Pakistan Security Brief - February 1, 2013

Suicide blast in Hangu kills 22; TTP leader Faqir Mohammed reinstated; Karachi police capture 20;4 NGO workers kidnapped; Several dead in Karachi; Mortars kill two in Waziristan; Pakistan to grant India MFN status; General Mohammadi supports training Afghan troops in Pakistan; Plans for new trade route through Waziristan gains momentum; Hagel supports U.S.-Pakistan military cooperation; Petition calls U.S. drone strikes violation of sovereignty; Indiana Governor suspends fertilizer project; Supreme Court will oppose any election delays.

Militancy

  • On Friday, a suicide bomber killed at least 22 people and injured 45 in an attack in Pat Bazaar, Hangu town, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province. The suicide bomber, according to local police chief Mian Mohammad Saeed, detonated his device outside the exit of a Shia mosque following Friday prayers. However, other local officials argue that the target of the attacker was the anti-Taliban Sunni Supreme Council which often holds its meetings in a Sunni mosque in the same area. [i]

  • Maulvi Faqir Mohammed, a TTP leader in Bajuar agency, who was dismissed last spring for holding negotiations with the Pakistani government, has reportedly been reinstated in the group. Mohammed also confirmed that a militant commander by the name of Abu Bakr is the new head of the TTP in Bajaur, replacing Mullah Dadullah, the TTP Bajaur leader who was killed in a drone strike in August. [ii]

  • On Friday, police conducted a targeted search in Orangi and Baldia towns, Karachi capturing 20 people suspected of links to targeted killings in the city. Interior Minister Rehman Malik  directed the Station House Officers in Karachi to increase police presence to maintain law and order in Karachi. [iii]

  • Four NGO activists were abducted in the Mauripur area of Karachi on Thursday by unidentified assailants.[iv] 

  • The president of the Karachi Electronic Dealer Association , was killed on Thursday near Abdullah College Karachi from a targeted shooting incident. Electronics shops in Saddar and Regal Chowk were closed in mourning. [v]

  • On Thursday, one man was killed and another injured when unidentified assailants opened fire on a barbershop in the Huda area of Quetta. [vi]

  • At least two people were killed on Friday by mortars fired from across the Pak-Afghan border in Spin Wam, North Waziristan agency and Angoor Adda of Birmal sub-district in South Waziristan agency. [vii]

  • Three people were injured on Friday in Pani Takseem area of Zhob district, Balochistan when unidentified assailants opened fire.[viii]

  • On Friday, one man was killed while another sustained injuries in a shooting incident in Sohrab Goth, Karachi on Friday. [ix]

  • A man in Orangi town, Karachi was killed during a shooting on Thursday. [x]

Indo-Pak Relations

  • Pakistani Federal minister for commerce Makhdoom Amin Fahim said Thursday that the federal cabinet had officially approved granting India Most Favored Nation (MFN) status.  Fahim told reporters that current exports to India total $300 million, and Pakistan would like to increase that to $1.5 billion by 2016.  Nisha Taneja, a researcher for the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), recently conducted a study that concluded that there is an estimated $19.8 billion dollars of trade potential between the two nations.  Taneja’s study strongly urged the need for mutual investment, stressing that a “bilateral investment treaty…will improve business confidence to invest in the other country.”[xi]

Pak-Afghan Relations

  • On Thursday, Afghan Defense Minister General Bismillah Khan Mohammadi said he considered Pakistan a natural training ground for Afghan security forces.  Mohammadi and his delegation of Afghan security and military leaders spent much of this week traveling to various Pakistani military training locations around the nation.  Mohammadi originally announced his interest in training Afghan troops in Pakistan on Monday, which corresponded this week with President Zardari’s visit to London, where he and Afghan President Karzai are discussing military and security cooperation and peace between Pakistan and Afghanistan.[xii]

  • As part of his visit to Pakistan this week, Defense Minister General Bishmillah Khan Mohammadi repeatedly stressed the need for Pakistan and Afghanistan to open a third trade route through Waziristan between the two countries.  The proposed route, originally suggested in 2003, would decrease the travel distance between Kabul and Karachi by 400km, and would dramatically increase socio-economic prosperity in the region, boosting trade and helping develop the area.  Construction has been repeatedly postponed because of the tenuous security situation, but Mohammadi maintained that, in addition to increasing security cooperation along the border, “peace and stability” in Afghanistan is contingent on “socio-economic development of conflict zones.”[xiii]

U.S. Pakistan Relations

  • U.S. Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel addressed U.S.-Pakistani military relations during his confirmation hearing on Thursday, specifically stating that he supports a “realistic, pragmatic approach” for military-to-military cooperation.  Hagel went on to say that he does not advocate unconditional support to Pakistan and its military, rather he is committed to “enhancing those areas…dictated by our common interests and to ensuring accountability for actions that detract from these interests.”  When pressed for specifics, Hagel used the high number of terrorists killed in Pakistan since 9/11 as an example of successful support and assistance to Pakistan, and cited the lethargic response to terrorist groups Pakistani officials do not find “overtly threatening” as an example of an area where U.S. and Pakistani interests “diverge.”[xiv]

  • On Thursday, Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed said admitting that there are U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan was equivalent to admitting that there is “American aggression against the country.” As part of a petition filed in the Lahore High Court against the Pakistani Federal Government condoning U.S. drone strikes in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Saeed cited the dramatic increase in strikes from 37 in 2009 to 115 in 2010 as an example of the continued violation of Pakistani sovereignty.  He said that despite the government’s repeated protest against American strikes, there have been over 200 strikes since 2008, with scores of civilians dead in collateral damage.[xv]     

