Pakistan Security Brief - May 9, 2013

Former prime minister’s son abducted; Imran Khan to address final rally via video link; Taliban leader's letter detailing plans for election attacks obtained by press; Afghan border police seek improves weaponry in fight against Pakistan; ANP withdrawing Sindh candidates; Peshawar High Court orders compensation of drone victims; Zardari approves absentee voting; IMF bailout for Pakistan likely; Copper company drops mining plans, seeks compensation; political violence continues across country; Pamphlets in North Waziristan warn women not to vote; Army finalizes security plans for Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, tribal areas; 96,000 security personnel deployed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and tribal regions; Zardari complains to about security at rallies; Pakistani prisoner dies in Indian custody; Two TTP-affiliated militants arrested; Three police injured in blast in Dera Ismail Khan; Handout from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police reports on anti-militant crackdown; Three killed in gun battle between militants and security forces; Five Levies personnel kidnapped in Balochistan; Four killed in blast targeting police station; 19 injured in Hangu Bazaar blast.

Election Violence

  • Ali Haider Gilani, Punjab provincial assembly candidate for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and son of former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, was abducted by gunmen on Thursday as he was on his way to a political gathering in the city of Multan. According to police, Yousaf Raza Gilani was the original target of the attack, rather than his son. Ali Haider's brother, also a politician, said he would not let elections take place until his brother was recovered. Gilani's secretary and guard were killed in the attack, and eyewitnesses reported that Gilani was hit by a bullet. No one has claimed responsibility, but the elder Gilani said he blames his political opponents. Unsubstantiated reports claim that Gilani is now in the Kabirwala area in Khanewal district. Since the abduction, party officials have complained about rules against carrying weapons at rallies and a lack of security for candidates.[1]

  • On May 1, Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud sent a letter to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) spokesman that was obtained by Reuters on Thursday. The letter reportedly outlines plans for disrupting Saturday's election, using tactics including suicide attacks.[2]

  • Two motorcyclists were fatally shot by Awami National Party (ANP) candidate Syed Masoom Shah's bodyguard on Wednesday in Battagram when they passed while Shah was giving an address without stopping for inspection by the guard.[3]

  • On Wednesday, three explosives devices were detonated in Peshawar and two others were defused. A total of four people were killed. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), and ANP were targeted.[4]

  • The Director General of the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said on Wednesday in a statement focusing on General Kayani's security meeting that people should vote without fear and behave as though they were in a secure law and order situation, because of the army's all-out efforts to maintain peace on Election Day.[5]

  • Pamphlets signed “Mujahideen” were distributed in North Waziristan on Wednesday warning women not to vote, calling the act “disgraceful” and threatening punishment for anyone influencing a woman to vote.[6]

  • On Wednesday, the army reportedly finalized its security plans for the regions of Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and the tribal areas. No details were given, but according to Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asim Bajwa, the army's command had “expressed satisfaction” at a meeting regarding security arrangements. Ballot papers have been supplied to all election officers under army supervision. Also on Thursday, Pakistan Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani received a letter from Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G. Ibrahim asking for additional forces at sensitive polling stations, as he reportedly found the current number inadequate.[7]

  • An attack by unidentified gunmen on a PML-N convoy targeting politician Mohammed Akbar Askani on Thursday in Turbat, Balochistan killed two people and injured three.[8]

  • An explosion targeting the office of an independent politician in North Waziristan agency killed one person and injured three more on Thursday, though the candidate himself remained unharmed.[9]

  • Ninety-six thousand security personnel, including 22,000 Pakistan Army soldiers, have been deployed across Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the tribal regions as part of plans to ensure peaceful elections on Saturday.[10]

  • An IED hidden in a car detonated early Thursday morning in the Mehmoodabad area of Karachi, wounding 20, all of whom are in stable condition. The owner of the car and three others have been arrested. “Ongoing electioneering” was reportedly the target of the attack, although media outlets differ on whether there were election offices in the area.[11]

  • One PML-N party member was wounded when shooting broke out at a rally for the party's candidate Rana Mashood in Lahore on Wednesday.[12]

  • President Asif Ali Zardari reportedly wrote a letter to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on April 30, voicing concerns over the security situation in which some parties have been able to campaign without fear of attack, whereas others, including his own PPP, have repeatedly been targeted by militant groups. Zardari alleged a “biased attitude” on the part of the ECP and threatened “disturbing consequences” if the problem was not resolved.[13]

