Pakistan Security Brief - September 13, 2011
Zawahiri says al Qaeda responsible for Arab Spring; Gunmen kill five children in school bus attack; NATO conducts aerial surveillance for kidnapped Pakistani boys in Afghanistan; Pakistan worries that TTP has found “safe haven” in Afghanistan; Curfew in NWA continues; Blast kills ANP district president; Pakistani soldiers deploy to border; Chief Minister Hoti calls on MQM to respond; Political ties to Karachi violence, says Malik; Hasan blasts MQM; MQM demands investigation into former home minister Mirza; Karachi violence suo moto case resumes; No leads in Weinstein kidnapping; Indian and Pakistan sign Memorandum of Understanding; Indian police arrest man in connection with New Delhi bombing; Iran and Pakistan agree to step up efforts in combating terrorism; Students blame U.S. for Pakistan’s violence; U.S. sends flood aid to Pakistan; Tensions arise in Punjab Assembly over Taseer kidnapping; Strikes in Balochistan.
New Zawahiri Tape
- In an hour long message titled “The Dawn of Imminent Victory,” new al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri claimed that the September 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S. facilitated this year’s Arab Spring, which he called the “Arab volcano.” Zawahiri encouraged citizens of in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya, where autocratic leadership has been toppled, to adopt Islamic rule. Zawahiri’s video address included unseen footage of deceased al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and challenged current U.S. alliances with countries such as Saudi Arabia.
Peshawar school bus attack
- Gunmen opened fire on a school bus killing five children and wounding 19 others outside of Peshawar on Tuesday. According to the article, the struggle between local tribal forces and Taliban militants in Matani, the site of the attack, has motivated the Taliban to target civilians in the area, but Tuesday’s attack marks the first targeting of a school bus.
- NATO announced that it had begun aerial surveillance operations in an attempt to locate the Pakistani boys who were kidnapped by the TTP in Bajaur nearly two weeks ago. The militants have refused to release the boys until their demands have been met and tribal leaders of the Mamund tribe, to which the boys belonged, withdraw their support of the Pakistani government. Pakistan had previously called upon Kabul to assist in the release of the boys, although Afghan officials stated that they remained unsure whether the boys were actually being held within the country.
- Pakistan military officials expressed their belief that Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leaders are currently seeking refuge in Afghanistan. The TTP has increased its cross-border operations, as displayed with the kidnapping of over 20 Pakistani boys nearly two weeks ago. The Pakistan military fears that Afghan officials are openly allowing cross-border operations; however, Afghan officials deny theses accusations.
- A curfew implemented in North Waziristan agency for four days to allow for the “movement of security forces” has been extended. Many of the region’s roads have been closed, which has resulted in the closure of government offices, schools, and markets. Locals have been unable to travel, and troops guarding the roads have been ordered to “shoot (offenders of the curfew) on sight.”
- A remote-controlled blast killed the Awami National Party’s (ANP) district president and injured three others in Lower Dir.
- Pakistani soldiers have been deployed to the border area of Upper Dir and neighboring Chitral in response to cross-border attacks orchestrated by Afghanistan-based militant groups. One attack in Lower Dir, one in Chitral, and two in Upper Dir have left dozens of civilians and security forces dead.
- Chief Minister of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province Ameer Haider Khan Hoti called on the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) to more adequately address Zulfiqar Mirza’s accusations that MQM supported terrorism and targeted killings in Karachi. He also commended the recent police crackdown on violence in Karachi and suggested that the force be increased to maintain peace in the city.
- Interior Minister Rehman Malik told reporters on Monday that many of the “target killers” that have been arrested in Karachi in recent weeks have links to political parties. Malik vowed to present the list of those arrested to the National Assembly to expose the truth.
- Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) leader Syed Munawar Hasan told reporters on Monday that the MQM was destroying Pakistanand that it has “introduced extortion, target killing and body bag culture in the Sindh capital and terrorism in Karachi.” He questioned MQM’s alliance with President Asif Zardari and urged the president to remove Sindh’s MQM governor.
- On Monday, MQM National Assembly leader Syed Haider Abbas Rizvi made demands that former Sindh home minister Zulfiqar Mirza be investigated for allegedly issuing 300,000 arms licenses. Rizvi also called for Mirza’s arrest for the murder of Karachi gangster Rehman Dakait. Rizvi denied claims by Mirza that the MQM was linked to Karachi violence.
- The Supreme Court Karachi violence suo moto case resumed and Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry immediately “asked the government to submit a written statement that it would not support armed groups.” Advocate General Sindh Fateh Malik advocated for the return of military rule in Karachi, stating that there was, historically, peace in the city during military rule but violence in the city when civilian governments were in power. Others noted that the violence in Karachi was not the result of government failure but instead the result of “internal unrest.”
- No new leads have emerged in the kidnapping of 70 year old American Warren Weinstein from his home in Lahore a month ago. Officials have been unable to determine if Weinstein is still in the country and claim, "The abductors have not so far established any contact regarding their demands." According to the article, although the kidnapping of Pakistanis is common place throughout the country, the abduction of a westerner from the city of Lahore is an anomaly.
- India and Pakistani signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Monday to end cross-border drug trafficking. A delegation from the Indian Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) commended Pakistani efforts to curb poppy cultivation and announced, “The menace of drugs must come to an end in the Subcontinent and it is possible if India and Pakistan make coordinated efforts to stop the cross-border traffic.”
- Indian police have arrested a computer hacker, Manu Oza, for sending a fake email claiming that the Indian Mujahedeen carried out last week’s New Delhi bombing. Oza used the name of a foreign militant to send the email. Indian authorities still maintain that the attack was orchestrated by a terrorist group based in India.
- A Monday meeting between Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Yusuf Raza Gilani, and Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, resulted in both countries agreeing to “take effective steps in combating terrorism through close cooperation and coordination.” Gilani stated that “no one would be able to harm [Pakistan’s] ties with Iran.” On another note, Gilani thanked Ahmadinejad for providing flood relief to Pakistani flood victims.
Opinions in Pakistan on 9/11
- In an interview with a BBC reporter, university students in Islamabad say that life has changed a great deal after 9/11. Some stated that they hate the U.S. because their “freedom has being damaged by bombings” within Pakistan. Others said that they didn’t hate America, but instead hate American policies, which they believe are to blame for Pakistan’s violence. One student also comment that America should “retreat [from Pakistan and Afghanistan]” because he believed the “damage [had] been done.”
- On Monday, the U.S. sent food and medical aid to Pakistan in response to the devastating flooding occurring in the country’s southern regions. According to a spokesman from the U.S. State Department, food aid is intended to reach 350,000 Pakistanis and medical aid is intended to support at least 500,000 of those affected by the flooding.
- The opposition walked out of the Punjab Assembly (PA) on Monday upon “unsatisfactory” assurances from the provincial government that Shahbaz Taseer, son of former governor Salmaan Taseer, would be recovered. Taseer was kidnapped from Lahore 17 days ago, and police have few leads in the case. PPP Deputy Parliamentary Leader Shaukat Basra charged that “all the high-ups of Punjab Police including [Inspector General], [Director Inspector General] and others would have been on high alert and the kidnapped would have been recovered in no time,” had the kidnapping involved the son of the Chief Minister.
- A strike condemning the abduction of the Baloch National Movement’s (BNM) central finance secretary resulted in the closure of stores, restaurants, banks, and schools throughout Balochistan on Monday. A local journalist, Javed Naseer, stated that the strike was also a response to the frequent discovery of the mutilated bodies of Baloch missing persons.