Pakistan Security Brief - November 21, 2012

U.S. Sec’y of Defense says core al Qaeda leadership decimated, U.S. still has work to do; India hangs last surviving gunman linked to 2008 Mumbai attacks, LeT and TTP respond while Pakistan gov’t is quiet; U.S. Treasury Department sanctions money transfer company in Pakistan; Pakistani gov’t may outlaw private mapping projects; IED kills five in Quetta; Two bombs kill two and injure three in Karachi; Gunmen kill four policemen in Jani Khel; IED injures two in Charsadda; Police successfully defuse 13 year old boy’s explosive vest; Militant sponsor arrested in Peshawar; Pakistan hosts D8 summit; President Zardari confirms ratification of visa agreement with India; IG Sindh says no army operation in Karachi; Pakistan Coast Guard seriously under-resourced; Former Army Chief Gen. Aslam Baig files review petition against SC election-rigging verdict; JI protests suicide attempt against former JI Chief; PPP Chairman encourages political cooperation among different parties.

U.S. Gains Against al Qaeda

  • In a Tuesday presentation, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said that while the U.S. has decimated the core al Qaeda leadership and has experienced some success against other al Qaeda affiliates, counterterrorism will continue to be a critical foreign policy priority as the U.S. changes its combat approaches in the near future. He stated that the “evolving campaign” against al Qaeda affiliates in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other regions will “feature the use of small U.S. strike forces; more partnering with foreign commandos; and more training and other forms of assistance that enable partner nations to combat terrorism on their own.” Panetta emphasized the need to truly “finish the job” in Afghanistan in such a way to prevent terrorists from regaining control in the region, and that it would need to continue pressuring Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia to address terrorist threats in those regions too.[i]

Mumbai Attacker Hanged

  • Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab, the only gunman involved in the 2008 Mumbai attacks captured alive, was hanged in India on Wednesday. He was sentenced to death in May of 2010; his appeal to the Supreme Court and his pleas for mercy were rejected. Kasab was transferred to Yerwada jail in Pune, Maharashtra where he was hanged at 7:30 am. India’s External Affairs Ministry allegedly tried to give Pakistan a letter informing them of the decision to hang Kasab, but they refused to acknowledge receipt of the letter. Following diplomatic protocol to inform Pakistan about the execution, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde decided to send “a fax to Islamabad after the letter was rebuffed.”[ii]

  • A commander of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the group responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks, told Reuters on Wednesday that Kasab was a hero, and that the hanging of Kasab will only “inspire more attacks.” Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan also spoke with Reuters saying that the hanging was “shocking news and a big loss,” because a “Muslim has been hanged on Indian soil.”[iii]

  • Pakistanreaction to the hanging of Kasab has been muted. Geo News, the popular mainstream cable television station in Pakistan has “downplayed the development in its morning news bulletins, offering no analysis or comment.” An official from Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the country’s policy of terrorism is clear and consistent, and that Pakistan is willing to help other countries in the region eliminate terrorism. Tariq Fatemi, a retired senior Pakistani diplomat, said that mainstream political parties in Pakistan recognize the importance of the Pakistan-India relationship, and even the hanging of Kasab will not derail the progress they have made.[iv]

U.S. Sanctions

  • The U.S. Treasury Department announced on Tuesday that it was imposing sanctions on Rahat Ltd, “a hawala [money transferring] company with branches in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, which has been accused of being used by the Taliban.” The Treasury Department also imposed sanctions on the company’s owner and the manager of the company’s branch in Quetta. The sanctions mean that all of the company’s property associated with the company and its owner and manager have been blocked, “and all U.S. citizens are barred from engaging in transactions with individuals.” Taliban leader Naim Barich has been accused of “receiving millions of dollars through the company.”[v]

Private Mapping Potentially Outlawed

  • The Pakistani government may soon pass a law declaring private mapping initiatives illegal in Pakistan. The newly proposed Land Surveying and Mapping Bill 2012 would put the Survey of Pakistan (SOP), which allegedly reports to the Ministry of Defense but actually takes orders directly from the army, in charge of all mapping projects in Pakistan. The bill would oblige all agencies, private or government, that partake in mapping activity to register themselves with the SOP or face up to a year’s imprisonment plus a heavy fine. The bill allows the police to register criminal cases against anyone found developing “geospatial solutions” independently of the SOP. Additionally, it could inhibit humanitarian organizations from providing relief aid to internally displaced Pakistanis and would force inter- and intra-national donors to channel funding for mapping projects through the SOP.[vi]

