Pakistan Security Brief
Pasha arrives in the U.S. for talks; U.S.-Pakistani intelligence operations suspended since January; Foreign Secretary Bashir scheduled to visit DC; Ambassador Haqqani receives two year extension; Los Angeles Times: CIA has decreased detention of suspects abroad; Zardari: War in Afghanistan destabilizing Pakistan; 400 suicide bombers trained in NWA; Suicide bombing mastermind arrested in Bajaur; Tribal elders in Kurram ask for protection on local roads; Private aviation company ceases flights in Kurram; IDPs set to return to homes in Bajaur and Mohmand; Thirty militants killed in Mohmand; Five children injured in Mohmand; Two officers killed in Bazai; Bajaur “cleared of militants;” Clashes between LI and Ansarul Islam continue; Haji Rabat killed in Bara; Khyber tribesmen criticize government; Seven militants killed in Swat; World Bank details TTP influence in Swat; Gunfire in Peshawar; Three policemen injured in Mardan; Villagers in Kohat have fled after TTP threats; Loti pipeline blown up; Strikes in Kashmir; Training courses in Kashmir; Malik reports on terrorism trends
- Pakistani intelligence chief Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha has arrived in the United States for talks with U.S. officials, including his counterpart at the CIA, Leon Panetta. His visit is an attempt to improve relations between the two spy agencies. A senior Pakistani intelligence officer has told Reuters that joint intelligence operations between the United States and Pakistan have been suspended since late January. The media outlet states that they were halted following the incident involving Raymond Davis, the CIA-contractor who killed two Pakistani men on January 27 in Lahore.
- Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir is scheduled to visit Washington DC April 20-21. Dawn reports that “Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to lead the US team to the dialogue and Pakistani officials are hoping that the dialogue will pave the way for President Asif Ali Zardari’s first official visit to Washington in June.” Meanwhile, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, has received a two year extension for his position until May 25, 2013.
- A report by the Los Angeles Times details that under the Obama Administration, the CIA “has stopped trying to detain or interrogate suspects caught abroad, except those captured in Iraq and Afghanistan.” The media outlet alleges that the agency has killed more people than it has captured, mainly through drone strikes in the FATA.
- President Asif Zardari, in an interview with The Guardian, told the newspaper that the war in Afghanistan was “destabilizing Pakistan and seriously undermining efforts to restore its democratic institutions and economic prosperity.” He likened the situation to the instability faced by America as a result of the Mexican drug war on the southern U.S. border. Zardari is expected to ask President Obama to turn over drone technology to Pakistan so that future strikes could be conducted under a “Pakistani flag.”
- A teenager arrested for his role in the April 3 bombing of a Sufi shrine in Dera Ghazi Khan told local media outlets that “up to 400 suicide bombers are being groomed to wage carnage in the nuclear-armed nation.” According to the boy, Umar Fidayee, the bombers are being trained in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan. Prior to the bombing that killed fifty people, Fidayee spent two months at a training camp in Mir Ali and “saw many boys being trained there.” He also stated that he was “initially recruited on the understanding that he would be smuggled into Afghanistan to kill non-Muslims,” but he was instead taken to Dera Ghazi Khan to participate in the bombing.
- The alleged mastermind of a recent suicide bombing on a shrine in Dera Ghazi Khan, Punjab, was recently arrested in a Pakistani military raid in Bajaur agency. The suspect, Behram Khan, was arrested in a village in the Mamund area of Bajaur agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). A local militant commander was also shot dead in an exchange of fire during the raid.
- Tribal elders in Kurram Agency have implored the government to deploy security personnel on local roads to protect traveling passengers. The tribesmen additionally asked the government to “recover forthwith more than 35 passengers abducted by militants on March 25 while they were on way to Parachinar.” Meanwhile, five persons were kidnapped from the Laddha area of Kurram on Saturday, where they were taken to an unknown location. No group has claimed responsibility for the incident.
- Dawn reports that a private aviation company providing flights between Peshawar and Parachinar in Kurram Agency has been ordered to cease operating flights. Local authorities had received complaints that the company, Hybrid Aviation, was charging excessive fares of around $230 (Rs20,000) for a one-way ticket. Local elders had decided that “local people would not use Thall-Parachinar Road unless government released 35 kidnapped persons from their captors and made foolproof security arrangements to prevent such attacks in the future,” virtually forcing them to meet the prices of the local aviation companies.
- On Monday, internally displaced families are set to return to their homes in Bajaur and Mohmand agencies. The News states, “Around 15,000 IDP families, residing at the Jalozai Camp here, have been asked to pack up and get ready to proceed to their hometowns where, according to officials, they would be given rations by the World Food Organization (WFO) for two years.” The families are also set to receive a payment of $1,200 (Rs100,000) in compensation for damaged houses.
- On Friday, thirty militants were killed in security operations in Mohmand Agency. Over the course of Thursday and Friday, a total of eighty militants sustained casualties in ongoing operations by Pakistani helicopters.
- Security forces continued military operations in the Safi and Baizai sub-districts of Mohmand Agency on Saturday. Dawn reports that the “forces cleared Aliangar area of [the] Safi [sub-district] and took its control. Security forces, Khassadar, Levies and peace committees jointly established new checkposts in the bordering area Khewazai and Michnai to flush out militants and prevent penetration of anti-state elements into Mohmand Agency.” Outside sources stated that internally displaced peoples (IDPs) have reached camps in Haleemzai sub-disrict, with more families expected in the coming days.