Domestic Politics

  • A Wednesday report by the New York Times on political handouts in the Pakistani government system highlights the patronage PPP politician and former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani bestowed upon his home city city of Multan, and discusses whether even reformist politicians such as Imran Khan could end the practice of coaxing a region's votes with jobs and expensive infrastructure projects.[14]

  • The Washington Post reported on Wednesday on the challenges the PPP is facing in its electoral campaign. Political events have had to be small and quiet because large events run the risk of being attacked by militants. The party’s chairman, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, at 24, is too young to run and has been attending rallies via video link due to fears over his security. However, according to the report, the party is still expected to come in second because of a strong following in Sindh province and sympathy for the party’s late scions, former prime ministers Zulfiqar Bhutto and his daughter Benazir.[15]

  • Pakistanis of minority religions, including Shia Muslims, Ahmedis, Christians, and Hindus, reportedly have little faith in upcoming elections improving their lot. Many mainstream politicians, an Associated Press report claims, campaign alongside extremist Sunni Muslims to court the conservative vote. Interviews with those of minority religions revealed that many consider their lot to be better under dictators, who impose tighter law and order. Analysts expect Islamists to win more votes than they did in the last elections five years ago, which could make relations with the U.S. more difficult as well as relations between religious groups within Pakistan.[16]

  • Maulana Samiul Haq, leader of the party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Sami (JUI-S), asked Pakistanis to vote for “honest leadership”, in contrast to the current ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). He accused the PPP of enslaving Pakistan to the U.S. and being detrimental to national security. Haq is the leader of a madrassa in northwest Pakistan infamous for its ties to the Taliban and other extremist organizations.[17]

  • In a statement on Thursday, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief and conservative politician Maulana Fazlur Rehman encouraged women to vote on Saturday, saying that participation is a “natural obligation” and that his party considers women equal in all walks of life. He particularly reached out to women in the tribal areas, in order to “contribute to the welfare” of Pakistan.[18]

  • The Awami National Party (ANP) announced on Wednesday that it is withdrawing all its candidates in Sindh, except in Karachi and Hyderabad, in favor of the PPP. However, ANP leaders say they will compete “with zeal” in Karachi and Hyderabad, and that they will continue their alliance with the PPP to strengthen democracy, extradite terrorism, and restore peace.[19]

  • PTI leader Imran Khan may take four weeks to recover completely from his fall, according to a senior orthopedic surgeon at Jinnah Hospital on Wednesday, and is advised to stay in bed for two to three days. In the meantime, he will address his party's final rally on Thursday in Islamabad via video-link.[20]

  • On Thursday, the High Court of Peshawar found drone strikes in Pakistani territory illegal and equal to war crimes, and the government to pay compensation to victims of the attacks.[21]

  • President Asif Ali Zardari approved an ordinance on Thursday allowing for absentee voting for overseas Pakistanis. The ordinance comes too late, however, to allow overseas Pakistanis to vote in polls to take place on Saturday.[22]

Economy

  • The Financial Times reports on Wednesday on the economic issues the newly elected government will have to face, most notably a power crisis costing 3-4 percent of GDP per year and a possible balance of payments crisis that may require a rescue package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in excess of $5 billion.[23]

  • The IMF is considering a bailout of around $5 billion for Pakistan to keep the country from having to default in about six months. Though Pakistan has a patchy record of paying back loans and the IMF is asking for reforms including ending energy subsidies and improving tax collection, Reuters reports that the loan is very likely to come through.[24]

  • The Tethyan Copper Company, jointly owned by the Chilean Antofagasta and the Canadian Barrick Gold Corporation, will seek compensation through international arbitration from the Pakistani government for a project to mine copper and gold in Balochistan's Reko Diq mine that was scuppered after Tethyan was denied a mining license from the government of Balochistan. With $260 million invested since 2006, the project would have been Pakistan's largest single source of foreign direct investment in mining.[25]

Militancy

  • Police reported on Wednesday to have arrested two TTP-affiliated militants in Bamkhel, Swabi district who were planning on attacking a political party. Police also seized a motorcycle and weapons. One suspect was reportedly from Swabi district and the other from Mardan, and both were reportedly trained in Bara sub-district of Khyber agency and Miram Shah, North Waziristan agency.[26]

  • An IED on Wednesday in Dera Ismail Khan injured three police constables when they passed by the device planted by the roadside, on their way to the site of another blast that injured no one.[27]

  • A handout from the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa police distributed on Wednesday claimed that the force had rounded up thousands of “hardcore” prisoners and seized large quantities of weapons and ammunition through raids in the region in the last 15 days.[28]

