Pakistan Security Brief - January 24, 2013

Pakistan holding over 700 ‘militants’ without charge; Court moves to allow relatives to visit detainees; Supreme Court begins hearing case of death of man investigating corruption charges against PM; TTP spokesman calls on U.S., U.N. to take action against Hindu terrorism in Kashmir; Police release figures on militants killed, captured in 2012; JUI-f chief offers to mediate talks with TTP; various incidents of violence across northwest Pakistan and Karachi; U.N. to investigate possible drone-related war crimes; Pakistan pledges to grant India MFN status soon; JUI-F says no bilateral peace without Kashmir solution; ECP asks army for help verifying voter lists; U.S. general says relations improved with Pakistan.

Militant Detainees in Pakistan

  • For the first time, Pakistan’s Attorney General Irfan Qadir admitted on Thursday that security agencies are holding 700 suspected militants indefinitely and without charge. Qadir maintains that the alleged militants, arrested in the northwestern tribal belt and detained in connection with the “war on terror,” cannot be released until the end of operations in the area because of the current “war-like situation.” The detainees are currently being held under a 2011 law known as the “Actions (in Aid of Civil Power) Regulations” which allows the men to remain in custody while military operations are ongoing.  Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammed Chaudhry has called for the men to be tried in court, condemning their detention without charge or trial as a violation of human rights.[1]

  • The Peshawar High Court has asked authorities in internment centers to allow blood relatives to meet with “black” prisoners, those classified as “hardcore” militants. While internment centers do not allow anyone to meet with hardcore militants for security reasons, the High Court found that government regulations allow for meetings with blood relatives after getting approval from the detainment center.[2]

NAB case and Prime Minister

  • On Thursday, the Supreme Court began hearing the case of Kamran Faisal, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) assistant director found dead due to apparent suicide on January 18. While an official inquiry will be held by the police, Faisal’s friends and family say they do not trust the impartiality of such an inquiry, given Faisal’s role in investigating a high-profile Rental Power Projects (RPP) scam involving the sitting prime minister. The Supreme Court opined that NAB’s credibility had died along with Faisal. The hearing will resume on January 29.[3]

Militancy

  • Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), told news outlets on Wednesday that the U.S. and U.N. should attack Indian Kashmiri “Hindu terrorism” camps backed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and if they didn’t, the TTP had the ability and inclination to do so themselves. Ehsan claimed that a statement by the Indian Home Minister proved that India was sponsoring Hindu terrorism against Kashmiri Muslims.[4]

  • A communique from the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Police released on Wednesday reported totals for the number of militants killed and captured in the previous year. According to the document, 52 militants were killed and 459 arrested by the force in 2012. It also provided numbers of police killed and injured in different types of encounters and weapons and drugs confiscated.[5]

  • Following a video released earlier in January by TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud offering to hold talks with the government, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman publicly offered to mediate discussions between the Taliban and government, provided he is given complete authority over the proceedings.[6]

  • Six mortar shells landed in various parts of Peshawar on Wednesday. No casualties or property loss were reported. The shells were fired from the Shalobar area in Bara sub-district of Khyber agency.[7]

  • Two children were injured and a house was damaged by mortar fire in Peshawar on Thursday. The children were taken to a medical center and discharged after receiving basic treatment.[8]

  • Explosive devices planted at a government primary school in Mirzai Killay, Charsadda district went off on Tuesday night, destroying two rooms but injuring no one.[9]

  • On Wednesday, security forces demolished the house in Mohmand agency of a man suspected of blowing up a cellular tower in Safi sub-district.[10]

  • Two gunmen entered a mosque in an Afghan refugee camp in Katakani area on Wednesday and opened fire, killing two, including the prayer leader. The two victims reportedly had links to the TTP, but no one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.[11]

  • Four tribesmen asleep in their guesthouse in Badaber near Peshawar were shot to death by unknown gunmen on Wednesday morning. No one has claimed responsibility yet.[12]

  • A hand grenade attack on a house in the Manghopir area of Karachi on Thursday killed one person and injured two. The same attackers had earlier been firing indiscriminately in the area.[13]

  • A 25-year-old activist with the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) was shot dead in the old city area of Karachi on Wednesday.[14]

  • A man riding a motorcycle was shot and killed by two attackers on another motorcycle in Karachi’s Landhi locality on Wednesday.[15]

  • Workers and supporters of the Pakistani Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) staged a sit-in on Wednesday in front of the FTC building in Karachi in protest against the earlier killing of a PML-N leader and his father in Karachi. Later, the protesters attended the men’s funerals.[16]

  • At a ceremony for presenting checks to the families of killed and wounded Levies soldiers on Wednesday, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Barrister Masood Kausar promised that in the future, security forces in the tribal areas would be provided with standard training and equipment to help them better deal with militant threats.[17]

  • Two roadside blasts in Charsadda targeting commemorations of the death anniversaries of Khudai Khidmatgar founder Khan Abdul Ghaffar and his son Awami National Party (ANP) leader Khan Abdul Wali Khan went off on Wednesday, wounding no one and causing no property damage.[18]

Investigating Drones

  • The United Nations announced on Thursday that it would launch an inquiry into targeted killings attributed to U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan and other countries in the Middle East and Africa including their legality and impact on civilians. The investigation is part of a broader mandate granted to UN Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson to investigate human rights violations while countering terrorism. The inquiry comes at the request of Pakistan and several other nations citing violations of sovereignty. During a news conference addressing the UN investigation, a Pakistani Foreign Office spokesman labeled the attacks as illegal.[19]

