Pakistan Security Brief - February 4, 2013

Presidents Zardari and Karzai discuss Afghan peace plans, Pak-Afghan relations; 200 containers stopped at Afghan Border; TTP calls for negotiations, government to announce response in 2-3 days; Tribal leaders ask government to halt military operations; TTP attack kills 35; Bomb detonated in Nowshera; BLF attacks Sheikh Ali Bin Abdullah’s convoy; LI attacks Kamarkhel Peace Committee members in Takhtaki; Several dead in Karachi; Syrian opposition groups in contact with AQ in Pakistan; Planned protests cancelled; Qadri announces second phase of revolution; Tensions regarding Pak-Iran Gas Pipeline continue; Pakistani army trying to win hearts and minds in South Waziristan; Citizens can report corruption; Pakistan to pay back $520 million in IMF loans; Army scorns Human Rights Watch report.

Pak-Afghan Relations

  • On Monday, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and British Prime Minister David Cameron held the third meeting aimed at increasing cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan at the British Prime Minister’s Chequers country retreat near London. The trilateral meeting was held to discuss extremism and growing fears of a regional instability. It was the first meeting to include Afghan and Pakistani military and intelligence chiefs. Prime Minister Cameron announced “an unprecedented level of cooperation” while President Zaradari stated that the two countries were interdependent and that “peace in Afghanistan meant peace in Pakistan.” All three leaders vowed to take the necessary steps to ensure reconciliation and regional stability including opening an office in Doha, Qatar to begin negotiations between the Afghan Taliban and the High Peace Council of Afghanistan. The three leaders asked the Taliban to take the necessary steps to participate in negotiations and will take all the necessary steps to achieve some sort of peace settlement in the next six months.  Zardari and Karzai also plan to sign an agreement strengthening economic ties and border management later this year.[1]

  • Over 200 Pakistani containers headed for Turkmenistan and other Central Asian states were prohibited from entering Afghanistan on Monday. Afghan officials reportedly stated that the reason for stopping the containers was because Pakistani customs officials denied access to Afghan containers headed to Karachi. [2]

Taliban Negotiations

  • On Saturday, officials from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) branches of various political parties asked the government to halt military operations in the tribal areas and hold negotiations with the Taliban to end the violence that has caused the deaths of over 2,200 tribesmen in the last three and a half years.[3]

  • On Monday, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, welcomed peace negotiations with the Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP), and asked government and military officials to let tribal elders to take part in the negotiations. Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for the TTP, announced his group’s willingness to negotiate, if three senior politicians, Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif, the JUI-F chief and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) leader Syed Munawar Hasan, would serve as guarantors of the process.  In the statement, Ehsan said that the TTP “do not trust the army,” and explained their choice of negotiators because “we need solid guarantors who can assure us about the army, because the army is the real power in Pakistan.”  TTP officials offered similar peace accords in December, but stated that they would not lay down their weapons until Sharia was implemented. Interior Minister Rehman Malik stated that PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif has refused to be a guarantor of the negotiations.  Interior Minister Rehman Malik made a statement Monday saying that the government may be ready to engage the TTP in talks and announcing that it would officially respond to the TTP’s offer of talks “within two to three days.”[4] 

Militancy

Protests

  • Officials from the Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) announced on Monday that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and opposing parties, who demanded implementation of Supreme Court’s announcement establishing new limits on constituencies in Karachi, will hold a dialogue on February 6th. Previously the PML-N planned to hold a two-day sit-in in front of Parliament House for the empowerment of the ECP to deliver timely and independent elections but was cancelled due to inclement weather.[15]

  • Tahirul Qadri, the Muslim cleric who led a march to Islamabad against government corruption in January, on Monday announced the beginning of the second phase of his “revolution protesting the existence of poverty in the country. Qadri plans to hold protests in six different cities starting on February 16th. He also stated that he did not intend to delay elections. [16]

Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline

  • Dr. Ali Akbar Velayati, the former Iranian foreign minister and advisor to the Supreme Leader of Iran, arrived in Balochistan on Friday to discuss the Pak-Iran gas pipeline which was approved the Federal Cabinet last Wednesday. Dr Velayati addressed U.S. objections to the Pak-Iran pipeline stating that “Washington has nothing to do” with the project and that strategic cooperation between the two countries is not only mutually beneficial to them, but to larger regional and international interests.[17]

Counterinsurgency in Pakistan

  • A Reuters report published on Monday examines the Pakistan Army’s attempts to convert gains it has made against the TTP on the battlefield into long-term peace. The report looks at Pakistani Army efforts to convert former militant sanctuaries into places safe enough for locals to return to and thrive in South Waziristan. The campaign includes winning the hearts and minds of local Pashtun tribes by creating new economic and educational opportunities. The Pakistan Army’s 2009 offensive in South Waziristan displaced half a million people most of whom have not been willing to return because of the lack of an effective civilian government, widespread corruption, and the threat of militancy lurking in South Waziristan.[18]

Anti-Corruption Measures

  • Anti-corruption spokesperson Nabeel Awan, announced Monday that the Government of Punjab is beginning the “first large-scale attempt by any government to proactively solicit feedback from citizens who are forced to pay bribes.”  The program lets citizens report with their cell phones when they are coerced into paying bribes, which officials believe will be a huge step in getting accountability for corruption, letting them map illicit activities and start to take actions against the ever growing problem.[19]

IMF Repayments

Pakistani Military Abuses

  • In a statement on Saturday, a military spokesman lashed out at the human-rights advocacy group Human Rights Watch, calling their report from last week implicating the military in over 400 Shia deaths “a pack of lies, propaganda driven and totally biased.”  The report questions whether the army is failing to stop the attacks or is “complicit in them.” [21]          


