Pakistan Security Brief


Law- enforcement operation in Karachi; Gilani: No plans to amend blasphemy law; Death threats to liberal politicians; U.S. sees ‘rich hunting ground’ in North Waziristan; Britain to ban TTP; Minibus attacked in Kohat; ‘Robbers’ murdered by Taliban; NATO oil tankers torched; Political activists murdered in Balochistan; Government official gunned down in Quetta.


‘Target Killings’ in Karachi

  • Over the weekend, three MQM workers were murdered in Karachi, in addition to an ANP activist gunned down on Saturday. In lieu of the recent killings that have resulted in more than thirty deaths, the Sindh government has commenced an operation in 120 localities of the city. The door-to-door searches are aimed at combating the ‘target killing’ incidents ahead of a local election. Orangi Town was the focus of the operation on Tuesday, with over 1,500 paramilitary troops cordoning off parts of the neighborhood and conducting searches. Among the hundreds detained were GEO News reporters covering the crackdown. The men were subsequently released after Rangers deleted their footage.[i]
  • In response to the operation in Karachi, the federal government has reportedly declined military involvement, affirming that law and order is to be dealt with on a provincial level. The Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Qamar Zaman Kaira, stated that the federal government would support all decisions by the Sindh government to manage the current state of affairs in Karachi, though he hinted at the National Assembly convening to debate possible solutions.[ii]


Blasphemy Law and Fallout

  • Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani announced on Monday that the current administration has no plans to amend the blasphemy law. Despite rumors that a committee had been formed to discuss possible amendments, Gilani reaffirmed that, “Neither have we thought of it nor we are going to think of such a thing.” He instead vowed that the current government would pursue ‘politics of reconciliation,’ referencing a specific agenda of combating unemployment, extremism, sectarianism, and strengthening the rule of law in Pakistan.[iii]
  • Liberal Pakistani politicians have continued to reveal death threats they have received in response to their support for abolishing blasphemy laws in the country. Sherry Rehman, a female MP who has proposed an amendment to the law in parliament, has admitted that she receives death threats multiple times every hour. She issued a statement from her home in Karachi stating, “The kind of country we want to live in, if we are not up to strategize and face up to this very existential threat, I think that that will swallow us whole eventually.”[iv]



  • A new report by the New York Times details how Pakistan’s refusal to attack insurgents in the tribal area of North Waziristan has led to a silver lining for U.S. officials authorizing drone strikes. A number of U.S. intelligence officials have stated that by consolidating there, militants are making it easier for drone strikes to target them. Referring to the area as a “rich hunting ground,” the New York Times reports that previous Pakistani Army operations have driven the militants into North Waziristan, where several hundred insurgents have purportedly sought sanctuary. Senior officials affirm increased effectiveness of CIA drone strikes, though the U.S. government has continued to urge the Pakistani government to take military action.[v]


Pakistani Foreign Relations

  • Great Britain’s Home Secretary Theresa May has introduced legislation in parliament that moves to ban the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) under the British Terrorism Act. The legislation aims to make membership of the TTP a criminal transgression; the organization would be banned from legally operating in the United Kingdom and soliciting funds in the country. The proposed addition to the Terrorism Act will be debated in parliament later this week.[vi]


Violence in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

  • A minibus attack in Kohat has killed seventeen and injured eleven after the minibus was reportedly planted with over ten kilograms of explosive material. A senior police official, Masood Khan Afridi, affirmed it was a “terrorist attack” and that the local police are now looking for the owner of the vehicle.[vii]
  • Four alleged robbers were shot dead in Hangu district, reportedly killed by Taliban militants on Tuesday. The bodies were found with a note stating the identities of the men and that they had confessed to their crime. A local police official affirmed that the four were suspected robbers that the authorities had previously been looking for.[viii]


Tankers targeted in Balochistan

  • Sixteen oil tankers carrying fuel for NATO troops in Afghanistan were set ablaze on Saturday in Balochistan province. Eight gunmen attacked the tankers, which were parked at a roadside restaurant in the Dera Murad Jamali area. Elsewhere in Pakistan, an oil tanker exploded in the Khyber agency on Monday after a bomb was planted in the vehicle. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.[ix]
  • The bodies of three political activists were found in Balochistan, including a local president of the Baloch National Movement and an activist of the Baloch Republican Party (BRP). The two local leaders had been kidnapped in separate incidents in October and November, leading their families to accuse security agencies of illegally detaining the men. Riots occurred in response to the killing BRP leader Nasir Kamalan, resulting in several buildings being set on fire in Pasni district.[x]
  • Three people were gunned down in Quetta on Saturday, including a senior official of the provincial government. Abdul Jabbar Yousufzai, the Deputy Director of Water Resources Management was shot dead while in his jeep, traveling to Airport Road. Local police are now investigating the fatalities.[xi]



[i]“Targeted operation in Karachi on cards,” Daily Times, January 18, 2011. Available at\01\18\story_18-1-2011_pg1_1
[ii]“No military operation in Karachi: Kaira,” Dawn, January 18, 2011. Available at
[iii]“No plans to amend blasphemy law, says Gilani,” Daily Times, January 18, 2011. Available at\01\18\story_18-1-2011_pg7_2
[iv]“Pakistan blasphemy law reformers' death threats,” BBC News, January 14, 2011.
[v]Eric Schmitt, “Pakistan’s Failure to Hit Militant Sanctuary Has Positive Side for U.S.,” New York Times, January 17, 2011. Available at
[vi]“Britain moves to ban Tehrik-e-Taliban under terror law,” Reuters, January 17, 2011. Available at
[vii]“Minibus bomb attack in Kohat kills 17,” Dawn, January 17, 2011. Available at
[viii]“Taliban kill four alleged robbers in Hangu,” Dawn, January 18, 2011. Available at
[ix]“Assailants torch 16 Nato oil tankers in Balochistan,” Dawn, January 15, 2011. Available at
[x]“Bullet-riddled bodies of 3 political activists found in Balochistan,” Daily Times, January 18, 2011. Available at\01\18\story_18-1-2011_pg1_9
[xi]“Govt official shot dead in Quetta Govt official shot dead in Quetta,” Dawn, January 16, 2011. Available at
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