Indo-Pak Relations

  • Pakistani Minister of State for Commerce Abbas Khan Afridi reported on Thursday that Pakistan is committed to granting India Most Favored Nation (MFN) status by next month, after missing its previous December 31 deadline for the designation. The move is expected to boost cross-border commerce to $6-7 billion. A Foreign Office spokesman reiterated the assertion, adding that he hopes any future problems will be solved through dialogue.[20]

  • On Wednesday, Kashmir Committee Chairman and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman stated that the settlement of the Kashmir issue is the most important step towards a good relationship between Pakistan and India. He pointed out improvements in many other realms, but said they will produce no result unless the Kashmir dispute is solved.[21]

Election Preparation

  • On Wednesday, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) formally asked for the help of the Pakistan Army in carrying out the Supreme Court’s orders to delimitate constituencies in Karachi and verify voter lists ahead of upcoming national elections. The ECP is concerned about their employees’ safety and asked the military to provide security to go door-to-door with them. So far, the army has only provided “general” security, which the ECP claims makes its task impossible given the level of violence in the city.[22]

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

  • Lt. Gen. James Terry, Deputy Commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said at a Pentagon briefing on Wednesday that the U.S. and Pakistan are “moving away from the tense phase with Pakistan” and praised Pakistan and Afghanistan’s improving cooperation.[23]


[1] “Security agencies holding 700 over terror links: Irfan Qadir,” The Express Tribune, January 24, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/498488/security-agencies-holding-700-over-terror-links-irfan-qadir/
“Pakistan admits holding 700 militant suspects without trial,” BBC, January 24, 2013. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-21181410
Zarar Khan, “700 alleged militants held in limbo in Pakistan,” Yahoo! News, January 24, 2013. Available at http://news.yahoo.com/700-alleged-militants-held-limbo-pakistan-090635267.html
[2] “Officials in KP asked to ensure detainees meet with families,” The News, January 24, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-156187-Officials-in-KP-asked-to-ensure-detainees-meet-with-families
[3] Sohail Khan, “It seems NAMs credibility buried with Kamran Faisals body: SC,” The News, January 24, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-20466-It-seems-NABs-credibility-buried-with-Kamrans-body:-SC
[4] Zahir Shah Sherazi, “Pakistani Taliban vow to attack “BJP-backed terror camps in Kashmir”,” Dawn, January 24, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/23/pakistani-taliban-vow-to-attack-bjp-backed-terror-camps-in-kashmir/
[5] “52 militants killed, 459 held in 2012: KP police,” The News, January 24, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-156189-52-militants-killed,-459-held-in-2012:-KP-Police
[6] “Fazlur Rehman offers to mediate talks with Taliban,” Geo, January 24, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=85154
[7] “Six mortar shells land in Peshawar,” The News, January 24, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-156203-Six-mortar-shells-land-in-Peshawar
[8] “Mortar attacks injure two children in Peshawar,” Dawn, January 24, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/24/mortar-attacks-injure-two-children-in-peshawar/
[9] “School blown up in Charsadda,” The News, January 24, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-156200-School-blown-up-in-Charsadda
[10] “Terror suspect’s house demolished in Mohmand agency,” The News, January 24, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-156198-Terror-suspects-house-demolished-in-Mohmand-Agency
[11] “Prayer leader among two killed in Hangu mosque,” The News, January 24, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-156199-Prayer-leader-among-two-killed-in-Hangu-mosque
[12] “Four tribesmen shot dead near Peshawar,” The News, January 24, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-20482-Four-tribesmen-shot-dead-near-Peshawar
[13] “1 killed, 2 injured in Karachi hand grenade attack,” The Express Tribune, January 24, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/498485/1-killed-2-injured-in-karachi-hand-grenade-attack/
“One killed, two hurt in n Manghopir hand grenade attack,” Geo, January 24, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=85125
[14] “MQM man shot dead in old city area,” Dawn, January 24, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/24/mqm-man-shot-dead-in-old-city-area/
[15] “MQM man shot dead in old city area,” Dawn, January 24, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/24/mqm-man-shot-dead-in-old-city-area/
[16] “MQM man shot dead in old city area,” Dawn, January 24, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/24/mqm-man-shot-dead-in-old-city-area/
[17] “Tribal security forces assured of standard training, equipment,” Dawn, January 24, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/24/tribal-security-forces-assured-of-standard-training-equipment/
[18] Faiz Muhammed, “Twin blasts in Charsadda create panic among people,” Dawn, January 24, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/24/twin-blasts-in-charsadda-create-panic-among-people/
[19] “US drone strikes in Pakistan to go under UN microscope,” The Express Tribune, January 24, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/498523/us-drone-strikes-in-pakistan-to-go-under-un-microscope/
“UN to probe legality of drone strikes in Pakistan, other countries,” Dawn, January 24, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/24/un-to-probe-legality-of-drone-strikes-in-pakistan-other-countries/
“Drone attacks illegal: Foreign Office spokesman,” Geo, January 24, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=85153
[20] Zahid Gishkori, “Pakistan likely to grant MFN status to India next month, Senate told,” The Express Tribune, January 24, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/498503/pakistan-likely-to-grant-mfn-status-to-india-next-month-senate-told/
“Pakistan committed to granting India MFN status: FO,” Dawn, January 24, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/24/pakistan-committed-to-granting-india-mfn-status-fo/
[21] “Fazl links peace to Kashmir settlement,” Dawn, January 24, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/24/fazl-links-peace-to-kashmir-settlement/
[22] Ahmad Noorani, “ECP wants army to help in door-to-door voter verification,” The News, January 24, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-20470-ECP-wants-army-to-help-in-door-to-door-voter-verification
[23] Anwar Iqbal, “US, Pakistan are moving out of tense phase,” Dawn, January 24, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/24/us-pakistan-are-moving-out-of-tense-phase/