Pakistan Security Brief

Assailant fire on Imran Khan’s vehicle, unknown men pelt PTI workers with rocks; reports estimate 15,000 to 20,000 PTI supporters have joined march; PTI granted permission for sit-in in Islamabad; Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif says he will not resign; government bans protesters from breaching Red Zone; TTP militants attack military airbases in Quetta; Al Qaeda says it wishes to exchange kidnapped U.S. citizen for al Qaeda members held by U.S.; Maulvi Halim Khan to replace Haifz Gul Bahadur as top North Waziristan Taliban commander; U.S., U.K. and some European countries issue travel warnings for Pakistan; Unidentified gunmen kills guard in Swat;   Unidentified gunmen kidnap eleven civilians traveling to Hangu; Security forces personnel kill four militants near Fort Slope, Khyber Agency; IDPs protest for right to return to North Waziristan; Pakistan Navy assumes command of naval counter-terrorism coalition force.

PAT and PTI Marches

  • In Gujranwala, on August 15, unidentified gunmen in plain clothes fired at Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan’s transport vehicle while he was convoying to a demonstration in Islamabad. According to the PTI’s twitter feed, five shots were fired at the vehicle and rocks were thrown at PTI workers by PML-N supporters. CNN reported on August 15 that some 15,000 to 20,000 supporters have joined the PTI’s march. A PTI representative reported to CNN that 100,000 people were expected to take part in the PTI’s Azadi (freedom) march.[1]

  • The PTI received permission from the government to stage a sit-in on the Kashmir Highway between Aabpara and Zero Point in Islamabad. In response to intelligence reports that Imran Khan could be targeted by terrorists, police have advised Imran Khan to remain in his bulletproof vehicle while en route to Islamabad.[2]

  • On August 15, Chief Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will not be resigning and that PTI chairman Imran Khan’s call for the installation of a technocratic government is unconstitutional. Imran Khan has continued to call for Nawaz Sharif’s resignation.[3]

  • On August 14 the government announced that protestors are forbidden from entering the Red Zone in Islamabad which houses numerous foreign embassies and key government buildings. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said security has been tripled in the Red Zone and that the area past the “red line” is entirely off limits to all protesters.[4] 

  • On August 14, U.S State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said that the United States favors an elected government in Pakistan while also backing the right of peaceful assembly.[5]

TTP Attack on Airbases

  • On the night of August 14, suspected Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants armed with automatic weapons, grenades, and suicide vests attacked the Pakistan Air Force’s Samungli and Khalid airbases in Quetta.  Pakistani security forces including Anti-Terrorism Force (ATF) and Frontier Corps (FC) personnel successfully repelled the attack, killed 12 militants and prevented the militants from breaching the perimeter of either base.  Eleven security forces personnel were injured in the attacks. The “Fidaeen-i-Islam” TTP faction led by commander Ghalib Mehsud and a South Waziristan faction of the TTP led by Azam Tariq both claimed responsibility for the attack, calling the attack a response to the military operation in North Waziristan. Lieutenant General Nasir Janjua, Quetta’s top army commander, said that militants first attacked Samungli airbase before attacking Khalid airbase, attacking in two separate groups of six.  Army and government officials supposedly received information about a possible attack from civilians in the area before the attacks occurred, allowing a team of police, Balochistan Levies, Balochistan Constabulary, FC and Pakistan Army personnel to quickly respond to the attacks.  An unnamed military spokesman said that both airbases reopened on August 15.[6]

U.S. Hostage

  • In a statement posted on the internet on August 15, al Qaeda advised the family of kidnapped U.S. citizen Warren Weinstein to pressure the U.S. government to negotiate for his release.  [7]

TTP Commander Steps Down

  • According to anonymous sources quoted in press reports on August 15, Maulvi Halim Khan has replaced Hafiz Gul Bahadur as the main militant commander and chief of the Taliban in North Waziristan.  The decision was supposedly taken during a recent meeting of the North Waziristan Taliban’s Shura, which maintains links to the TTP and the Afghan Taliban.  Maulvi Halim Khan reportedly had cordial relations with the government prior to the launch of Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan.[8]

