Pakistan Security Brief - January 31, 2011

 

Pakistani government: No decision on Davis extradition; Blackberry maker requested to cease service to foreign missions; Washington Post: Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal doubled; Kurram truce collapses; Operations launched against militants in Mohmand; Militant attacks in Khyber; LI commander kidnapped; Mountain peaks in Bajaur regained; Twin truck bombings in Kohat; Blasts in Peshawar; 40,000 rally against reform of blasphemy laws; Sufi faction rallies behind Qadri; Five NATO tankers torched; Explosion in Quetta; Gas pipeline attacked near Dera Murad Jamali.

 

US-Pakistani Relations

  • The Pakistani government on Sunday announced that no decision has been made regarding the extradition of U.S. diplomat Raymond Davis, accused of shooting and killing two men in Lahore on Thursday. The president’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar said, “It is wrong to say that at this stage the government has decided to send Davis to the US. The government will not sit quiet on the shooting of our nationals. The law will take its own course and investigations are still going on. Legal process will be observed and respected.” U.S. officials have claimed that Davis possesses diplomatic immunity as a member of the embassy staff; however, Dawn has reported that Davis traveled to Pakistan using an official/business visa. This information provides evidence to the claim made by ABC News, which identifies Davis as an employee of a private security contracting firm.[i]

  • On Monday, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) requested BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) to cease Blackberry service to foreign missions. The government had also previously banned the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), which permits users to send and receive secure email and is difficult for governments to intercept. Later on Monday however, the government retracted its earlier decision to restrict service, though the reasoning behind the withdrawal is unclear.[ii]

 

Nuclear Arsenal

  • A report by the Washington Post on Monday has revealed that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal now totals more than 100 weapons, a doubling of its supply over the last four years. According to the article, U.S. officials evaluate Pakistan's weapons program with the same resources used by outside specialists--satellite photographs of installations, estimates of fissile-material production, and public statements. The report highlights U.S. fears of proliferation and potential terrorist efforts to seize the weapons. Brigadier General Nazir Butt, defense attaché at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, said that," Pakistan lives in a tough neighborhood and will never be oblivious to its security needs. As a nuclear power, we are very confident of our deterrent capabilities." The article additionally reports that the stockpile has edged ahead of India’s, which is currently estimated to be between 60 and 100.[iii]

 

FATA

  • Two days after a truce between warring Sunni and Shia tribes and the Taliban brokered by a grand tribal jirga, militants violated the peace agreement by attacking a village in Kurram on Saturday. The accord had called for the reopening of the Thall-Parachinar Road, but Taliban militants blocked the highway when a convoy attempted to pass through Bagan village in Lower Kurram on Saturday. According to sources, clashes have spread throughout the agency, resulting in six tribesmen and two Taliban attackers being injured in the fighting over the weekend. An elders’ council of Shia tribesmen said that the attacks are a part of state-sponsored terrorist activity, and accused the Frontier Corps of pressuring the tribe into providing shelter to the Haqqani group. The elders declared that they would not shelter Haqqani in Upper Kurram.[iv]

  • Nearly sixty militants were killed this weekend in separate operations in Mohmand Agency. On Friday, Pakistani fighter jets bombed insurgent hideouts, resulting in the death of twenty-eight militants. Senior local administration official Maqsood Amin said that thirty militants were also wounded in the bombing and eight safe houses destroyed. Nine more rebels were killed on Saturday in Mohmand after security forces began an air attack which targeted terrorists' hideouts in Inzarai, Sagi, and Awrdewazgi. On Sunday, twenty-two militants were killed in separate operations by security forces in Mohmand and elsewhere in Orakzai Agency.[v]

  • Four people were injured on Saturday after militants launched rockets in the Bara market of Khyber Agency. The attack followed an incident earlier on Saturday that resulted in the deaths of two people after a security forces’ convoy was attacked by militants.[vi]

  • A Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) commander and his bodyguards were kidnapped on Friday from Gagrina base. According to local sources, Ghuncha Gul Zakhakhel and his bodyguards were taken hostage from his home and transported to an unknown location by an unidentified rival group.[vii]

  • On Saturday, security forces in Bajaur Agency claimed that they had regained control of strategic mountain peaks in the sub-district of Nawagai. Military sources said that operations against militants began on Thursday, and targeted militant hideouts with gunship helicopters and artillery. In the three days of operations, fifteen militants were killed and 100 arrested.[viii]

 

Violence in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

  • Five people were killed and nineteen sustained injuries in twin truck bombings on Friday. The explosions targeted a major tunnel that connects Peshawar to the city of Kohat. Local administration officials said that in the first attack, "an explosive-laden truck entered the tunnel and blew up, badly damaging another truck behind it, wounding five people.” In the second bombing, an oil tanker filled with explosives hit a joint paramilitary Frontier Corps and army checkpoint on the exterior of the tunnel.[ix]

