Pakistan Security Brief - January 16, 2013

Villagers protest with bodies of 18 slain in Khyber in front of governor’s mansion in Peshawar; GOC Swat says Taliban trying to infiltrate valley again; Gov. Magsi announces policies for newly centrally governed Balochistan; Uzbek militant arrested in Nowshera; Further instability to follow arrest order for PM; stocks rally after market crash; PPP discussing options; Imran Khan and PTI reject Qadri’s invitation to join long march; Qadri gives govt second deadline to step down; U.S. tries to stay neutral vis-à-vis Pakistan turmoil;  Indo-Pak tensions increase after another soldier killed; Indian and Pakistani senior officers talk, agree to de-escalate situation; Foreign Minister disavows statements calling Haqqani Network Pakistani assets.

Militancy and Protests

  • Eighteen people were killed in a village raid in Bara, Khyber agency, on Tuesday night by gunmen in Pakistani security officials’ uniforms. Villagers blame Pakistan’s security forces for the men’s deaths, although an official with the Frontier Constabulary said that the attackers were militants from Lashkar-e-Islam. Family members of the victims protested in Peshawar, laying the bodies out in the streets in front of the governor’s house and shouting anti-military slogans, refusing to bury them until their demands, including an impartial inquiry, compensation, and punishment for the perpetrators, were met.[1]

  • According to General Officer Commanding Major General Ghulam Qamar in charge of operations in the Swat valley, militants are trying to re-infiltrate into the Swat valley. Maj. Gen. Qamar, while addressing the Malakand advisory council on Tuesday, warned of possible attacks in the area, as well as in Khyber agency and Buner district,. He also said that 123 attacks had been prevented in 2012 along Swat’s western border, and that 260 militants had been killed.[2]

  • Balochistan governor Zulfiqar Ali Magsi announced on Tuesday several new policies regarding the transfer of power in the region in the wake of last week’s bombings in Quetta. According to Magsi, Provincial Chief Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammed will be in charge of the administration and finances of the region; security forces previously assigned to protect elected ministers will be reassigned to enhance security, every effort will be made to ensure citizens’ safety, and corruption will be eradicated.[3]

  • Security forces arrested an Uzbek militant in Nowshera on Tuesday, and confiscated laptops, satellite phones, documents, and a suicide jacket. The militant, known as Commander Gul and another militant he was staying with were reportedly planning an attack on security forces on the Nowshera-Mardan road.[4]

Court Orders Prime Minister’s Arrest

  • Following Tahirul Qadri’s ongoing protest in Islamabad and Tuesday’s Supreme Court arrest order for Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, Pakistani and foreign media outlets have predicted increasing instability and uncertainty in the country. However, the Karachi Stock Exchange recovered slightly on Wednesday after Tuesday’s steep fall. Mr. Ashraf has denied accusations of taking bribes as Minister for Water and Power. On Tuesday night, the PPP convened a meeting of party leaders to discuss how to react to the arrest order, and discussed several legal options.[5]

Tahirul Qadri’s Long March and Elections

  • While Tahirul Qadri’s anti-government protest in Islamabad entered its third day, President Asif Ali Zardari has decided to stay in Karachi, a spokesman said, and will not go to Dubai as some rumors allege. The spokesman also reiterated the government’s resolve to hold upcoming elections on time. Mr. Qadri still commands some 20,000 followers, though the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf political party (PTI) has declined his invitation to join the protest, saying that they believe only an elected government can bring change. Mr. Qadri had earlier invited PTI’s leader Imran Khan, saying that Mr. Khan is not included in the corrupt leaders against whom Mr. Qadri is protesting. Meanwhile, at a press conference, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira told the media that Mr. Qadri’s one demand, that the current government be dissolved, was unconstitutional and could not be accepted, and added that Mr. Qadri could not use the law as an excuse to demand violations of it. In another address to his followers on Wednesday, after further blasting politicians for corruption and thievery, Mr. Qadri announced a two-day deadline for the government to step down, and a deadline of nightfall for four demands to be met: electoral reforms before elections, a new election commission, dissolving provincial and national assemblies and the setup of a caretaker government free of backroom deal making.[6]

  • The U.S. has tried to maintain neutrality towards Pakistan’s ongoing turmoil regarding Mr. Qadri and the Supreme Court’s verdict on the prime minister. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told the media that these are internal issues to Pakistan that should be resolved in light of the constitution.[7]

