Pakistan Security Brief - September 20, 2013

Interior Minister says talks with TTP have halted; Prime Minister expected to protest drone strikes in his speech to U.N.; Mullah Baradar to be released tomorrow; U.N. Ambassador calls for end to drone strikes; Russia willing to export electricity to Pakistan through Afghanistan; First stage of Karachi operation nearly over; Rangers given shoot on sight power; 250 terrorists have fled Karachi for North Waziristan; Indian and Pakistani parliamentarians discuss relations; House of political official attacked in Lower Kurram agency; Frontier Corps patrol attacked in Balochistan; Chief Minister of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa says that troops will stay in Malakand until normalcy is established; Kayani’s replacement could be known by October 7th; Iran may not build oil refinery in Gwadar; Change to anti-terrorism laws approved by Cabinet; New system created to monitor voice and data traffic going in and out of Pakistan.

Talks with the TTP

  • Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said on Thursday that talks with the Tehrik i Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had “come to a standstill.” He said that the TTP’s murder of an army general on Sunday has hurt the prospect for talks, and that the government has no intention of offering the TTP a cease-fire.[1]

  • According to a report in The Express Tribune on Friday, tensions between the military and the civilian leadership are high because of the government’s plan to initiate talks with the TTP, and the army’s refusal to agree to any preconditions, especially demands to withdraw troops from the tribal areas. The military has publicly played down this friction, but according to the report, the bomb attack which killed a general on Sunday has hardened army opposition to talks.[2]

Afghan-Pakistan Relations

  • According to a press release from the Foreign Office, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a high-ranking Taliban leader held by Pakistan, will be released from custody tomorrow.[3]

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

  • According to a statement by Foreign Office Spokesperson Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry on Thursday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is expected to comment on American drone strikes in Pakistan during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly on September 27th. This will be the first time that the Pakistani government directly raises the issue at the UN General Assembly.[4]

  • At a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Thursday, Pakistani Ambassador to the UN Masood Khan called for an end to American drone strikes in Pakistani territory. Khan claimed that drone strikes hurt counter-terrorism, infringe upon Pakistan’s sovereignty, and violate international law.  He also noted that Pakistan is helping the United States with the reconciliation process in Afghanistan.[5]

  • Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan met with American Ambassador Richard Olson in Islamabad on Friday to discuss U.S.-Pakistan relations. The meeting stressed security matters, with Khan noting actions taken by Pakistan against militants, and Olson saying that the U.S. has experience with security issues that could benefit Pakistan.[6]

Russia-Pakistan Relations

  • In a meeting on Thursday with Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal, Russian Deputy Minister of Energy Yury Sentyurin said that Russia is willing to export 5,000 megawatts of electricity to Pakistan through Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan.[7]

Karachi Unrest

  • According to Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the first stage of the Karachi operation is approaching completion. He said that the planned second and third stages would be more intense. Khan made this statement to the National Assembly on Thursday.[8]

  • On Friday, the Federal Cabinet gave more power to the paramilitary Sindh Rangers, who have been coordinating with police in the Karachi operations. The new powers include the ability to shoot suspected criminals on sight.[9]

  • Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan claimed on Thusday that the operations in Karachi have caused about 250 terrorists to flee the city. He says that they have relocated to North Waziristan.[10]

India-Pakistan Relations

  • At a conference of parliamentarians from both India and Pakistan on in Islamabad on Thursday, both sides spoke of the necessity of establishing warmer relations between the two countries. Various politicians urged talks over Indus river water, trade, humanitarian issues, and the future of Afghanistan.[11]

  • Seven Pakistani fishermen were arrested by the Indian Coast Guard on Friday when they crossed into Indian waters near Jamnagar Gujarat. The fishermen are being held in India for questioning.[12]

Militancy

  • Militants attacked the house of a political administration official in Sadda, Lower Kurram agency on Thursday. The militants fired shots and rockets at his house and then escaped. There are no reports of casualties.[13]

  • A total of two people were killed in two separate attacks in Karak district, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on Wednesday. A man in Shah Dar Khan was shot to death by ten attackers in his house. Three people have been arrested. Gunmen opened fire on two men in Chamba area, killing one and wounding the other.[14]

  • Militants attacked a Frontier Corps (FC) patrol with rockets on Friday in Bolan district, Balochistan. Five people were injured, including an officer. The attackers escaped after exchanging gunfire with the FC.[15]

  • A schoolteacher in Halimzai district, Mohmand agency was injured on Wednesday when unidentified attackers threw two hand-grenades at him.[16]

  • Several local politicians in Swat, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa have asked that the government not remove troops from the area. They said that they fear that militants would return to the area if the military withdraws.[17]

  • The Chief Minister of Kyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pervaiz Khattak, said on Thursday that the provincial government has not yet asked the army to leave Malakand district. He said that the army will remain until order is established in the area.[18]

Domestic

  • According to a report by The News on Thursday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will indicate who he intends to pick to replace Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani as army chief by October 7th. When Sharif appoints a new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, the next most senior general will become next in line to be Kayani’s replacement.[19]

  • According to a report in the Express Tribune, the planned Iranian-built oil refinery in Gwadar, Balochistan way not be constructed due to the Pakistani government’s refusal to give Iran a 25 percent rate of return, the incentive that was offered to the Pak Arab Refinery Limited (Parco).[20]

  • The government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is planning to cancel around 400 licenses for arms manufacturing and dealing. The provincial government has issued requests for details about the businesses of the license-holders, and 400 of the 600 license-holders have failed to respond adequately.[21]

  • Hardliners on the Council of Islamic Ideology blocked a proposal to give the death penalty to anyone who falsely accuses another person of blasphemy. Their argument was that if a harsh punishment is mandatory, people will be discouraged from reporting blasphemers.[22]