  • Two policemen and one woman were killed in Peshawar during a gun battle between militants and security forces on Wednesday, during which a suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest and collapsed the house in which the militants were taking refuge. Two other suicide vests were defused and two other militants are in police custody.[29]

  • An IED targeting a Levies station in Balochistan detonated, demolishing the station on Wednesday. In the aftermath of the explosion, five Levies personnel were kidnapped by militants.[30]

  • Four people were killed in a blast targeting a police station in the Nusrat Khel area of Mansehra, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on Thursday.[31]

  • At least 19 people were injured on Wednesday in Hangu Bazaar when an explosive device planted in a hand cart detonated.[32]

Afghanistan-Pakistan Relations

  • In the wake of border tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan, Afghan border police have asked their government to send them more and better weapons to compete with Pakistan's heavy artillery and tanks that had allegedly destroyed several Afghan outposts recently in Goshta district of Nangarhar province.[33]

Indo-Pak Relations


[1]Michael Georgy, “Ex-Pakistan PM's son abducted as Taliban threaten election,” Reuters, May 9, 2013. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/09/us-pakistan-election-idUSBRE94807320130509
Owais Jafri, “Former PM Gilani's son kidnapped in Multan,” The Express Tribune, May 9, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/546483/one-killed-five-injured-in-firing-at-ppp-multan-rally/
 “Gunmen abduct Pakistan ex-PM Gilani's son at election rally,” BBC, May 9, 2013. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22462410
 “Pakistani officials: gunmen seize former Prime Minister Gilani's son during election rally,” The Washington Post, May 9, 2013. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/pakistani-officials-gunmen-seize-former-prime-minister-gilanis-son-during-election-rally/2013/05/09/1ca03984-b889-11e2-b568-6917f6ac6d9d_story.html
[2] Michael Georgy, “Ex-Pakistan PM's son abducted as Taliban threaten election,” Reuters, May 9, 2013. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/09/us-pakistan-election-idUSBRE94807320130509
[3] “ANP candidate's bodyguard shoots dead two bike riders,” The News, May 9, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-176264-ANP-candidates-bodyguard-shoots-dead-two-bike-riders
[4] “Four killed in election-related violence,” The News, May 9, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-22738-Four-killed-in-election-related-violence
[5] Munawar Hasan and Mushtaq Yusufzai, “People should vote without fear: ISPR,” The News, May 9, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-22736-People-should-vote-without-fear:-ISPR
[6] “Women in Waziristan warned not to vote,” The Express Tribune, May 8, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/546242/women-in-waziristan-warned-not-to-vote/
[7] “Army finalizes security plans for Punjab, K-P, tribal areas,” The Express Tribune, May 9, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/546391/army-finalises-security-plans-for-punjab-k-p/
 “Election security plan is inadequate, CEC tells Kayani,” The Express Tribune, May 9, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/546481/election-security-plan-is-inadequate-cec-tells-kayani/
[8] “2 dead as PML-N's convoy attacked in Turbat,” The Express Tribune, May 9, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/546469/1-dead-as-pml-n-candidates-convoy-attacked-in-turbat/
Syed Ali Shah, “Attack on PML-N rally in Turbat kills two,” Dawn, May 9, 2013. Available at http://beta.dawn.com/news/813876/attack-on-pml-n-rally-in-turbat-kills-two
[9] “Bomb attack outside candidate's office kills 1 in N Waziristan,” The Express Tribune, May 9, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/546507/bomb-attack-on-election-rally-kills-1-in-north-waziristan/
[10] Zahir Shah Sherazi, “Army unveils security plan for polls in Fata and KPK,” Dawn, May 8, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/08/army-unveils-security-plan-for-polls-in-fata-and-kpk/
[11] Faraz Khan, “Blast in Karachi injured 18,” The Express Tribune, May 9, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/546324/explosion-in-mehmoodabad-injures-three-people/
 “Blast injures at least 20 in Karachi's Mehmoodabad,” Dawn, May 8, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/09/blast-heard-near-karachis-mehmoodabad/
[12] “Firing at PML-N rally in Lahore,” Dawn, May 8, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/09/firing-at-pml-n-rally-in-lahore/
[13] Syed Irfan Raza, “ECP, presidency at loggerheads over security, PPP allegations,” Dawn, May 9, 2013. Available at http://beta.dawn.com/news/812706/ecp-presidency-at-loggerheads-over-security-ppp-allegations
