Pakistan Security Brief - November 13, 2012

Haqqani Network says it would participate in peace talks if directed by Mullah Omar; Afghan reconciliation negotiations begin this week; Cross-border shelling kills four Pakistani civilians in S. Waziristan; Pakistan wants all insurgent groups to participate in negotiations; U.S. still considering cooperating in U.N. probe on drone strikes; Senior Afghan Taliban member shot in Quetta; Militant bombs, gunfire in FATA and Peshawar kill seven, wound four; Quetta explosion kills two, wounds nine; Gadani grenade attack injures five; Bajaur elders committed to fighting cross-border militant infiltration; Report claims TTP and LeJ are collaborating in Balochistan; Karachi violence kills at least 40 over weekend, Parliament issues dire warnings; India requests voice samples from 2008 Mumbai attackers; Pakistan re-elected to UNHCR; India agrees to Afghanistan calls for an increase in the training of their security forces; Bangladeshi Foreign Minister seeks apology from Pakistan for 1971 war crimes; PPP in Balochistan declares provincial government unconstitutional; Balochistan assembly session suspended; Karachi traders agree to be taxed by extortionists; PPP-led government yet to launch inquiry on election-rigging case; Government to reconsider YouTube ban.

Afghanistan

  • An anonymous spokesman for the Haqqani Network said on Tuesday that the Network would participate in the Afghan peace process if Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar led the efforts. The spokesman criticized the U.S. for trying to divide the Taliban, and said that any peace negotiations on the part of the Taliban had to be unified efforts. He added that the Network would still seek to implement a “purely Islamic government.”[i]

  • Top Afghan peace negotiator Salahuddin Rabbani arrived in Islamabad on Monday for a three-day visit to work on the Afghan reconciliation process. Rabbani will discuss “safe passage” travel options for Taliban leaders amenable to negotiations as well as engagement with Mullah Baradar, the Taliban’s former number two leader arrested in Karachi in 2010. Allegedly, Rabbani will also seek the release of all Taliban prisoners in Pakistan. Rabbani is due to meet with President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, and Pakistan’s military leadership as well.[ii]

  • Four civilians were killed in Nez Naarai village of Shawal area, South Waziristan on Monday after the village was struck by mortar rounds fired from Afghanistan. The Pakistani Foreign Ministry registered a protest with the Afghan Foreign Ministry, condemning the attack as “unhelpful and unproductive.”[iii]

  • Negotiations concerning the status of U.S. troops remaining in Afghanistan post-2014 are due to begin in Kabul on Thursday. A critical concern is whether or not U.S. troops will be granted immunity from prosecution in local courts. Officials have declined to comment further on negotiation topics to be discussed.[iv]

  • Pakistani Ambassador to Afghanistan Mohammed Sadiq said on Sunday that Pakistan is hoping to convince all Afghan insurgent groups, including the Haqqani Network, to engage in peace negotiations but that he is concerned that political parties opposed to the Taliban may hinder reconciliation efforts. Sadiq commented that “Afghans are much more united in wanting to join the reconciliation process than they were two years ago…But still there are very important people who fought against the Taliban and are [still] not…ready to talk and negotiate with the Taliban. And we are working with them." Sadiq also refuted accusations from Afghanistan that Pakistan uses groups such as the Haqqani Network as proxies to counter Indian influence in the region, and reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to bringing all armed parties to the negotiating table. He further added though that expectations of what Pakistan can actually do to influence the Taliban must be kept reasonable as “Pakistan and Taliban are not one party. We don't control them, we don't give them weapons, we do not give money to them."[v]

Drones

  • Talking to reporters on Monday, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said that the U.S. had not yet ruled out cooperating “with a pending U.N. probe into the Obama administration’s use of drone strikes.” The statements come right after the U.S. won a new spot on the U.N. Human Rights Council for the second time in a row on Monday. Rice said that the U.S.’s cooperation would depend on the merits of the work that probe produces.[vi]

Militancy

  • An eyewitness interviewed by the Daily Beast said that a senior leader of the Afghan Taliban in the Quetta Shura, Mullah Sayyid Ahmad Shahid Khel was shot in Quetta on Tuesday. Khel was reportedly followed from his madrassa by four men he had shared tea with earlier to a bazaar just outside of Quetta. They pulled up on motorcycles and opened fire on him, leaving him in critical condition in a hospital in Karachi. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but according to the report, Khel has many enemies. Some Afghan Taliban fear that National Directorate of Security (NDS) chief Asadullah Khalid may be planning a “shadow war against the Taliban in Pakistan,” and this targeting may be the beginning. Other Afghan Taliban suspect either the CIA, or even the TTP as being responsible for the attack.[vii]

