Pakistan Security Brief - November 29, 2012

FM Khar says U.S.-Pakistan military/intelligence ties fully restored; Conflicting stories of S. Waziristan drone attack; Senior Taliban commander wounded in suicide attack; Ten killed, 20 arrested in Karachi; Three suicide bomber trainees arrested in Lakki Marwat; Several ministers unhappy about new counterterrorism bill; Balochistan govt proposes militant rehabilitation program; UAE says Pakistan has important role in Afghan peace process; Iranian Consul General hopes for future collaboration with Pakistan; Nigeria, Pakistan discuss cooperation in oil and gas sectors; Jail authorities deny Dr. Shakil Afridi on hunger strike.

U.S.-Pakistani Relations

  • Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said on Wednesday that Pakistan and the United States have fully restored their military and intelligence ties after over a year’s worth of strained relations resulting following various incidents in 2011. These events included the killing of two Pakistanis by a CIA contractor in Lahore, the May 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound, and a NATO air raid that accidentally killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Khar said that despite these past clashes, Pakistan and the U.S. have “moved away from that into a positive trajectory…We are coming closer to developing what could be common positions. We wish to see a responsible transition in Afghanistan.”[i]

Drone Attack

  • According to some local sources, a Thursday drone strike in the Barmal area of South Waziristan agency killed at least three people and wounded four. The strike allegedly targeted a vehicle in the region; it is unclear whether the casualties were militants, though reports did say that “foreigners were among those killed.” Other sources report that the drone fired two missiles at suspected militants walking in an open field but caused no damage or casualties. A third story reports that the drone targeted a house in Barmal area and killed two suspected militants. This is the first strike to hit the Waziristan tribal region since late October.[ii]

Militancy

  • A Thursday suicide attack in South Waziristan’s capital of Wana killed six people and wounded 12, including senior Taliban commander Maulvi Nazir (alias Mullah Nazir). Nazir’s faction is affiliated with al Qaeda, the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and Hafiz Gul Bahadur’s militant faction. Wazir’s focus on attacking American troops in Afghanistan rather than Pakistani forces, however, allegedly put him at odds with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Uzbek militants whom he expelled from his territory some years back. It is unclear who is responsible for the attack.[iii]

  • Ten people were killed in Karachi on Thursday in various shooting incidents. Unidentified attackers killed a man and a woman in their car in Sachal area. Two doctors were killed when assailants opened fire on them along Abul Hasan Isphahani road. Gunmen shot dead four Mohajir Qaumi Movement-Haqiqi (MQM-H) members in a taxicab in Quaidabad. A man died from gunshot wounds on Hub River Road in Baldia Town, while elsewhere in Baldia Town’s Abidabad area, unknown attackers killed another man. Police claim to have arrested 15 suspects.[iv]

  • Karachi Crime Investigation Department police arrested five TTP militants in Manghopir on Thursday and recovered a small weapons stash. The men allegedly belonged to the TTP Qari Safique faction.[v]

  • Khyber-Pakhunkhwa police arrested three teen-aged boys and their “handler” en route to North Waziristan on Wednesday. The boys were being transported to the region for suicide bomber training; police detained them and their handler Yahya in Lakki Marwat after an anonymous tip. Yahya is supposedly a member of a Karachi Sultanabad gang tasked with recruiting suicide bombers for militant forces.[vi]

Counterterrorism Bill

  • While the federal cabinet approved the draft of the National Counter-Terrorism Authority Bill 2012 on Wednesday, several ministers were reportedly dissatisfied with it. Interior Minister Rehman Malik had said that the Authority would work somewhat like a think-tank, doing research on terrorism and sharing information and collaborating with existing counter terrorism agencies. One minister claimed, however, that there were already national agencies and wings within the police and military to address terrorism. He claimed that the only problem with the existing agencies was the lack of coordination between them all. Another minister from Karachi said that counter-terrorism organizations would have no effect until young minds were properly educated and therefore less susceptible to extremist ideology.[vii]             

Militant Rehabilitation

  • Balochistan Governor Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi and other prominent provincial leaders attended a meeting to review the security situation in the province. They proposed the establishment of a special fund to promote the rehabilitation of militants willing to surrender and cease their armed struggle. The fund aims to provide jobs to militants if they renounce terrorism and stop conducting attacks.[viii]

UAE-Pakistan Relations

  • On Wednesday, UAE State Foreign Minister Dr. Anwar Gargash highlighted the positive relations between Pakistan and the UAE, and expressed the UAE’s support for Pakistan’s role in the Afghan peace process. He stated that Pakistan had an important role to play in the negotiations, and that the international community should extend its full support to reconciliation and nation-building efforts in Afghanistan. He also commented that the UAE would “always stand by [its] friends in Pakistan” throughout the process.[ix]

