Pakistan Security Brief - December 7, 2012

Afghan Taliban initiate dialogue with Northern Alliance; Eighty percent of Afghan refugees in Pakistan unwilling to be repatriated; Pakistan increasing its nuclear arsenal; Two alleged terrorist conspirators plead not guilty in WMD case; U.S. Senior Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan meets with Pakistani officials; Ashraf reiterates Pakistani opposition to drone strikes; India accused of covering up human rights abuses in Kashmir;  Nearly 2,000 killed in Karachi in 2012; One killed, five injured around Quetta; At least seven killed, four wounded in Karachi violence; Karachi police arrest two target killers; PM Ashraf in charge of campaigning for President Zardari in lead-up to 2013 elections. 

Afghanistan

  • According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the Afghan Taliban has recently initiated an effort to reach out to their traditional enemies, members of the Northern Alliance, in preliminary meetings to discuss the future of Afghanistan post-2014. Over a dozen senior Afghan politicians affiliated with the Northern Alliance are to travel to France for a meeting with Taliban representatives later this month.  Senior Taliban political branch member Shahabuddin Dilawar will head the Taliban delegation. Ahmad Zia Massoud, the brother of assassinated Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, said on Friday that “it is very important that we know what is the position of the Taliban….We seek an understanding between us and the Taliban, to know their views and finally to pave the way to reaching peace.” While the Taliban have agreed to at least meet with Northern Alliance officials, they still refuse to negotiate with Hamid Karzai. Though the upcoming meeting and future ones similar to it are unlikely to have immediate results, former Taliban foreign ministry official Wahid Muzhda stated that “it’s a very good opportunity for both sides to learn about each other.”[i]

Refugees in Pakistan

  • By the end of 2012, Pakistan is due to repatriate over 1.6 million registered Afghan refugees. aA recent survey conducted by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), however, found that 80 percent of them have no desire to return to Afghanistan. Many families feel it is still unsafe to return, others said they would not have a place to live or any way to earn an income.[ii]

Pakistani Nuclear Weapons

  • According to India’s former foreign secretary Shyam Saran, Pakistan is enlarging its nuclear arsenal to prevent a potential U.S. attack. Saran explained that Pakistan is afraid that the U.S. will eventually try to “wipe out” Pakistan’s nuclear capacities. Allegedly Pakistan has invested in more plutonium-based warheads, increased the accuracy of its missiles, and expanded its overall arsenal as a way to inhibit any U.S. attempts to neutralize its nuclear program.[iii]

U.S. Terror Plot

  • On Friday, two Pakistani-born brothers arrested in Florida for planning to obtain a weapon of mass destruction and facilitating terrorism through material support pleaded not guilty to the above charges. They were arrested last week; a bail hearing is set for December 14. While few details on the plot have been publicly released, the men are alleged to have “provided money, property, lodging, communications and other support” in a plot to obtain the weapon and use it somewhere in the U.S. Possible sentences range from 15 years for facilitating terrorism to life for intention to utilize a weapon of mass destruction.[iv]

U.S.-Pakistani Relations

  • On Friday, U.S. Senior Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan David Pearce met with Pakistani officials in Islamabad to discuss how the U.S. and Pakistan can better identify and act on mutual interests. Pearce commented that “over the last few months there have been a number of significant high-level US -Pakistan bilateral engagements. We have made real progress on issues critical to the interests of both of our nations.” Earlier on Thursday, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson held a meeting with Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf  in which Ashraf reaffirmed Pakistan’s opposition to “counterproductive” U.S. drone strikes and urged  the U.S. to develop “alternative means to eliminate terrorists.”[v]

Human Rights Abuses in Kashmir

  • Two human rights groups on Thursday accused India of hindering fair investigations into human rights abuses perpetrated by paramilitary and police forces in Kashmir in a newly-released report. The report, compiled by the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons and the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-Administered Kashmir (IPTK), lists the names and positions of suspected violators in an effort to lift “the veil of anonymity and secrecy that has sustained impunity" in Kashmir. The report’s authors criticized the Indian government for conducting investigations into abuse claims “in farcical ways to shield the perpetrators” and admonished Indian courts for aiding the cover-up through its lack of integrity and responsiveness to the crimes reported.[vi]

