Pakistan Security Brief - May 8, 2013

Nawaz Sharif intends to improve ties with India; Imran Khan injured after fall at rally but expected to recover completely; New poll shows PTI and PML-N very close; 18 killed in Northwestern Pakistan election-related bomb blasts; Two killed in blast targeting ANP; Karachi officer requests reinforcements for Election Day; Kayani urges cooperation for security on Election Day; Gunmen open fire on PTI target; Four injured in attack on PML-N candidate; Three killed in suicide attack on police station; Two killed by IED in Hangu; Militants release 13 hostages; Bomb targeting NATO convoy defused; negotiations with Taliban “necessary” says senior politician; ECP: All ballots have been printed, many distributed; 6,000 Frontier Corps to be stationed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; Two power lines blown up, 17 districts in Balochistan without power; Pakistan rejects claims that Pakistani soldiers crossed into Afghanistan; Musharraf's trial temporarily adjourned; Pakistani U.N. peacekeeper killed in Congo.

Indo-Pak Relations

  • Candidate for prime minister Nawaz Sharif told the press on Wednesday that if elected, he will work to improve ties with India by not allowing militant groups to attack India from Pakistan. He also promised to open investigations into whether state intelligence agencies were involved with the 2008 Mumbai attacks and the Musharraf's Kargil military “adventure”.[1]

Domestic Politics

  • Imran Khan, leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, fractured his vertebrae and a rib and required stitches to his head when he fell 15 feet from a platform at a rally in Lahore on Tuesday. He is in stable condition and doctors say he is expected to make a full recovery, though they advised a week of bed rest. Khan gave a speech from his hospital bed, calling to “change the destiny of our children.” Khan will not be able to cast his vote in his home constituency of Mianwali. His party will continue to campaign without him, and he reportedly intends to resume political activities as soon as he is able, while addressing rallies via video link in the meantime. Nawaz Sharif suspended campaigning for a day in solidarity with Khan.[2]

  • Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, leader of the Qaumi Watan Party, said in an interview that the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) must be negotiated with, and criticized the Awami National Party (ANP) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) for failing to do so and thus missing an opportunity for peace. Despite having been the target of three attacks, Sherpao is reportedly in favor of joining with any party in a coalition to reach out to the TTP.[3]

  • A Pakistani poll shows that 95 percent of respondents are registered to vote and that the top three parties are competing very closely. According to the results, 25.68 percent of respondents intend to vote for the Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N), 24.98 percent for the PTI, and 17.74 percent for the PPP. However, another survey of experts on Pakistan's electoral politics predicts that the PML-N will come in first place, followed by the PPP and then PTI.[4]

  • The results of a poll by the Pew Research Center in March were released on Wednesday, showing that 91percent of Pakistanis are dissatisfied with the direction of the country. Fourteen percentsaw President Asif Ali Zardari favorably, whereas 66 percent said the same for Nawaz Sharif and 60 percent for Imran Khan. Concern over the Taliban is high, with 49 percent of the 1,201 people surveyed saying the TTP is a “very serious threat.” Only 11 percent view the U.S. in a positive light.[5]

  • According to an Election Commission of Pakistan official on Tuesday, all 180 million ballots have been printed under the security of the Pakistan Army. Seventy percent have already been sent to presiding officers, and the rest will be by Wednesday.[6]

  • Contradictory statements from Musharraf's defense about whether or not he intends to keep the same lawyers caused his trial to be adjourned on Wednesday until the following day.[7]

Election Violence

  • At least 18 people were killed in three separate bomb blasts targeting political rallies on Tuesday in Doaba, Hangu district, Timergara, Lower Dir district and Swabi district, in Khyber-Pakhtunlkhwa. In Doaba, the attack on the religious party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) killed 12 people and wounded 35. Another on the secular PPP in Timergara killed five including a local PPP leader, and the third on the Awami Jamhoori Ittehad Pakistan (AJIP) in Swabi killed one and wounded three. About 100 people have been killed in election-related violence since the beginning of April, the Washington Post reports.[8]

  • Two people were killed and one injured in a blast near the Awami National Party (ANP) election office in Bajaur tribal region on Wednesday.[9]

  • A report by the Associated Press describes the effects of the election on the security situation in Balochistan. Extremist separatist groups are threatening to kill those who vote, while Baloch nationalist parties claim that the only way to get representation in Islamabad is through electing Baloch candidates to the legislature. A spokesman for the Baloch Nationalist Party claims “we are attacked from all sides,” with Baloch separatists targeting the party for participating in elections and military “death squads” allegedly targeting them for their separatist sentiments.[10]

  • Six thousand men of the paramilitary Frontier Corps will be stationed in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa during elections for additional security against militant attacks. 3,000 of them have already been sent to the region, with the rest to follow before Election Day.[11]

  • In a meeting of security forces and ECP officials in Karachi, Army Chief of Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani urged cooperation between military and intelligence branches to ensure law and order on election day as the details of security arrangements were discussed.[12]

