Pakistan Security Brief
Obama administration alarmed by State Department report alleging thousands have been detained “incognito” by Pakistani security services; CIA expands human intelligence capacity in FATA; 20 militants killed after security forces destroy compound in Kurram; Militants destroy a school for boys in Bajaur; Target killings claim two lives in Karachi.
The Obama administration is “expressing alarm” over a report released by the State Department last month which warned that thousands of Balochi separatists and suspected Taliban insurgents have been captured in Pakistan only to disappear into the hands of the country’s security services. These detainees, numbering in the thousands, are reportedly being held “incommunicado without charges.” The State Department assessment is based on the observations of many Pakistan-based Human Rights Groups who are concerned that Pakistani authorities have used the “pretext of war” to arrest scores of suspected separatists in the country’s restive Balochistan province. Ali Dayan Hasan, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch in Lahore, told reporters at the New York Times, “We can safely say that disappearances are the order of the day across Pakistan, particularly in relation with counterterrorism.” Separately, the State Department report also suggests that Pakistani security forces routinely engage in torture and coercion of detainees and highlights at least one instance where Pakistani forces opted to kill rather than detain an unarmed band of Taliban insurgents. The State Department report ultimately concludes, “The Pakistani government has made limited progress in advancing human rights and continues to face human rights challenges…there continue to be gross violations of human rights by Pakistani security forces.”
The CIA’s increased ability to precisely target militants operating in Pakistan is the result of “real-time” intelligence provided by a growing network of human intelligence assets on the ground in the country’s tribal areas and in particular North Waziristan, according to senior Pakistani military and security officials. One senior unnamed Pakistani official told Dawn News, “They have improved their intelligence collection to deliver punishment in real time… This requires credible intelligence and communication system to direct the strike and this means that CIA’s human intelligence has improved considerably.” The same senior Pakistani officials acknowledge that while the CIA has dramatically increased its ability to operate in FATA, the their ability to do so “could not have come about without the explicit consent and acquiescence of Pakistan’s security apparatus.”
At least 20 militants were killed on Thursday morning in Kurram agency when Pakistani helicopter gunships attacked their compound. The strike took place in the Chinarak area of the agency and was initiated after government forces received intelligence that a large group of militants were operating in the area. Jamil Khan, a Pakistani government official, confirmed the incident and told reporters that Pakistani gunships also destroyed an explosive laden vehicle during today’s strike.
On Wednesday, militants destroyed a primary school for boys in Bajaur tribal agency. The school was located in Gaokhani village in the agency’s Salarazai sub-district. Officials report that the three-story facility was completely destroyed by militants but that no faculty or students were injured in the attack. In recent years, militants have demolished over one hundred primary schools in Bajaur.
Pakistan announced today that it intends to “strongly contest” a lawsuit filed against the country’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), according to a statement released by the Foreign Ministry. The Foreign Ministry press release also noted, “the government of Pakistan and its embassy in Washington shall defend the legal suit on behalf of ISI and its directors general fully and properly.” An American wounded in the Mumbai attacks, along with relatives of those killed in the attacks, have filed a lawsuit in US court alleging that the ISI was complicit in the 2008 terror attack.
Two people were killed and another injured yesterday in the latest wave of political violence in Karachi. A worker for the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) was gunned down outside his home in the Bilal Colony area of the city, while later in the day a member of the banned religious outfit Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) was gunned down in his shop in Karachi’s Sector 11-G. Separately, a worker for the Sunni Tehreek was critically wounded in Godhra Camp.