Pakistan Security Brief - November 15, 2012

Seven to fourteen Taliban prisoners released to Afghanistan; Afghan gov’t applauds prisoner release, Taliban official skeptical; Four killed in Karachi; Quetta sectarian attack injures two; Search operation in S. Waziristan kills five TTP militants, injures six; Advocate who filed petition against Gen. Kayani escapes alleged abduction attempt; PML-N, MQM, ANP and others walk out of Senate session over Karachi situation; PM Ashraf says government will eliminate ”terrorists” responsible for law and order situation in Karachi; PM Ashraf meets with MQM delegation, affirms that Karachi situation should improve in a few days; IDPs of Bara threaten to protest in Islamabad; FIA begins implementation of Supreme Court’s order in the 1990 election-rigging case; Supreme Court Chief Justice says Court can take notice of any issue; Pakistan condemns Israeli military offensive in Gaza.

Afghan Taliban Prisoner Release

  • On Wednesday Pakistan confirmed the release of at least seven Afghan Taliban prisoners. According to the New York Times, a Pakistani security official claimed seven to eight prisoners were freed while a Western official stated the number was closer to 14.  It is unclear how many high-ranking Taliban members are among the freed prisoners, though former Taliban justice minister and religious conservative Mullah Nooruddin Turabi is believed to be among them. On Thursday, officials from both Afghanistan and Pakistan told Reuters that if the recent release enhanced the peace process between the two nations, Pakistan would consider releasing former second in command Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.[i]

  • On Thursday the Afghan government applauded Pakistan’s decision to release the Taliban prisoners with presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi stating, “We welcome this move as a positive step toward Afghanistan’s peace process.” A Taliban official expressed a more pessimistic view to AFP, saying the recently freed were “not members of Taliban any more, they have been dismissed and they’re not important.”[ii]

Militancy

  • Violence in Karachi killed at least four people on Thursday. The body of a tortured woman was found in Bhen Colony area while gunfire killed three people in PIB Colony.[iii]

  • In Quetta, two individuals from the Hazara Shia community were injured by gunfire on Thursday. They were fired upon by unknown gunmen on motorcycles.[iv]

  • On Thursday a security official confirmed to The Express Tribune that five militants had been killed and six had been injured during a military search operation against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in South Waziristan. The operation was specifically targeting TTP’s Mufti Mir Wali Khan group. [v]

  • Retired Colonel Inamur Rahim, who “filed a petition against the extension in the tenure of Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani before the Islamabad High Court,” said that unidentified men tried to abduct him in Rawalpindi. He was in a taxi on his way to his house in Rawalpindi when a car intercepted his vehicle, and shortly thereafter two more cars arrived and surrounded him. He claimed to have been manhandled before putting up resistance, and was able to escape.[vi]

Karachi Law and Order

  • All major political parties excluding the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and its partner Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) walked out of a Senate session on Wednesday. They boycotted the hearing due to alleged government apathy over the deteriorating law and order situation in Karachi as well as the absence of law minister Farooq H. Naek after he promised “to convey grievances of members over Karachi’s law and order situation.” The Senate anticipates voting on a new accountability bill next week that seeks “to increase punishment for violators to seven years of rigorous imprisonment.” The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Chaudhry Nisar said his party would “vociferously oppose the proposed new accountability bill.”[vii]

  • Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf discussed the law and order situation in Karachi at a federal cabinet meeting on Wednesday. He said that the government was mindful of the threat that militancy, intolerance, and terrorism pose to national security, and that “the government would play its part in eliminating these elements.” He mentioned that he had directed law enforcement around Pakistan to beef up security during the Holy month of Muharram.[viii]

  • Meeting with a delegation of the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) on Thursday, Prime Minister Ashraf assured his coalition partners that the necessary steps were being taken to restore order in Karachi. He said that he had contacted Chief Minister of Sindh Qaim Ali Shah and directed him “to utilize all resource in restoring peace in Karachi.” Ashraf said that the situation in Karachi would “improve in a few days.”[ix]

