Pakistan Security Brief - September 13, 2012
Pakistan condemns killing of U.S. ambassador to Libya and anti-Islam film; U.S. embassy tightens security; Pakistan's blocks anti-Islam film from YouTube; American worker held hostage by al Qaeda pleads with Israel for help 140 victims of Karachi factory blaze identified, owners charged with murder; Court tells federal and local governments to crack down on dumping of bodies; Polio returns to Torghar district, KP; Seven construction workers killed in Balochistan; Four lashkar volunteers killed in Tirah Valley; Three militants arrested in Orakzai angency.
Protests over anti-Islam film
In a statement on Wednesday, Pakistan’s foreign ministry condemned, “the killing of U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and several other staff members in an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.” The ministry also condemned the anti-Islam film that precipitated the violent riots in Libya and Egypt stating it slandered, “ the revered and pious personality of Prophet Mohammad.” Referring to the film, the ministry added that such actions coinciding with the commemoration of 9/11, “provoked hatred, discord and enmity within societies and between peoples of various faiths.”
After the recent protests and the killing of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, the U.S. embassy in Islamabad and the U.S. consulate in Lahore reportedly increased their security on Wednesday. According to a senior police officer in charge of diplomatic security, due to “the possible threats to the U.S. embassy” security had been increased and that they, “expect some protests against the embassy tomorrow and we are preparing to handle that.”
In order to prevent violent protests, the Ministry of Information Technology on Wednesday ordered the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to block the anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims” from YouTube. A senior PTA official confirmed that it “started blocking the video [from YouTube] within 10 minutes of receiving instructions from the ministry” and were working to block it from other sites as well.
Al Qaeda hostage
According to SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant groups online, a video of an American development worker kidnapped by al Qaeda in Pakistan in August 2011, Warren Weinstein, has surfaced on the internet. In the video, Weinstein asks for Israel to negotiate with al Qaeda for his release. He originally was filmed asking President Obama to meet al Qaeda’s demands. In this new video, Weinstein asks Prime Minister Netanyahu, “as one Jew to another, to please intervene on my behalf, to work with the mujahideen.”
After the September 11 blaze at a garment factory in Karachi that left 249 workers dead, only 140 have been identified as of Thursday. Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah said that the factory owners had gone into hiding, though they have been barred from leaving the country. Karachi police have registered murder charges against them and “several government officials for showing utter negligence to provide adequate security to factory workers,” according to Mohammad Nawaz Gondal, head of the local police station.
Levies force reportedly “arrested three militants during a raid in Orakzai agency on Wednesday.” The forces raided the house of a militant commander named Kajori and arrested him as well as two other militants. The men were “shifted to an unknown location for interrogation.”
Bodies in Bags
On September 12, the Peshawar High Court (PHC) demanded that the federal government and government officials in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa put an end to the dumping of murder victims’ bodies in gunnysacks in Peshawar and adjacent districts. The PHC accused local officials of indifference to murder cases, arguing that they failed to protect their citizens from such assaults. The Court further put the federal and provincial governments on notice that it would take action if nothing was done to correct the situation.
After being declared polio-free in 2010, Torghar district in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has lost that status after health authorities confirmed the presence of the P1 virus in a 10-month-old girl today. Rawalpindi lost its polio-free status on September 12, after the same virus was discovered in a three-year-old boy. Should Pakistan be unable to eradicate the virus, its citizens may have difficulties conducting pilgrimages to Mecca due to travel restrictions linked with the virus.