Pakistan Security Brief
Two senior police officials arrested for negligence in Benazir Bhutto assassination; Pakistan foreign ministry says it will not allow the U.S. to conduct ground operations in the tribal areas; three high-ranking TTP officials killed in Afghanistan drone strike.
- On Wednesday, Pakistani authorities arrested two senior policemen for their alleged negligence and dereliction of duty over the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007. Saud Aziz, a former city police chief, and Khurram Shahzad, another senior police officer, are accused of allowing security breaches that led to their failure to protect Bhutto as well as destroying key evidence by hosing down the crime scene immediately following the attack. Special prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali told reporters that the court had rejected bail for the two policemen and that they will be tried beginning on January 7 along with five Taliban militants accused of involvement in Bhutto’s assassination.
Responding to yesterday’s report that the U.S. military is pushing the White House to allow ground operations inside Pakistan’s tribal areas, foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said that Pakistan would never allow foreign military forces to operate on its soil. Basit further said that Pakistan does “not expect NATO forces to carry out such actions inside Pakistan” with the added warning that Pakistan has “drawn a red line and any move to cross it will have a serious consequence.”
The Balochistan government has still not decided on the construction site of the U.S. Consulate-General building in Quetta. Earlier this year, Pakistan gave approval to allow the U.S. to establish a diplomatic mission in Quetta. Pakistani security agencies have suggested to the Balochistan government that they hold off on the building’s construction, arguing that a U.S. presence in the region at this time would worsen the security situation due to the Baloch insurgency. A main point of contention voiced by locals in the region is the alleged U.S. military presence at the nearby Shamsi air base in Balochistan’s Kharan district, which was handed over to the CIA during the presidency of General Pervez Musharraf.
Swat Taliban Killed in Afghanistan
- Official sources have indicated that three high-ranking members of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) were reportedly killed in a NATO drone strike in Afghanistan on Wednesday. One of the slain militants was TTP leader Hafizullah, who was wanted in Pakistan in connection with several suicide bombings in Dir district, including one attack that claimed the lives of the three U.S. citizens. The two other suspects were close aides of Hafizullah, named Dr. Wazir and Mukhtauddin (alias Shabbar), who had been released by Pakistani authorities following a peace deal in Swat.
Police arrested two suspected terrorists in the Peepal Mandi area of Peshawar district on Tuesday. The two suspects were arrested while trying to flee an area where they had left “packets” of explosive material. Police also discovered four sticks of dynamite in the suspects’ possession at the time of arrest.
According to one report, more than 100 militants launched an attack on a police post in the Achini Bala area of Peshawar district on Tuesday evening. Police officers reportedly killed four militants during the shootout before the militants fled the scene.
Political tensions between Iran and Pakistan continue to rise as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad demanded that Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari order the arrest of “identified terrorists” following last week’s suicide attack in Iran allegedly perpetrated by Sunni extremist group Jundullah. Pakistan has denied Iran’s claims that Jundullah militants are taking shelter inside the country. One Iranian parliamentary official serving as a member of the national security and foreign policy committee even went as far to suggest that Iran would be forced to take action if Pakistan does not make efforts to kill or capture Jundullah militants in its territory.
- A training plane belonging to the Pakistan Army crashed in the mountainous Muslim Bagh area of Balochistan on Wednesday, killing both the pilot and co-pilot. An unnamed army official indicated that the crash was likely due to a technical fault in the aircraft. A team of senior army aviation officers has been dispatched to investigate the cause of the crash.