Pakistan Security Brief - February 12, 2013
TTP releases interview with Hakimullah Mehsud; TTP video memorializes martyrs including British and American Fighters; Obama to announce withdrawal of 34,000 troops, 8,000 remaining in 2014; Fazlur Rehman in Qatar moderating Afghan-Taliban negotiations, government distances itself from Fazlur Rehman’s trip; Karzai calls for release Taliban prisoners; Pakistan Army to create counter-IED forces; IED targets gas company in Karachi; Several dead in Karachi; Police raids net several suspects of targeted violence; Talks begin finalizing Iran pipeline; Pakistani clerics threaten to boycott Ulema Council; Witnesses testify in Florida terrorism case.
- SITE Intel on Friday published a video by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) media outlet, Umar Studio, interviewing Hakimullah Mehsud and Wali ur-Rahman regarding the connection between the TTP, the Afghan Taliban, and al Qaeda. Mehsud reiterated that Mullah Omar is the leader of all three groups. Meshud also cited that the TTP was the first group to launch attacks in retaliation to Osama Bin Laden’s death and said TTP members would sacrifice themselves in order to protect al Qaeda. Meshud announced that the TTP does not see a distinction between Afghanistan and Pakistan and will continue to fight in both spheres. In response to peace negotiations between the TTP and the Pakistani government, Mehsud stated that the TTP is willing to negotiate with the Pakistani government on the condition that the government abandons its servitude to the U.S. and does not insist on the TTP laying down its arms.
- SITE on Monday published a TTP-released memorial video eulogizing slain terrorists. Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the TTP, stated in the video that the two goals of the TTP are to implement Sharia and die as martyrs of Islam. The video also identifies among the dead two alleged westerners, an American fighter by the name of Inaam and a British fighter known as Abbas but who has also been identified as Omar al Britani.
American Withdrawal from Afghanistan
- In anticipation of the State of the Union address; officials from the White House reported on Monday that President Obama will announce a plan to withdraw 34,000 troops from Afghanistan by 2014. The plan reportedly proposes a tiered withdrawal, leaving some 8,000 troops in the country in 2014, and lowering that number to around 1,000 (primarily in the U.S. embassy) by 2017.
- Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazl Rehman is in Doha, Qatar, as of Friday, where he is moderating talks between Afghan officials and the Afghan Taliban. On Sunday, Rehman met with Taliban commander Mullah Muhammad Omar’s aide Tayyab Agha, where it is believed Rehman attempted to convince the Taliban to enter more serious and ongoing negotiations. During the talks this weekend, nearly a dozen other Taliban representatives were also in Doha, looking into opening an office there. Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Sunday distanced the government from Rehamn’s involvement in the talks, making clear that the JUI-F efforts were not representative of the official government position, and should be viewed as Rehman’s private initiative. Afghan President Karzai also made efforts to encourage the Afghan Taliban to negotiate, when, following his talks with President Zardari in London last week, he requested that more Taliban members be released from Pakistani prisons. His move has been met with contention from his own party and senior officials in Afghanistan and Pakistan, because they suspect the Taliban prisoners, if released, would rejoin Taliban efforts and continue to fight.
Counter-IED Unit Created
- On Tuesday, General Rashad Mahmood, the Chief of General Staff (CGS), led an inter-agency meeting to discuss counter-improvised explosive device (CIED) strategy in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. The meeting sought to increase awareness and collaboration to defeat IEDs and also announced the formation of a new force in the Pakistan Army, which will specialize in disarming, preventing, and defeating IED’s across the country. According to a report published by Geo, 33,150 IEDs have been detonated in Pakistan during the last 10 years, which have killed over 11,000 Pakistanis and injured another 21,000.
- On Monday, talks started between officials in Islamabad and Tehran to coordinate the final engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contract for the $1.5 billion gas pipeline between Iran and Pakistan. Construction of the pipeline is slated to begin a month after finalization of the EPC contract. 
Contention at Ulema Conference
- On Tuesday, Pakistani clerics responeded to a dispute with Afghan clerics over the Taliban by threatening to boycott the upcoming Ulema Council scheduled to take place in Afghanistan next month. “Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, head of the All Pakistan Ulema Council…accused the visiting Afghan clerics of trying to use the upcoming conference to denounce the Taliban and elicit support for the Afghan government. He insisted the Taliban be invited to the event to advance the peace process.” Afghan clerics responded by downplaying the contention, suggesting the dispute was more with Ashrafi specifically than the Pakistani Council in general.
Pakistan Regrets North Korea Nuclear Test
- In a press release Tuesday, officials from the Foreign Office expressed their regret that North Korea tested a nuclear weapon, stressed that Pakistan supports a nuclear weapons-free peninsula and reiterated Pakistani support for 6 party talks.
- An improvised explosive device (IED) with 2kg of explosive material and ball bearings detonated outside a Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) sub-station in Karachi on Tuesday. The blast damaged the outer wall and injured one police officer.
- On Monday, The special investigation department of the police’s Criminal Investigative Department (CID) arrested three people accused of being involved targeted killings in Karachi. Two of the people arrested are alleged members of the TTP.
- Five people were wounded in a shooting incident outside offices of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in Gulshan-i-Maymar, Karachi on Monday.
- On Monday, a police constable was killed when unidentified assailants opened fire in the Gulbahar area of Karachi.
- A man was shot and killed in Gulistan-e-Jauhar of Karachi on Monday.
- Two men were killed when unidentified assailants opened fire on Monday on Jinnah Road near the Mazar-i-Quaid in Karachi.
- One person was killed and another three injured during a shooting incident in Golimar, Karachi on Tuesday.
- On Tuesday, a policeman and his wife were critically injured in Shahrah-e-Faisal, Karachi when unidentified assailants opened fire on them.
- On Tuesday, paramilitary Rangers arrested six people suspected of involvement in targeted killings and recovered several weapons during a raid in Musharraf Colony, Karachi.
- A man was killed near the Zoological Gardens in Karachi on Monday.
- An MQM activist was killed near the Haleemabad area of Malir, Karachi on Monday.
- Four people were shot and killed in the Palai area of Malakand agency, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on Tuesday when unidentified assailants opened fire.
- On Tuesday, Pakistani police officers arrested at least eight suspects of targeted killings during a raid in Peshawar.
- On Tuesday, the Frontier Corps (FC) launched a raid in the Sabzal area of Quetta, Balochistan and arrested a major arms dealer.
Florida Terrorism Case
- Ali Rehman, the first defense witness in the case against Hafiz Khan, who is accused of providing financial support to the TTP, testified via live video on Monday. Rehman stated that the money sent by Khan was delivered to Anayat Ullah, Khan’s son-in-law, who used the money to invest in his potato chip business. Earlier in the trial, prosecutors played intercepted phone calls in which Khan praised attacks carried out by the TTP. Rehman stated that he disagreed on the TTP’s use of violence. The jurors were also played intercepted phone calls between Rehman and Khan in which they discussed financing road widening projects.