  • Unknown militants placed a bomb outside of a tribal elder’s residence in the Laand Sayedabad area of Datta Khel, North Waziristan agency on Sunday. The blast killed the elder’s son and injured two others.[viii]

  • A bicycle bomb on Airport Road in Quetta, Balochistan killed two and injured nine, three of whom were Frontier Corps personnel, on Tuesday. The bomb was apparently targeting a Frontier Corps convoy traveling nearby.[ix]

  • In an exchange of gunfire on Sunday near Abshar Chowk, Bannu district, an Elite Force policeman and two “terrorists” were killed. According to security sources, one of the “terrorists” killed was the nephew of former Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Baitullah Mehsud.[x]

  • Unidentified gunmen broke into an American consulate security guard’s house in Sabi, Budhni near Peshawar on Friday, killing the guard along with his wife and one son. Two other family members were critically injured. Police have launched an investigation.[xi]

  •  A bomb exploded near former Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal leader Sabir Hussain Awan’s house in Tarnab Farm on the outskirts of Peshawar on Saturday. No casualties were reported; it is unclear who planted the device.[xii]

  • Unknown assailants threw a hand grenade at a bus stop in Gadani, Balochistan, injuring five people on Monday.[xiii]

  • Tribal elders in Nawagai sub-district of Bajaur agency affirmed on Sunday their commitment to repelling militants attempting to infiltrate across the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. They said they were fully aware of the risks and were committed to cooperating with security forces to root out militancy. Commandant of the Bajaur Scouts Col. Shakeel Janjua praised the work of the tribesmen in helping restore peace and order in some areas of the volatile border region, and reiterated that locals were responsible for maintaining peace in the area.[xiv]

  • According to a report by the Conflict Monitoring Centre Islamabad, the TTP’s Pashtun faction and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) have joined hands in Balochistan, jointly organizing violence in the province. Zhob district in Balochistan is reportedly under Taliban control now, and formerly secular individuals in the province have increasingly been turning towards extremism. The report also claims that the “Taliban are issuing orders to the local tribal Sardars.”[xv]

Law and Order in Karachi

  • At least 40 people have been killed in Karachi between Saturday and Monday in various incidents of violence around the city, many of whom were victims of targeted or sectarian killings according to security sources. Police have launched raids and search operations in numerous areas throughout the city. (ET, The News, Geo News)[xvi]

  • Karachi police arrested four members of banned terrorist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) in Manghopir on Tuesday, recovering 25kg of explosives, four hand grenades, two assault rifles, and other ammunition in the process. The four detainees confessed to involvement in over 15 terrorist acts.[xvii]

  • A member of the MQM in the National Assembly said on Monday that “talibanisation is at its height,” in Karachi. He urged President Asif Ali Zardari to implement order in the city. A Senator from the ANP said on Monday that five percent of attacks in Karachi were by Taliban, and that the other 95 percent were committed by other criminals.

  • On Tuesday, parliamentarians in both the Senate and Legislative Assembly harshly criticized the government for its incompetence in the face of rising violence in Karachi, and expressed concern that the situation in Karachi could become “like Balochistan or erstwhile East Pakistan.”  The Awami National Party (ANP) and the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) demanded that immediate military action be taken to stem the overall violence, while Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl vice president Maulana Attaur Rehman particularly emphasized the need to prevent sectarian violence targeting “the religious segment of society.” Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) member Sahibzada Fazal Karim admonished intelligence agencies for failing to act on the information they possess on the militants responsible for the violence in Karachi and Balochistan, despite receiving “billions of rupees to perform their duties.” [xviii]

Indo-Pakistani Relations

U.N.-Pakistan Relations

  • On Monday, Pakistan was re-elected to the U.N. Human Rights Council for a third time. Pakistan’s permanent representative to the U.N. Masood Khan reaffirmed that human rights were a key priority for Pakistan and that protection of human rights was ingrained in the Pakistani Constitution.[xx]

Indo-Afghan Relations

  • At a joint press conference with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on India to increase its investments in Afghanistan to help promote economic development and regional stability. India has already pledged $2 billion in aid to improve infrastructure and aid the government. India has already been granted mining rights to Afghanistan’s prime iron ore mines. Singh agreed to the request that also included an increase in the training of the Afghan security forces. Conscious of the fears that Pakistan has in regards to India’s involvement in Afghanistan, Karzai and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh only briefly discussed the security aspect of the agreement and focuses on the economic cooperation. [xxi]

