Pakistan Security Brief - May 21, 2012

Agreement between U.S. and Pakistan on NATO supply routes remains elusive; Secretary Panetta says U.S. “not likely” to pay higher fees to Pakistan for NATO supply trucks; President Zardari meets with Secretary Clinton at NATO summit; NATO leaders say Pakistan has “important role” in Afghanistan; Pakistan allows four trucks carrying diplomatic supplies to cross into Afghanistan; Pakistan shuts down Twitter temporarily; String of killings in Karachi; Firefight between rival militant groups in Khyber Agency; “Nearly 460 schools” damaged in FATA; Turkmenistan to sign agreement on TAPI pipeline on Wednesday; PML-N likely to boycott dinner in honor of Turkish prime minister; Sixteen missing persons in custody of security agencies.

NATO

Twitter Ban

  • Pakistan’s telecommunication regulators shut down Twitter for approximately eight hours on Sunday, because the site would not remove content that the Pakistani government found “objectionable” to Muslims. The ban was lifted when Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani ordered Pakistan’s Ministry of Information Technology to restore access to the site on Sunday night. The “objectionable” tweets allegedly urged participation in “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day” on May 20, a campaign that has been denounced by Muslims worldwide for encouraging “blasphemous” depictions of Islam’s prophet.[7] 

Militancy

  • On Sunday, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government released a presentation, “Continuing Militancy, Challenge & Response,” outlining its new, comprehensive strategy to combat militancy in the province. At a cabinet meeting, federal and provincial officials agreed that force alone “is not the answer” and that, once foreign troops left Afghanistan, the Taliban in Afghanistan would push militants in Pakistan to take on the Pakistani state. While details of the strategy were not released, officials sought to move beyond the previous 3-D strategy (Development, Deterrence, and Dialogue) and described the new strategy as pushing state institutions and government departments to work in a “concerted and coordinated manner” in which Pakistan would learn from other nations, attempt to “squeeze finances to militant organizations,” and “mobilize all government departments.”[8]

  • Schools in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have been the target of militant bombings, reports the Washington Post. In recent years, “nearly 460 schools have been damaged or destroyed” in the FATA, with many more schools hit in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. Hundreds of schools, most of them for girls, have not been rebuilt, with Pakistani authorities relying on non-governmental organizations to address the issue. Although Pakistani military operations are taking place in all seven of the tribal districts, militant bombings continue, with the Washington Post attributing them to Islamic extremists who want to “eradicate any form of secular education provided by the state and not adhering to fundamentalist beliefs.”[9]     

  • A string of killings in Karachi on Saturday and Sunday added 11 deaths to the 15 reported dead on Friday. On Saturday, four were reported dead in the areas of Essa Nagri, Yousuf Goth, and Baldia, two of which Dawn attributed to shootings from unknown assailants. Four additional people sustained bullet injuries. A Sindh police spokesperson said one of the deaths was a targeted killing while four were the result of personal enmity. Geo News reports that police, after obtaining information about the presence of “target killers” in the area on Saturday, conducted raids that led to the arrest of four and recovery of arms and drugs. On Monday, six more people were killed in Karachi—one after being tortured, the others resulting from incidents of firing.[10] 

  • A firefight between rival militant groups in Khyber Agency early Monday resulted in five people dead and five more injured. The two groups, Lashkar-e-Islam and Ansarul Islam, have frequently clashed in the Sanda Pal area of Tirah Valley, which is under the influence of militants, including the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.[11] 

  • Following a Pakistani security operation in the Swabi district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Sunday, one militant was killed, two injured, and another arrested. The operation, targeting a seminary run by Maulana Mujtaba, resulted in the arrest of Mujtaba, two teachers, and eleven students belonging to the seminary.[12]

  • Unidentified militants blew up a government school in the Swabi district Saturday night. Three improvised explosive devices had been planted at the school, two of which were detonated while the third was safely defused.[13] 

  • Imtiaz Rasool, chief warden of Quetta’s district jail, was shot and killed by unidentified men on a motorbike near the jail on Saturday.[14] 

  • Punjabi Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif admitted that the southern flank of the province was a breeding ground for militants, reversing the government’s previous denial of militancy in the area. He credited extreme poverty and ignorance for driving the local militancy, calling for a solution that improves socio-economic conditions in the area.[15]  

Protest

  • On Sunday, journalists in Quetta protested against the murder of Razzaq Gul, a journalist for Express News, whose bullet-riddled body was found near his home in Turbat, Balochistan on Saturday. According to a statement released by the Balochistan Union of Journalists, 21 journalists have now lost their lives “in the line of duty” in Balochistan. The protesters called on the government to investigate Gul’s murder and to increase its efforts to protect journalists in Balochistan.[16]

Energy

International Relations

  • The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) announced on Monday that it would boycott a dinner hosted by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in honor of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, because it did not recognize Gilani, who has been convicted of contempt of court, as prime minister. The Express Tribune reported that the PML-N seemed conflicted over its decision to boycott the dinner, since PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif and his family have had good relations with the Turkish prime minister. Adding to the confusion over the PML-N’s expected course of action, senior PML-N leaders claimed they would attend the session because Erdogan is an “honoured guest.” Erdogan is expected to address a joint session of Pakistan’s parliament before the dinner on Monday.[18]

Internally Displaced Persons

  • A United Nations spokesperson stated on Friday that since the resumption of Pakistani security operations in January, 232,390 people have been displaced. He noted that UN humanitarian agencies would need $169 million to help internally displaced Pakistanis living in Mohmand, Bajaur, South Waziristan, and Orakzai.[19] 

