Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan Security Brief – August 20, 2010
U.S. increases flood aid to $150 million, sets up relief fund; UN meets its $459 million goal for Pakistan flood relief; Pakistan to restrict banned organizations from providing assistance in flood-hit areas; Pakistan accepts India’s offer of $5 million to help flood victims; Pakistan has failed to convict suspects in connection with high profile terror attacks over the last three year; extremist groups are using online social networking to expand their reach.
Speaking at the meeting of the UN General Assembly, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced on Thursday that the U.S. will donate an additional $60 million for flood relief in Pakistan, raising its total donations to more than $150 million while Special Representative Richard Holbrooke said that “many billions” of dollars will be needed to rebuild Pakistan. Clinton said that the world must help Pakistan at this “defining moment” and also announced that the State Department will set up a Pakistan Relief Fund to collect donations from Americans who want to help in the “tremendous relief, recovery, and reconstruction effort.”
On Thursday, the Pakistan Air Force denied allegations by Health Secretary Khushnood Lashari that the Shahbaz airbase near Jacobabad was under U.S. control for the deployment of drones. Vice Air Marshall Arshad Quddus of the Southern Air Command said that the “the Shahbaz Airbase is under complete operational control of the PAF” but did acknowledge that a few U.S. technicians were present at the base to provide technical assistance for several recently transferred F-16 fighter aircraft. Quddus also said that “an air bridge has been set up between the Shahbaz Airbase and other strategic airbases to supply a chain of relief goods” for flood victims in the Jacobabad area, refuting Lashari’s assertions that the Shahbaz Airbase was unable to provide flood assistance.
The UN appears to have met its goal of raising $459 million for immediate flood assistance in Pakistan following yesterday’s meeting of the General Assembly despite an initially slow response from the internationally community. During the meeting General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon urged governments, individuals, and organizations to continue to donate funds, saying that the flood disaster is “like few the world has ever seen.” Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi also spoke before the assembly to plead for more international aid, saying that “the massive upheaval caused by the floods and the economic losses suffered by the millions of Pakistanis must be addressed urgently” and adding that “we cannot allow this catastrophe to become an opportunity for terrorists.” The boost in donations comes as the UN warned that the flooding in Pakistan has already killed more than 200,000 heads of livestock and threatens to kill millions more.
Amid fears that militant groups could gain popular support by providing relief to flood victims in Pakistan, Interior Minister Rehman Malik has issued the restriction that “banned organizations will not be allowed to visit flood-hit areas.” However, there remain concerns that banned organizations could simply re-emerge under new names to circumvent the restrictions, a trend which has been often repeated. Speaking with Senator John Kerry during his trip to Paksitan on Thursday, President Asif Ali Zardari acknowledged that “there is a possibility that some negative forces [will] exploit the situation” and expressed concern that “militants can take orphaned babies and put them in terror training camps.”
On Friday, China announced that it will send 1,000 tents and other emergency supplies to Pakistan, a move that followed U.S. Special Representative Richard Holbrooke’s calls on Thursday for China to “step up to the plate” when it came to the international flood relief efforts. China has pledged about $8.8 million dollars and added that it would also send a variety of equipment, such as generators and water-purification devices, which will be airlifted to Pakistan in the next few days.
Pakistani officials have indicated that Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh will visit Washington in the coming week to request that the International Monetary Fund allow the restructuring of Pakistan’s $10 billion loan in light of the current flood crisis. The loan was initially made in 2008 to help Pakistan “avert a balance of payment crisis.”
- Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi announced that Pakistan has decided to accept $5 million in flood aid from India and said that the gesture from its neighbor was a “very welcome initiative.” However, Liaqat Baloch of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan’s second largest religious party, said that Pakistan should have said “thanks but, no thanks,” noting that India has never accepted Pakistani aid following any of its own natural disasters.
Lack of Terror Convictions
- The Pakistani judicial system has failed to convict a single person in connection with any of the country’s highest profile terrorist attacks in the past three years. The failure has been attributed to police which lack basic investigative skills, prosecutors without proper training in trying terror cases, and judges and witnesses who are subject to intimidation. Lahore High Court Chief Justice Khawaja Mohammad Sharif said that the inability to convict terrorists has compounded the effect of the terror attacks themselves and has resulted in “a sense of terror and insecurity amongst the members of society.”
- At least 13 people have been killed in Karachi in the latest wave of violence following the killing of ANP official Obdaiullah Yousufzai on Thursday. The Sindh government has put security agencies on red alert and said that police and Rangers have arrested several suspects in connection with the shootings, which occurred in parts of Orangi Town, Banaras, Korangi Town, Malir, Sohrab Goth, and Nazimabad. ANP activists also damaged several vehicles on the National Highway during protests against Yousufzai’s murder.
- Security forces killed 11 militants while retaliating against an attack on a security check post in the Tapoo area of Orakzai Agency on Thursday. One soldier was also killed and another was injured during the fighting. In neighboring Kurram Agency, security forces used artillery and helicopter gunships to target Taliban hideouts in the Wasti Kurram and Chinarak areas, killing four militants belonging to the Maulvi Toofan group.
- On Thursday, the homes of six terrorists in the Mamund sub-district of Bajaur Agency were destroyed by security forces during a search operation which was being conducted in the area. Seperately, a jirga of the Inzari and Ghundi tribes has also decided to forbid its tribesmen of providing protection to militants or other criminals in the region.
- Extremist groups in Pakistan are utilizing Facebook and Twitter to expand their sphere of influence and reach out to potential new recruits and supporters. Groups such as Sipah-e-Sahaba and Jamaat-ud-Dawa have found a new degree of freedom through online social networking and are allowed to operate without censorship by the Pakistani government.