[14] Declan Walsh, “In Pakistan, Patronage's Roots Run Deep,” The New York Times, May 8, 2013. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/09/world/asia/patronages-roots-run-deep-as-pakistan-faces-vote.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0
[15] “Running without a Bhutto: Pakistan's ruling party struggles in run up to election,” The Washington Post, May 8, 2013. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/running-without-a-bhutto-pakistans-ruling-party-struggles-in-run-up-to-election/2013/05/08/247e39b8-b810-11e2-b568-6917f6ac6d9d_story.html
[16] Kathy Gannon, “Pakistan's minorities have no faith in democracy,” SFGate, May 8, 2013. Available at http://www.sfgate.com/news/crime/article/Pakistan-s-minorities-have-no-faith-in-democracy-4493630.php#page-1
 “Hard-line Islamists with anti-US agenda set to benefit in Pakistani elections,” The Washington Post, May 9, 2013. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/hard-line-islamists-with-anti-us-agenda-set-to-benefit-in-pakistan-elections/2013/05/09/50cd2dd8-b871-11e2-b568-6917f6ac6d9d_story.html
[17]  “JUI-S chief asks people to vote for honest leaders,” The News, May 9, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-176265-JUI-S-chief-asks-people-to-vote-for-honest-leaders
[18] “Women should cast vote: Maulana Fazl,” The News, May 9, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-176290-Women-should-cast-vote:-Maulana-Fazl
[19] Asif Mahmood, “ANP withdraws Sindh candidates in PPP favour,” Dawn, May 8, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/08/anp-withdraws-sindh-candidates-in-ppp-favour/
[20] Asif Choudary and Mansoor Malik, “Imran to make video address today,” Dawn, May 9, 2013. Available at http://beta.dawn.com/news/812707/imran-to-make-video-address-today
[21] Zahir Shah Sherazi, “PHC declares drone strikes illegal, orders govt to compensate victims,” Dawn, May 9, 2013. Available at http://beta.dawn.com/news/813875/phc-declares-drone-strikes-illegal-orders-govt-to-compensate-victims
[22] “President issues ordinance approving overseas voting,” Dawn, May 9, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/09/president-signs-ordinance-approving-overseas-voting/
[23] Victor Mallet, “Pakistan poll winner faces huge economic challenges,” The Financial Times, May 8, 2013. Available at http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/c1765972-b7ec-11e2-9f1a-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2SnjiAMB9
[24] Katharine Houreld, “IMF likely to be next Pakistan government's first stop,” Reuters, May 9, 2013. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/09/us-pakistan-election-economy-idUSBRE9480A820130509
[25] “Tethyan drops Pakistan project, will seek damages,” Wall Street Journal, May 8, 2013. Available at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324244304578471132363025400.html?KEYWORDS=pakistan
[26] “Police claim arresting two militants in Swabi,” The News, May 9, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-176274-Police-claim-arresting-two-militants-in-Swabi
[27] “Three cops injured in DI Khan blast,” The News, May 9, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-176305-Three-cops-injured-in-DI-Khan-blast
[28] “KP police claim thousands of hardcore criminals held,” The News, May 9, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-176289-KP-police-claim-thousands-of-hardcore-criminals-held
[29] Zahir Shah Sherazi, “Three killed in Peshawar gunbattle between militants and police,” Dawn, May 8, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/08/two-killed-in-peshawar-gunbattle-between-militants-and-police-continue/
[30] Syed Ali Shah, “Armed men attack levies station in Balochistan,” Dawn, May 8, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/08/armed-men-attack-levies-station-in-balochistan/
[31] “Blast in Mansehra kills four,” Dawn, May 9, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/09/blast-near-election-rally-in-waziristan-kills-one/
[32] “19 injured in Hangu blast,” The News, May 9, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-176304-19-injured-in-Hangu-blast
[33] Hamid Shalizi, “Afghan police demand weapons amid simmering tension with Pakistan,” Reuters, May 9, 2013. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/09/us-afghanistan-pakistan-border-idUSBRE9480LK20130509
[34] Fayaz Bukhari, “Pakistani prisoner dies in India after revenge beating,” Reuters, May 9, 2013. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/09/us-pakistan-india-prisoner-idUSBRE94805F20130509
 “Pakistani prisoner attacked in Indian jail dies: hospital official,” Dawn, May 9, 2013. Available at http://beta.dawn.com/news/812842/pakistani-prisoner-attacked-in-indian-jail-dies-hospital-official