Pakistan Security Brief - September 14, 2012
Pakistanis demand response to controversial anti-Islam film; Al Qaeda releases another video of American worker; Factory owners granted “protective bail;” U.S. Senate comes to halt over Pakistan; Seven killed in Karachi; Eight killed in Khyber agency; School in Swabi bombed; Jirga leader and six others killed near Tutak; Five killed in an IED attack in Tirah Valley; Farmers outraged at fertilizer bans; Inspector General of FC “too busy” to meet with UN missing persons group; Sindh High Court wants government response to missing persons; factory owners granted “protective bail;” Former prime minister’s son arrested.
Protests Over Anti-Islam Film
A controversial video about the Prophet Mohammed has sparked protests across Pakistan. Protesters called for Pakistan to expel the U.S. Ambassador, cut diplomatic ties between the two nations, ban the movie around the world, and punish its producer. They also demanded the U.S. to apologize for the film, although Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has already said the U.S. does not support the film in any way. The Jamaat-i-Islami religious party threatened to attack the US embassy in Islamabad if the Pakistani government did nothing.
U.S. Aid to Pakistan
Work on the Senate floor came to a standstill on Thursday when Republican Senator Rand Paul refused to give unanimous consent on any Senate business until his two amendments to block aid to Pakistan, Libya, and Egypt were voted on. Paul’s amendment regarding Pakistan calls for the U.S. to prohibit aid to the county until it releases Dr. Shakil Afridi, who allegedly worked with the CIA to track down Osama bin Laden. If the Senate fails to vote on his amendments, Paul will also continue his current hold on the nomination of Richard Olson as the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan. Moira Bagley, Paul’s Communication’s Director stated, “We are continuing our hold on the ambassador until we are allowed time and debate on a Senate vote to cut U.S foreign aid to Pakistan.” Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate would not work through the weekend over the deadlock and told Paul, “I just think my friend from Kentucky maybe should have run for the secretary of state rather than the Senate.”
Al Qaeda hostage
Al Qaeda has released a second video this week showing Warren Weinstein, an American aid worker captured in Pakistan in 2011, begging for help. Al Sahab, which is al Qaeda’s media branch, posted the video on the internet late Thursday. This time Weinstein was filmed asking his family to gather Jewish support in the U.S. to put political pressure on the Obama administration in the hopes that they might negotiate his release with al Qaeda. Weinstein even asked his family to try and pressure Mitt Romney into to using “his influence to get him released.”
The owners of the Karachi garment factory that went up in flames on Tuesday were granted “protective bail” today. While police are opening a murder case against them, they cannot be put into jail for eight days under the bail terms. Family members of victims are outraged that the factory owners are not being punished more harshly at this time.
Officials interviewed by Dawn claim that eight people were killed in two different attacks in Khyber agency on Thursday. A roadside explosive device destroyed a vehicle in Bhukarh area of Bazar-Zakhakhel and killed four tribesmen affiliated with a militant group. Four members of a family were killed by a mortar shell that fell on a house in Akakhel while two others were in critical condition. Unidentified militants blew up a house in Akakhel as well.
Five people were killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) in the Tirah Valley of Khyber agency on Thursday. The IED exploded near a vehicle and killed the five passengers on the spot and injured several others, according to a Levies official.
Seven people lost their lives in Karachi due to violence between Thursday and Friday. A grenade attack in New Karachi killed one man and injured six. The attack was related to extortion according to police sources. Another person died of gunshot wounds in Pir Colony. Unknown gunmen shot and killed one person while injuring another in Karachi’s Gulshan-e-Iqbal area. Two other people were killed by gunfire in two separate events in the city’s Khokhrapar and Ayub Goth areas. Saddar Police killed two suspects that were accused of stealing a motorcycle. Also, a ten-day-old body was found in Pak Colony area.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa violence
Unidentified gunmen on motorcycles killed tribal elder and jirga leader Saeed Ahmed Qalandrani, his two guards and his four friends. A Balochistan Levies official told the Express Tribune that they were all killed on the spot on Thursday when they were returning to Tutak.
Farmers in Mir Ali, North Waziristan are furious over Pakistan’s efforts to cut militants’ access to fertilizers used as component materials in IEDs. An initial ban three years ago targeted fertilizers containing ammonium nitrate and urea, but now security forces are targeting all kinds of fertilizers. Farmers protest that their harvests have been halved by these efforts and that crops look faded. Additionally, they complain that little fertilizer is available on the black market to make up for deficits caused by the bans, and that what is available is too expensive. Ilyas Khan, a farmer in Mir Ali, said “this fertilizer ban is destroying us.”
Inspector General of the Frontier Corps in Balochistan Major General Obaidullah Khan Khattak will allegedly be “too busy” to meet with the U.N. Working Group on Enforced of Involuntary Disappearances when it comes to Quetta on Saturday, September 15. The group had wanted to speak with Khattak about the problem of missing persons in Balochistan; however, as the group does not have an investigation mandate, another Balochistan government official stated that Khattak was not required to meet with them. Former president of the Balochistan High Court Bar Association Advocate Shakil Hadi has also refused to meet with the group, protesting that it is interfering in Pakistan’s internal affairs.
The Sindh High Court has issued a warning to various government ministries that they must comply with court orders to aid the families of missing citizens supposedly in law enforcement hands. The court received no replies to its summons from the ministries of the interior, women, youth, and inter-provincial coordination, and said that if a reply was not registered within two weeks, ministry officials would be personally held accountable for violating court orders.
Ali Musa Gilani arrested over drugs case
Former prime minister Yusaf Raza Gilani’s son was arrested on Friday over his alleged involvement in a drugs smuggling case. Ali Musa Gilani was taken into police custody before a scheduled court appearance in Islamabad, but then released on bail shortly after. He currently faces charges of pressuring Pakistan’s Health Ministry to increase its export quota of ephedrine, a common cough medicine ingredient that is also a strong component found in ecstasy. The case against Gilani will resume on September 25th.