Pakistan Security Brief - May 2, 2013

One dead and two wounded in Afghanistan-Pakistan border skirmish; NCMC director blames Afghanistan-based miltiants for inciting election violence; Two schools-cum-polling stations blown up; Plans for election security unveiled; U.S. delegation lauds Pakistani anti-terrorism efforts; Eight militants killed in Orakzai; Four militants killed, five wounded in Tirah valley; Suspected suicide bomber arrested in Shahdadkot; Imran Khan says Taliban not responsible for Bhutto's death, promises an end to “military operation” in Balochistan; JUI-F chief is against using force to counter terrorism; Musharraf questioned in connection with Bugti death; ECP Commissioner expresses concerns over free elections in current security climate; Four wounded in election violence in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa; Indian prisoner dies in Pakistani hospital, India calls for justice; Two bomb plots foiled; Four injured in Karachi rickshaw explosion; Torkham border crossing reopened.

Pak-Afghan Relations

  • Clashes along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border resulted in the death of an Afghan border policeman and wounding of two Pakistani soldiers on Wednesday night. The cross-border shooting lasted for two hours, and while Afghanistan claims it was initiated by Pakistani troops fortifying a border checkpost in a disputed area, Pakistan claims a Pakistani checkpoint was attacked. The controversial checkpost was reportedly partially damaged in the incident. In response, Pakistan's foreign office summoned Afghanistan's envoy to lodge a complaint. The incident sparked anti-Pakistan outrage and protests in Jalalabad and Kabul, Afghanistan.[1]

  • The director general of the Pakistani Interior Ministry’s National Crisis Management Cell claimed on Wednesday that militant groups based in Afghanistan were responsible for many election-related attacks in Pakistan. He added that many other attacks, particularly in Sindh and Balochistan were the result of political rivalries, rather than terrorism.[2]

  • The Torkham border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan reopened on Wednesday after being closed on Tuesday morning due to an Afghan policeman “manhandling” a Khassadar force personnel. Afghan officials apologized and said such an incident will not happen again.[3]

Elections and Domestic Politics

  • On Thursday, Spokesman for the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Khursheed Alam on Thursday outlined the security measures being planned for the upcoming polls. He said that Pakistan will deploy 600,000 security personnel, including policemen, paramilitary forces and soldiers, to ensure a peaceful election on May 11. Fifty helicopters will be used to provide air security. The army will also be responsible for delivering ballots from the printing press to polling stations. At least five security personnel will be deployed at each “normal” polling station, seven at each “sensitive” station, and ten at “highly sensitive” stations, with additional troops stationed nearby to respond to any incident.[4]

  • In an address on Thursday to the ECP in Islamabad, Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim said that it will be difficult to hold a free and fair election in Pakistan's current security climate, despite the ECP's detailed security plans.[5]

  • Investigators with the Balochistan police questioned former military ruler Pervez Musharraf for four hours on Thursday regarding the death of Baloch separatist and senior political figure Nawab Akbar Bugti in 2006.[6]

  • Dr. Shakil Afridi's case was adjourned on Thursday until June 13, due to commissioners' other duties related to the upcoming elections.[7]

  • Speaking with British newspaper The Daily Telegraph on Tuesday, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan asserted that the Pakistani Taliban was not responsible for Benazir Bhutto's 2007 assassination, as investigators currently believe, but rather by people “worried she was going to come into power”. He did not give any source for his claim.[8]

  • Addressing a public meeting on Wednesday, Imran Khan made a series of promises for if he wins the election, including increased education spending and, notably, an end to the “military operation” in Balochistan.[9]

  • Maulana Fazlur Rehman, head of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) party, addressed a rally in Taunsa Sharif, Punjab on Wednesday saying he is against the use of force against terrorists and that political means are the only way of tackling terrorism.[10]

Election Violence

  • In continuing election-related violence, four people, including the nephew of the Awami National Party’s (ANP) PK-30 provincial seat candidate Haji Iltaf Gul, were injured when their car was attacked by gunmen in Mardan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.[11]

  • Bomb disposal squads in Peshawar foiled two plots on Wednesday targeting candidates of the ANP and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), disarming bombs planted near the office of one candidate and the house of another.[12]

  • Two schools designated as polling stations were blown up in Quetta on Thursday. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.[13]

Militancy

  • On a Thursday raid on a hotel, police in Shahdadkot arrested a suspected suicide bomber and recovered explosives and a suicide vest.[14]

  • Four were injured in Karachi on Thursday when a rickshaw exploded. It is thought that the blast was a gas cylinder exploding.[15]

  • Eight militants were reportedly killed in Orakzai agency on Wednesday as jet fighters bombarded their hideouts.[16]

  • On Wednesday evening, Pakistani jets targeted TTP hideouts in the Khyber agency part of the Tirah valley. Pakistani officials claim they killed four militants, injured five, and destroyed three hideouts.[17]