Bangladeshi-Pakistani Relations

  • On Friday, Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Dipu Moni requested an apology from Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar for war crimes perpetrated by the Pakistan Army during Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence. Bangladeshi officials said nearly three million people were killed in the war, many of whom were killed by forces collaborating with Pakistan. Foreign Minister Khar responded that Pakistan had expressed its regret “in different forms in the past and that it was time to move forward.”[xxii]

Domestic Politics

  • A Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) provincial meeting decided to declare the Balochistan government unconstitutional on Tuesday. This step comes after the Supreme Court said that the government had failed in its principal constitutional responsibility of maintain law and order in the province.[xxiii]

  • Speaker of the Balochistan Assembly and acting governor Mohammad Aslam Bhootani “put on hold a session of the assembly convened by Governor Zulfiqar Ali Magsi on Tuesday.” Governor Zulfiqar Ali Masgi went abroad on leave on Monday, leaving Bhootani to assume the office of governor. The session was originally convened by Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani. Bhootani suspended the session to ask the Supreme Court about the “constitutional position of the Balochistan government and the chief minister in the light of the interim order issued by the court on Oct 12.” The interim order issued by the Supreme Court said that the Balochistan Government had failed in its principal constitutional responsibility of protecting its people and maintaining law and order. Bhootani is allegedly apprehensive to allow the session because he is worried that it may lead to him being “accused of committing contempt of court.”[xxiv]

  • According to a Geo report, traders in Karachi have agreed to a deal with local extortionists on Tuesday that requires them to pay Rs 500-Rs-1000 ($5-$10) a month in protection money. The traders said that they had no choice because the situation in Karachi is out of control. Chairman All Karachi Traders Ittehad Atiq Mir commented that, “despite the presence of police, extortionists were not deterred.”[xxv]

  • Despite harsh criticism of the PML-N after the Supreme Court released its verdict on the case concerning the rigging of the 1990 elections, the PPP-led government has yet to start an “FIA-led inquiry against politicians who were allegedly financed by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in the 1990 general elections.” The PPP leadership has reportedly been in contact with their coalition partners to seek their advice on whether they should launch the inquiry immediately or take it slowly. President Zardari said that the inquiry could possibly have “far-reaching political implications for the coalition partners.”[xxvi]

  • Interior Minister Rehman Malik has hinted that the government will set up a committee to find a way to allow the usage of YouTube but while also filtering “ anti-Islam content,” in a reevaluation of Pakistan’s social media policy. YouTube has been banned in Pakistan for the past two months in response to the anti-Islam video that sparked mass protests throughout the Muslim world.[xxvii]

           


