Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan Security Brief – August 19, 2010
UN General Assembly to be held to discuss funding of flood relief; U.S. increases flood aid to $150 million; Pakistan sets up council for oversight and transparency of aid distribution; TTP militants clash with Maulvi Nazir group in South Waziristan; two suicide bombers arrested in Peshawar; two Lashkar-e-Jhangvi suspects arrested in connection with MQM politician Raza Haider’s murder.
Aid continues to slowly trickle in for Pakistan as the UN General Assembly is scheduled to meet today to discuss the relief funding for the flood crisis. UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs spokesman Maurizio Giuliano indicated that approximately 4.6 million people in Pakistan are now believed to be homeless, doubling earlier figures, while the number of people in need of urgent assistance rose from 6 million to 8 million. “The response of donors to this crisis is getting better and better but it is still inadequate,” Giuliano said.
At today’s UN meeting, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to announce an increase in U.S. aid in line with Senator John Kerry’s statements that the U.S. would raise its total donations to $150 million. Saudi Arabia has promised to contribute more than $124 million to the relief efforts while Japan announced that it will send a contingent of military helicopters and more than 300 troops for flood relief assistance. The Asian Development Bank also said that it will provide $2 billion to Pakistan to repair roads, bridges, homes, schools, medical facilities, and other critical infrastructure.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani announced that the government of Pakistan has set up a National Oversight Disaster Management Council to handle issues related to flood relief assistance. Gilani said the council would be made up of people of “good reputation and impeccable integrity from different walks of life” and that the councils duties will be to ensure that aid funds are distributed in a “transparent manner and spent judiciously as per the requirements, without any discrimination to any area or province.”
A senior meteorologist in Pakistan has said that the flood waters are not expected to fully recede until the end of August. Although flood waters continue to flow south towards cities such as Hyderabad and Sukkur, no heavy rains have been predicted this week. Separately, military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told reporters that there is “no danger” from the flooding to Pakistan’s civilian and military nuclear facilities.
U.S. Drone Base in Pakistan
- Appearing before the Senate Standing Committee on Health, Health Secretary Khushnood Lashari said on Wednesday that “health relief operations are not possible in the flood-affected areas of Jacobabad because the airbase is with the United States.” Lashari went on to say that relief operations could not start in remote areas such as Jacobabad because they did not have access to airstrips. The Shahbaz airbase near Jacobabad is supposedly controlled by the U.S. for the purpose of launching drone strikes.
- Militants of the TTP and the Maulvi Nazir group exchanged fire in the Mantoi area of South Waziristan on Tuesday. Local sources said that the clashes resulted in the death of three militants, two belonging to the TTP and one belonging to the Maulvi Nazir group. The fighting allegedly began over a TTP militant who was accused by the Maulvi Nazir group of killing seven of its supporters.
- On Tuesday, police in Peshawar arrested two young suicide bombers who were trying to enter the district. An official from the Mathra police station said that police had cordoned off the road linking Peshawar with Mohmand Agency after receiving a tip-off about the militants.
India has accused Pakistan of firing across the Line of Control in Kashmir. Indian military officials said that its troops had retaliated to the “unprovoked” firing by Pakistani troops, who used “medium and small arms” as well as “rockets and mortars”. No casualties were reported by either side. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi gave an interview prior to the incident in which he stated that although India remains a concern, “fighting the extremists and the insurgents within Pakistan” is a greater priority and that differences with India can be settled through “peaceful negotiations”.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to urge him to accept India’s aid offer of $5 million for flood relief. A statement from Singh’s office said that the he contacted Gilani to express solidarity and convey his sorrow for the deaths and destruction caused by the floods. Singh also indicated during the phone call that India was ready to make additional offers of assistance for the relief effort. Pakistan has not yet decided whether or not to accept the funds from India.
Police in Karachi have arrested two Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militants believed to be behind the murder of MQM politician Raza Haider. Inspector General Salahuddin Babar Khattak said that the suspects were arrested during a police raid in Orangi Town on Tuesday evening. The suspects later revealed in a video-taped confession that they had killed Haider because he was a Shi’a and also admitted to committing 11 other murders during the first half of the year.
Two people were shot to death outside the Pakistani International Airlines cargo terminal in Karachi. One of the victims was later identified as Obaidullah Yousufzai, a provincial office bearer of the Awami National Party (ANP) in Sindh. Separately, unidentified gunmen also shot and killed a surgeon at a traffic intersection in the Nazimabad area of the city on Wednesday.