[1] “Peace in Afghanistan is peace in Pakistan: President Zardari,” Geo, February 4, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=86707
“Pakistan, Afghan presidents in Britain,” The News, February 4, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-86660-Pakistan,-Afghan-presidents-in-Britain-for-talks
“Afghanistan and Pakistan aim for 'peace in six months',” BBC, February 4, 2013. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-21310575            
[2] “Afghans stop 200 Pakistani containers,” Dawn, February 4, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/02/04/afghans-stop-200-pakistani-containers/
[3] “Political leaders ask govt to halt military operations in tribal areas,” The News, February 4, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-157856-Political-leaders-ask-govt-to-halt-military-operations-in-tribal-areas
[4] “Fazlur Rehman Asks Govt, Military To Authorise Jirgas To Negotiate With TTP,” Such Tv, February 4, 2013. Available at http://www.suchtv.tv/pakistan/general/item/2391-fazlur-rehman-asks-govt-military-to-authorise-jirgas-to-negotiate-with-ttp.html
“TTP wants Nawaz, Fazl, Munawar to be guarantors,” The News, February 4, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-20720-TTP-wants-Nawaz,-Fazl,-Munawar-to-be-guarantors
“Ending conflict: Taliban name three guarantors for peace talks,” The Express Tribune, February 4, 2013.  Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/502342/ending-conflict-taliban-name-three-guarantors-for-peace-talks/
“Malik  signals possibility of peace talks with Pakistani Taliban,” Dawn, February 4, 2013.  Available at 
[5] Ghulam Mursalin Marwat, “Taliban bombers wreak havoc at military camp,” Dawn, February 2, 2013.  Available at http://dawn.com/2013/02/03/13-soldiers-12-militants-11-civilians-killed-taliban-bombers-wreak-havoc-at-military-camp/
Conal Urquhart, “Taliban assault on Pakistan army post leaves 35 dead,” The Guardian, February 2, 2013.  Available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/02/taliban-assault-pakistan-army-post
“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
Salman Masood and Ismal Khan, “Taliban militants attack Pakistani base,” The New York Times, February 2, 2013.  Available at  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/03/world/asia/taliban-assault-pakistan-army-base.html?partner=rss&emc=rss
Riaz Khan, “23 killed in Taliban attack on Pakistan army post,” The Associated Press, February 2, 2013.  Available at http://news.yahoo.com/23-killed-taliban-attack-pakistan-army-post-123114811.html
[6] “Blast in Nowshera destroys internet café, music store,” Dawn, February 2, 2013.  Available at http://dawn.com/2013/02/02/blast-in-nowshera-destroys-internet-cafe-music-store/
[7]“Two FC men hurt in attack on Qatari dignitary’s convoy,” Dawn, February 1, 2013.  Available at http://dawn.com/2013/02/02/two-fc-men-hurt-in-attack-on-qatari-dignitarys-convoy/
[8] “11 peace committee members killed,” Dawn, February 1, 2013.  Available at http://dawn.com/2013/02/02/11-peace-committee-members-killed/
[9] “Two soldiers killed in Orakzai IED blast,” The News International, February 3, 2013.  Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-157837-Two-soldiers-killed-in-Orakzai-IED-blast
[10] “Six killed as shells from Afghanistan land in SWA,” The News International, February 2, 2013.  Available at www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-20682-Six-killed-as-shells-from-Afghanistan-land-in-SWA
[11]“Backstage Glimpses of Clinton as Dogged Diplomat, Win or Lose,” The New York Times, February 4, 2013. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/03/us/politics/in-behind-scene-blows-and-triumphs-sense-of-clinton-future.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&
“Clinton: Syrian rebels getting ‘messages’ from Pakistan region known as Qaeda haven,” The Washington Post, February 4, 2013. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/02/04/clinton-syrian-rebels-getting-messages-from-pakistan-region-known-as-qaeda-haven/?wprss=rss_social-world-headlines
[12] “130 suspects held,” The News International, February 3, 2013.  Available at  http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-6-157823-130-suspects-held
[13] “Three shot dead in Karachi,” The News International, February 2, 2013.  Available at  http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-86449-Three-shot-dead-in-Karachi
[14]“Three shot dead in Karachi,” The News International, February 2, 2013.  Available at  http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-86449-Three-shot-dead-in-Karachi
[15] “Opposition parties, ECP to meet on February 6,” Geo, February 4, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=86705  
PML-N, allies to stage sit-in today,” The News, February 4, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-86644-PML-N,-allies-to-stage-sit-in-today
[16] “Qadri announces ‘second phase of revolution’,” Dawn, February 4, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/02/04/qadri-announces-second-phase-of-revolution/
[17] “Gas pipeline pact to strengthen ties with Pakistan: Iran,” Geo, February 4, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=86464
“US has nothing to do with Pak-Iran gas pipeline project: Dr Velayati,”, The News, Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-20704-US-has-nothing-to-do-with-Pak-Iran-gas-pipeline-project:-Dr-Velayati
[19]Sebastian Abbot, “Pakistan tries new way of tackling corruption,” Time, February 4, 2013.  Available at  http://world.time.com/2013/02/04/pakistan-tries-new-way-of-tackling-corruption/
[20] “Pak to pay off $520m as IMF dues in Feb,” The News, February 4, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-86455-Pak-to-pay-off-$520m-as-IMF-dues-in-Feb
[21] Tom Wright, “Pakistan lambasts Human Rights Watch,” The Wall Street Journal, February 4, 2013.  Available at  http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2013/02/04/pakistan-lambasts-human-rights-watch/