Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan Security Brief – August 26, 2010
TTP threatens to attack foreign aid workers participating in flood relief efforts; evacuation ordered for Thatta district after flood waters breach embankment; controversy emerges after USAID chief’s alleged visit to relief camp run by front organization for Lashkar-e-Taiba.
According to statements made by a U.S. official on Wednesday, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is planning to carry out attacks against foreign relief workers taking part in the countrywide flood relief effort. The official also indicated that the TTP “may be making plans to attack federal and provincial ministers in Islamabad.” The UN says that it is actively responding to these warnings and is currently conducting a review of its security measures. World Health Organization spokesman Ahmed Farah Shahdoul told reporters that aid work in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan has already been affected due to previous security concerns and said that this latest warning means that his organization will either have to downsize its operations or “take more mitigation measures in order to reduce the security risk, which [will require] more resources.”
Pakistani authorities ordered the evacuation of three main towns and several nearby villages in southern Sindh after rising water levels breached the Surjani embankment in Thatta district on Wednesday evening. The surging flood waters now threaten towns of Sujawal, Daro, and Mir Pur Batoro with a combined population of nearly 400,000, people, most of whom have already fled. However, a UN humanitarian agency spokesman said that “40,000 people are on the move” after the official evacuation order was given, a number which “can rise to 100,000” in the near future. Karachi has seen an influx of hundreds of thousands of flood victims. Most of the refugees are ethnic Sindhis, a factor which has reportedly exacerbated ethnic tensions in the city.
Controversy has emerged following US Agency for International Development (USAID) chief Rajiv Shah’s visit to a relief camp in Sukkur on Wednesday which was allegedly run by the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation, the latest incarnation of Lashkar-e-Taiba’s front organization Jamaat-ud-Dawa. A spokesman for Jamaat-ud-Dawa claims that Shah had visited one of Falah-i-Insaniat’s relief camps and donated two trucks worth of aid supplies. U.S. embassy officials have denied the claims and said that Shah visited a government-run camp that had been set up at a local school and was being run by the school’s headmaster, a government employee. Embassy spokesman Richard Snelsire also pointed out that the camp was also being jointly operated by both the World Food Program and Save the Children but did concede that Jamaat-ud-Dawa or Falah-e-Insaniat may have previously distributed aid at the camp. Locals in Sukkur told reporters that a large banner which read‘Relief Camp – Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation’ was hung over the entrance to the school.
Pakistan assured the U.S. on Wednesday that it will keep up its campaign against Islamic extremists in the tribal areas along the Afghan border despite the “extraordinary demands” placed on its military forces which have taken an active role in assisting with flood relief operations throughout the country. Brigadier General Michael Nagata said that he is confident that Pakistan will maintain its “dedicated, committed struggle against violent extremism.”
On Wednesday, U.S. ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson urged U.S. companies to invest in Pakistan’s reconstruction efforts in the aftermath of the devastating floods which have ravaged the country’s economy and displaced millions of people. Speaking on a conference call arranged by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Patterson argued that investment from the private sector would also “provide opportunities for American business as we try to build back better.”
- Security forces killed a key Taliban commander and two of his associates as they were attempting to cross the Elum Valley from Buner to Swat on Wednesday. The Station House Officer for Pir Baba said that his men had received information on the militants’ whereabouts and opened fire as soon as they saw them coming. The commander, identified as Nasib Zada, was wanted in connection with several acts of terrorism and a carried a bounty of $5,840 (Rs 500,000) on his head while the other two militants, Gul Nazir and Wazir Mohammad, carried rewards of $2,927 (Rs 250,000) each.