  • Pakistan’s cabinet approved changes to anti-terrorism laws on Friday. The proposed changes would give more powers to law enforcement, protect witnesses in terror related cases, and speed up terrorism trials.[23]

  • On Thursday, the government established a system to monitor voice and data traffic going in and out of the country to crack down on grey trafficking, or the use of voice over internet protocol (VoIP) methods of communication.[24]

Saudi-Pakistan Relations

  • The Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Aziz bin Ibrahim al Ghadeer met with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in Islamabad on Thursday. The two discussed the strength of relations between their countries, and Saudi commitment to establishing peace in the region.[25]



[1] Raja Asghar, “Taliban Talks Efforts at Standstill: Nisar,” Dawn, September 20, 2013. Available at: http://dawn.com/news/1044161/taliban-talks-efforts-at-standstill-nisar
[2] “Army, Government at Loggerheads over Taliban Talks,” The Express Tribune, September 20, 2013. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/606980/army-government-at-loggerheads-over-taliban-talks/
[3] “Pakistan to Free Top Taliban Prisoner Mullah Baradar Tomorrow,” Dawn, September 20, 2013. Available at: http://dawn.com/news/1044245/pakistan-to-free-top-taliban-prisoner-mullah-baradar-tomorrow
[4] Kamran Yousaf, “Policy Shift: Nawaz to Raise Drone Issue in UN Speech,” The Express Tribune, September 20, 2013. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/606841/policy-shift-nawaz-to-raise-drone-issue-in-un-speech/
[5] “Pakistan Raises Drone Strikes Issue at UN,” Dawn, September 20, 2013. Available at: http://dawn.com/news/1044066/pakistan-raises-drone-strikes-issue-at-un
[6] “Nisar, Olson Discuss Strategic Dialogue,” The Frontier Post, September 20, 2013. Available at: http://www.thefrontierpost.com/article/42508/
[7] “Russia Offers 5,000MW of Electricity through Afghanistan,” The News, September 20, 2013. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-25570-Russia-offers-5,000MW-of-electricity-through-Afghanistan
[8] Asim Yasin, “Karachi Operation…First Phase About to End, Says Nisar,” The News, September 20, 2013. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-25556-First-phase-about-to-end,-says-Nisar
[9] “Cabinet Approves Extraordinary Powers for Rangers,” The Frontier Post, September 20, 2013. Available at: http://www.thefrontierpost.com/article/42506/
[10] Qamar Zaman, “Upshot of Operation: Terrorists are Fleeing from Karachi, Says Interior Minister,” The Express Tribune, September 20, 2013. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/606838/upshot-of-operation-terrorists-are-fleeing-from-karachi-says-interior-minister/
[11] “Not Talking is Not an Option, Say Indian and Pakistan MPs,” The Hindu, September 20, 2013. Available at: http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/south-asia/not-talking-is-not-an-option-say-indian-and-pakistan-mps/article5146617.ece
[12] Aditi Phadnis, “Indian Coast Guard Arrest 7 Pakistani Fishermen,” The Express Tribune, September 20, 2013. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/606982/indian-coast-guard-arrest-7-pakistani-fishermen/
[13] “Targeted: PA Official’s House Attacked by Militants,” The Express Tribune, September 20, 2013. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/606638/targeted-pa-officials-house-attacked-by-militants/
[14] “Four Killed in Karak Incidents,” The News, September 20, 2013. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-203214-Four-killed-in-Karak-incidents
[15] “One FC Officer and Four Others Injured in Bolan Attack,” Dawn, September 20, 2013. Available at: http://dawn.com/news/1044225/one-fc-officer-and-four-others-injured-in-bolan-attack
[16] “Teacher Injured as School Attacked in Mohmand,” The News, September 20, 2013. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-203291-Teacher-injured-as-school-attacked-in-Mohmand
[17] “Politicians Ask Government no to Pull Forces out of Swat,” The News, September 20, 2013. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-203221-Politicians-ask-government-not-to-pull-forces-out-of-Swat
[18] Yousaf Ali, “Troops to Stay in Malakand Till Normalcy: Khattak,” The News, September 20, 2013. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-25558-Troops-to-stay-in-Malakand-till-normalcy%3a-Khattak
[19] Tariq Butt, “Gen Kayani’s Replacement will Become Clear by Oct 7,” The News, September 19, 2013. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-25550-Gen-Kayanis-replacement-will-become-clear-by-Oct-7
[20] Zafar Bhutta, “In Limbo: Gwadar Oil Refinery Future Uncertain,” The Express Tribune, September 19, 2013. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/606178/in-limbo-gwadar-oil-refinery-future-uncertain/
[21] Umer Farooq, “Putting the Muzzle: Govt to Cancel Licenses of Unregistered Arms Manufacturers, Dealers,” The Express Tribune, September 20, 2013. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/606632/putting-the-muzzle-govt-to-cancel-licences-of-unregistered-arms-manufacturers-dealers/
[22] Kalbe Ali, “CII Debate on Blasphemy Law: Move for Change Scuttled by Harliners,” Dawn, September 20, 2013. Available at: http://dawn.com/news/1044163/move-for-change-scuttled-by-hardliners
[23] “Federal Cabinet Approves Amendments to Anti-Terrorism Laws,” Dawn, September 20, 2013. Available at: http://dawn.com/news/1044227/federal-cabinet-approves-amendments-to-anti-terrorism-laws
[24] Mehtab Haider, “Govt Starts Monitoring of Overseas Phone Calls, Data,” The News, September 20, 2013. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-25559-Govt-starts-monitoring-of-overseas-phone-calls,-data
[25] Shakeel Anjurn, “Saudi British Envoys Meet Nisar,” The News, September 20, 2013. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-25571-Saudi,-British-envoys-meet-Nisar