Pakistan Security Brief - October 25, 2011
U.S. reduces pressure on Pakistan for military offensive in North Waziristan, U.S. military leader seeks to rebuild U.S.-Pakistani military partnership; Karzai claims interview was “misinterpreted”; Pakistan retrieves sensitive date from grounded Indian helicopter; Pakistan and China discuss cooperation; 18,000 refugees flee Khyber agency; Conference demands ban on military operations in North Waziristan; Anti-Taliban leader killed; TTP releases videos of kidnapped Swiss couple; Judge shot in Muzaffarabad; Lahore police arrest man linked to suicide bombing; Ten bodies discovered over 24 hours in Karachi.
During a visit to Pakistan last week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked Pakistan to “play a constructive role in the Afghan reconciliation process” and, if possible, to bring the “Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table.” Clinton called on Pakistan to eliminate the Haqqani Network, while alleviating pressure on Pakistan to launch a “full-scale military offensive” against the Haqqani Network in North Waziristan. Clinton, instead, encouraged Pakistan “to persuade the Haqqanis to pursue peace.” The U.S. military’s second-in command in Afghanistan, Lieutenant General Curtis Scaparrotti is also working to rebuild ties between the U.S. and Pakistan. According to Scaparrotti, previously the U.S. and Pakistani militaries conducted coordinated operations along Afghanistan’s eastern border to eliminate Taliban safe havens. However, this cooperation disintegrated following the May 2 U.S. raid in Abbottabad that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Scaparrotti announced his intentions to rebuild the military partnership and added, “If we work together, we can have a joint effect on (the insurgents), and we need to do so.” Meanwhile, the Haqqani Network announced that it would not partake in peace talks with the U.S. unless the talks were directed by the Taliban Shura, or “leadership council.”
After a Pakistani TV channel aired an interview recorded with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Karzai has claimed that his statements in the interview have been “misinterpreted.” In the interview, Karzai said that if the U.S. and Pakistan engaged in a war, Afghanistan would support its neighbor Pakistan. However, Karzai charges that the Pakistani TV channel only aired the “first part” of the interview where Karzai is referencing Afghanistan’s “willingness” and support to house Pakistani refugees.
India has reportedly discovered that Pakistan downloaded highly sensitive data, including “nicknames,” “code signs,” and the “coordinates of all helipads” around the Line of Control (LOC) dividing Pakistan and Indian controlled Kashmir, from its grounded Cheetah helicopter. Pakistan Air Force jets forced the Indian helicopter to land after it strayed in Pakistani air space on Sunday.
On Monday, Chinese and Pakistani officials and academics met in Beijing to discuss cooperation efforts between the two countries as well as the expansion of “investments in each other’s countries.” Pakistan is seeking Chinese investment in its “energy, telecommunications, infrastructure, and port development” projects, according to Pakistan’s Ambassador to China, Masood Khan.
On Tuesday, Pakistani officials announced that over 18,000 displaced Khyber agency residents have arrived at the Jalozai refugee camp. The mass exodus comes a few days after Pakistani security forces ordered residents of Bara sub-district, Khyber agency to leave their homes in preparation for a military operation against the region’s militants.
On Monday, a multiparty conference in Lahore requested that the Pakistani government refrain from conducting any military operations in North Waziristan. The conference, which was composed of approximately 60 political and religious parties, pushed the government to adopt the resolutions of the recent All-Party Conference (APC) which banned military action in North Waziristan. The conference also appealed to the Supreme Court to open a suo moto hearing on U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan.
The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has released two videos of a Swiss couple kidnapped from Loralai, Balochistan on July 1 of this year. The TTP has held the couple hostage for the past four months but says it will release the couple if the U.S. releases a female neuroscientist named Aafia Siddiqui, who is currently serving time for terrorism in a U.S. prison. In the videos, the couple is seen holding a copy of a Pakistani newspaper dated September 15, although the TTP claims that the couple is still alive.
Ghulam Mustafa Mughal, a high-level judge in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, was shot in Muzaffarabad on Tuesday. A local police official commented on the incident, saying, “At the moment, we cannot say whether it’s terrorism or some type of enmity. We have cordoned off the area and launched a search operation.”
On Tuesday, Lahore police arrested Muhammad Zubair for his connection to a suicide bombing carried out on the first anniversary of the 2007 government offensive on the Lal Masjid mosque. According to police officials, Zubair was a member of the Ghazi force and maintained links with the TTP.
The violence in Karachi continues as ten bodies have been discovered in the city over the past 24 hours. On Monday, six murder victims were found throughout the city and police uncovered four additional bodies on Tuesday.