Pakistan Security Brief - January 11, 2013

Pakistan summons Indian ambassador to protest attacks, informs UN of incidents; India refuses internationalization of crisis; Indo-Pak crisis “unlikely to escalate;” Pakistan says crisis not to affect MFN status for India; Kashmiri locals fear crisis escalation; Death toll from Thursday attacks rises to 120, Quetta bomb is largest in city’s history; Shias protest against gov’t, refuse to bury dead; Balochistan governor says his gov’t has lost authority to rule; TTP denies responsibility for Swat bombing; More people killed in Quetta; Pace of drone attacks increased in Pakistan due to Afghan drawdown; Several killed across Karachi; Army says it will not provide security for long march, MQM pulls out of long march citing security; ANP leader calls for conference to open dialogue with militants.

Indo-Pak Border Crisis and Relations

  • On Friday, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani summoned India’s High Commissioner to the foreign office to protest Thursday’s shooting of a Pakistani soldier by Indian troops in Kashmir. Jilani asked India to investigate the ongoing violent incidents along the Line of Control (LoC), and pressed to involve the UN for an independent inquiry. Jilani told the press that Pakistan had informed UN military observers of the incidents, and that such skirmishes benefit neither country. Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid agreed, saying he is “perplexed” by the violence and that “no one on the other side of the border is achieving anything wholesome”.[1]

  • As India continues to refuse international involvement in investigating the three recent cross-border attacks in Kashmir, an Indian news source alleges that its motivation is to hide the fact that a hawkish Indian commander, Brigadier Gulab Singh Rawat, may have instigated the stint of violence. Brig. Rawat reportedly ordered an Indian unit to launch a raid against Pakistani troops that resulted in the first of this week’s deaths. Indian officials deny that Brig. Rawat’s potential involvement is the reason for keeping the matter out of the UN, while Pakistan continues to deny that Tuesday’s alleged attack on Indian troops took place at all.[2]

  • A retired general who had served on the Line of Control (LoC) was quoted as saying that, despite four deaths in the area in the past week, fighting will likely not escalate. He claims that the skirmishes are at a local tit-for-tat level and not ordered by Pakistan’s military leadership; he expects both governments will resolve the issue via diplomatic channels. Officials from both sides have reiterated their commitment to the ceasefire and peace process, though India’s Defense Minister A.K. Antony describes India’s troops as being “on alert” amid reports of more firing on Friday morning.[3]

  • In response to escalating tensions and several deaths on the India-Pakistan Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir, the Pakistani Foreign Secretary was reported on Thursday as saying that granting India status as a Most Favored Nation was under review. In a new statement on Friday, however, a Foreign Office spokesman clarified that the remarks were taken out of context and that normal trade relations with India are still a priority for the government.[4]

  • Representative of both India and Pakistan took part in a round-table conference on advancing trade on Thursday. Both countries were eager to show their enthusiasm for improved trade relations, and decided that transport and logistics infrastructure needs to be improved, while the private sector should take the lead in “evolving a broader vision”.[5]

  • Pakistani villagers living close to the Line of Control (LoC) in the Battal region of Kashmir have reported firing on civilians by Indian troops from across the border since Wednesday, which keeps most people inside their homes and impedes economic activity.[6]

Militancy

  • The death toll from Thursday’s string of bombings in Quetta and Swat has risen to 120 after five more people died of their wounds overnight, while the number of wounded is in the hundreds. Shias and Pakistani soldiers were the primary targets of the four blasts in Quetta, two of which Sunni were claimed by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. The United Baloch Army, a separatist group claimed responsibility for one attack, while the perpetrators of the fourth are as of yet unknown. The first, a bomb intended for a vehicle carrying paramilitary soldiers, killed twelve; the second and third, a suicide bombing and subsequent car bomb at a billiards hall, killed 86; and the fourth, a roadside bomb, injured three. The blast in Swat, at a crowded Sunni mosque, killed 22. The second billiards hall bomb, intended for the rescuers, police and journalists who rushed to the scene after the first, was the largest bomb ever to go off in Quetta, with over 100 kg of explosives. A senior government official reports that the snooker hall attacks may be in retaliation for the shooting of a Sunni cleric on Wednesday and a recent seizure of arms and ammunition from the LeJ. While the city of Quetta is officially in mourning for three days, the local Shia community has risen up in protest, claiming that the government does not defend them and refusing to bury their dead until the government improves security in Shia areas. Human Rights Watch also condemned the Pakistani government for inadequate protection of Shias, noting that 2012 was the bloodiest year for Shias in living memory. The Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf condemned the killings and resolved to stamp out terrorism in Pakistan.[7]

  • Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi, the governor of Balochistan, has called for elections in the wake of yesterday’s four bombings in the province. Magsi said that after the mass-casualty bombings his administration had “lost the right to rule.”[8]

  • Thursday’s blast in the Tableeghi Jamaat in Swat, which had killed 22 as of Friday, was not caused by a gas cylinder as originally claimed by the district administration. Swat deputy commissioner Kamran Rahman now admits that it was a terrorist attack, though whether or not it was a suicide attack is undetermined. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan on Thursday condemned the attack, calling it “an act of the enemies of Islam and Muslims”.[9]

  • Two more people were killed in Quetta on Friday after a rocket attack on a NATO cargo terminal executed by twelve men. Eight platoons of the Frontier Constabulary have been called in and given a month of police rights to restore law and order in the city.[10]

  • A bomb exploded on Sariab road in Quetta, near the office of the Quetta Development Authority. No casualties were reported[11]

  • A father and son in a market area of Sariab in Quetta were shot to death by unknown gunmen.[12]

  • In response to recent bombings in Swat and Quetta, security forces in the city of Peshawar are on high alert. Routes have been sealed, additional police deployed, and those wishing to pray in certain public areas are being permitted to do so only after a body search.[13]

  • Six unidentified gunmen shot down seven laborers from Bajaur agency in a market near al Asif Square in Karachi on Thursday.[14]

  • A total of four more people were killed in Karachi: one in a vehicle ambush, one in Lines area, and another in Sarjani town. The body of a man whose identity is so far unknown was found bearing signs of torture.[15]

  • Two men were wounded by six gunmen on motorcycles in Karachi on Friday.[16]

  • The Peshawar High Court is continuing to work towards the release of eight employees of the Gomal Zam dam project kidnapped by militants in August 2012 by ordering the secretary and chief secretary of the FATA Secretariat to go to Miram Shah, North Waziristan, and stay there until the recovery of the eight men. Action being taken to ensure the return of the men includes trying to raise money for ransoms, and talks with high-level members of the tribal administration.[17]

Drones in Pakistan

  • Since the beginning of 2013 drone strikes have been on the rise in Pakistan, and security experts expect them to continue at this accelerated rate as U.S. forces draw down from Afghanistan. U.S. intelligence officials attribute the increased pace of drone attacks to the impending drawdown from Afghanistan and the need to take advantage of existing drone resources to hit as many available targets as possible before the military drawdown, which will affect CIA operations in the region, impacts drone capabilities. U.S. officials also cited new intelligence on high value targets and contributing to the flurry of strikes.[18]

  • Pakistani authorities tasked with the recovery of eight kidnapped employees of the Gomal Zam dam project said on Thursday that their activities were hampered by U.S. drone strikes in the area where the kidnappers were holding the workers. Frequent strikes in the area were causing the militants to move constantly and fear meeting with officials.[19]

Domestic Issues

  • According to sources close to the Pakistan Army, the military has said it will not intervene in the case of violence or chaos caused by Tahirul Qadri’s long march to Islamabad on January 14. Any fallout from the march, including a potential terrorist attack, would be the purview of civilian law enforcement agencies, according to military sources. Qadri is a critic of both main government parties, and has gained supporters in the West for being ardently anti-terrorism. However, many in Pakistan suspect him and his agenda as a front for the military’s interests.[20]

  • Despite an affirmation on Thursday that the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) would participate in Tahirul Qadri’s long march on the grounds that other political parties had held such demonstrations in the past, the MQM’s leadership announced on Friday that, while it supports Qadri and his ideology, it will not be taking part in Monday’s long march because of security concerns.  Qadri’s organization, the Minhajul Quran International, responded that the MQM’s decision would not make any difference and the march would go ahead as planned.[21]

  • Asfandyar Wali Khan, President of the Awami National Party, said on Thursday that the only way to resolve Pakistan’s trouble with militancy and terrorism is to engage the militants in dialogue.  The Taliban has held talks with “international communities” in the recent past, so Khan thinks that doing the same in Pakistan will be possible. To this end, he has organized an All Parties’ Conference (APC) whose agenda will be countering terrorism, and which President Zardari has committed to attend. Khan has urged all political parties to attend, saying all are vulnerable to attack and “all parties working for democracy” were the target of the Taliban.[22]

 


