Pakistan Security Brief - September 20, 2011
Obama Administration to increase civilian aid to Pakistan; Six killed in Peshawar marketplace bombing; Pakistan looks to Afghanistan to stop cross-border attacks; Several arrests in connection to Karachi suicide bombing, TPP claims attack; Rangers launch operation in Pak Colony; Malik comments on Karachi violence; PLM-N Leader calls for ban on political parties with militant wings; Islamabad refuses to turn over former ISI head; Security forces arrest 15 militants in South Waziristan; Militants fire on NATO containers, remote bomb destroys oil tanker; 20 militants killed in Orakzai; Gunmen kill 26 in bus attack in Balochistan; Pakistan suspects U.S. spies in aid organizations; UN appeals for $365 million for flood relief; Unmanned drones future of warfare.
- U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, told a Pakistani Radio station on Monday that U.S.-Pakistan relations had encountered a period of regression in terms of intelligence sharing and counterterrorism following the May 2 raid on bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound by U.S. Special Operations Forces. Munter described the relations between the two counties as “rough,” but said that the Obama administration sought to increase funding to Pakistan’s civilian government.
- According to officials, six people were killed and another 31 were wounded in a large bomb explosion in a Peshawar marketplace late Monday night. The bomb was carried to the marketplace via motorcycle and wreaked significant damage on the area, destroying nearly 30 shops. The market targeted was the biggest music and video market in the province.
- Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti made a request to the Afghan government to “fulfill its obligations under…international law” by improving efforts at border security to prevent militants from carrying out cross-border attacks in Pakistan. Hoti credited Pakistan with defeating militants in “Swat, Dir, and Bajaur,” and pledged that Pakistan would continue its fight against terrorists, using all force necessary. He called upon all political parties to “get united against terrorists,” whom he claimed were aided by “secret agencies of other countries.” Hoti also said that Pakistan would assist peace committees and anti-Taliban militias known as lashkars in combating terrorism.
- On Tuesday, Sindh Home Minister Manzoor Wasan announced that suspects had been arrested in connection with Monday’s suicide bombing of Police Superintendant Chaudhry Aslam’s house in Karachi. Wasan said that the number of arrests, identities of suspects, and other details related to the case could not yet be released. Aslam, who heads the anti-extremist cell of the Sindh police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID), was targeted Monday in an attack that killed eight people, including a woman and child. A Joint Investigation Team (JIT) assembled at the site of the attack on Tuesday to investigate the bombing. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has taken credit for the attack and pledged to continue to target police officials that combat the Taliban. Aslam, who survived the attack, announced that he would continue to fight the militants and denounced their targeting of women and children.
- Rangers launched a search operation in Pak Colony on Tuesday. Officials announced that Rangers cordoned off the area and commenced house-to-house searches after receiving information about a criminal presence in Pak Colony.
- In a press conference on Monday, Interior Minister Rehman Malik made a variety of statements regarding violence in Karachi. Notably, Malik indicated that terrorists had escalated to targeting innocent victims. Malik confirmed that he himself had been receiving threats from terrorists and reported President Zardari’s commitment of funds to enhance Sindh province police efforts in the current climate of violence. Malik briefly commented on the kidnapping of Shahbaz Taseer, telling reporters that the son of slain former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer would “be recovered as soon as the government has got some clues.”
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif declared that any political party with an armed wing should be banned from the political scene in Karachi to prevent future violence in the city. In the same conference of “traders, bankers, and political leaders,” Sharif also offered his opinion on remedying Pakistan’s current economic and energy crisis, saying that Pakistan’s “government was mainly responsible” for the latter. Sharif claimed that “fresh elections” would solve Pakistan’s economic, energy, and political crises.
- The Pakistani government refused to turn over former chief of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Javed Nasir, to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague. The tribunal sought custody of Nasir for his alleged support of Muslim fighters in Bosnia during their campaign against the Serbian army in the 1990s. Islamabad claimed that Nasir has suffered memory loss following a car crash and was therefore incapable of responding to interrogation. The court summons was issued after the testimony of Serbian army officers revealed Nasir’s role in providing arms and support to the Bosnians.
- Pakistani security forces arrested 15 militants and confiscated two trucks filled with explosives in South Waziristan on Tuesday. According to local military officials, the bomb-ridden trucks were headed to Karachi.
- Militants opened fire on NATO containers in Khyber agency killing a driver and injuring a passenger on Tuesday. On Monday, an oil tanker carrying fuel to NATO forces in Afghanistan was blown up by a remote control bomb in Nowshera. No militants have been apprehended in connection with either attack.
- One soldier was killed and five others were wounded when Taliban militants attacked a military checkpoint near Dabori in Orakzai agency. At least eight Taliban militants were killed in a retaliatory attacks carried out by paramilitary forces. There has been no independent confirmation of the deaths.
- Armed assailants killed 26 people in an attack on a bus traveling through Balochistan on Tuesday. According to the driver, militants stopped the bus, which was carrying Shia pilgrims, and opened fire after forcing the passengers off the bus in what was thought to be a sectarian attack. Three additional people were killed when gunmen opened fire on an ambulance headed to the attack site in Mastung.
- U.S. flood relief efforts in Pakistan have been hampered due to Pakistani government fears that U.S. aid organizations have been infiltrated by the CIA. The Pakistanis’ heighted suspicions come in response to the discovery of a “fake” CIA vaccination campaign in Abbottbad which attempted to obtain DNA from bin Laden’s relatives. A western aid worker highlighted the restrictions saying, “Many aid workers are not getting visas and there is a major problem in getting access to certain areas.”
- Devastating flooding in Pakistan this year has killed nearly 250 people, destroyed over 600,000 homes, and has displaced over 2 million Pakistanis. The UN has appealed to the international community for $365 million in flood relief for victims, which it says will be distributed to those affected by the floods during the next six months. Pakistan has set up relief camps, but many areas either have no camps for victims to seek refuge or have camps that have already reached capacity. Many international donors have refused to pledge aid until Pakistan delivers a “clear blueprint” for aid distribution, which has been “seen as an indicator of a serious lack of global credibility for the administration of President Asif Ali Zardari.”
- Drone studies conducted in 2010 have demonstrated that drones may be capable of killing targets after autonomously searching for and positively identifying them. The prospect of using drones in battlefield conditions will open a dialogue on the “understanding of international law,” according to a new report in the Washington Post, as drones must be able to distinguish between “enemy combatants, surrendering troops and civilians.” Drone strikes currently require humans to make firing decisions, but in the future drones may be able to “function on their own,” creating probable legal and ethical questions, although scientists believe that building “ethical” drones is possible within the next 10 to 20 years.