Militancy

  • An improvised explosive device (IED) planted on a motorcycle killed four military personnel and one woman, while injuring 21 others in Quetta on Wednesday. An army vehicle escorting a bus full of children was the bomb’s target according to Quetta police. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack thus far.[vii]

  • Two bombs exploded near a Shia Imambargah in the Orangi Town are of Karachi on Wednesday. The first bomb killed at least two people and injured three others, while the casualties from the second bomb have yet to be identified. Police arrested “two alleged target killers involved in sectarian violence,” in Karachi on Tuesday. One of the suspects was arrested in the Peerabad locality, and the other was arrested in Khamisa Goth.[viii]

  • Unidentified gunmen opened fire on a passenger van carrying policemen in Jani Khel, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on Wednesday. The gunmen killed four policemen and police claimed to have killed an attacker “during retaliatory fire.”[ix]

  • An IED planted on a bicycle targeted the District Police Officer’s (DPO) car in Charsadda district, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on Tuesday. The DPO was able to escape the explosion, but his guard and his driver were injured in the attack.[x]

  • Police in Peshawar arrested a thirteen year old boy and successfully defused his explosive vest before he was able to carry out a suicide bombing attack at a gas station on Tuesday. The boy claimed to have been forced to carry out the attack, and has been taken to an “unknown location for further investigation.”[xi]

  • Security forces arrested a suspected terrorist sponsor, Rasool Khan Dawar, in Peshawar on Wednesday. Hailing from Mir Ali sub-district of North Waziristan, Dawar is suspected of collecting funds for Uzbek militants in the tribal area.[xii]

International Relations

  • Islamabad will host seven other Muslim countries on Thursday for the Developing Eight (D8) Summit. Leaders from Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, and Turkey will be participating in what Pakistan sees as a way to boost its international standing. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar had welcomed delegates on Tuesday will be giving a presentation today; discussions begin tomorrow. According to a statement from the Pakistani government, the purpose of the D8 summit is to “discuss ways to cushion the effects of the global economic recession and climate change and tackle ways to boost trade among themselves.”[xiii]

  • President Asif Ali Zardari confirmed the ratification of a visa agreement between Pakistan and India on Tuesday. Under the agreement, along with diplomatic, non-diplomatic and official visas, a visitor visa “will be issued to a person visiting the other country to meet relatives or friends or for any other legitimate purpose.”[xiv]

Law and Order

  • On Wednesday, Inspector General of Sindh Fayyaz Leghari discouraged the government from deploying the Pakistan Army to address the law and order situation in Karachi, though he did recommend reinforcing the capacities of paramilitary forces already present in the city. He added that sectarian violence in the city was decreasing, and that 165 target killers as well as 12,000 “terrorists” have been arrested.[xv]

Coast Guard Supply Deficiency

  • Pakistan Coast Guard Director General Brigadier Sheheryar Khan stated on Tuesday that Pakistan’s Coast Guard was severely under-resourced, and that nearly half of the Coast Guards are on duty without arms and ammunition. He protested the Finance Ministry’s hold on Rs250 million (over $2.6 million) originally destined for the Coast Guard after the Ministry blocked the release of those funds and forbade the Coast Guard from purchasing “physical assets” with them.[xvi]

1990s Election-Rigging Case

  • Former Army Chief General Aslam Baig has filed a review petition against the Supreme Court’s October verdict in the 1990s election-rigging case that legal action be taken against him and former ISI chief Asad Durrani for distributing money to opposition politicians in the lead-up to the 1990s elections. The review petition claims that Baig played no part in distributing cash among politicians, and that he was not given the chance to a fair trial.[xvii]

Jamaat-e-Islami Protest

  • On Tuesday, members of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) held a protest in Landi Kotal, Khyber agency against the Monday suicide attack that targeted and almost killed former JI Chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed. Hundreds of protesters demonstrated against the attack, “calling it an American conspiracy against Pakistan.”[xviii]