  • On Tuesday, unknown gunmen opened fire in Begumpura, Punjab, either at a PTI election office or at the adjacent house belonging to a PTI supporter. No injuries were reported.[13]

  • Shahid Shafi, a Karachi District Returning Officer, wrote a letter on Wednesday to the provincial government requesting further security for the region on election day, particularly Rangers and armed personnel at all polling stations. Officials and polling staff in the area have reportedly been receiving threats and harassment.[14]

  • Four people were injured on Wednesday in Gandawah, Balochistan when assailants targeted the convoy of PML-N candidate Amir Aziz Kurd.[15]

Militancy

  • Two women and one policeman were killed in Bannu district when a suicide bomber drove his explosives-laden car into a barrier outside a police station on Wednesday. Twenty-seven others with injuries were taken to a hospital. The blast destroyed the police station and several nearby houses.[16]

  • In Hangu on Wednesday, two people died and eleven were injured when an improvised explosive device (IED) on a handcart detonated in a marketplace.[17]

  • A bomb planted near the house of an independent candidate from Bajaur agency was found and defused on the road in Peshawar on Wednesday. Separately, another bomb reportedly targeting NATO supply convoys was also defused in Peshawar.[18]

  • Militants set free 13 people on Tuesday whom they had held in the Tirah valley, Khyber agency for 15 months, including laborers, a soldier, and employees of a public utility. Some reports suggest authorities freed 17 militants in exchange, but this information has not been corroborated.[19]

  • Militants blew up two power transmission lines in Balochistan on Tuesday, resulting in seventeen districts losing power, including Quetta. Officials say that repair work cannot be begun because of the poor law and order situation.[20]

Afghan-Pakistan Relations

  • A spokesman for the Pakistan Army’s Inter Services Public Relations on Tuesday denied Afghan officials' allegations that Pakistani troops had crossed the border in Goshta area.[21]

  • Pakistani officials expressed “serious concern” on Tuesday over rising border tensions after Afghan forces allegedly wounded five Frontier Constabulary soldiers in cross-border shelling and Afghan President Hamid Karzai made public statements allegedly calling on the Afghan Taliban to help put pressure on Pakistan. Pakistani officials said that any further escalations along the border would be Afghanistan's fault, and a spokesman for the Foreign office urged restraint and communication in the matter.[22]

Other

  • A Pakistani peacekeeper was killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo in an ambush on a U.N. convoy on Tuesday evening by Congolese rebels. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon strongly condemned the attack and offered his sincerest condolences to the family of the victim and the government of Pakistan.[23]


