Pakistan Security Brief
Karachi violence spikes; MQM to rejoin government; State Department says Pakistan is not state sponsor of terrorism; U.S. military still believes Pakistan showed China stealth chopper; Pakistan amends FCR laws in FATA; Kurram displaced to begin returning home soon; Kurram fighting kills six militants; FBI involved in Lahore kidnapping case, witnesses to be polygraphed; Pakistan’s most-wanted list examined; government mulling de-radicalization campaign.
Violence spiked in Karachi again on Wednesday night and continued on into Thursday as 33 more people were killed in the last 24 hours. According to police officials in Karachi most of the violence was the result of an ongoing gang war in the Lyari area of the city and was not akin to the political violence that plagued the city in weeks prior. Officials did acknowledge, however, that some people may have been killed due to their political or ethnic affiliations. Among those killed in yesterday’s violence was a senior former lawmaker from the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Waja Karim Dad.
The violence in Karachi coincided with reports that the PPP and the Muttahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM), the strongest party in Karachi, had reached a deal whereby the MQM would rejoin the ruling coalition in two days time.
A statement issued by the U.S. State Department said that “Pakistan is a partner in the fight against terrorism and not a state that sponsors terrorism.” The State Department issued the clarification following statements by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta accusing Pakistan of maintaining links to groups such as the Haqqani Network and Lashkar-e-Taiba. When Indian journalists raised the issue at the State Department calling for the U.S. to declare Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism, a state department spokesperson said “I think Secretary Panetta spoke to our concern about how these two organizations operate and any relationship that they may have with Pakistan…which is a different issue than a state being a sponsor of terrorism itself.”
Officials in the U.S. military maintain that Pakistan gave China access to the wreckage of a U.S. stealth helicopter inside Pakistan despite Pakistani and Chinese denials of the charge, but say they “don’t want to make it an issue in the fractured relationship.” A spokesperson for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen stated “The only thing I can say is that we are trying to move the relations forward past this incident….All I can tell you about that is that the chairman did discuss with Gen Kayani his concerns about the security of the helicopter.” This would be the first public confirmation by members of the U.S. military that the U.S. believes its technology may have been shown to the Chinese.
The Washington Post examines local reactions to the latest Pakistani government initiative to amend the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR), a British colonial era law put in place to administer the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. President Zardari has received “rare domestic praise” for the amendments that many claim is one of the root causes of extremism in the area. Under the amended law, political parties would be allowed to campaign and represent voters, residents would able to appeal the decisions of the local administrator known as the political agent, and women, children and senior citizens would be exempt from the FCR’s harsh collective punishment clauses. The report claims that the government was only allowed to make the changes after signing in another ordinance that allowed the legalized some of the army’s “unchecked powers to detain and try terrorism suspects” in the northwest.
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) that fled a recent and ongoing military operation in Kurram agency have been told to prepare to return to their homes starting on August 25. The head of the FATA Disaster Management Authority (FDMA) stated that the military had completely cleared seven villages and that 700 families would be sent home to those villages as part of the first phase of repatriation efforts. The official further stated that the FDMA hoped to de-notify the area as a conflict zone and repatriate all IDPs by the end of the month. The fate of 21,000 other displaced families, who fled sectarian clashes in upper and lower Kurram, remains unknown.
Security forces killed six Taliban militants on Thursday in the ongoing operation in Kurram agency. The clash took place in the Gawakai area, near the agency’s southern border. Two soldiers were also injured in the fighting. Five more soldiers were injured when their vehicle hit a landmine in the Manato area of the region.
The investigation into the kidnapping in Lahore of Warren Weinstein, a 70-year-old U.S. development expert, continued on Thursday with agents from the FBI now participating in the proceedings. Police officials stated that they plan to conduct polygraph tests on Weinstein’s security guards and driver in order to verify their testimonies. Few leads have so far emerged in the case.
A report in Pakistani daily Dawn profiles five men on Pakistan’s criminal most-wanted list who are wanted for various acts of terrorism and crimes such as kidnapping. Among those are the leaders of groups in Pakistan such as al Qaeda, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and others operating under the banner of the TTP. Among those profiled are Momin Khan, the head of the Momin Khan branch of the TTP; Asmatullah Moavia, a leader in the TTP Punjab; Qar Saifullah, a top TTP and al Qaeda operative; Tariq Afridi, another top TTP faction commander; and Mullah Rahim and Mullah Hafeez, militant commanders who were active throughout the northwest.
National De-Radicalization Program
A statement issued by the Pakistani government’s Cabinet Defence Committee on Wednesday announced that the government was considering starting a “national de-radicalisation program to motivate youth[,] to engage [them] and isolate them from militancy and terrorism and bring them back to peaceful living.” A similar program is already being run by the army in Swat and the army has been pushing for the program to be launched at a national level.
Syed Shoaib Hasan, “Pakistan ex-MP Waja Karim Dad dies in Karachi violence,” BBC, August 17, 2011. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-14566897
“Lie detectors for US kidnap case in Lahore,” AFP, August 18, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/08/18/lie-detectors-for-us-kidnap-case-in-lahore.html