  • On Friday, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence suspended a project that was funding Pakistani fertilizer company Fatima Group’s new factory in Indiana.  The Fatima Group is accused of not taking the necessary steps to prevent its fertilizer from being smuggled to the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan for use in the production of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).  The majority of homemade IED’s use ammonium nitrate—the only source of ammonium nitrate fertilizer in Pakistan is Fatima Group’s fertilizer that is often smuggled into Afghanistan.  Gov. Pence suspended the $1.27 billion dollar project until a Defense Department investigation is completed, and the project deemed acceptable.[xvi]

Elections

  • The Pakistani Supreme Court on Thursday announced that upcoming general elections should continue as planned and without outside interference. Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry made the announcement amid accusations that the Supreme Court and the Pakistani military were collaborating to force out the civilian government. Suspicions arose last month when Pakistani cleric Tahirul Qadri organized a massive protest in Islamabad demanding the removal of government officials and calling for a role for the army and judiciary in forming a transitional government to oversee the polls.[xvii]


[i] “Suicide bomb kills 22 near mosques in northwest Pakistan,” Reuters, February 1, 2013. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/01/us-pakistan-mosque-idUSBRE9100ER20130201
“Hangu: Suicide blast outside mosque kills 27,” Geo, February 1, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=86263 
“Suicide bomber attacks Shiite mosque in northwest Pakistan, killing 23 people,” The Washington Post, February 1, 2013. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/bomb-explodes-outside-mosque-in-northwest-pakistan-killing-15-people/2013/02/01/9eb811ac-6c54-11e2-8f4f-2abd96162ba8_story.html
“Suicide bomber kills 23 near Pakistan mosque,” LA Times, February 1, 2013. Available at http://www.latimes.com/news/world/worldnow/la-suicide-bomb-attack-kills-21-in-northwest-pakistan-20130201,0,4626954.story
“Pakistan bomb: 21 die in Hangu Shia suicide attack,” BBC, February 1, 2013. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-21289738
[ii] “Sidelined Pakistani Taliban commander back in good graces,” The Long War Journal, February 1, 2013. Available http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2013/01/sidelined_pakistani.php
[iii] “20 held in Karachi search operation,” Geo, February 1, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=86197
“Malik asks police to increase patrolling in Karachi,” Geo, February 1, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=86314
“Karachi: Two more fall prey to violence,” Geo, February 1, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=86224
[iv] “4 local NGO workers kidnapped in Maripur,” The News, February 1, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-86193-Karachi:-Four-NGO-workers-kidnapped-in-Maripur
[vi] “Man gunned down in Quetta,” The News, February 1, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-86183-One-killed,-another-injured-in-Quetta-firing-
[vii] “At least two killed as mortar shells hit villages in South Waziristan,” Dawn, February 1, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/02/01/six-killed-as-mortar-shells-hit-villages-in-south-waziristan/
[viii] “Three injured in Zhob firing,” The News, February 1, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-157519-Three-injured-in-Zhob-firing
[ix] “Karachi: Man killed, another injured in Sohrab Goth firing,” Geo, February 1, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=86196
[x] “Karachi: Two more fall prey to violence,” Geo, February 1, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=86224
[xi] Mehtab Heider, “Cabinet has approved MFN status for India: Fahim,” The News International, February 1, 2013.  Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-20653-Cabinet-has-approved-MFN-status-for-India%3a-Fahim
“India-Pakistan trade potential is $19.8 billion: ICRIER,” The Hindu, February 1, 2013.  Available at http://www.thehindu.com/business/Economy/indiapakistan-trade-potential-is-198-bn-icrier/article4365501.ece
[xii] Shakil Shaikh, “Afghan minister sees Pakistan as natural training ground for Afghan army,” The News International, February 1, 2013.  Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-20660-Afghan-minister-sees-Pakistan-as-natural-training-ground-for-Afghan-army
Karman Yousaf, “Deal in the making: Pakistan army likely to begin training Afghan forces,” The Express Tribune, January 29, 2013.  Available at  http://tribune.com.pk/story/500094/deal-in-the-making-pakistan-army-likely-to-begin-training-afghan-forces/
“Zardari, Kayani to visit London for crucial meetings,” The International News, January 31, 2013.  Available at  http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-20630-Zardari,-Kayani-to-visit-London-for-crucial-meetings
[xiii]Baqir Sajjad Syed, “Pak-Afghan talks for new trade corrider get boost,” Dawn, February 1, 2013.  Available at  http://dawn.com/2013/02/01/pak-afghan-talks-for-new-trade-corridor-get-boost/
[xiv]Anwar Iqbal, “More pragmatic military ties urged,” Dawn, February 1, 2013.  Available at  http://dawn.com/2013/02/01/more-pragmatic-military-ties-urged/
[xv]“Drone attacks: the court must protect lives,” The Express Tribune, February 1, 2013.  Available at   http://tribune.com.pk/story/501261/drone-attacks-the-court-must-protect-lives/
[xvi] “Indiana governor spikes deal with Pakistani bomb supplier,” The Washington Times, February 1, 2013.  Available at  http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jan/31/indiana-governor-halts-deal-with-bomb-supplier-in-/?page=1
[xvii] “Pakistan's top court orders polls to go ahead as planned,” Reuters, February 1, 2013. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/31/us-pakistan-elections-idUSBRE90U0LH20130131