Pakistan Security Brief - November 8, 2012

War of words continues regarding clash of institutions; TTP comments on Obama’s re-election; 18 people killed in Karachi between Wednesday and Thursday; Two militants arrested, three hideouts destroyed in Khyber; Two schools blown up in Mohmand agency; Two arrested in attack on truck in Balochistan; Man shot dead in Quetta; No fixed timeframe for troop withdrawal in KP; Pakistani general says Pakistan’s military build-up is purely for self-defense; U.S. Ambassador says Waziristan operation a Pakistani internal matter; Foreign Office spokesman confirms response from Afghanistan and ISAF over Mullah Fazlullah; Iran’s Vice President cancels visit to Islamabad; Hindus increasingly persecuted in Pakistan; Mobile SIM cards to be delivered to customers starting Dec. 1; Political leader says no Taliban in Karachi.

Institutional Clashes

  • After recent comments made by Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry over which institutions were in charge of safeguarding the national interest, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Nawaz Sharif on Thursday praised both Kayani and Chaudhry for reiterating the importance of Constitutional law and highlighting its supremacy in protecting the national interest. Sharif emphasized that the army symbolized strength and defense while the judiciary’s role was to interpret the Constitution and ensure the rule of law, and that protecting national interest was a collaborative effort between the two institutions. Sharif commented that “weakening [the Supreme Court] is like turning the country into a lawless jungle, whereas weakening army is tantamount to weakening national defense.” In contrast, former Chief of Army Staff General Aslam Baig said that Kayani’s and Chaudhry’s conflicting statements were “indicative of a dangerous situation” that could undermine any progress made in the last five years.[i]

Reaction to Obama’s Re-election

  • TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan commented that “we are amazed that Obama has been re-elected. But for us there is no difference between Obama and Romney; both are enemies. And we will keep up our jihad and fight alongside our Afghan brothers to get the Americans out of Afghanistan.” Additionally, President Obama’s re-election has also outraged some of Pakistan’s drone strike victims who have lost family members and friends in the attacks since they began during Obama’s first term in office. One man who lost his son in a drone strike said that “whenever he has a chance, Obama will bite Muslims like a snake;” another victim declared that “any American, whether Obama or Mitt Romney, is cruel….Whatever happens, it will be bad for Muslims.” [ii]

Militancy

  • Three Rangers were killed and 21 others were injured when a suicide bomber slammed his explosives-laden truck into a Rangers headquarters in the North Nazimabad area of Karachi on Thursday. 150 kilograms of explosives are thought to have been used in the attack, which severely damaged the facility. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan claimed TTP responsibility for the attack, as did Mullah Fazlullah’s spokesman Sirajuddin Ahmad. Initial reports suggest that either the Ataur Rehman division of the TTP or Mullah Fazlullah’s TTP Swat division carried out the attack.[iii].

  • Nine people were killed in Karachi on Thursday. One man was shot dead in Surjani town. An unidentified gunman shot and killed a head constable of police near Al Asif square. Two relatives were killed in Orangi No. 4 when an unidentified person opened fire on them. Another man was killed in Keamari. Three more men were shot dead; one in Sohrab Goth, one in Dalmia, and one in Baldia town. A woman was also killed by gun fire in the Landhi area.[iv]

  • Six people were killed in Karachi on Wednesday. A man belonging to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) was found shot dead in Manghopir. Three brothers were fired upon in their car on their way back from an electronics store in North Nazimabad. One brother was killed while the other two were injured. Another man was killed in a suspected sectarian attack in Haroonabad. Unidentified gunmen on motorcycles opened fire on a tea stall in Surjani town killing a member of the Bengali Action committee and injuring two of his associates. Two men were killed in Memon Goth when unidentified men riding on motorbikes opened fire on them, in what is suspected of being a “rivalry between two criminal gangs.”[v]

  • Security forces launched a search operation in the Bar Qambarkhel area of Bara sub-district in Khyber Agency on Wednesday, arresting two militants and destroying three of their hideouts. The security forces “plugged all entry and exit routes to Bar Qambarkhel area before launching a search operation,” in an attempt to root out the banned armed group Amr Bil maroof Wa Nahi Anil Munkir.[vi]

  • Two government schools were destroyed in Mohmand Agency on Wednesday. Militants blew up a primary school in Halimzai distcit and another primary school in Pindyali district.[vii]

  • Two people were injured in the Dasht area of Mastung district, Balochistan on Wednesday. Gunmen riding motorcycles “opened fire at [a] Chaman-bound [truck], injuring two persons on board.”[viii]

  • A man was shot and killed by unknown gunmen on motorcycles in Quetta on his way home on Wednesday.[ix]

Troops in the FATA

  • On Wednesday, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Governor Barrister Masood Kausar said that there was no fixed timeframe for troop withdrawal from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) “as long as peace is not achieved in Afghanistan.” He confirmed that a troop presence would remain in the region even after peace negotiations because the instability in Afghanistan was tangibly affecting security in the FATA. Kausar added that the government would have to work with the local population to ensure sustainable peace and stability.[x]

Defense Exhibition

  • Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Khalid Shameem Wynne speaking at the international defence exhibition IDEAS – 2012 Pakistan on Wednesday said that “the security scenario at the regional and global level is undergoing a major transformation, which has strategic implications for Pakistan.” He emphasized the need to make investments for Pakistan’s future security challenges, saying that Pakistan’s defense systems build-up would be solely for its own security, not for initiating attacks on neighboring countries.[xi]

