
[iv] Matthew Rosenberg, “Afghan Spy Chief is Wounded in Attack, Officials Say,” New York Times, December 6, 2012. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/07/world/asia/afghan-spy-chief-is-wounded-in-attack-officials-say.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0.
[v] “Mehsuds continue to flee South Waziristan,” Geo News, December 6, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=78451; “Mehsuds want more time to leave South Waziristan,” Dawn, December 5, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/06/mehsuds-want-more-time-to-leave-south-waziristan-2/.
[vi] Amir Mir, “TTP on backfoot: denies hand in Mullah Nazir attack,” The News, December 6, 2012. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-146806-TTP-on-backfoot:-denies-hand-in-Mullah-Nazir-attack.
[vii] “Turbat raid: 3 suspected militants killed in firefight,” Express Tribune, December 6, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/475767/turbat-raid-3-suspected-militants-killed-in-firefight/.
[viii] “Soldier injured in Orakzai blast,” The News, December 6, 2012. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-146815-Soldier-injured-in-Orakzai-blast; “Two die in Kohlu landmine blast,” The News, December 6, 2012. Available at:  http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-146823-Two-die-in-Kohlu-landmine-blast.
[ix] “Another school blown up in Mohmand,” The News, December 6, 2012. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-146818-Another-school-blown-up-in-Mohmand.
[x] Olga Dzyubenko, “China to expand C. Asian presence with $10 bln in loans,” Reuters, December 5, 2012. Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/05/china-centralasia-idUSL5E8N59DS20121205.
[xi] Qamar Zaman, “Karachi electoral rolls: SC orders door-to-door voter verification, ECP accepts task,” Express Tribune, December 6, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/475841/karachi-electoral-rolls-sc-orders-door-to-door-voter-verification-ecp-accepts-task/.
[xii] “Obama leads Forbes’ list of the world’s mighty; Kayani, Zaheer only Pakistanis,” AFP, December 6, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/06/obama-leads-forbes-list-of-the-worlds-mighty-kayani-zaheer-only-pakistanis/