Pakistan Travel Warning

  • In the wake of the PAT and PTI’s ongoing marches and political instability in Pakistan, the United States, United Kingdom and some European countries have issued travel warnings for Pakistan and have advised their diplomats not to leave their residences in Islamabad due to security threats.[9]


  • On August 14, unidentified gunmen fired on and killed a guard in the Kharirai area of Matta sub-district, Swat.  In a separate incident, unidentified gunmen fired on and injured two security forces personnel as they were conducting a search operation in the Nazarabad area of Matta sub-district, Swat.[10]

  • On August 14, unidentified gunmen kidnapped eleven civilians traveling to the Samana area of Hangu to celebrate Independence Day near Hangu’s Anjeer village area.  Kidnappers released the driver but are still holding ten hostages.[11]

  • On August 15, security forces personnel killed four suspected militants when they fired on an explosives-laden vehicle as it approached their base in the Fort Slope area of Bara, Khyber Agency.  The militants reportedly belonged to the Gangriz group of the TTP.[12]

  • On August 14, unidentified gunmen planted an IED that detonated near a passing FC vehicle, killing one FC official and injuring two in Quetta’s Hazar Ganji area.[13]

North Waziristan IDPs

  • On August 14, dozens of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from North Waziristan protested outside of the Peshawar Press Club, hoping to pressure the government to let them return to their homes.[14]

Anti-Terror Naval Force

  • On August 14, the Pakistan Navy assumed command of the counter-terrorism coalition naval force, Combined Task Force-150 (CTF-150), from the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy at the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Headquarters in Bahrain.  The CTF-150 works to counter terrorist operations and movements in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean, and Gulf of Oman.[15]

[1] “Sheikh Rasheed says unknown men fired at Imran Khan’s container,” Dawn, August 15, 2014. Available at:
“Paul Armstrong, Sophia Saifi “Thousands join Khan, Qadri anti-government march on Pakistan’s capital,” Dawn, August 15, 2014. Available at:
[2] Ikram Junaidi, Mohammad, “Kashmir Highway ground zero for PTI: Imran Khan to be given security detail of over 60 Elite Force commandos,” Dawn, August 15, 2014, Available at:
[3] “No question of PM’s registration, says CM Shahbaz,” Dawn, August 15, 2014. Available at:
Paul Armstrong, Sophia Sarifi, “Thousands join Khan, Qadri anti-government march on Pakistan’s capital,” CNN, August 15, 2014. Available at:
[4] Irfan Ghauri, “Govt warns PTI, PAT not to cross ‘red line’,” Dawn, August 15, 2014. Available at:
[5] Anwar Iqbal, “US backs democracy, peaceful protests,” Dawn, August 15, 2014. Available at:
[6] “11 security personnel injured, 12 militants killed in Quetta airbase attack,” The Express Tribune, August 14, 2014. Available at:
“Militants attack 2 Air Bases in Western Pakistan,” The New York Times, August 15, 2014. Available at:
[7] “Al Qaeda tells family to press US to negotiate hostage release,” The Express Tribune, August 15, 2014. Available at:
[8] “Change in command: MAulvi Halim replaces Gul Bahadur as Waziristan Taliban chief,” The Express Tribune, August 15, 2014. Available at:
[9] “US, UK and other countries advise citizens not to travel to Pakistan,” Dawn, August 15, 2014. Available at:
[10] “Watchman killed, 2 soldiers injured in Swat attacks,” The News, August 15, 2014. Available at:,-2-soldiers-injured-in-Swat-attacks
[11] “Gunmen kidnap 10 in Hangu,” The News, August 15, 2014. Available at:
[12] “Security forces kill four suspected militants in Khyber, “Dawn, August 15, 2014. Available at:
[13] “FC personnel killed in blast,” The News, August 15, 2014. Available at:
[14] “North Waziristan IDPs stage protest in Peshawar,” The News, August 15, 2014. Available at:
[15] “Pakistan to head anti-terror naval force,” Dawn, August 15, 2014. Available at:
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