[1] Michael Georgy, “Pakistan's Sharif calls for warmer ties with India,” Reuters, May 8, 2013. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/08/us-pakistan-election-idUSBRE94704U20130508
 “Nawaz for Kargil probe if elected,” Dawn, May 8, 2013. Available at http://beta.dawn.com/news/812519/nawaz-for-kargil-probe-if-elected
[2] “Prominent Pakistani politician expected to make full recovery despite 3 broken vertebrae,” The Washington Post, May 8, 2013. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/bombs-targeting-people-involved-in-pakistan-election-kill-18-pushing-death-toll-over-100/2013/05/08/48d09862-b796-11e2-b568-6917f6ac6d9d_story.html
Declan Walsh, “Pakistani Sports-Star-Turned-Candidate Is Injured in Fall,” The New York Times, May 7, 2013. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/08/world/asia/pakistani-sports-star-turned-candidate-imran-khan-hurt-in-fall.html?_r=0
 “Imran Khan advised one-week rest: Hospital,” The Express Tribune, May 8, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/546078/imran-khan-advised-one-week-rest-hospital/
Zaheer Babar and Munir Ahmed, “Leading Pakistan Politician Falls, Injures Skull,” ABC News, May 7, 2013. Available at http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/leading-pakistani-politician-injured-stage-fall-19125012#.UYqMpbuXR8Z
 “Imran to address public meeting through video-link,” Dawn, May 8, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/08/imran-says-feels-better-would-not-be-able-to-cast-vote/
 “Imran Khan not to attend rally, will address via video-link,” The Express Tribune, May 8, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/546089/imran-khans-recovery-will-be-based-on-further-testing-doctor-says/
 “PML-N suspends campaign for a day,” Dawn, May 7, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/08/pml-n-suspends-campaign-for-a-day/
 “Love him or hate him, but everyone said #PrayersForImranKhan,” The Express Tribune, May 7, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/545645/love-him-or-hate-him-but-everyone-said-prayersforimrankhan/
[3] Qaiser Butt, “Sherpao says TTP must be negotiated with,” The Express Tribune, May 8, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/546005/sherpao-says-ttp-must-be-negotiated-with-front-page/
[4] Saba Fatima Mirza and Faiza Shah, “Herald exclusive: PML-N, PTI are neck and neck,” Dawn, May 8, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/08/herald-exclusive-pml-n-pti-are-neck-to-neck/
[5] “Vast majority of Pakistanis dissatisfied: poll,” Dawn, May 7, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/07/vast-majority-of-pakistanis-dissatisfied-poll/
[6] Iftikhar A. Khan, “Dispatch of ballot papers underway, says ECP,” Dawn. Available at http://beta.dawn.com/news/812518/dispatch-of-ballot-papers-under-way-says-ecp
[7] “Musharraf treason case: SC hearing adjourned as defence contradicts itself,” Dawn, May 8, 2013. Available at http://www.beta.dawn.com/news/812655/musharraf-treason-case-sc-hearing-adjourned-as-defence-contradicts-itself
[8] Richard Leiby, “Pakistan election violence targets both secular, Islamist politicians,” The Washington Post, May 8, 2013. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/pakistan-election-violence-targets-both-secular-islamist-politicians/2013/05/07/c307eab4-b74f-11e2-b568-6917f6ac6d9d_story.html
 “18 killed as bombs, firing target candidates in KP,” The News, May 8, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-22724-18-killed-as-bombs,-firing-target-candidates-in-KP
Alex Rodriguez, “Pakistan bombing again targets Islamist party,” The Los Angeles Times, May 7, 2013. Available at http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-pakistan-election-20130508,0,4450848.story
[9] Zahir Shah Sherazi, “Blasts in Hangu and Bajaur kill four,” Dawn, May 8, 2013. Available at http://www.beta.dawn.com/news/812673/blast-in-hangu-injures-six
[10] Sebastian Abbot, “Violent Separatists Seek to Derail Pakistan Vote,” Time, May 6, 2013. Available at http://world.time.com/2013/05/06/violent-separatists-seek-to-derail-pakistan-vote/
Katharine Houreld, “In Pakistan's Baluchistan, death squads and rebels overshadow vote,” Reuters, May 8, 2013. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/08/us-pakistan-election-baluchistan-idUSBRE94709I20130508
[11] “6,000 FC soldiers to assist KP police during polls,” The News, May 8, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-176053-6,000-FC-soldiers-to-assist-KP-police-during-polls
[12] M. Waqar Bhatti, “Kayani stresses teamwork to ensure security on polling day,” The News, May 8, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-22727-Kayani-stresses-teamwork-to-ensure-security-on-polling-day
 “Kayani wants implementation of plan for poll security,” Dawn, May 8, 2013. Available at http://beta.dawn.com/news/812517/kayani-wants-implementation-of-plan-for-poll-security
[13] “'PTI poll office' attacked,” Dawn, May 7, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/08/pti-poll-office-attacked/
[14] “DRO requests deployment of armed forces in Karachi,” Dawn, May 8, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/08/dro-requests-deployment-of-armed-forces-in-karachi/
[15] “Gunmen target PML-N candidate in Jhal Magsi; four injured,” Dawn, May 8, 2013. Available at http://beta.dawn.com/news/812689/gunmen-target-pml-n-candidate-in-jhal-magsi-four-injured
[16] “Two dead; 23 wounded in Bannu suicide attack: Officials,” The Express Tribune, May 8, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/546066/two-dead-23-wounded-in-bannu-suicide-attack-officials/
Zahir Shah Sherazi, “Three killed in suicide car bomb attack on Bannu police station,” Dawn, May 8, 2013. Available at http://beta.dawn.com/news/812573/one-dead-15-wounded-in-bannu-suicide-attack-officials
[17] Zahir Shah Sherazi, “Blasts in Hangu and Bajaur kill four,” Dawn, May 8, 2013. Available at http://www.beta.dawn.com/news/812673/blast-in-hangu-injures-six
[18] Zahir Shah Sherazi, “Bomb aimed at targeting Nato supply defused,” Dawn, May 8, 2013. Available at http://beta.dawn.com/news/812650/bomb-aimed-at-targeting-nato-supply-defused
[19] “Soldier, Pesco employees among 13 hostages freed by militants,” The News, May 8, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-22729-Soldier,-Pesco-employees-among-13-hostages-freed-by-militants
[20] Syed Ali Shah, “Militants disrupt power supply in Balochistan,” Dawn, May 7, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/08/militants-disrupt-power-supply-in-balochistan/
[21] “No Pakistani troops crossed into Afghan territory: ISPR,” The News, May 8, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-176069-No-Pakistani-troops-crossed-into-Afghan-territory:-ISPR
[22] Mariana Babaar, “Pakistan protests as Karzai raises the dead Durand Line issue, seeks Taliban help,” The News, May 8, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-176048-Pakistan-protests-as-Karzai-raises-the-dead-Durand-Line-issue,-seeks-Taliban-help
[23] “Pakistani peacekeeper killed in eastern Congo: U.N.,” Reuters, May 8, 2013. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/08/us-congo-democratic-un-idUSBRE94709X20130508
“Pakistan peacekeeper killed in DR Congo ambush: UN,” The Express Tribune, May 8, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/546070/pakistan-peacekeeper-killed-in-dr-congo-ambush-un/