Pakistan Security Brief
Interior Minister Rehman Malik says eight suicide bombers are likely in Islamabad; Security is enhanced in Islamabad and Rawalpindi after terror threats; Kidnapped American aid worker is “alive and in good health;” Seven foreigners kidnapped in Pakistan in past six months; Haqqani Network publishes guidelines for militants; Six Frontier Corps soldiers killed by Baloch rebels; Troops kill 20 militants in Kurram Agency; Head of Landi Kotal chapter of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) shot dead; Pakistan offers harsh response to NATO report; Pakistan denies obstructing UN Conference on Disarmament; Thousands of supply trucks crowding Karachi port due to closed NATO supply routes; Pakistan’s Foreign Office says U.S. sanctions do not cover Pak-Iran gas pipeline; Pakistan ranked 151 of 179 countries in 2011 World Press Freedom Index; Lawyers observe a strike over killing of three Shia lawyers; Pakistani prime minister’s former media coordinator sentenced to three years in prison for fraud; Parliamentary Committee on National Security summons Mansoor Ijaz on February 10.
- Over the last four days, four threats have “been received from the Tehrik-e-Taliban [Pakistan (TTP)]– two for Rawalpindi and Islamabad and two for the rest of the country.” On Thursday, Interior Minister Rehman Malik revealed intelligence reports that “eight suicide bombers have entered the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.” According to The News, a “high-level meeting” was held in the Ministry of Interior to address the terrorist threats. Chaired by Malik, the meeting “reviewed law and order and security situation of the federal capital.” The leadership decided to enhance the security of all officials and sensitive federal buildings, as well as to develop a “fresh plan of deployment” for the Ranger units.
- According to McClatchy Newspapers, Warren Weinstein, the 70-year-old American aid contractor who was kidnapped in Pakistan on August 13, is “alive and in good health.” Weinstein is being held in North Waziristan by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Pakistani al Qaeda affiliate. In an interview last week, a ranking Pakistani militant said that Weinstein “is being provided all available medical treatment, including regular checkups by a doctor and the medicines prescribed for him before he was plucked.” According to a security analyst in Islamabad with Pakistani militant contacts, “Weinstein's captors had no plans to harm him,” but will “use him as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the Pakistani authorities.”
- In the past six months, seven foreigners have been kidnapped in Pakistan, “highlighting the security threat in the country and hampering aid efforts.” According to The Associated Press, “Islamist militants, separatist rebels or regular criminals are suspected in the abductions, with motives ranging from ransom, publicity or concessions from the U.S. or Pakistani governments such as prisoner releases or a halt to army operations.” Aine Fay, chairman of the Pakistan Humanitarian Forum representing 42 international aid groups operating in Pakistan, expressed her concern for those that have been kidnapped, as well as the “ability of the NGOs to carry out the work.”
- The Haqqani Network, a prominent militant group battling the NATO forces in Afghanistan, has published a book that lays out a set of guidelines for its militants. According to a BBC report, the book, titled Nizami Darsona, “aims at helping active members of the Taliban in organizing themselves so that they may effectively increase their activities against foreign forces active in war-torn Afghanistan.”
- On Thursday, six Frontier Corps (FC) soldiers were killed when “up to a dozen Baloch rebels” on motorcycles attacked an FC check-post in the Dera Bugti district of Balochistan. A senior security official stated that “the attackers came before dawn and opened fire on the soldiers after encircling the check-post. All six soldiers were killed on the spot.”
- A Pakistani government official reported that 20 militants were killed, and 22 troops were wounded in a firefight in Kurram Agency on Thursday. The official said the fighting began when a group of Pakistani militants attacked a security post.” Subsequently, the security forces returned fire on the militants.
- The head of the Landi Kotal chapter of the political party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), Haji Gul Rehman Afridi, was killed by unidentified assailants in the Shahi Bagh area of Peshawar on Wednesday. Afridi had recently been released from prison, where he spent several years for allegedly violating laws under the Frontier Crimes Regulation.
- On Wednesday, two officials from the agricultural department, including Assistant Director Hesiatullah Khan, were injured when unknown attackers opened fire on their car on Hangu Road in Kohat disrict.
- The Pakistani military issued a press statement on Monday to accompany a report released in response to the findings of an American inquiry probing the November 26 NATO air strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. The ISPR statement rebuked the NATO/ISAF report on the incident and claimed that the incident was the result of a failure by NATO/ISAF forces to “share its near-border operation with Pakistan at any level.” The ISPR statement concluded that NATO/ISAF forces “violated all mutually agreed procedures with Pakistan for near-border operations put in place to avert such uncalled for actions.” Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, an ISAF spokesman, said the “the recommendations in the CENTCOM report were designed to work toward building a positive relationship and constructive cross-border coordination measures to ensure this type of incident does not ever occur again.”
