Pakistan Security Brief - November 20, 2012

Border cooperation agreement signed in Kabul; Afghan President Karzai praises Afghan Taliban prisoner release; Iran, Pakistan unable to sign oil pipeline deal this week; NATO truck driver killed in Khyber; Two killed in Karachi; Cross-border rocket fire kills one; JI chief blames suicide bomb attack on U.S.; Four Americans arrested for plotting to join the Taliban and al Qaeda; Tensions over drone strikes allegedly resulted in resignation of former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan;  India asks Rehman Malik to cancel New Delhi visit plans; UN needs $79 million to save Pakistani flood victims; Islamabad High Court dismisses August blasphemy case; Supreme Court Chief Justice criticizes lack of gov’t response to Balochistan target killings; Federal Minister for Religious Affairs demands Karachi operation; Senate, NA adopt resolutions to “deweaponize” Pakistan; Motorcycle riding banned in Gilgit city; ANP Chief condemns attack on former JI chief.

Afghan Peace Process

  • A document addressing ways that Pakistan, Afghanistan and the U.S. can improve border security coordination and titled “Tripartite Border Coordination Mechanism” was signed in Kabul on Tuesday at the 36th meeting of the Tripartite Commission. Meeting participants included Pakistani Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Acting ISAF Commander Lieutenant Gen. Nicholas Carter, and Afghan Chief of Army Staff Gen. Sher Muhammad Karimi and their respective delegations. . The commission discussed “ongoing operations in Afghanistan and adjoining tribal areas of Pakistan,” as well as the transition in Afghanistan after ISAF troop drawdown. Gen. Kayani reportedly met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai to discuss “matters of mutual interest” before the commission.[i]

  • Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday praised Pakistan for releasing a group of Afghan Taliban prisoners, including the Taliban’s former Justice Minister Nooruddin Turabi, as a confidence-building measure in the Afghan reconciliation process. Officials in the Karzai administration said that the President’s discussion with Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani regarding the prisoners was "frank, cordial and in depth."[ii]

Iranian-Pakistani Relations

  • According to official sources, Iran and Pakistan will not yet be able to sign a final agreement on a $250 million loan that would let Pakistan lay the groundwork for an oil pipeline between the two countries on its side of the border. An Iranian delegation led by Vice President Ali Saeedlou was supposed to have met with a Pakistani delegation on November 6 to discuss finalizing the draft; however, Saeedlou abruptly canceled his visit after “a bureaucratic fiasco involving the [Pakistani] Foreign Office and Finance Minister Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh.” The “fiasco” allegedly involved scheduling mismanagement as well as Shaikh’s possible reluctance to publicly meet with the Iranian delegation when Iran is facing “international isolation” as a result of its nuclear program.  An Iranian delegation is now due to meet with a Pakistani delegation on Tuesday to finalize a draft of the proposed Inter-Governmental Cooperation Agreement (IGCA); however, this delay means that a final agreement will not be signed during Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s Wednesday visit to Pakistan for the D-8 Summit conference. Pakistan is also facing obstacles in securing funding for the oil pipeline project as a result of U.S. sanctions against Iran.[iii]

Militancy

  • Two unidentified gunmen shot and killed a NATO supply truck driver in the Jamrud area of Khyber agency on Tuesday. The gunmen drove by on motorcycles and shot the driver in the head, also injuring the passenger with gunshots to the shoulder.[iv]

  • Violence in Karachi killed two people and injured three others on Tuesday. Two were shot dead in Lyari after being kidnapped. One person was wounded by gunfire in Manghopir, another in Bahadurabad, and a third in Jauhar Mor. According to sources interviewed by Dawn, security forces arrested 25 suspects in different raids throughout the city.[v]

  • Rocket fire from Afghanistan killed a girl and injured three other people in the Nawagai sub-district of Bajaur agency on Monday. The militants have yet to be identified, and two of the three injured are in critical condition.[vi]

  • After surviving a Monday suicide bombing targeting him in Mohmand agency, former Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief Qazi Hussain Ahmad on Monday claimed that a U.S. agent was responsible for the attack rather than the Taliban. He said that this was just another attempt by the U.S. “to create [a] law and order situation in the tribal areas to prolong their presence in the region.”[vii]

  • Four men have been arrested for “plotting to join the Taliban and al Qaeda” in Afghanistan on Monday. Three of the arrested were living in America, and trained in paintball centers in California before preparing their departure to Afghanistan. The fourth man was already in Afghanistan and is now in security forces’ custody.[viii]

U.S. Drone Tensions

  • A special report by The Daily Beast highlights the reasons behind former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter’s May resignation from his post. The report suggests that tensions over the U.S. drone program in Pakistan contributed to Munter’s resignation; Munter had advocated for a more selective use of drones and greater emphasis on diplomacy, a stance that allegedly put him at odds with former CIA director Leon Panetta and others in the Obama administration. Munter had requested that he be given the ability to “sign off on drone strikes—and, when necessary, block them,” but was refused. Vali Nasr, a former aide to the late United States Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke, said that “the real issue was that [Munter] was not on the same page as Washington,” which in turn led to his resignation.[ix]

Indo-Pakistani Relations

  • The Indian Home Ministry has told Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik to cancel his plans to visit New Delhi to “attend the operationalization ceremony for the new Indo-Pak visa agreement.” Although Indian officials claim that the inability to host Malik is due to the winter session of Parliament, “some experts suggest Islamabad’s failure to punish those involved in [the 2008 Mumbai attacks]appears to be the key reason.” Indian requests to receive voice samples of the accused Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists involved in the Mumbai attacks have yet to be fulfilled by Pakistan, and LeT leader Hafiz Saeed still roams freely in Pakistan. Sources interviewed by the Express Tribune said that “under such a situation, it is not prudent to host the Pakistani Interior Minister on the eve of the fourth anniversary of [the 11/26] attack.”[x]