Indo-Pak Relations

  • Sarabjit Singh, an Indian prisoner on death row in Lahore for involvement in bomb attacks in Punjab province in 1990, died in the hospital on Thursday of head wounds after being attacked by fellow inmates on April 26. The incident has strained diplomatic relations, with India claiming it was not given access to, or information about, Singh, whose family maintains his innocence. Pakistan has arrested and charged the two inmates allegedly involved.[18]

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

  • In a meeting on Wednesday between an American Congressional Delegation, the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan and the Pakistani Defense Secretary, the delegation lauded Pakistan for its efforts in countering terrorism and discussed issues relating to regional security.[19]


[1]“Pakistan, Afghan forces in high-stakes clash along border,” The Chicago Tribune, May 2, 2013. Available at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-pakistan-afghanistanbre94107a-20130501,0,3433132.story
“Pakistan summons Afghan envoy over border clash,” Dawn, May 2, 2013. Available at http://www.beta.dawn.com/news/795172/pakistan-afghan-forces-clash-along-border-injuring-soldiers
Yaroslav Trofimov, “Afghan, Pakistani Forces Clash,” The Wall Street Journal, May 2, 2013. Available at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324266904578458101275857288.html
[2]Syed Irfan Raza, “Attacks plotted in Afghanistan, claims ministry,” Dawn, May 2, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/02/attacks-plotted-in-afghanistan-claims-ministry/
[3]“Torkham border reopens after Afghan apology,” The News, May 2, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-22623-Torkham-border-reopens-after-Afghan-apology
[4]“Pakistan to deploy 600,000 security personnel for May 11 election against Taliban attacks,” The Washington Post, May 2, 2013. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/pakistan-to-deploy-600000-security-personnel-for-may-11-election-against-taliban-attacks/2013/05/02/92ab245e-b30c-11e2-9fb1-62de9581c946_story.html
 “Army to deploy 70,000 troops for election security: DG ISPR,” Dawn, May 2, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/02/army-to-deploy-70000-troops-for-election-security-dg-ispr/
Azam Khan, “Nine days to go: ECP spells out election security plan,” The Express Tribune, May 2, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/543382/nine-days-to-go-ecp-spells-out-election-security-plan/
[5] “Deteriorating security may compromise fair polls: CEC,” Dawn, May 2, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/02/deteriorating-security-may-compromise-fair-polls-cec/
[6]“Musharraf questioned in Bugti murder case,” Dawn, May 2, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/02/musharraf-questioned-in-bugti-murder-case/
[7] Zahir Shah Sherazi, “Dr Shakil Afridi's case adjourned until June 14,” Dawn, May 2, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/02/dr-shakil-afridi-case-adjourned-until-june-14/
[8] “Benazir was not killed by Taliban: Imran,” Dawn, May 2, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/01/benazir-was-not-killed-by-taliban-imran/
[9]“Imran promises to end 'operation' in Balochistan,” Dawn, May 2, 2013. Available at http://beta.dawn.com/news/795174/imran-promises-to-end-operation-in-balochistan
[10]Tariq Saeed Birmani, “JUI-F opposes use of force against terrorists,” Dawn, May 2, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/02/jui-f-opposes-use-of-force-against-terrorists/
[11]Zahir Shah Sherazi, “Three people injured in Mardan attack,” Dawn, May 2, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/01/three-people-injured-in-mardan-attack/
[12]Zahir Shah Sherazi, “Two attacks on election candidates in Peshawar foiled,” Dawn, May 2, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/01/two-attacks-on-election-candidates-in-peshawar-foiled/
[13]“Two polling stations in Balochistan blown up: Police,” The Express Tribune, May 2, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/543462/two-polling-stations-in-balochistan-blown-up-police/
[14]“Police arrest suspected suicide bomber from Shahdadkot,” The Express Tribune, May 2, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/543464/police-arrest-suspected-suicide-bomber-from-shahdadkot/
[15] “Blast in Karachi kills one, injures four,” Dawn, May 2, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/02/blast-in-karachi-injures-five-reports/
[16] “Eight militants killed in Orakzai,” Dawn, May 2, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/02/eight-militants-killed-in-orakzai-10/
[17]“Four militants killed, five injured in Tirah strikes,” Dawn, May 2, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/01/four-militants-killed-five-injured-in-tirah-strikes/
[18]“Pakistan charges two with Sarabjit's murder, India demands 'justice',” The Express Tribune, May 2, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/543452/india-demands-justice-from-pakistan-over-sarabjits-death/
“Convicted Indian spy dies in Pakistan after being attacked by inmates with a brick,” The Washington Post, May 2, 2013. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/convicted-indian-spy-dies-in-pakistan-after-being-attacked-by-inmates-with-a-brick/2013/05/01/244c9d00-b2a1-11e2-9fb1-62de9581c946_story.html
[19]“US delegation lauds Pak role in fight against terror,” Dawn, May 2, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/02/us-delegation-lauds-pak-role-in-fight-against-terror/