Militancy

  • According to security forces and civil-military liaison officials, the year 2012 has been one of the most violent in history in Karachi, with nearly 2,000 lives claimed as of late November. Reports also suggest that the Taliban are increasingly present throughout the city; in recent Supreme Court hearings, judges directed law enforcement agencies to investigate reports that more than 8,000 Taliban were operating in Karachi. Concurrently, the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) and the Awami National Party (ANP) are fighting to exercise political clout in the city; ANP officials say that the MQM is concerned that a growth in the Pashtun population, from which the Taliban draw their members, will undermine its influence in the city and as such, has been waging a battle against the ANP to retain power.[vii]   

  • Unknown gunmen shot and killed a police sub-inspector near the Sub-Jail Pishin near Quetta on Friday. Authorities have launched an investigation.[viii]

  • An improvised explosive device (IED) blast on Jan Muhammad Road in Quetta injured five people on Friday. A shop was also partially destroyed. It is unclear who is responsible.[ix]

  • Police discovered three tortured bodies in a rickshaw in the Garden area of Karachi on Thursday. Unknown assailants shot and killed two men in Gulshan-e-Maymar and Manghopir. Two people were also killed in Machar Colony and Orangi Town, while another four were wounded in gunfire incidents in Clifton, Korangi, and Kati Pahari. [x]

  • Security officials carried out a raid in Quaidabad, Karachi and arrested two target killers associated with the 22 Khandaan criminal group. The men were involved in more than 100 killings, extortion, and robbery. Officials said the arrested men had been trafficking arms to political parties as well, though they did not specify which parties.[xi]

2013 Elections

  • A top Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) source stated on Friday that Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf will be in charge of campaigning for incumbent President Asif Ali Zardari in the lead-up to the 2013 general elections, as the Supreme Court had earlier ruled that Zardari could not do so while still in office. Former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who would have been the original choice, was barred from engaging in politics for five years after his refusal to re-open a 1990s graft case against President Zardari. From December 8 onwards, Ashraf will be making weekly public addresses around Pakistan as well as meeting with various sitting and potential parliamentarians to garner support for Zardari.[xii] 

 

                       


[i] Yaroslav Trofimov and Nathan Hodge, “Taliban to Meet With Northern Foes,” Wall Street Journal, December 7, 2012. Available at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324001104578163590509546514.html?mod=googlenews_wsj.
[ii] “Majority Of Afghan Refugees In Pakistan Unwilling To Return,” Radio Free Europe, December 7, 2012. Available at: http://www.rferl.org/content/afghan-refugee-returns-from-pakistan-deadline/24791861.html.
[iii] Dean Nelson, “Pakistan ‘expanding nuclear arsenal to deter US attack,’” The Telegraph, December 7, 2012. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/9729884/Pakistan-expanding-nuclear-arsenal-to-deter-US-attack.html.
[iv] Curt Anderson, “FLA. Brothers Plead Not Guilty in Terrorism Case,” AP, December 7, 2012. Available at: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_FLORIDA_TERROR_CHARGES?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT.
[v] “US senior deputy special representative for Af-Pak visits Pakistan,” Dawn, December 7, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/07/us-senior-deputy-special-representative-for-af-pak-visits-pakistan/; Sumera Khan, “Controversial US campaign: PM calls for alternatives to drone war,” Express Tribune, December 7, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/476384/controversial-us-campaign-pm-calls-for-alternatives-to-drone-war/.
[vi] “India Accused of Ignoring Kashmir Abuses,” AP, December 6, 2012. Available at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324640104578162600968188708.html.
[vii] “Pakistan’s largest city rocked by wave of violence,” AP, December 6, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/07/pakistans-largest-city-rocked-by-wave-of-violence/.
[viii] “Sub Inspector gunned down in Pishin,” APP, December 7, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=78624.
[ix] “Five injured in Quetta blast,” Geo News, December 7, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=78657.
[x] “Three bodies found, two killed in Karachi,” Geo News, December 7, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=78581; “Violence claims eight more lives in Karachi,” Dawn, December 7, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/07/violence-claims-eight-more-lives-in-karachi-2/.
[xi] “Police arrest two criminals; Rangers detain several in Karachi,” Geo News, December 7, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=78561.
[xii] Khawar Ghumman, “Phoenix rises from the ashes,” Dawn, December 7, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/12/07/phoenix-rises-from-the-ashes/