  • A suicide blast in Peshawar on Monday resulted in the deaths of four people, including a senior police official. A local police official said, “The suicide bomber targeted a police van, which was severely damaged. The DSP (deputy superintendent of police) on board and his three guards were killed on the spot.” Three hours later, a police patrol hit a roadside bomb, which killed one policeman and injured three others.[x]

 

Governor Taseer’s Assassination and Fallout

  • Over 40,000 people rallied in Lahore on Sunday in protest against the reform of blasphemy laws in the country. Protesters from various religious parties carried signs in support of Mumtaz Qadri, the bodyguard who assassinated Governor Taseer for his campaign to reform the laws. The brothers of the two Pakistani men killed by U.S. national Raymond Davis were also brought to the stage, while event organizers announced their support in pursuing a murder case against Davis.[xi]

  • A report by the Washington Post on Saturday draws attention to increased support for Mumtaz Qadri by an unlikely sect—an anti-Taliban school of Islam. Since the assassination of Governor Taseer in early January, the peace-promoting Sufi faction has organized mass rallies in support of Qadri. The article also points to the potential of more-extremist Islamic groups exploiting the assassination to win the Barelvis to their cause; namely that killing in defense of religion is justified.[xii]

 

Blasts in Balochistan

  • Two NATO tankers were torched in Bolan on Friday by unidentified militants. The vehicles were carrying supplies for International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) in Afghanistan. The gunmen offloaded the people on board, set the vehicles on fire, and then fired at the tankers before escaping. Three additional NATO tankers were torched on Sunday near the town of Wadh after delivering supplies to NATO troops in Afghanistan.[xiii]

  • Seven people were injured after a bomb exploded in Quetta on Saturday. Local officials said that the target of the blast was SP Investigation Shaban Ali, though he escaped from the scene unhurt.[xiv]

  • A gas pipeline was blown up near Dera Murad Jamali on Sunday night after unidentified militants detonated a bomb attached to the pipe. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.[xv]

 

 


[i] "No decision yet to hand over Davis to US: Babar," Dawn, January 30, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/01/31/arrested-us-national-does-not-have-diplomatic-visa-documents.html
[ii] “Pakistan to cut Blackberry service for foreign missions,” Dawn, January 31, 2011. Available at  http://www.dawn.com/2011/01/31/pakistan-to-cut-blackberry-services-for-foreign-missions.html
[iii] Karen DeYoung, “New estimates put Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal at more than 100,” Washington Post, January 31, 2011. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/30/AR2011013004136.html
[iv] "Fighting erupts in Kurram after truce," Dawn, January 30, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/01/31/fighting-erupts-in-kurram-after-truce.html
[v] “Security forces kill 28 militants in Mohmand Agency,” Dawn, January 28, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/01/29/security-forces-kill-28-militants-in-mohmand-agency.html
[vi] "Eight killed, 18 injured in unrest in northwest," Express Tribune, January 29, 2011. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/110936/twin-truck-bombings-kill-eight-injure-14-in-kohat/
[vii] Ashrafuddin Pirzada, "LI commander, guards kidnapped," The News, January 30, 2011. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=28496&Cat=7
[viii] “Strategic peaks in Bajaur regained,” The News, January 30, 2011. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=28493&Cat=7
[ix] "Twin bombings in Kohat tunnel; 5 dead," GEO, January 29, 2011. Available at http://www.geo.tv/1-29-2011/77743.htm
[x] “Four killed in Peshawar suicide blast,” Sify, January 31, 2011. Available at http://www.sify.com/news/four-killed-in-peshawar-suicide-blast-news-international-lb5nEffgbbh.html
[xi] "Thousands rally in Lahore over blasphemy law," Dawn, January 30, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/01/30/thousands-rally-in-lahore-over-blasphemy-law.html
[xii] Karin Brulliard,“In Pakistan, even anti-violence Islamic sect lauds assassination of liberal governor,” Washington Post, January 29, 2011. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/29/AR2011012904706_pf.html
[xiii] “Two Nato tankers torched in Bolan,” Dawn, January 28, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/01/28/two-nato-tankers-torched-in-bolan.html
[xiv] "Huge blast hits Quetta, injures several," GEO, January 29, 2011. Available at http://www.geo.tv/1-29-2011/77755.htm
[xv] “Gas pipeline blown up near Dera Murad Jamali,” Dawn, January 31, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/01/31/gas-pipeline-blown-up-near-dmg.html