- On Wednesday, a spokesman for Pakistan’s Foreign Office commented on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s critical statements at the UN Conference on Disarmament (CD). The spokesman stated that “Pakistan attached immense importance to the work of the CD as the sole multilateral forum for arms control and disarmament negotiations.” He said that “Pakistan, along with several other countries, was of the firm view that the CD should have a balanced approach and pursue all items on its agenda, taking into account the well-established principle of equal and undiminished security for all states.” On Tuesday, Ban Ki-moon said that the CD “is in danger of sinking,” indirectly blaming Pakistan for obstructing the mission of the conference. According to The News, Pakistan has not yet reached an agreement with the CD regarding a production cut-off of fissile materials used in nuclear weapons. Pakistan is wary of such an agreement due to the nuclear stockpile advantage Pakistan alleges it would give to India.
- Anonymous sources revealed to Geo News on Thursday that three alleged German spies apprehended during a raid on January 21 in Peshawar, were reportedly about to receive several Pakistan army uniforms that they had ordered at a local market. Rolf Schmidt, Kristen Wild and Lorenz had been living in Peshawar since 1981 and had “conveyed negative reports about Pakistan” at last year’s Bonn Conference in Germany, said sources.
- Due to Pakistan’s closure of the Pakistan-Afghanistan NATO supply routes, thousands of supply trucks are crowding the port in Karachi where drivers are starting to abandon their vehicles. Fed up with waiting, many of the drivers have left their trucks to return home to their families. According to Mohammad Saleh Afridi, Vice Chairman of the All Pakistan Oil Tankers Association, the deserters “had no more money in the end so they left one helper with their vehicle for security and care, and went back to their families.” Currently, there are over 1,000 stranded trucks and roughly 5,000 containers and military vehicles in Karachi. The routes provide 130,000 U.S. led troops in Afghanistan with 25 percent of their supplies.
- On Thursday, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit stated that “Pakistan is committed to the Pak-Iran gas pipeline and sanctions do not cover this project.” Basit claims that his country has studied U.S. legislation regarding the sanctions on Iran and it is clear that the Pak-Iran gas pipeline would not be subject to them.
- The annual World Press Freedom Index for 2011 compiled by Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) and released on Wednesday, ranked Pakistan 151 out of 179 countries and territories in the world. Journalists in Pakistan face constant threats from the “Taliban, religious extremists, separatist movements and political groups,” and “with 10 deaths in 2011,” it was the “world’s deadliest country for journalists for the second year in a row,” said RSF.
- On Wednesday, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) voiced concern over the violation of rights of Pakistan’s former ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani. Since returning to Pakistan a few months earlier, Haqqani has been painted as a traitor by the media, has been barred from travelling abroad by the Supreme Court, and has been receiving numerous threats. International legal adviser at the ICJ Asia-Pacific Regional Office Sheila Varadan called on Pakistani authorities to “respect Haqqani’s right to be presumed innocent,” “remove the restriction on his right to leave the country,” “ensure his personal safety,” and “respect his right to a fair and impartial hearing.”
- The sealing of the Chitral-Kunar border has “curtailed commercial activities and increased unemployment in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s northern district,” reports Dawn. The border was closed in August 2011 due to a Taliban attack on security check-posts. Prior to the closure, large numbers of people would come to obtain food items and use the health facilities. However, since the border closure six months ago, the sales of local traders have considerably dropped.
- Several lawyers’ organizations, including the Shia Ulema Council, the Supreme Court Bar Association, the Sindh Bar Council, the Sindh High Court Bar, and the Karachi Bar Association, observed a strike on Thursday in response to the killing of three Shia lawyers in Karachi the day before.
- On Thursday, an accountability court in Rawalpindi sentenced the prime minister’s former media coordinator, Khurram Rasool, to three years in prison and issued warrants for his arrest. Rasool was accused of defrauding his clients of millions of rupees “on the pretext of getting liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) quota from Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL).”
- On Thursday, the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) decided to once again summon Mansoor Ijaz, a Pakistani-American businessman and U.S. citizen, on February 10. The PCNS said that adequate arrangements have been made for Ijaz’s security. Committee Chairman Raza Rabbani stated that the “committee feels that if Mansoor Ijaz has any apprehensions regarding his security, they may be addressed keeping in view rules and law of the land.”
- On Wednesday, Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik refused to appear before the Supreme Court Commission investigating the National Insurance Corporation Limited (NICL) scam. Malik was summoned for a cross-examination on his counter affidavit, but his counsel informed the commission that he would “not appear.”
- According to an article in The Washington Post on Wednesday, the outcome of the current civil-military crisis in Pakistan “could determine whether Pakistan will seek to repair its alliance with the United States or become a more open adversary in Afghanistan and elsewhere.” This crisis will also test the balance of power between the country’s military and civil institutions, and determine whether or not a balance of any kind will continue to exist.