Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan Security Brief – August 9, 2010
Pakistan appeals to international community for relief of flood victims, U.N. reports that the disaster has affected more people than the 2004 Tsunami; Zardari assailed by protestors at U.K. rally; political parties sign “code of conduct” in an effort to quell Karachi violence; U.S. and U.N. takes measures against HuJI, Ilyas Kashmiri; FC man arrested in connection with Peshawar suicide bombing.
Severe flooding continues to ravage northern Pakistan with U.N. authorities now reporting that more than 13.8 million people have been affected by the disaster. A spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also claimed that the flood disaster in Pakistan is “worse than the Tsunami [in 2004], the 2005 Pakistan earthquake, and the  Haiti earthquake” in terms of the number of people affected and the scale of damage inflicted. On Sunday, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani appealed to the international community for aid, claiming that “the government has done everything possible” but does not have the capacity to handle relief efforts on its own. Although Gilani said that it is impossible to determine the total cost of flood damages, preliminary calculations by the UN estimate that Pakistan will require billions of dollars for “recovery and reconstruction.” According to Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, 22 countries have promised aid for the relief of flood victims in Pakistan.
Flood waters at the Sukkur Barrage in southern Sindh have now exceeded dangerous levels. If the barrier is compromised, experts say Sindh province could see as much devastation as has been seen in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Pakistanis are also struggling to cope with rising food prices which have resulted from the more than 1 million acres of crops that have been destroyed by the flooding. Prices for basic food items have soared in recent days, even quadrupling in some cases, and an estimated 4 million people will require food aid in the coming months. Elsewhere, two villages Gilgit-Baltistan province have been buried in landslides caused by the heavy rains.
President Asif Ali Zardari faced harsh criticism from protestors on Saturday over his decision to visit the U.K. while Pakistan continues to suffer from the worst flooding seen by the country in more than 80 years. Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside a rally held by Zardari in Birmingham, England during which the president defend his visit to the country to members of the British Pakistani community and the Pakistani People’s Party (PPP). One man was hauled off by security guards after attempting to throw a shoe at President Zardari.
On Friday, President Zardari told reporters that Pakistan “never closed the dialogue” with the Taliban and highlighted that it was the Taliban that had broken previous agreements with the government. Zardari further added that “talks will resume whenever [the Taliban] feel we’re strong enough and they can’t win, because they won’t win.” An unnamed Taliban leader responded to Zardari’s statements on Saturday, saying that militants would at one point hold negotiations with the government but would do so only after the complete withdrawal of troops from all areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the FATA.
- On Saturday, the Pakistani People’s Party (PPP), the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), and the Awami National Party (ANP) signed a “code of conduct” proposed by the federal government in an effort to address the latest wave of violence in Karachi. The code of conduct, which was signed just after four more people were gunned down on Saturday, also establishes a judicial commission which will investigate and take “stern action” against criminals involved in target killings and sectarian violence, particularly against the Taliban and other extremist elements. Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani also said that the code of conduct ruled out the Sindh government’s requests to deploy military forces to assist the Rangers in restoring law and order in the city.
On Friday, the U.S. and the U.N. designated Harkat-ul Jihad al-Islami (HuJI) as a “Foreign Terrorist organization” while the group’s leader, Ilyas Kashmiri, became the first Pakistani militant leader to be labeled as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist.” A U.S. Treasury Department spokesman said that Kashmiri’s assets will be frozen in areas with U.S. jurisdiction and U.S. citizens will be prohibited from “engaging in any transactions with him.” The U.N. Security Council also confirmed that HuJI and Kashmiri were being added to its blacklist for their links to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
On Friday, U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele A. Fluornoy announced that his department has offered to sell the Shadow and Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to the Pakistani military. Fluornoy said that Pakistani military officials had been informed of the cost and that the decision was in their hands.
A member of the Frontier Constabulary (FC) has been arrested in connection with the August 4 suicide bombing in Peshawar which killed senior FC chief Sifwat Ghayur. Authorities confirmed that Hassan Afridi was arrested along with two of his cousins in the Akakhel area of Khyber Agency and stated that the three men are currently undergoing interrogation.
Two Khassadar force personnel have been kidnapped by militants in the Jamrud sub-district of Khyber Agency. The two men were abducted by unknown militants in the Chora area after returning from duty in Landi Kotal.