  • The opposition political party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) called a meeting in which they decided to oppose any changes to the current plans for upcoming elections or the Election Commission of Pakistan that will oversee them. They vowed that no unconstitutional step will be tolerated.[8]

  • Federal Minister for Religious Affairs, Khursheed Shah, announced that 2013’s general elections would be held, as scheduled, no later than May 6, and as early as May 4.  This announcement came a day after Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan demanded a concrete election date and that President Asif Ali Zardari resign.[9]

Indo-Pak Tensions

  • The Pakistan Army’s  Director General for Military Operations called his Indian counterpart to complain about Tuesday’s killing of another Pakistani soldier across the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir. India responded that if the man was shot, it “may” have been in retaliatory firing. Despite fiery rhetoric on the Indian side, which Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has dubbed “war-mongering” and says “deeply disappoints” Pakistan, both governments continue to declare their commitment to a peace process.[10]

  • After a ten-minute phone call on Wednesday between Pakistani and Indian directors generals for military operations, the two reportedly reached an agreement to de-escalate tensions along the LoC.[11]

Haqqani Network

  • In a discussion in New York on Tuesday evening, Pakistan’s foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar disavowed the notion that anyone representing the Pakistani government thinks of the Haqqani Network as an “asset.” Khar said that a statement Pakistan Army chief Gen. Kayani had made to that effect four years ago was not an opinion he held[12]



[1] Riaz Khan and Asif Shahzad, “Pakistanis protest killing of 18 in village raid,” Yahoo! News, January 16, 2013. Available at http://news.yahoo.com/pakistanis-protest-killing-18-village-raid-104047409.html
[2] “Countering terror: ‘Militants are trying to regroup in Swat’,” The Express Tribune, January 16, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/494541/countering-terror-militants-are-trying-to-regroup-in-swat/
“123 attacks repulsed in Swat: GOC,” The News, January 16, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-154659-123-attacks-repulsed-in-Swat:-GOC
[3] “Balochistan emergency: Chief secretary given free hand to run affairs, says Magsi,” The Express Tribune, January 16, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/494631/balochistan-emergency-chief-secretary-given-free-hand-to-run-affairs-says-magsi/
[4] “Uzbek militant arrested in Nowshera,” The News, January 16, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-154646-Uzbek-militant-arrested-in-Nowshera
[5] “Pakistan media fear more chaos over possible PM arrest,” BBC, January 16, 2013. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-21039998
“Slight recovery in Pakistani stocks following steep fall,” Dawn, January 16, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/16/slight-recovery-in-pakistani-stocks-following-steep-fall/
Irfan Ghauri, “Supreme Court order: Reeling from blow, PPP mulls next move,” The Express Tribune, January 16, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/494634/supreme-court-order-reeling-from-blow-ppp-mulls-next-move/
[6] “President extends stay in Karachi,” Dawn, January 16, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/16/president-extends-stay-in-karachi/
“PTI not to take part in Tahirul Qadris sit-in,” Geo, January 16, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=84052
“Qadri’s demands unconstitutional and cannot be accepted: Kaira,” Geo, January 16, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=84046
“Tahirul Qadri invites Imran Khan to join long march,” Geo, January 16, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=83992
“Parliament is protecting thugs: Dr. Qadri,” Geo, January 16, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=83993
Sunara Nizami, “Qadri outlines four demands to be met by nightfall,” The Express Tribune, January 16, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/494743/qadri-denounces-conspiracy-allegations-against-sc-verdict/
[7] “Washington impartial regarding Qadri’s protest: US,” Geo, January 16, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=83935
[8] “Change in consensus-based ECP will not be accepted: Opposition leaders,” The Express Tribune, January 16, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/494806/changes-in-consensus-based-ecp-will-not-be-accepted-opposition-leaders/
[9] “General elections by May 6: Khursheed Shah,” Geo TV, January 16, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=84061
“FM Khar says India ‘war-mongering’,” Dawn, January 16, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/16/fm-khar-says-india-warmongering/
[11] “India, Pakistan agree to “de-escalate” border tensions,” Dawn, January 16, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/16/india-pakistan-agree-to-de-escalate-border-tensions-india-army/
[12] “Those calling Haqqanis asset do not represent Pakistan government: FM,” Dawn, January 16, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/16/those-who-call-haqqani-network-an-asset-do-not-represent-pakistan-govt-fm-khar/