Pakistan Security Brief - March 21, 2013

Car bomb in Nowshera kills 17 refugees; U.S. military to take over drone program; Funding to Pakistan questioned; Gunmen open fire, wounding soldiers in Kashmir; Zardari says TAPI pipeline is a primary goal; U.S. releases al Qaeda planning letter; Rangers arrest two TTP and one LeJ members in Karachi; Military increasing operations against TTP in Tirah valley; Pakistan opposes India entry to NSG; ECP will set up 80,000 polling stations; Rangers arrest seven in Karachi; Karzai lashes out at Pakistan; Armed clash in Karachi; Two MQM members killed in Karachi; Tortured man found dead in Karachi; Police seize explosives in Nowshera; Supreme Court to resume hearing on Karachi law and order.

Militancy

Military Actions

  • According to an Express Tribune article, the Pakistani military is increasing its offensive against the TTP and Lashkar-e-Islam, a TTP ally, in the Tirah valley, Khyber agency.  The military is imposing curfews and increasing air strikes in the valley, and is shelling militant strongholds from areas surrounding the valley.  The majority of the shelling and bombing is “concentrated on Tirah, the town of Bara and Ghalio,” to prevent militants from escaping to Orakzai. [6]

Drones

  • On Tuesday, three senior U.S. officials stated that the White House is considering a plan that would formally merge the CIA’s and U.S. military’s drone programs, giving the military operational control over targeting. According to the officials, shifting operational control to the military is an attempt to increase accountability and create clear standards for lethal operations. However, this shift away from CIA strikes and towards engaging local partners in targeting will not impact the CIA-run drone program in Pakistan for the moment. [7]

Al Qaeda Letter

  • On Wednesday, CNN reported on a 2010 letter written by senior al Qaeda operative Younis al-Mauretani to Osama bin Laden describing a “detailed al Qaeda strategy for attacking targets in Europe and the United States.”  U.S. special forces found the letter at bin Laden’s compound when they raided it in 2011. The letter explains how “soft” targets, including infrastructure such as gas and oil lines, dams, internet cables, and social events like parades, were all prospective targets of al Qaeda attacks. [8]

Education Funding

  • According to an article published by Fox News, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas will propose a bill on Tuesday that will halt education aid to Pakistan. Poe asked why the U.S. is funding education in Pakistan during the sequester while the U.S. military is forced to cut back tuition assistance for U.S. troops. [9]

Elections

  • The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will set up approximately 80,000 polling stations nationwide. According to an ECP official, a polling station will be set up every 2km during elections scheduled for May. [10]

India

TAPI gas pipeline

Afghan-Pakistan Relations

  • On Wednesday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai accused Pakistanis of killing and imprisoning Taliban members who want to pursue a peace process, further deteriorating relations between the two countries. His accusation came just days after Karzai accused the U.S. of having secret talks with the Taliban in Qatar.  Karzai also said that the Taliban could no longer conduct attacks into Afghanistan from Pakistan, adding that it was the presence of foreigners in Afghanistan that had made it weak in responding to cross-border attacks. [13]

Karachi Law and Order


[1] “Blast at Jalozai camp in Nowshera kills eight,” Express Tribune, March 21, 2013.  Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/524209/blast-at-jalozai-camp-in-nowshera-kills-eight/
“Blast kills 17 at Pakistani camp for displaced people,” Reuters, March 21, 2013.  Available at www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/21/us-pakistan-bomb-idUSBRE92K08W20130321
“Car bomb at Pakistani refugee camp kills 13,” Yahoo News, March 21, 2013.  Available at http://news.yahoo.com/car-bomb-pakistani-refugee-camp-kills-13-104204837.html
[2] “Gunmen ambush Kashmir patrol, Indian police,” Express Tribune, March 21, 2013.  Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/524202/gunmen-ambush-kashmir-patrol-indian-police/
[3]“Police arrest three alleged terrorists from Karachi,” Express Tribune, March 21, 2013.  Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/524293/police-arrest-three-alleged-terrorists-from-karachi/
“Rangers arrest seven in Karachi raids,” The News International, March 21, 2013.  Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-93181-Rangers-arrest-seven-in-Karachi-raids
[4] “Two armed groups clash in Karachi,” The News International, March 21, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-93109-Two-armed-groups-clash-in-Karachi
“Two MQM activists among nine gunned down,” The News International, March 21, 2013.  Available at www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-4-166512-Two-MQM-activists-among-nine-gunned-down
“5 fall prey to violence,” Pakistan Today, March 20, 2013.  Available at http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2013/03/20/city/karachi/5-fall-prey-to-violence/
[5] “Explosives seized,” The News International, March 21, 2013.  Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-21731-Explosives-seized
[6] “Military may target TTP in Tirah valley,” Express Tribune, March 21, 2013.  Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/524238/military-may-target-ttp-in-tirah-valley/
[7] ““Exclusive: No More Drones for CIA,” The Daily Beast, March 21, 2013. Available at  http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/03/19/exclusive-no-more-drones-for-cia.html
“U.S. to Shift Drone Command,” Wall Street Journal, March 20, 2013.  Available at  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324103504578372703357207828.html
[8] “New Qaeda document,” CNN, March 20, 2013.  Available at http://edition.cnn.com/2013/03/20/world/new-qaeda-document/index.html
[9] “Rep blasts higher ed aid to Pakistan, as military suspends US tuition assistance,” Fox News, March 21, 2013. Available at http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/03/19/rep-blasts-higher-ed-aid-to-pakistan-as-military-suspends-us-tuition-assistance/#ixzz2O6DfWIex
[10] “ECP to set up 80,000 polling stations nationwide,” Express Tribune, March 21, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/523797/ecp-to-set-up-80000-polling-stations-nationwide/
[11] “Nuclear states divided on India joining export control group,” Reuters, March 20, 2013.  Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/20/us-nuclear-suppliers-india-idUSBRE92J13220130320
[12] “Pakistan calls for early implementation of TAPI project,” The News, March 21, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-21728-Pakistan-calls-for-early-implementation-of-TAPI-project
[13] “Blame game: Karzai unleashes fresh salvo against Pakistan,” Express Tribune, March 21, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/524120/blame-game-karzai-unleashes-fresh-salvo-against-pakistan/
[14] “SC to resume Karachi unrest case hearing today,” Geo, March 21, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=93186