Flooding in Pakistan

  • Officials from the United Nations stated that $79 million is needed to help the millions of Pakistanis that have been affected by floods in Pakistan. Referring to the funding shortage in the organization, the U.N. has called for generous donations. More than five million people have been affected by floods this year, and with winter approaching the need for funds is increasingly urgent.[xi]

Blasphemy Case

  • On Tuesday, the Islamabad High Court dismissed the blasphemy case lodged against a developmentally-disabled Christian girl in August after she allegedly burned pages of the Quran. The case provoked an international outcry against Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws. The accused, Rimsha Masih, was granted bail in September after a local cleric was detained on suspicion of having framed her; the Court ultimately dismissed the case as no-one had actually seen Masih burning pages of the Quran.[xii]

Domestic Law and Order

  • On Tuesday, Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry refuted the notion that the law and order situation in Balochistan was improving. He admonished the government for not responding to the numerous target killings occurring right “under [its] nose,” adding that over 1,000 people and 432 Frontier Corps troops have been killed in targeted attacks. He also said that the attacks were targeting the Shia community in particular, and that the government was failing its duty to protect all citizens and maintain law and order through Constitutional means.[xiii] 

  • In light of Karachi’s deteriorating law and order situation, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah on Monday called for an immediate operation in the city to stem the rampant violence. He added that the law and order situation was not solely Karachi’s problem; rather it was a problem for the entire country to address. He further encouraged “all political stakeholders” in the city to sit down and come up with a strategy to combat the violence instead of just condemning it.[xiv]

  • On Tuesday, the National Assembly (NA) adopted a proposal tabled by Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) leader Dr. Farooq Sattar to “deweaponize” Pakistan. The Senate adopted a similar measure proposed by the ANP on Monday. The resolutions stated that weapons were compromising the peace in Pakistan, and that the federal government should take steps to deweaponize not only Karachi but the entire country.[xv]

Holiday Security Measures

  • The Pakistani Interior Secretary confirmed on Tuesday that the government has banned motorcycle riding in Gilgit city, Gilgit-Baltistan until the November 24 holiday of Ashura. Similar bans have already been imposed in Karachi (though only for two days) and Quetta (for two months) due to security concerns during the Islamic holy month of Muharram.[xvi]

ANP Condemns Terrorists

  • Awami National Party (ANP) Chief Asfandyar Wali Khan declared on Monday that the terrorists responsible for Monday’s near-fatal attack on former Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed belonged to no religion. He urged all people to unite in opposition to such attacks, saying that such terrorists were undermining not only peace in Pakistan but peace in the entire Central Asian region. He also stated that any sort of compromise with terrorist factions would be harmful for the country.[xvii]                  



[i] “’Tripartite Border Coordination Mechanism’ signed in Kabul,” Geo, November 20, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=76319
[ii] Rahim Faiez, “Afghan President Praises Pakistan Prisoner Release,” AP, November 20, 2012. Available at: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/A/AS_AFGHANISTAN?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT.
[iii] Shahbaz Rana, “Finalising paperwork: Iranian VP’s cancelled visit means no agreements,” Express Tribune, November 20, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/468435/finalising-paperwork-iranian-vps-cancelled-visit-means-no-agreements/; “Pakistan may have to wait for Iranian loan for IP project,” Express Tribune, November 20, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/468242/pakistan-may-have-to-wait-for-iranian-loan-for-ip-project/.
[iv] “Gunmen kill NATO driver in Khyber agency: officials,” AFP, November 20, 2012. Available at
[v] “Karachi violence claims two lives, injures three” Dawn, November 20, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/20/two-killed-in-karachi-violence-another-three-injured/ 
[vi] “Girl killed in cross-border rocket attack,” Dawn, November 20, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/20/girl-killed-in-cross-border-rocket-attack-2/
[vii] Fauzee Khan Mohmand, “Qazi blames ‘American agent’ for attack,” Dawn, November 20, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/20/qazi-blames-american-agent-for-attack-2/
[viii] “Four charged in US for plotting to join Taliban,” AFP, November 20, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/20/four-charged-in-us-for-plotting-to-join-taliban/
[ix] Tara McKelvey, “A Former Ambassador to Pakistan Speaks Out,” The Daily Beast, November 20, 2012. Available at: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/11/20/a-former-ambassador-to-pakistan-speaks-out.html.
[x] “Mumbai attack anniversary: India tells Pakistan to put off Malik’s visit,” Express Tribune, November 19, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/468120/mumbai-attacks-anniversary-india-tells-pakistan-to-put-off-maliks-visit/
[xi] “UN needs $79m for flood victims,” AFP, November 19, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/20/un-says-79m-urgently-required-to-meet-immediate-needs-of-idps/
[xii] “Pakistan court dismisses blasphemy case,” Reuters, November 20, 2012. Available at: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/9fe17b54-32e8-11e2-aa83-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2Clx5l2ce.
[xiii] “Balochistan target killings taking place under ‘govt’s nose,’ says CJ,” Dawn, November 20, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/11/20/balochistan-target-killings-taking-place-under-govts-nose-says-cj/.
[xiv] “Khursheed Shah demands operation in Karachi,” Dawn, November 19, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/11/19/khursheed-shah-demands-operation-in-karachi/.
[xv] “NA adopts MQM’s resolution to deweaponise Pakistan,” Geo News, November 20, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=76282.
[xvi] “Bike riding banned in Gilgit,” Geo News, November 20, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=76338.
[xvii] “Terrorists are faithless,” Geo News, November 19, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=76207.