[i] Jibran Ahmad, “Afghan Haqqani faction would consider talks under Taliban,” Reuters, November 13, 2012. Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/13/us-afghanistan-haqqanis-idUSBRE8AC06B20121113.
[ii] Tahir Khan, “Afghan reconciliation: Kabul’s top negotiator seeks release of Taliban prisoners,” Express Tribune, November 12, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/464358/afghan-reconciliation-kabuls-top-negotiator-seeks-release-of-taliban-prisoners/.
[iii] “Mortars fired from Afghanistan kill four in South Waziristan,” AFP, November 12, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/11/12/mortars-fired-from-afghanistan-kill-four-in-south-waziristan/; “Pakistan lodges protest with Afghan envoy over cross border shelling,” Dawn, November 12, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/11/12/fo-lodged-protest-with-afghan-envoy-over-cross-border-shelling/.
[iv] “Official: Talks Due On Status of U.S. Troops In Afghanistan,” AFP, November 11, 2012. Available at: http://www.defensenews.com/article/20121111/DEFREG02/311110007/-1/7daysarchives/Official-Talks-Due-Status-U-S-Troops-Afghanistan.
[v] Michael Georgy and Hamid Shalizi, “Pakistan urges all insurgents to pursue peace: ambassador,” Reuters, November 11, 2012. Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/11/us-afghanistan-pakistan-idUSBRE8AA04220121111.
[vi] Julian Pecquet, “US open to cooperating with UN probe into drone strikes,” The Hill, November 12, 2012. Available at http://thehill.com/blogs/global-affairs/terrorism/267373-obama-administration-doesnt-rule-out-un-probe-into-drone-strikes
[vii] “A senior Taliban leader is gunned down in Quetta,” Daily Beast, November 12, 2012. Available at http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/11/12/quetta-in-the-crosshairs.html
[viii] “Blast kills son of tribal elder in Waziristan,” Dawn, November 11, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/11/12/blast-kills-son-of-tribal-elder-in-waziristan-2/.
[ix] Bicycle bomb blast kills two in Quetta,” The News International, November 13, 2102. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-75309-Two-killed,-11-injured-in-Quetta-blast.
[x] “One policeman, two terrorists killed in Bannu,” Dawn, November 11, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/11/11/one-policeman-two-terrorists-killed-in-bannu/.
[xi] Riaz Ahmad, “Ambush: American consulate security guard shot,” Express Tribune, November 11, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/463970/ambush-american-consulate-security-guard-shot/.
[xii] “Spreading Fear: Blast near ex-MMA leader’s house,” Express Tribune, November 11, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/463997/spreading-fear-blast-near-ex-mma-leaders-house/.
[xiii] “Gadani: Five injured in hand-grenade attack,” Geo News, November 12, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=75238
[xiv] “Bajaur tribes vow to thwart cross-border attacks,” Dawn, November 11, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/11/12/bajaur-tribes-vow-to-thwart-cross-border-attacks-2/.
[xv] Tahir Khalil, “Talibanisation touches dangerous level in Balochistan: report,” Geo, November 11, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=75058
[xvi] “Security forces mobilized after 42 deaths in Karachi,” Geo News, November 13, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=75281.  “Firing incidents claim 15 lives in parts of Karachi,” Express Tribune, November 10, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/463702/firing-incidents-claim-7-lives-in-parts-of-karachi/; Salis bin Perwaiz, “15 more killed in Karachi,” The News International, November 11, 2012. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-18754-15-more-killed-in-Karachi-violence; “Karachi violence: Death toll rises to eight,” Geo News, November 12, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=75210; “Death toll in Khi violence climbs to 24,” The News International, November 11, 2012. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-74947-Death-toll-in-Karachi-violence-climbs-to-20.
[xvii] “Karachi police arrest four Lashkar-e-Jhangvi members,” Geo News, November 13, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=75350.
[xviii] Raja Asghar, “Govt assailed over violence in Karachi,” Dawn, November 12, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/13/discussion-in-na-senate-govt-assailed-over-violence-in-karachi /; Qamar Zaman and Zahid Gishkori, “Karachi violence: Parliament echoes with dire warnings,” Express Tribune, November 13, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/464861/karachi-violence-parliament-echoes-with-dire-warnings/.
[xix] “India hopes to get voice samples of Mumbai attack handlers,” Express Tribune, November 10, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/463719/india-hopes-to-get-voice-samples-of-mumbai-attack-handlers/.
[xx] “Pakistan elected member of UNHRC,” Geo News, November 12, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=75256
[xxi] “Afghan leader Karzai calls for more Indian investment,” BBC News, November 12, 2012. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-20293663; Frank Jack Daniel, “Afghanistan seeks India’s help as West pullout nears,” Reuters, November 12, 2012. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/12/us-afghanistan-india-idUSBRE8AB10520121112
[xxii] “Bangladesh seeks Pakistan apology for 1971 war crimes,” AFP, November 9, 2012. Available at: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-11-09/south-asia/35015219_1_pakistan-apology-war-crimes-dipu-moni.
[xxiii] “PPP Balochistan declares provincial government unconstitutional,” Express Tribune, November 13, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/465029/ppp-balochistan-declares-provincial-government-unconstitutional/
[xxiv] Saleem Shahid, “Balochistan crisis worsens as Bhootani strikes again,” Dawn, November 12, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/13/balochistan-crisis-worsens-as-bhootani-strikes-again/
[xxv] “Karachi traders agree to monthly extortion payment,” Geo, November 13, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=75331
[xxvi] Khawar Ghumman, “Govt in a fix on ISI-IJI funding probe,” Dawn, November 11, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/12/govt-in-a-fix-on-isi-iji-funding-probe/
[xxvii] Michele Langevine Leiby, “Pakistani officials consider options for filtering YouTube,” Washington Post, November 11, 2012. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/pakistani-officials-consider-options-for-filtering-youtube/2012/11/11/bb797470-2a8c-11e2-96b6-8e6a7524553f_story.html