Pakistan Security Brief - February 21, 2013

Two bombs kill at least 12 in Hyderabad, India; Supreme court adjourns hearing on Quetta bombing; Malik blames provincial governments for Quetta attacks; Anti-Terrorism Bill unanimously passed in National Assembly; Targeted operations against Lashkar-e-Jhangvi will continue; IED kills one and wounds 17 in Peshawar; PAF bombs militants in Orakzai killing 29; Several dead in Karachi; U.S. Ambassador reiterates U.S. commitment to Pakistan; Afghanistan to extradite Taliban commander; Pakistani clerics boycott Afghan Ulema Conference; Pakistan Army general says army supports transparent elections; Zardari urges bilateral trade between Pakistan and Iran; Iran and Pakistan will build oil refinery in Gwadar Pakistan State Oil may default on payments; Hafiz Khan says he sent money to poor not Taliban; Senator Graham 4,700 killed in drone strikes.

Bombing in India

Quetta Bombing Aftermath

  • On Thursday, during a Supreme Court hearing on the recent Quetta bombingChief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry stated that intelligence is to be shared with law enforcement agencies and not the courts, in response to recent Inter-Services Intelligence reports submitted to the court on the Quetta bombing. He also inquired about measures taken to prevent another attack. The Supreme Court asked Balochistan’s Inspector General of the Frontier Corps General Obaidullah Khattak to submit a reply by February 26th and adjourned proceedings until then.[2]

  • In a senate meeting held on Wednesday, Interior Minister Rehman Malik stated that if the provincial government of Punjab fails to eliminate Lashkar-e-Jhangvi sanctuaries in the province, the federal government will take action into its own hands. In response to the bombing in Quetta, Malik blamed the Baloch provincial government for the recent attack  stating that intelligence agencies warned the Baloch government on three separate occasions of imminent threats to the Hazara community, but the government did not take any precautionary actions to stop the attacks. Malik also passed on blame to Pakistan’s National Assembly, stating that they are partially responsible for terrorist attacks because they have yet to pass a major anti-terrorism bill. He stated that there is evidence indicating cooperation between al Qaeda, the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. [3]

  • Meanwhile, the National Assembly on Wednesday unanimously passed the Anti-Terrorism Bill 2013 which will allow government officials to freeze financial assets of people suspected to be involved in terrorism. Analysts from the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency believe that the bill is limited in scope and is only a small part of curbing terrorism.[4]

  • Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira announced on Thursday that targeted operations against the leaders of LeJ responsible for the attacks on the Hazara community will continue until they are brought to justice. Kaira said that Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf had stated that the government will go to any extent to protect the lives of Pakistani citizens while a three member cabinet will be set up to monitor the implementation of the agreement made between the government and leaders of the Hazara community.[5]  

Afghan-Pakistan Relations

Militancy

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

  • In a speech on Wednesday, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson reiterated the U.S.’s commitment to stability and peace in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Olson said he wanted to be clear that the U.S. has every intention of remaining engaged in the region, and that the nature of that engagement will change in 2014’s security transition, where the U.S. will withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.[15]

Iran-Pakistan Relations

  • On Wednesday, Pakistan’s President, Asif Ali Zardari, announced that terrorism was a common enemy of Pakistan and Iran. The president also stated that Pakistan will accept Iranian technical and financial support for upgrading the Quetta-Taftan rail system. Zardari urged the Pakistani population to invest and trade with Iran, and called for removing trade barriers between the two countries. He also expressed his satisfaction over the recent signing of Security Cooperation Agreement aimed at stopping counter terrorism and criminal activity.  [16]

  • Pakistani Petroleum Advisor Dr. Asim Hussain held a press conference on Thursday after meeting with Iran’s Minister of Oil Rostam Qassemi, where Hussain announced that Iran plans to build an oil refinery in Gwadar.  The refinery should process 400,000 barrels of oil daily, which, combined with the gas pipeline Iran and Pakistan will finalize plans for soon, should address issues of Pakistan’senergy crisis.[17]  

Taliban Negotiations

Drone Strikes

  • On Wednesday, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham was quoted in saying that the U.S. has killed 4,700 people in drone strikes.  This is the first time a U.S. official has given an actual body count, including civilian casualties, militants, and other victims.  Graham went on to defend armed drones as “a weapon that needs to be used.”[19]

Domestic Politics

Florida Taliban Supporter Case

  • On Wednesday, cleric Hafiz Khan said in his testimony in Miami, FL, that he lied to an undercover FBI agent about wanting to send money to support the Taliban, and instead sent the money to the poor.  Khan allegedly tried to get $1 million from the FBI agent, and, when pressed, defended saying “I did the right thing.”[24]  