Mullah Fazlullah

  • In a Thursday interview, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson said that any move to carry out an operation in North Waziristan was a Pakistani internal matter. He also reiterated ISAF forces’ Tuesday statement that if the U.S. received “actionable evidence” concerning Mullah Fazlullah’s whereabouts in Afghanistan, it would take action against him. Additionally, a spokesman from the Pakistani Foreign Office (FO) said in a press briefing that a dossier on Mullah Fazlullah had been sent to Afghanistan and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and that the Office had recently received a response. The spokesman said that the response “would be soon shared with the people.”[xii]

Iran-Pakistan Relations

  • Iranian Vice President Ali Saeedlou cancelled his planned visit to Islamabad at the last minute. An Iranian official interviewed by Dawn said that Tehran couldn’t find much reason to visit, and that the “Vice President can’t go to Pakistan for ceremonial purpose[s].” Saeedlou was originally scheduled to be in Islamabad for three days to push for “the challenging Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project and other collaborative projects.”[xiii]

Hindu Persecution

  • In a special report, AP describes the persecution and insecurity of Pakistan’s Hindu population at the hands of Pakistan’s Muslim majority. Several Hindu temples have been attacked in the last couple months, most recently during the wave of anti-Islam film riots across the country in September. Pakistani Hindus are faced with discrimination, forced conversion, legal troubles, and physical abuse in an increasingly extremist country; many have already fled to neighboring India. Nearly 3,000 Hindus left the country in 2012 alone. While recently the government has been taking increased notice of Hindu community grievances, Hindus’ struggle against inequalities and targeted violence is an uphill battle.[xiv]

Cell Phone Security Concerns

  • Due to heightened concerns that terrorists were using mobile SIMs to coordinate attacks, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Thursday that from December 1 onwards, cellphone companies would be obliged to personally deliver prepaid mobile phone cards to customers’ residences. He added that satellite phones would have to be registered with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, and that buyers would need to provide two identification documents upon purchasing a mobile phone SIM.[xv]

Karachi Violence

  • At a Thursday press conference, president of the Quami Watan Party and former federal minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao said that there were no Taliban in Karachi and that the Awami National Pary (ANP) and the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) were trying to manipulate politics by claiming there were. He argued that violence in Karachi was a law and order problem, not a militancy issue.[xvi]

  


[i] Amjad Mahmood, “Nawaz sees hope in CJ, COAS statements,” Dawn, November 8, 2012. Available at:  http://dawn.com/2012/11/08/nawaz-sees-hope-in-cj-coas-statements/; “COAS, CJ statements signal grave danger: Beg,” Geo News, November 7, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=74568.
[iii] “Karachi: 3 killed, 21 hurt in blast at Rangers Headquarters,” Geo News, November 8, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=74618;  “Taliban claim responsibility for suicide attack on Rangers in Karachi,” AFP et al., November 8,  2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/462565/blast-targeting-rangers-office-in-karachi-kills-one-injures-4/.
[iv] “Nine, including police officer, killed in Karachi’s violence,” Dawn, November 8, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/08/karachi-violence-claims-four-lives-3/
[v] “Two ‘sectarian’ killings: Three activists among six shot dead,” Dawn, November 8, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/08/two-sectarian-killings-three-activists-among-six-shot-dead/
[vi] “Suspects held, hideouts destroyed in Bara,” Dawn, November 8, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/08/suspects-held-hideouts-destroyed-in-bara-2/
[vii] “Two more schools blown up in Mohmand Agency,” The News, November 8, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-141785-Two-more-schools-blown-up-in-Mohmand-Agency
[viii] “Two injured in firing on container,” The News, November 8, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-141775-Two-injured-in-firing-on-container
[ix] “One shot dead in Quetta,” The News, November 8, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-141778-One-shot-dead-in-Quetta
[x] Zulfiqar Ali, “KP governor says: No timeframe for troop withdrawal from tribal areas,” Dawn, November 7, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/11/08/kp-governor-says-no-timeframe-for-troop-withdrawal-from-tribal-areas-2/.
[xi] “Pakistan defence is purely security driven: Gen Wynne,” APP, November 7, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/07/pakistan-defence-is-purely-security-driven-gen-wynne/
[xii] “Dossier sent to Afghan officials, Isaf over Moulvi Fazlullah: FO,” Dawn, November 8, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/08/dossier-sent-to-afghan-officials-isaf-over-moulvi-fazlullah-fo/; “North Waziristan operation is Pakistan’s internal matter: US Ambassador,” Geo News, November 8, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=74672.  
[xiii] Baqir Sajjad Syed, “Iran’s VP cancels Pakistan visit,” Dawn, November 8, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/11/08/irans-vp-cancels-pakistan-visit/
[xiv] Rebecca Santana, “Pakistan’s minority Hindus feel under attack,” AP, November 8, 2012. Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jImmzcrXd5lU6k9i-nivSQmUgE8Q?docId=7b85d61d335849c99c0cdbb52b5b87a7.
[xv] “Mobile SIMs to be delivered at residence of customers,” Dawn, November 8, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/11/08/mobile-sims-to-delivered-at-residence-of-customers-malik/.
[xvi] “No Taliban presence in Karachi, claims Sherpao,” Dawn, November 8, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/11/08/no-taliban-presence-in-karachi-claims-sherpao/