Iranian-Pakistani Relations

  • Abbas Ali Abdollahi, Iran’s Consul General to Pakistan, expressed hope on Wednesday that collaboration between Iran and Pakistan on the new gas pipeline would encourage future cooperation and promotion of trade and investment opportunities between the two countries. In addition to suggesting that Iranian banks open branches in Pakistan and vice versa, he offered to provide cheaper electricity to Pakistan and said that Pakistani investors and exporters ought to hold exhibitions to be fully supported by the Iranian government in various locations in Iran. Abdollahi also highlighted the need to eliminate non-tariff barriers, decrease tariff fees, and establish a joint Iranian-Pakistani business chamber to promote trade between Iran and Pakistan.[x]

Nigerian-Pakistani Relations

  • In a Wednesday meeting with Nigerian Ambassador to Pakistan Dauda Danladi, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr. Asim Hussain welcomed Nigerian interest in potential collaboration in the oil and gas industries. Danladi advocated for direct government-to-government discussion and cooperation in the oil and gas sectors, and affirmed that Pakistani investors could benefit from opportunities in Nigerian “free zones for international exploration and production companies.”[xi]

Dr. Shakil Afridi

  • Peshawar Central Jail’s assistant superintendent  Ayub Khan has told the BBC that Dr. Shakil Afridi, the man who allegedly helped lead U.S. forces to Osama bin Laden, is not on a hunger strike. Afridi’s brother Jamil had previous stated that the doctor was not eating in protest of the conditions of his solitary confinement; another prison official also said Dr. Afridi was on strike. Afridi was sentenced to 33 years in jail for allegedly helping a banned militant group, but many see the sentencing as retaliation “for helping the [CIA] in its hunt for the al-Qaeda leader.”[xii]

             


[i] Katherine Houreld, “U.S., Pakistan ties fully repaired: Pakistani foreign minister,” Reuters, November 28, 2012. Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/28/us-pakistan-usa-idUSBRE8AR0R320121128.
[ii] “Three killed in South Waziristan drone attack,” Geo News, November 29, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=77538; “US drone appears to miss target in South Waziristan: officials,” Dawn, November 29, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/11/29/us-drone-appears-to-miss-pakistan-target-officials/; “US drone attack kills two suspected militants in South Waziristan,” Dawn, November 29, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/11/29/us-drone-attack-kills-two-suspected-militants-in-south-waziristna/.  
[iii] Hafiz Wazir, “Suicide bomber wounds key Taliban commander in Pakistan, kills six,” Reuters, November 29, 2012. Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/29/us-pakistan-taliban-commander-idUSBRE8AS0DP20121129.
[iv] “Eight killed in Karachi violence,” Dawn, November 29, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/11/29/two-killed-in-karachi-violence-police-arrest-15/; “2 killed in another car attack in Karachi,” Geo News, November 29, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=77521
[v] “Five TTP men held in Karachi,” Geo News, November 29, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=77534.
[vi] Zahir Shah Sherazi, “Three would-be bombers from Karachi arrested in Lakki Marwat,” Dawn, November 28, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/11/28/three-would-be-bombers-form-karachi-arrested-in-lakki-marwat/.
[vii] Khawar Ghumman, “Some ministers oppose move to set up NACTA: Cabinet approves bill on counter-terrorism body,” Dawn, November 29, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/29/some-ministers-oppose-move-to-set-up-nacta-cabinet-approves-bill-on-counter-terrorism-body/.
[viii] “Balochistan offers jobs to surrendering insurgents,” Express Tribune, November 29, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/472583/balochistan-offers-jobs-to-surrendering-insurgents/.
[ix] “Pakistan has major role in Afghan reconciliation: UAE,” The News, November 29, 2012. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-145546-Pakistan-has-a-major-role-in-Afghan-reconciliation:-UAE.
[x] “Iran hopeful IP pipeline will boost joint ventures,” PPI, November 28, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/471846/iran-hopeful-ip-pipeline-will-boost-joint-ventures/.
[xi] “Oil and gas sector: Pakistan welcomes Nigerian interest,” PPI, November 28, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/471848/oil-and-gas-sector-pakistan-welcomes-nigerian-interest/.
[xii] “Osama Bin Laden doctor Shakil Afridi ‘not on hunger strike,’” BBC, November 29, 2012. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20537411