Pakistan Security Brief - November 14, 2012

Pakistan to release some Afghan Taliban prisoners; Afghan negotiator meets with Kayani, Zardari; Pakistan Army developing combat drones; Zawahri releases statement urging for Islamic caliphate; Supreme Court discharges contempt notice against PM Ashraf; AQ Khan starts election campaign; Chief Minister Balochistan Raisani gets unanimous vote of confidence in provincial assembly; President Zardari blames law and order situation on terrorists; PM Ashraf holds round table meeting with religious scholars; Clashes in Kashmir kill 3, including LeT commander; IED blasts, mortar attack wound 8 in Bara; Double blasts in Kurram agency injure 5; Five TTP operatives arrested on Wednesday; Seven killed in Karachi; Taliban earns 70 percent of income from drug money; Zardari calls for regional drug court; Five KP districts declared “sensitive;” Civil society reps unhappy with “downplay” of Balochistan human rights situation.

Afghan-Pakistani Relations

  • On Wednesday, Pakistani and Afghan officials confirmed that Pakistan had agreed to release some Afghan Taliban prisoners in its continuing efforts to aid the Afghan reconciliation process. It is still in question, however, whether or not Pakistan will release Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the former number two commander of the Afghan Taliban. Afghanistan has said that Mullah Baradar “may still have the influence to persuade the Taliban” to approach the negotiating table.[i]

  • On Tuesday, Afghan negotiator Salahuddin Rabbani and a delegation from the Afghan High Peace Council met with Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani to discuss Afghan peace negotiations. Rabbani also met with President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday, and Zardari assured him that Pakistan fully supported an Afghan-led peace process. Zardari also stressed the need for cooperation in stemming terrorist financing from the narcotics trade. Rabbani has furthermore requested aid from religious groups in convincing militant groups to join negotiations.[ii]

Zawahri and al Qaeda

  • A statement entitled “Supporting Islam” from al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahri was posted on an Islamist website rejecting the current international order. In the statement, Zawahri said that the world was ruled by the five members in the United Nations Security Council. He urged Muslims around the world to establish the Islamic caliphate that ruled previously ruled in the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa. He said that Muslims should do whatever they could to establish the caliphate that would be ruled by Islamic law and that would “not recognize nation state, national links or the borders imposed by the occupiers.”[iii]

Pakistani Drones

  • Pakistani military officials affirmed to close allies at a Karachi arms fair last week that the army is in the process of developing its own combat drones. The official said that Pakistan’s allies had been enthusiastic about its achievements in this regard and that, while the drones being developed “[do] not have the efficiency and performance as good as a [U.S.] Predator [drone],” they do exist. The official declined to offer further information, while the CEO of Pakistani defense contractor Integrated Dynamics Raja Sabri Khan said that whether or not drones could carry weapons was information known only by important members of the defense industry.[iv]

Domestic Politics

  • After being presented with the receipt of a letter sent to Swiss Authorities as required by Supreme Court directives, the Supreme Court “discharged the contempt notice against the Prime Minister and withdrew proceedings against the government of Pakistan.” The bench said that after going through the relevant documents they would “issue an appropriate order regarding the disposal of [the] case.”[v]

  • Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, who earlier this year launched his own political party, Tehreek-e-Tahaffuz Pakistan, started his 100-day campaign around Pakistan to promote his campaign for the presidency in 2013. Khan is a scientist known as a hero to many Pakistanis for helping Pakistan become a nuclear power, but he is derided internationally for his involvement in nuclear proliferation and “providing nuclear research to Libya, Iran, and North Korea.”[vi]

  • After having his Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) membership suspended on accusations of corruption two weeks ago, Chief Minister of Balochistan Nawab Aslam Raisani managed to get a unanimous vote of confidence in the provincial assembly on Tuesday. This comes after Acting Governor Mohammad Aslam Bhootani suspended a provincial assembly session until he had an answer from the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the Balochistan government. Raisani and his coalition partners vowed “to frustrate the conspiracy hatched against the elected government.” They said that they fully respected the Supreme Court’s decisions, “but would not tolerate any extra-constitutional or unlawful action.” After the vote of confidence, the provincial cabinet decided to increase aid to the victims of terrorism in the province from Rs 0.4 million to Rs 1 million($4,168 to $10,422). [vii]

  • Responding to a heated debate and calls for action in Karachi by PPP coalition partners, President Asif Ali Zardari said on Wednesday that the government is committed to the fight against terrorism. He said that the “deterioration of [the] law and order situation in Karachi was not the failure of the state,” but is the result of terrorist actions determined to destabilize the state’s efforts in the war on terror.[viii]

  • Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf held a roundtable meeting on Wednesday with a group of ulema, urging them to speak up on the issue of sectarian violence. He told them that “religious leaders have more influence over the masses as compared to politicians,” especially when crimes are justified in the name of religion.[ix]

Militancy

  • An exchange of gunfire in Nowgam sector, Kashmir on Wednesday resulted in the deaths of two Pakistani militants and three Indian troops. In another firing incident in southern Kashmir, a joint Indian police and army force allegedly killed a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander, but declined to release his name.[x]

  • Three security officials were wounded in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast in Kharmatung area of Bara sub-district, Khyber agency on Tuesday. It is unclear who planted the device; police have launched an investigation. In another Bara incident, a mortar shell struck a house in Akka Khel, injuring five. It is unclear who fired the shell.[xi]

  • Two roadside explosions in Kurram agency on Wednesday injured five civilians. One IED blast in the Spina Shaga area wounded three while another in the Pewar Tangi area wounded two. It is unclear who planted the devices.[xii]

  • Multan police arrested five Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) operatives on Wednesday as they were traveling from Sher Kot, Punjab to Dera Ismail Khan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The men confessed to involvement in killing ten jail employees and attacking a police checkpoint in Lahore as well as sectarian attacks against Shia Muslims in Punjab province.[xiii]