Domestic Politics

  • Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Tuesday praised Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan for running in the 2013 presidential election, expressing his optimism that “[Khan’s] inclusion will have a positive impact on [the] politics of Pakistan.” Zardari also lauded Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Chief Nawaz Sharif for being an “ally in supporting democracy.” He further called on all political parties to unite against terrorism, stating that both the PPP and Awami National Party (ANP) had been particularly targeted by terrorists. He also affirmed that despite past differences with the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), the PPP was “ready to set [them] aside” and work together with the MQM to eradicate terrorism.[xix]            



[i] David Alexander, “U.S. has decimated al Qaeda chiefs but must persist in fight: Panetta,” Reuters, November 20, 2012. Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/21/us-usa-qaeda-panetta-idUSBRE8AK03R20121121; “Panetta: End of Afghan war in sight, fight against al-Qaida will take a new direction,” AP, November 20, 2012. Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/panetta-end-of-afghan-war-in-sight-fight-against-al-qaida-will-take-a-new-direction/2012/11/20/513d7850-3373-11e2-92f0-496af208bf23_story.html.
[ii] “Mumbai attacks gunman Ajmal Kasab hanged,” AFP, November 21, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/21/ajmal-kasab-hanged-indian-media/
[iii] “LeT says Kasab execution will ‘inspire’ more attacks; TTP ‘shocked,’” Reuters, November 21, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/21/let-says-kasab-execution-will-inspire-more-attacks-ttp-shocked/
[iv] Declan Walsh, Salman Masood, “In Pakistan, a muted reaction to Kasab’s execution,” New York Times, November 21, 2012. Available at http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/21/in-pakistan-a-muted-reaction-to-kasabs-killing/?partner=rss&emc=rss
[v] Huma Imtiaz, “Countering terrorism: US slaps sanctions on hawala company,” Express Tribune, November 21, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/469094/countering-terrorism-us-slaps-sanctions-on-hawala-company/
[vi] “Mapping: Attempts to create national agencies [translated from Urdu],” BBC Urdu, November 19, 2012. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2012/11/121119_mapping_systems_pakistan_sa.shtml.
[vii] “Five killed as blast rips through Quetta,” Reuters, November 21, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/21/at-least-four-injured-in-quetta-blast-reports/
[viii] “Successive blasts near Karachi Imambargah; at least two dead,” Dawn, November 21, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/21/explosion-in-karachi-kills-one-injures-three-police/; “Two alleged sectarian target killers arrested in Karachi,” Dawn, November 20, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/21/two-alleged-sectarian-target-killers-arrested-in-karachi/  
[ix] “SHO among four policemen killed in Bannu,” Geo, November 21, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=76475
[x] Zahir Shah Sherazi, “Two injured as DPO Charsadda escaped IED blast,” Dawn, November 20, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/20/two-injured-as-dpo-charsadda-escapes-ied-blast/
[xi] “Peshawar police defuse explosive vest of young suicide attacker,” Dawn, November 20, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/20/police-diffuses-explosive-vest-of-teenage-suicide-attacker-in-peshawar/
[xii] Zahir Shah Sherazi, “Suspected militant sponsor arrested in Peshawar,” Dawn, November 21, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/21/suspected-militant-sponsor-arrested-in-peshawar/
[xiii] “Pakistan to host Muslim leaders in rare summit,” AFP, November 21, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=76444
[xiv] Syed Irfan Raza, “Elderly, businessmen to benefit: President validates ratification of visa accord with India,” Dawn, November 20, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/21/elderly-businessmen-to-benefit-president-validates-ratification-of-visa-accord-with-india/
[xv] “IG Sindh opposes military operation in Karachi,” Geo News, November 21, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=76461.
[xvi] “Senate body meeting: PCG understaffed, serving without ammunition,” Express Tribune, November 21, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/469044/senate-body-meeting-pcg-understaffed-serving-without-ammunition/.
[xvii] “Aslam Beg files review petition against SC’s Asghar Khan verdict,” Geo News, November 21, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=76458.
[xviii] “Protest against suicide attack on Qazi Hussain Ahmed,” Geo News, November 20, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=76331.
[xix] “Imran Khan a positive force in politics: Bilawal,” Express Tribune, November 20, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/468658/imran-khan-a-positive-force-in-politics-bilawal/