Domestic Politics

  • Speaking at the Peshawar press club on Wednesday, one of Bara sub-district’s internally displaced persons (IDP) expressed anger over existing living conditions for IDPs. He said that they would either forcefully defy curfews imposed on them and return to their homes, or they would hold huge protest rallies in Islamabad. He called for an end to the ongoing military operation in the region as well as the provision of relief items and an end to the prolonged curfew.[x]

  • The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has reportedly begun its work on implementing the Supreme Court’s order on the 1990 election-rigging case. The FIA will send notices to any politicians who illegally received money from the military, and will give them a month to pay that money back. Those who fail to turn in the money will be given a second notice, and then will be given one week’s time more. The FIA is working on an “action plan formulated with the help of legal advisers,” If, despite the notices, the FIA does not receive the money from the convicted politicians.[xi]

  • Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said on Thursday that the Supreme Court was a role model for all state institutions and that it reserves “the judicial authority to take notice of any issue.” He said that he was happy with the work that the courts were conducting, and that the courts were “leading to better results for the country.” He mentioned that to establish good governance in Pakistan, all the state institutions must work together.[xii]

Pakistan Condemns Israel

  • During an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Wednesday night, Pakistan strongly condemned Israel’s recent military offensive in the Gaza Strip. Permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN, Ambassador Masood Khan, told the Council that, “Grave developments today in Gaza portend to threaten international peace and security. The Council must play its part in arresting this trend.” Ambassador Khan also stressed that, “Israel should exercise restraint. The firing of rockets from Gaza should also stop.” [xiii]              

 


[i] Declan Walsh, “Pakistan Frees Taliban Prisoners, Renewing Hopes for Peace Talks,” New York Times. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/15/world/asia/pakistan-releases-taliban-prisoners-fueling-hopes-for-peace-talks.html; “Pakistan to consider Mullah Baradar release: officials,” Reuters. November 15, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/15/pakistan-to-consider-mullah-baradar-release-officials/.
[ii] “Kabul welcomes Pakistan’s plan to free Taliban,” AFP. November 15, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/15/kabul-welcomes-pakistans-plan-to-free-taliban/.
[iii] “Four Killed in Karachi violence,” Dawn. November 15, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/15/four-killed-in-karachi-violence-4/.
[iv] Two Injured in Quetta firing,” Dawn. November 15, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/15/two-injured-in-quetta-firing/.
[v]  “South Waziristan: Five militants killed, six injured,” The Express Tribune. November 15, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/465781/south-waziristan-five-militants-killed-six-injured/.
[vi] “Kayani extension case: Petitioner escapes alleged abduction,” Express Tribune, November 15, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/466069/kayani-extension-case-petitioner-escapes-alleged-abduction/.
[vii] Zahid Gishkori, “Karachi unrest: PML-N, MQM, ANP among others walkout of Senate session,” Express Tribune, November 14, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/465593/karachi-unrest-pml-n-mqm-anp-among-others-walkout-of-senate-session/.
[viii] “Miscreants trying to create sectarian strife in Karachi: PM,” APP, November 14, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/14/miscreants-trying-to-create-sectarian-strife-in-karachi-pm/.
[ix] “PM assures MQM Karachi situation will improve in a few days,” Geo, November 15, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=75589.
[x] “IDPS to march on Islamabad to protest govt ‘apathy,’” Dawn, November 14, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/15/idps-to-march-on-islamabad-to-protest-govt-apathy/.
[xi] Iftikhar Choudhry, “Asghar Khan case: FIA starts work to implement court order,” APP, November 15, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/466181/asghar-khan-case-fia-starts-work-to-implement-court-order/.
[xii] “SC reserves right to take notice of any issue: CJ,” Dawn, November 15, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/15/sc-reserves-right-to-take-notice-of-any-issue-cj/.
[xiii] “In UN, Pakistan slams Israel’s deadly offensive in Gaza,” APP. November 15, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/15/in-un-pakistan-slams-israels-deadly-offensive-in-gaza/