  • Seven people were killed in Karachi in various incidents of violence between Tuesday and Wednesday, all by unknown assailants. Police also arrested one target killer from Baldia Town and conducted raids in several other areas.[xiv]

Terrorist Financing

  • Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Tuesday that the Taliban earns about 70 percent of its total income from “managing and taxing the illicit drug business.” He said Pakistan was a major transit route for narcotics, particularly heroin, coming from Afghanistan and that about 8.1 million Pakistanis were abusing such opiates. He touted Pakistan’s Drug Abuse Control Master Plan, designed to crack down on narco-terrorism and drug-trading from 2010-2014, as well as Pakistan’s contributions to the seizure of acetic anhydride under a U.N. initiative. Additionally, he stressed the need to update Pakistan’s anti-drug initiatives and establish a Resource Center for Drug Control.[xv]

  • President Zardari called for the creation of a drug court in the region to help confront the growing drug problem. He said that countries in the region must act together and share information in order to conquer illegal drug trafficking. He claimed that the trade of heroin was funding terrorists, and is “threatening the security of our countries.”[xvi]

Unrest in Khyber-Pakhtunkwha

  • Five districts in Khyber-Pakhtunkwha (KP) including Peshawar, Kohat, Hangu, Dera Ismail Khan, and Tank have been declared “sensitive” areas after more than 250 people were arrested recently in Peshawar for pillion riding. During the Islamic holy month of Muharram, from mid-November until mid-December, police will be ramping up security throughout Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in an effort to prevent any militant attacks.[xvii]

U.N.-Pakistan Relations

  • Civil society representatives criticized Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar in a Tuesday press conference for “[downplaying] the grave human rights situation in Balochistan” during her October 30 speech before the United Nations Universal Periodic Review. The representatives claimed that over 400 bodies of missing individuals had been discovered in Balochistan since July 2010, and that over 100 children are in illegal military custody.[xviii]


[i] “Pakistan agrees to free several Afghan Taliban prisoners,” Express Tribune, November 14, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/465488/pakistan-agrees-to-free-several-afghan-taliban-prisoners/
[ii] “Afghan peace negotiators meet Pakistan Army chief,” Express Tribune, November 14, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/11/13/afghan-peace-negotiators-meet-pakistan-army-chief/; “Zardari vows to continue supporting Afghanistan,” APP, November 13, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/11/13/zardari-vows-to-continue-supporting-afghanistan/; Kamran Yousaf, “Luring the Taliban: Pakistan, Afghanistan working on ‘package deal,’” Express Tribune, November 14, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/465223/luring-the-taliban-pakistan-afghanistan-working-on-package-deal/.
[iii] “Qaeda chief rejects nation states, U.N. as conflict mediator,” Reuters, November 14, 2012. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/14/us-qaeda-zawahri-idUSBRE8AD0L920121114
[iv] Jon Boone, “Pakistan developing combat drones,” The Guardian, November 13, 2012. Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/13/drones-pakistan.
[v] “NRO implementation: SC drops contempt charge against PM Ashraf,” Geo, November 14, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=75436
[vi] Taha Siddiqui, “AQ Khan: Father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb jumps into politics,” Christian Science Monitor, November 11, 2012. Available at http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-South-Central/2012/1111/AQ-Khan-Father-of-Pakistan-s-nuclear-bomb-jumps-into-politics
[vii] Amanullah Kasi, “Raisani strikes back, wins assembly trust,” Dawn, November 13, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/14/raisani-strikes-back-wins-assembly-trust/; “Balochistan govt increases compensation amount for terrorism victims,” APP, November 13, 2012. Available at  http://dawn.com/2012/11/14/balochistan-govt-increases-compensation-amount-for-terrorism-victims/; “Balochistan govt bans pillion riding for two months,” Geo, November 14, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=75415 
[viii] “State committed to protect Karachi: Zardari,” Dawn, November 14, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/14/state-committed-to-protect-karachi-zardari/
[ix] Ema Anis, “Ashraf urges ulema to speak up against sectarian violence,” Express Tribune, November 14, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/465536/ashraf-urges-ulema-to-speak-up-against-sectarian-violence/
[x] “Indian police claims LeT commander killed in Kashmir,” AFP, November 14, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/11/14/let-commander-killed-in-kashmir-indian-police/.
[xi] “IED blast: Three security personnel injured,” Express Tribune, November 14, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/465382/ied-blast-three-security-personnel-injured/.
[xii] Zahir Shah Sherazi, “Twin blasts in Kurram Agency injure five,” Dawn, November 14, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/11/14/twin-blasts-in-kurram-agency-injure-five/.
[xiii] Asad Kharal, “Police arrest 5 TTP Punjab militants,” Express Tribune, November 14, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/465528/police-arrest-5-ttp-punjab-militants/.
[xiv] “Seven more killed in Karachi,” Geo News, November 14, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=75419.
[xv] “Taliban generate 70% of their income off narcotics ‘taxes’: Malik,” Express Tribune, November 14, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/465463/taliban-generate-70-of-their-income-off-drug-taxes-malik/.
[xvi] “War weapon: Heroin trade is bankrolling terror operations says Zardari,” APP, November 14, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/465408/war-weapon-heroin-trade-is-bankrolling-terror-operations-says-zardari/
[xvii] “Five KP districts declared most sensitive,” The News International, November 14, 2012. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-142760-Five-KP-districts-declared-most-sensitive.
[xviii] “Half-truths: ‘Hina Khar downplayed human rights abuses in Balochistan,’” Express Tribune, November 14, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/465234/half-truths-hina-khar-downplayed-human-rights-abuses-in-balochistan/.