- Five children were wounded in Safi sub-district of Mohmand Agency when a shell hit their house. Meanwhile, three security officers were injured after militants fired on them in the Baizai sub-district. Following the incident, security personnel targeted militant hideouts with artillery.
- On Sunday, two security officers were killed and seven others were injured when militants assaulted their vehicle in Baizai sub-district of Mohmand Agency. The security personnel were conducting a search operation in the Suran Darra area when they were attacked. Following the incident, security forces targeted alleged militant hideouts with artillery.
- The News reports that the Chamarkand sub-district of Bajaur has allegedly been cleared of militants. An unidentified official stated that, “Yes, we are now in full control of Bajaur Agency. Many militants were killed or arrested during the three years operation.” The media outlet states that the “capture of Chamarkand [sub-district] was considered the culmination of the military operation that had been launched three years ago to flush out militants from the Bajaur tribal region.”
- In continued clashes between Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) and Ansarul Islam in the Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency, four more people were killed and numerous families have migrated to safer areas. Dawn reports, “Hundreds of families migrated from Zakha Khel, Malikdin Khel and other parts of Tirah owing to a surge in fighting between LI and its opponents.” The media outlet states that the tribesmen have migrated to Shakas, Kata Kushta, and Peshawar. Meanwhile, a bridge in the Shalobar area was blown up, resulting in an operation conducted by security personnel to arrest the perpetrators.
- One of the founders of Lashkar-e-Islam, Haji Rabat, was killed in Bara sub-district of Khyber Agency, along with his son. Unidentified militants had opened fire on the two men as they were traveling back to their residence in Malikdink Khel. Later on Sunday, two more LI commanders were killed in the area in continued clashes between LI and Zakha Khel tribesmen.
- Tribesmen from Khyber Agency have criticized the Pakistani government for “not helping militancy and floods affected tribesmen.” Khidmat Khalq Committee chairman Haji Sohail Ahmad Afridi stated that tribesmen have not yet been compensated for the recent floods and militancy in the agency, and that various parts of the tribal areas have been neglected.
- Seven militants were killed in the Dherai area of Swat by security forces. The men were killed as they entered the area to escape a security operation in neighboring Mohmand Agency. The insurgents were stopped at a checkpoint and fired on soldiers, who responded with retaliatory gunfire.
- A World Bank report released on Saturday has alleged that the Taliban has gained support in the Swat Valley due to their ability to take advantage of local grievances and weaknesses in law enforcement and the justice system. According to the report, “Such gaps have led to popular frustration and have opened opportunities to violent opposition movements such as the Taliban in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, which have in some areas of the country established a shadow presence offering an alternative local dispute resolution system.”
- An exchange of gunfire in Peshawar on Monday has resulted in three militants and one police officer being killed. Five militants had attacked a police patrol in Hayatabad, killing one officer. The three insurgents were killed in retaliatory gunfire. Meanwhile, Dawn reports that forty seven people were killed and 112 injured in Peshawar during the month of March, up from twelve people being killed in the month of February.
- Three policemen were wounded in Mardan on Saturday after militants planted explosive devices near a Christian church in the city. An investigation into the incident has commenced.
- Villagers residing in the Jammu area of Kohat have fled to safer areas following continuous threats from the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The News cites unidentified sources who report that “50,000 population of the area was mulling over shifting to other places and some had already started leaving the area. In the last week, three persons were injured when militants fired rockets on the funeral prayer of a woman in Jammu village. A villager told The News that most of the residents had started fleeing the area due to potential threats from the militants.”
- On Sunday, a pipeline in the Loti gas field was blown up by unidentified militants. A Levies Force source reported that “A big portion of the pipeline was destroyed in the powerful explosion, forcing a suspension of gas supply from two wells to the purification plant.”
Protests in Kashmir
- Following the killing of Jamiat-e-Ahli Hadith chief Maulvi Shaukat Ahmad Shah late last week in Srinagar, separatists have called for a strike in protest to the assassination. AFP reports that “Pakistan-based rebels fighting Indian rule blamed the killing of [Maulvi Shaukat] Ahmad Shah on ‘Indian agencies’ seeking to ‘sabotage the freedom struggle of Kashmiris.’” Separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has additionally called for a strike to protest the “state government order to issue Dogra certificate to the members of the ethnic community living in Jammu region.” Geelani alleged that the government wants “to divide Jammu and Kashmir on religious lines and convey to the world that the Kashmir movement was pursued by limited number of people."
- The Independent has released a report on newly-implemented training courses for police officers in Kashmir. The media outlet reports that following last summer’s protests where policemen killed 114 unarmed protesters, over 3,000 security officers have been trained on dispersing crowds without harming them. The article details their training on water cannons, tear gas shells, and new riot gear.
Statistics on Terror Incidents
- On Friday, Interior Minister Rehman Malik reported that “as many as 3,169 people lost their lives and 9,479 others were injured in 2,488 acts of terrorism, including bomb blasts and suicide attacks, in the last two years.” He reported that the death toll in “Khyber Pakhtunkhwa alone was 1,524, Balochistan and Punjab 605, Sindh 134, Islamabad 125 and Azad Kashmir 11.” However, the minister admitted that data on casualties in the FATA was excluded.