[1] “Pakistan protests ‘repeated, unacceptable’ India violations,” Dawn, January 11, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/11/pakistan-summons-indian-envoy-over-second-killing/
“UN military observers informed about LoC firing,” Geo, January 11, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=83373
“India says ‘perplexed’ by Kashmir border killings,” Dawn, January 10, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/10/india-says-perplexed-by-kashmir-border-killings/
[2] Jawed Naqvi, “India against UN investigation into LoC violation,” Dawn, January 11, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/11/india-against-un-investigation-into-loc-violation/
[3] “’A grandmother, a new bunker lead to India-Pakistan clashes,” Dawn, January 11, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/11/a-grandmother-a-new-bunker-lead-to-india-pakistan-clashes/
”Kashmir violence: Anger builds as Pakistan summons Indian envoy,” BBC, January 11, 2013. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-20982048
[4] “Reports clarified,” The News, January 11, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-20182-Reports-clarified
[5] “Issues in Indo-Pak trade discussed,” Dawn, January 11, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/11/issues-in-indo-pak-trade-discussed/
[6] “Indian firing across LoC leaves Pakistani villagers fearing the worst,” Dawn, January 10, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/10/indian-firing-across-loc-leaves-pakistani-villagers-fearing-the-worst/
[7] Abdul Sattar, “Death toll from Pakistan bombings rises to 120,” Yahoo! News, January 11, 2013. Available at http://news.yahoo.com/death-toll-pakistan-bombings-rises-120-075734804.html
Abdul Sattar, “Pakistani Shiites protest after bombings kill 120,” Yahoo! News, January 11, 2013. Available at http://news.yahoo.com/pakistani-shiites-protest-bombings-kill-120-132240167.html
Abdul Sattar and Sebastian Abbott, “Bombings kill 115 people in Pakistan,” Yahoo! News, January 10, 2013. Available at http://news.yahoo.com/bombings-kill-115-people-pakistan-195958293.html
Muhammed Ejaz Khan, “96 killed in Quetta bomb blasts,” The News, January 11, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-20158-96-killed-in-Quetta-bomb-blasts
Shaan Khan, “Pakistani province in mourning after blasts kill scores, “ CNN, January 11, 2013. Available at http://edition.cnn.com/2013/01/11/world/asia/pakistan-blasts/index.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rss%2Fedition_asia+%28RSS%3A+Asia%29
“Pakistan blasts: Three days of mourning in Balochistan,” BBC, January 11, 2013. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20982061
[8] “We lost right to rule after bomb blasts: Magsi,” Geo, January 11, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=83376
[9] “22 die as suicide bomber hits Tableeghi Markaz in Mingora,” The News, January 11, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-20159-22-die-as-suicide-bomber-hits-Tableeghi-Markaz-in-Mingora
[10] “Attack on Nato terminal leaves two dead in Quetta,” Dawn, January 11, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/11/another-powerful-blast-heard-in-quetta/
“Eight FC platoons called in for Quetta security today,” Geo, January 11, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=83301
[11] “Quetta: Blast reported on Sariab road,” Geo, January 11, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=83369
[12] “Father, son gunned down in Quetta,” Geo, January 11, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=83324
[13] “Security on high alert in Peshawar after deadly attacks,” Geo, January 11, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=83326
[14] “Seven labouruers gunned down in Karachi,” Geo, January 10, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=83254
[15] “Four more gunned down in Karachi,” Geo, January 11, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=83375
[16] “School van driver injured in Karachi shooting,” Geo, January 11, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=83344
[17] “Court tells Fata officials Stay in Miramshah until Wapda men are recovered,” Dawn, January 11, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/11/court-tells-fata-officials-stay-in-miramshah-until-wapda-men-are-recovered-2/
[18] Greg Miller, “U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan on rise for 2013,” The Washington Post, January 10, 2013. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-drone-strikes-in-pakistan-on-rise-for-2013/2013/01/10/d0a204a0-5b58-11e2-9fa9-5fbdc9530eb9_story.html
[19] Akhtar Amin, “Drone strikes hampering Wapda employees’ recovery,” The News, January 11, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-20180-Drone-strikes-hampering-Wapda-employees-recovery
[20] Rebecca Santana, “Cleric return jolts Pakistan politics before vote,” Yahoo! News, January 11, 2013. Available at http://news.yahoo.com/cleric-return-jolts-pakistan-politics-vote-064224688.html
Ahmad Noorani, “Long march: army ‘won’t intervene’,” The News, January 11, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-20170-Long-march:-army-wont-intervene
[21] “MQM decides not to participate in Jan 14 long march,” Geo, January 11, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=83337
“TMQ says MQM decision won’t make any difference,” Geo, January 11, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=83340
“MQM not to participate in Qadri’s long march,” Dawn, January 11, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/11/mqm-not-to-participate-in-qadris-long-march/
[22] Zeeshan Azmat, “ANP president urges talks with Taliban,” The News, January 11, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-20171-ANP-president-urges-talks-with-Taliban
“Asfandyar invites president to APC on terrorism,” Dawn, January 11, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/11/asfandyar-invites-president-to-apc-on-terrorism/