Pakistan Security Brief
NOTE: The daily Pakistan Security Brief (PSB) is being discontinued in its current form and today's PSB, December 31, 2014, will be the last one published. CTP's Pakistan Team would like to extend its gratitude to all those involved in the PSBs' diligent production and curation over the years, and to its readers and supporters everywhere. It has been a pleasure serving you. Please continue to regularly visit CriticalThreats.org for updates and analysis of events in the region. If you have any comments or feedback on Pakistan-related products, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Indian, Pakistani troops accuse each other of unprovoked firing, three soldiers killed along international boundary; LeT leader challenges two-day physical remand orders; Al Qaeda leader praises “martyrs” in a twitter post; Pakistan military airstrikes kill 23 militants in North Waziristan; Militants kill three kidnapped policemen in Malakand, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa; Police arrest five TTP militants in Karachi; IED kills one soldier in Mohmand Agency; IED destroys gas pipeline in Balochistan; Three bullet-riddled bodies found in Turbat district, Balochistan; Lahore Bar Association, PTI, PPP to oppose constitutional amendments to establish military court; Interior Minister reviews counter-terrorism measures in NACTA meeting; Government to take action against welfare organizations funding terrorists; Another convicted militant executed in Peshawar; Prime Minister Sharif calls Afghan President, discusses bilateral relations, regional security; National Security Advisor meets Afghan Parliamentary delegation in Islamabad; Talks between PTI, government fail to resolve political crisis.
On December 31, Indian and Pakistani troops accused each other of unprovoked cross-border firing across the international border. According to Pakistan Rangers, Indian Border Security Forces (BSF) opened fire on Pakistani troops in the Shakargarh sector of Narowal district, killing two soldiers. Indian BSF accused Pakistan Rangers of unprovoked firing in the Samba district of Jammu region. One BSF soldier was killed in the firing.
On December 31, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, challenged his two-day physical remand for involvement in a kidnapping case. Lakhvis’s counsel claimed that a false case had been registered against Lakhvi due to pressure from India and that there was no basis for the case to be lodged. Lakhvi was granted conditional bail by the Islamabad High Court on December 29. Following the granting of his bail, the Indian government had conveyed its “strong concern” over his release. A December 31 report in The News claims that some western diplomats in Islamabad had also expressed their reservations over the apparent failure of the Pakistani authorities to bring the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack to justice. According to the report, Pakistani authorities have reportedly assured the western diplomats that Lakhvi and the other accused will not be given any preferential treatment and that Pakistan is determined to curb the menace of terrorism.
On December 29, an al Qaeda leader based in Syria known as Sanafi al Nasr, praised al Qaeda’s “martyrs” in a twitter post after an absence of a month and a half from Twitter. The twitter post eulogized Adnan al Shukrijuma, a senior al Qaeda operative who was killed in Pakistan in early December, and another operative who was also killed in a drone strike, Umar Farooq. There are conflicting reports as to whether Umar Farooq is the same man as another militant named Ustad Ahmed Farooq, the alleged head of al Qaeda’s Dawa and communications arm in Pakistan.
On December 31, police sources claimed that militants shot dead three out of four policemen who went missing during a search operation the previous night in Malakand district, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Following the kidnapping of the policemen, law enforcement agencies launched an operation against militants in the Elam Mountains between Swat and Buner districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
On December 30, an improvised explosive device (IED) killed one soldier and injured two others in the Qandaro area of Mohmand Agency. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Jamatul Ahrar claimed responsibility for the attack.
On December 30, police personnel found three bullet-riddled bodies in the Mand area of Turbat district, Balochistan. According to a home department report, at least 164 such bullet-riddled bodies have been found in Balochistan within the last 12 months. The report further claims that targeted killings in the province dropped by 30 percent in 2014 with 275 people being killed. The report also states that 250 bombings have been reported across Balochistan which killed at least 49 people and injured 436.
On December 31, the Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) announced its opposition to the idea of establishing military courts, claiming that the decision is unconstitutional. The Bar Association secretary Mian Ahman Chachar also declared that the law body will register a protest against the formation of military courts and that it was prepared to create obstacles in this regard. On December 30, the opposition political parties’ grouping of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) also opposed a constitutional amendment for the establishment of the special courts. The grouping further suggested that militants should be tried within the existing laws and that the National Action Plan can be executed without amending the constitution. The grouping had earlier endorsed the establishment of the military courts during the all parties’ conference on December 24. Meanwhile on December 31, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif assured the Senate that the government would not take any “extra-constitutional” actions and that the decision to make constitutional amendments lies solely with the Senate and National Assembly.
On December 31, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Khan chaired the first meeting of the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) at the Prime Minister’s house in Islamabad to review the measures adopted for countering terrorism in the country. Senior representatives from law enforcement and intelligence agencies attended the meeting. Khan said during the meeting that NACTA has been made fully operational and also directed all concerned departments to coordinate with NACTA on intelligence sharing in order to curb terrorist activities.
On December 30, Pakistan government authorities decided that strict action will be taken against welfare organizations that are involved in supporting militants in the country. The decision was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and was attended by officials from the State Bank of Pakistan, NACTA and some legal experts. The meeting was aimed at discussing measures to block financial channels used by terrorists.
On December 31, Niaz Mohammad, a former Pakistan Air Force (PAF) technician convicted in the 2003 assassination attempt of former President Pervez Musharraf, was executed at the Peshawar Central Prison.
On December 31, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that the ongoing military operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan had dismantled terrorist networks and their infrastructure in Waziristan. Prime Minister Sharif also said that a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s interest and that both countries are focused on progressing towards regional prosperity by not allowing their territories to be used against each other. Prime Minister Sharif made these remarks at a meeting with a visiting delegation of Afghan Parliamentarians in Islamabad. On December 31, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also called Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and discussed bilateral relations, regional security and matters relating to ongoing counter-terrorism operations.
On December 30, Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz reiterated the importance of joint efforts by Pakistan and Afghanistan to address the common challenges of terrorism. Aziz added that bilateral interaction between Pakistani and Afghan security institutions has already intensified and that Pakistan values a peaceful, stable, united and prosperous Afghanistan. Aziz made these remarks at a meeting with the vising Afghan Parliamentary delegation.
On December 30, the government and PTI teams held another round of dialogue in an attempt to resolve the political deadlock. The talks reportedly failed because the two sides could not agree on the “scope of work” of the proposed judicial commission to probe the rigging allegations in the 2013 elections. PTI Vice-President Shah Mahmood Qureshi further added that this was the last meeting with the government and that the PTI leadership would start preparing its next plan of action.