Missing Persons

  • Pakistani Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry issued summons for several governmental figures, including the defense and interior secretaries, the prime minister, and Balochistan’s principal secretaries, to discuss a petition concerning the law and order situation and human rights conditions in Balochistan. In addition to the targeting killings of journalists, Chaudhry commented on the non-recovery of missing persons, including 16 missing persons currently in the custody of security agencies.[20]  

       



[1] Helene Cooper and Matthew Rosenberg, “Supply Lines Cast Shadow at NATO Meeting on Afghan War,” New York Times, May 20, 2012. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/21/world/two-critical-ties-in-play-for-obama-at-nato-meeting.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1
David S. Cloud and Kathleen Hennessey, “At NATO summit, warm welcome for most leaders, but not Pakistan's,” Los Angeles Times, May 20, 2012. Available at http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-nato-summit-20120521,0,3696577.story?page=1
David S. Cloud, “Panetta to confront Pakistan at NATO summit on transport costs,” Los Angeles Times, May 19, 2012. Available at http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-panetta-interview-20120519,0,2864210.story
[2] Huma Imtiaz, “Pakistan seeks US help to get over Salala, but per parliament's guidelines,” Express Tribune, May 21, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/381930/pakistan-seeks-us-help-to-get-over-salala-but-per-parliaments-guide-lines/
Huma Imtiaz, “NATO summit: Zardari meets Clinton, Karzai,” Express Tribune, May 19, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/381229/nato-summit-zardari-en-route-to-chicago/
[3] “Pakistan looking for 'positive conversation' on Nato routes in Chicago: Sherry Rehman,” APP, May 20, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/381547/pakistan-looking-for-positive-conversation-on-nato-routes-in-chicago-sherry-rehman/
[4] Huma Imtiaz, “‘Pakistan has important role to play in Afghanistan's stability, security,’” Express Tribune, May 21, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/381980/working-with-pakistan-to-reopen-nato-supply-as-soon-as-possible/
[5] “Four trucks carrying supplies for US cross Torkham,” Dawn, May 19, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/05/19/four-trucks-carrying-supplies-for-us-crosstorkham/
[6] “NATO supply restoration: DPC to march from Karachi to Islamabad,” PPI, May 19, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/381274/nato-supply-restoration-dpc-to-march-from-karachi-to-islamabad/
[7] Richard Leiby, “Pakistan blocks, then restores, Twitter access,” Washington Post, May 20, 2012. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/pakistan-blocks-then-restores-twitter-access/2012/05/20/gIQAPqBPdU_story.html
[8] Ismail Khan, “New Khyber Pakhtunkhwa strategy to eradicate militancy,” Dawn, May 20, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/05/21/new-khyber-pakhtunkhwa-strategy-to-eradicate-militancy/
[9] Michele Langevine Leiby, “Pakistani schools targeted by militants,” Washington Post, May 21, 2012. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/pakistani-schools-targeted-by-militants/2012/05/21/gIQAvDP1eU_story.html
[10] “Karachi: 11 people killed in last 24 hours,” Geo News, May 20, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=49930
“Four dead as violence continues in Karachi,” Dawn, May 19, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/05/20/four-dead-as-violence-continues-in-karachi/
“Two bodies found in Karachi,” Geo News, May 19, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=49856
“Six killed in Karachi violence,” Dawn, May 21, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/05/21/six-killed-in-karachi-violence/
[11] “5 killed, 5 injured in clash between rival militants groups,” Express Tribune, May 21, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/382005/5-killed-5-injured-in-clash-between-rival-militants-groups/
[12] “Militant killed in Swabi encounter,” Dawn, May 20, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/05/21/militant-killed-in-swabi-encounter-2/
[13] “Militant killed in Swabi encounter,” Dawn, May 20, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/05/21/militant-killed-in-swabi-encounter-2/
[14] “Chief warden district jail shot dead,” Dawn, May 19, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/05/19/chief-warden-district-jail-shot-dead/
[15] “South a militant breeding ground: Shahbaz,” Dawn, May 19, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/05/19/south-a-militant-breeding-ground-shahbaz/
[16] Shehzad Baloch, “Protest over murder of journalist Razzaq Gul,” Express Tribune, May 21, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/381842/protest-over-murder-of-journalist-razzaq-gul/
[17] “Turkmens close to gas deal on trans-Afghan pipeline,” Reuters, May 21, 2012. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/21/gas-turkmenistan-idUSL5E8GL0RA20120521
[18] “PML-N to boycott Gilani’s dinner for Turkish prime minister,” AFP, May 21, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/382010/pml-n-to-boycott-gilanis-dinner-for-turkish-prime-minister/
Zia Khan, “Turkish premier’s visit: PM’s dinner invite leaves rivals in disarray,” Express Tribune, May 21, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/381883/turkish-premiers-visit-pms-dinner-invite-leaves-rivals-in-disarray/
[19] “UN agencies seek $169m for new IDPs,” Dawn, May 18, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/05/19/un-agencies-seek-169m-for-new-idps/
[20] “Balochistan unrest case: SC summons interior, defence secretaries,” Dawn, May 21, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/05/21/balochistan-unrest-case-sc-summons-interior-defence-secretaries/
“Balochistan unrest: ’16 mission persons in the custody of agencies,’” Express Tribune, May 21, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/382009/balochistan-unrest-16-missing-persons-in-the-custody-of-agencies/