Pakistan Security Brief
Confusion with mixed reporting that kidnapped American rescued; Karachi operation continues with 90 arrests; Karachi killings caught on film; Minister claims killers trained in India; Govt wants political solution as army chief arrives in city; reports look at rehabilitation centers for Pakistani military, Pakistani denial over 9/11 and bin Laden raid; FC commander reports govt negotiating with Baloch rebels, denies HRW report claiming military involved in extrajudicial killings.
Confusion reigns over the fate of kidnapped American development expert Warren Weinstein after initial reports from Pakistan that Weinstein had been rescued in a police raid were later denied. On Thursday Lahore police chief Malik Ahmed Raza Tahir stated that Weinstein had been rescued in a police raid from the city of Khushab, 125 miles northwest of Lahore. Tahir later retracted the statement, saying “we have no information that would confirm recovery of Warren Weinstein.” In a breakthrough in the case, however, intelligence officials said that “spy agencies” had been able to identify the man responsible for the kidnapping. Officials say the “mastermind” is part of an “outlawed extremist organization.”
Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik stated on Thursday that an ongoing law-enforcement operation in Karachi would continue “until peace was established.” He added that the authorities had conducted over 48 raids so far and had arrested up to 90 people so far. Over 100 people have been killed in the past week in the worst violence to wrack Karachi in 16 years. Many of the killings, often linked to gang violence of infighting between political parties, were filmed by the killers. Authorities wereable to obtain a number of the videos from people arrested in connection with the violence. The videos show people being murdered, tortured and mutilated. Sindh’s Information Minister, meanwhile, tried to divert blame for the violence by claiming that “arrested killers [had] disclosed during interrogation[s] that they had been trained in India.” 
The Sindh government says only 500 of the additional 2,000 Frontier Constabulary personnel it had requested had been approved for deployment by the federal government. The federal government has promised to bring all political parties on board and brief them on ongoing operations in Karachi, saying it hopes to find a political solution to the violence. The government has shied away from calls to involve the army saying that law and order was a “provincial matter,” and that the center could not unilaterally involve the military. Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani arrived in Karachi on Thursday morning, a move analysts say may be significant given Kayani’s recent statements hinting that the army may get called in to police Karachi. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, having taken suo moto notice of the killings in Karachi, constituted a special judicial commission to look into ongoing violence in the city.
The Associated Press profiles Pakistan’s only rehabilitative care institute for soldiers wounded in action against the Taliban. The facility, located outside Rawalpindi, treats some of the worst injured in the fighting and “is a testament to the human toll from Pakistan’s fight against militants.” Nearly 3,000 Pakistani soldiers have been killed in action, and over 9,000 wounded, many of those as a result of improvised explosive devices. Yet the facility and the men it treats receives little public attention or recognition in Pakistan, especially from Pakistani politicians, possibly because such figures are afraid of being associated with the hallmarks of an unpopular war.
Pakistan and 9/11
An AFP article examines the commonly held belief in Pakistan that Osama bin Laden was never killed in Abbottabad on May 2. The article says that millions of Pakistanis cast doubt on the entire account, much in the way that they do not believe that bin Laden was behind the 9/11 attacks. Worryingly, one Pakistani journalist points out that even educated Pakistanis are buying into these conspiracy theories “because of a large distrust with the US,” and that such conspiracy mindedness makes it “easier for extremist networks to recruit.”
The head of the paramilitary Frontier Corps in Balochistan, Major General Obaidullah Khattak, told the media that the government was currently in “negotiating with Baloch rebels to maintain peace in the provice.” Khattak went on to say that “supporters of the state would be welcomed,” citing the example of 13 rebels who had surrendered to the government and pledged their support. He also condemned a recent report by Human Rights Watch that called the law and order situation in Balochistan “one-sided and partial.” Khattak said “The Frontier Corps has nothing to do with forced disappearances and [the] throwing of bullet-riddled bodies” of political activists.
UNESCO publicly condemned the murder of a Pakistani journalist Munir Shakir working for a Baloch TV network, calling for his killers to be brough to justice. Shakir was the 13th journalist killed this year in Pakistan. The country was labeled last years as most dangerous for journalists by Reporters Sans Frontiers. The UN has urged the Pakistani government to investigate disappearances and extrajudicial killings of journalists.
Two people were killed and four wounded on Wednesday night in a shooting in a bakery near Chaman. Police are unsure of the motivation for the “target killing.”
“US aid expert’s abduction: The mastermind belongs to a banned outfit, say officials,” Express Tribune, August 25, 2011. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/239071/us-aid-experts-abduction-the-mastermind-belongs-to-banned-outfit-say-officials/
Faraz Khan, “City swept in ‘new’ terror: Videos reveal assault and mutilation by target killers,” Express Tribune, August 25, 2011. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/239104/city-swept-in-new-terror-videos-reveal-assault-and-mutilation-by-target-killers/
Indiscriminate action: ‘Foreign hands behind Karachi mayhem,’” Express Tribune, August 25, 2011. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/239157/indiscriminate-action-foreign-hands-behind-karachi-mayhem/
“Karachi violence: Gilani vows to take all stakeholders on board,” Express Tribune, August 25, 2011. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/238477/karachi-violence-gilani-vows-to-take-all-stakeholders-on-board/
“General Kayani reaches Karachi,” Dawn, August 25, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/08/25/general-kayani-reaches-karachi.html
“Supreme Court special bench to take up Karachi killings case,” APP, August 24, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/08/24/supreme-court-special-bench-to-take-up-karachi-killings-case.html
Saleem Shahid, “Frontier Corps chief in Balochistan rejects HRW report,” Dawn, August 25, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/08/25/frontier-corps-chief-in-balochistan-rejects-hrw-report.html