[1] “India's Hyderabad hit by two explosions,” BBC, February 21, 2013. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-21537197
[2][2] “Hazara killings: Security officials to submit reply to SC,” Dawn, February 21, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/02/21/hazara-killings-cj-says-intelligence-should-be-shared-with-leas-not-courts/
[3] “In the Senate: Malik passes the buck for Quetta incident to province,” Express Tribune, February 21, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/510377/in-the-senate-malik-passes-the-buck-for-quetta-incident-to-province/
“Terror acts will occur in Quetta, Karachi and Peshawar, Malik tells Senate,”  The News, February 21, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-21100-Terror-acts-will-occur-in-Quetta,-Karachi-and-Peshawar,-Malik-tells-Senate
[4] “Anti-terror law tweaked to add focus on financing,” Express Tribune, February 21, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/510382/anti-terror-law-tweaked-to-add-focus-on-financing/
[5] “Balochistan violence: Targeted operation to continue, cabinet told,”  Express Tribune, February 21, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/510353/balochistan-violence-targeted-operation-to-continue-cabinet-told/
[6] Kathy Gannon, “Freed Taliban fighters return to insurgency,” Associated Press, February 21, 2013.  Available at http://news.yahoo.com/freed-afghan-taliban-fighters-return-insurgency-142413666.html
[7] “Afghan government assures Pakistan of handing over Maulvi Faqir Muhammaed,” Geo, February 21, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=89050
[8] “Pakistani clerics boycott Kabul moot’s preparatory talks,” Express Tribune, February 21, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/510354/pakistani-clerics-boycott-kabul-moots-preparatory-talks/
[9] Jennifer Rowland, “One killed at mall in northwest Pakistan,” Foreign Policy, February 21, 2013.  Available at  http://afpak.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/02/21/one_killed_in_explosion_at_mall_in_northwest_pakistan
“Blast in Peshawar kills one,” Express Tribune, February 21, 2013.  Available at  http://tribune.com.pk/story/510491/blast-in-peshawar-injures-4/
“Peshawar mobile market blast, one killed, 18 injured,” The News International, February 21, 2013.  Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-89010-One-killed,-18-injured-in-Peshawar-blast--
[10] “29 militants killed, 7 hideouts destroyed in Orakzai, Khyber agencies,” The News International, February 20, 2013.  Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-88921-29-militants-killed,-7-hideouts-destroyed-in-Orakzai,-Khyber-agencies
[11] “Bombspotting: 13 bombs defused near Bannu girls’ school,” Express Tribune, February 21, 2013.  Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/510571/bombspotting-13-bombs-defused-near-bannu-girls-school/
[12] “Three suspects arrested in Orangi Town,” The News International, February 21, 2013.  Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-88993-Karachi%3a-Three-suspects-arrested-in-Orangi-Town
“Four ‘extortionists’ held in two raids,” The News International, February 21, 2013.  Available at www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-4-161150-Four-extortionists-held-in-two-raids
[13] “Five shot dead across Karachi,” Dawn, February 21, 2013.  Available at http://dawn.com/2013/02/21/five-shot-dead-across-karachi/
“Four hurt in attack on MQM unit office,” The News International, February 21, 2013.  Available at www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-4-161153-Four-hurt-in-attack-on-MQM-unit-office
[14] “Former peace volunteer vendor killed in Tank,” Dawn, February 20, 2013.  Available at http://dawn.com/2013/02/21/former-peace-volunteer-vendor-killed-in-tank-2/
[15] “US won’t disengage from Pakistan, Afghanistan: envoy,” The News International, February 21, 2013.  Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-161278-US-wont-disengage-from-Pakistan,-Afghanistan:-envoy
[16] “Terrorists are common enemies of Pakistan and Iran: Zardari,” The News, February 21, 2013. Available at www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-21103-Terrorists-are-common-enemies-of-Pakistan-and-Iran:-Zardari
[17] “Iran to build oil refinery in Gwadar: Dr. Asim,” The News International, February 21, 2013.  Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-88974-Iran-to-build-oil-refinery-in-Gwadar:-Dr-Asim
[18] “‘JUI-F ready to arrange govt-Taliban talks’,” The News, February 21, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-161261-JUI-F-ready-to-arrange-govt-Taliban-talks
[19] “Senator says 4700 killed in US drone strikes,” Dawn, February 21, 2013.  Available at  http://dawn.com/2013/02/21/senator-says-4700-killed-in-us-drone-strikes/
[20] “Army supports timey elections: DG ISPR,” Geo, February 21, 2013.  Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-89032-Army-supports-timely-elections:-DG-ISPR--
[21] “Pakistani man accuses ambassador to U.S. of blasphemy,”  Reuters, February 21, 2013. Available at http://ca.reuters.com/article/topNews/idCABRE91K0KE20130221
[22] “No peace before FATA issue is resolved: Imran,”  Geo, February 21, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=88975
[23] “Pakistan State Oil ‘on its knees’, more blackouts threatened, Dawn, February 21, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/02/21/pakistan-state-oil-on-its-knees-more-blackouts-threatened/
[24]“ Curt Anderson,  “Florida imam back on the witness stand in Pakistani Taliban terrorism support case,” Washington Post, February 21, 2013.  Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/florida-imam-back-on-the-witness-stand-in-pakistani-taliban-terrorism-support-case/2013/02/20/2fedbeae-7b34-11e2-9c27-fdd594ea6286_story.html