Pakistan Security Brief
Karachi at a standstill due to city-wide strike protesting violence; MQM calls on PM to resign; Petition filed in court over army intervention; Baloch separatists reportedly involved in Karachi violence; Target killers arrested; Drone strike kills 4 militants in North Waziristan; Dir Lashkar to get govt support; Suspects arrested in attack on minister; Islamabad police says TTP responsible for minister’s killing
Karachi shut down on Tuesday following calls for a city-wide strike in order to observe a call by the Muttahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM) party for a “day of mourning.” The strike comes following renewed violence in the city that has left over 100 people dead in the last week. MQM chief Altaf Hussain called on the Prime Minister to resign his post if he was unable to bring the spiraling violence under control. The Sindh government has promised to carry out “surgical” operations in the most violent parts of the city in order to quell the violence. Meanwhile, the Sindh High Court issued notices to the federal and provincial governments to submit their responses to petitions filed in court calling for the army to intervene in Karachi. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani reportedly received a briefing from law-enforcement agencies who alleged that a separatist Baloch group, the Balochistan Liberation Army, was sheltering in one of Karachi’s violent neighborhoods and was involved in the recent violence. The head of the paramilitary Rangers force promised to bring the violence under control if given a “free hand.” Two men arrested by police in the North Nazimabad neighborhood also reportedly confessed to being involved in a number of “target killings” in Karachi. The men were reportedly part of a criminal gang.
A U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan killed at least four suspected militants on Monday. The strike targeted a vehicle and the “guest house of a local tribal elder” in the Naurak area of the agency. Naurak is 12 miles east of the Miram Shah, the agency headquarters. Local security officials confirmed that militants were in the vehicle at the time, but there is no further information on their identity.
The government told a local tribal militia or lashkar in Dir district that they will receive government support in their fight against Taliban militants. The government is considering converting a police checkpost in the Shahikot area into a “full-fledged police station.” The lashkar has been fighting Taliban militants crossing the border from Afghanistan. They frequently complain that they receive little government support despite taking up arms against infiltrating militants.
Police in the northwestern district of Buner have arrested ten suspects believed to be linked to an attack on Sunday on the province’s education minister. Taliban militants are believed to have been behind the ambush. The minister survived the attack.
The Inspector General of the Islamabad Police on Tuesday said that the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was responsible for the murder of minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti. The statement contradicts earlier speculation that a family rivalry may have been behind Bhatti’s killing, despite the fact that the Punjabi Taliban had claimed responsibility for the attack.
Irfan Aligi, “Advice: Resign in you can’t stop the violence, Altaf tells PM,” Express Tribune, August 22, 2011. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/236962/black-day-mqm-announces-day-of-mourning/
“Army intervention in Karachi: SHC issues notices to federal,Sindh govt,” Express Tribune, August 23, 2011. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/237633/army-intervention-in-karachi-shc-issues-notices-to-federal-sindh-govt/
“Four target killers confess to 13 murders in Lyari,” Dawn, August 23, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/08/23/four-target-killers-confess-to-13-murders-in-lyari.html