Pakistan Security Brief
U.S. forces now targeting TTP Swat leader in Afghanistan; Intense clashes between TTP and rival group in Khyber, dozens dead; Pakistan Army Chief meets Afghan Minister of Defence; India launches sea-based, nuclear-capable missile; Indian foreign minister tells Pakistan not to take friendship offer for granted; Kashmir trade, bus service restored; New report on aftermath of South Waziristan operation; Pakistan considering giving Gwadar port operations to China; U.S. expresses reservation over IPI pipeline; Militants destroy 81 schools in northwest this year; Violence across northwest Pakistan claims several lives; Baloch nationalist militants attack several targets across Balochistan; Several dead in Karachi violence including ASWJ leader, protests follow; Pakistani jets bomb militants in Orakzai; IED-linked Pakistani fertilizer company starts operations in U.S.; NAB chairman complains about Supreme Court interference in cases; Pakistan to raise $2 billion before consideration for IMF bailout.
U.S. Targets Fazlullah
According to U.S. military officials quoted by the Washington Post, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Swat commander Maulana Fazlullah is reportedly now a “priority” target for U.S. Special Forces. Assets, including spies on the ground and drones, are focused on killing Fazlullah, believed to be hiding in Afghanistan’s Kunar and Nuristan provinces, after years of complaints from Pakistani officials that the U.S. was not doing enough to counter him.
Rival militant groups Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and pro-government Ansarul Islam (AI) continued fighting over the weekend in the Tirah valley of Khyber agency. By Monday, the fourth consecutive day of clashes, 81 people had died in the fighting including civilians, amid reports of beheadings and public executions. The fighting also displaced thousands of families and destroyed two mosques and a private school. The fighting began on Friday when TTP militants attacked and took several AI hilltop posts with mortars and rockets . On Friday evening, AI chief Qazi Mehboob declared “jihad” against the TTP and even said AI would come to the aid of its traditional rivals, Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) if the TTP attacked LI.
A security guard was killed in an explosion that went off next to the gate of a house belonging to an industrialist in Mardan on Friday evening. Two other security guards were seriously injured by the device, apparently homemade with 2-3 kg of explosive material.
A Conflict Managing Centre (CMC) report shows that 81 schools in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the Federal Administrative Tribal Areas (FATA) were destroyed by militants in 2012, bringing the 2009-2012 total to 839. The most effected district was Swabi, followed by Charsadda and Nowshera.
In two separate incidents in the Mullagori area of Jamrud, Khyber on Sunday two people were killed and one was injured . Attackers opened fire on a man and his son, while the other victim was shot in Zanga village as a result of an old enmity.
The locomotive of a passenger train on its way to Quetta was damaged by unidentified militants on Sunday while it was stopped in Qila Abdullah by hundreds of protesting tribesmen blocking the tracks. No casualties were reported.
At least ten people, including the Ahle-Sunna-Wal-Jamaat-affiliated prayer leader of a mosque, were killed in separate incidents in Karachi on Saturday. The death of the prayer leader sparked violent protests that only dispersed after police assured the protestors that the man’s killers had been arrested. ASWJ supporters protested against the government’s reportedly turning a blind eye to sectarian violence in the city and saying that 300 of its members had been killed in the last year. By Monday morning, Karachi’s death toll from the weekend had reached 13, including children.
Peshawar’s Shia community is reportedly blaming the city’s police force for doing nothing about a recent spate of killings of high-profile Shias. In protest, Shia leader Sardar Sajjad has refused to meet with provincial Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti to discuss the violence.
Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mulherjee said on Friday that India was prepared to “extend the hand of friendship to Pakistan” but that Pakistan should not take its offer for granted. On Monday, trade routes and a cross-border bus service resumed normal operation across the Kashmir Line of Control (LoC) following their suspension due to a series of skirmishes across the LoC by Indian and Pakistani troops.
Indian news sources report the successful test of a medium-range, nuclear-capable ballistic missile, fired from an underwater platform in the Bay of Bengal. The test completes India’s “nuclear triad”: the ability to fire missiles from land, air, and sea. The missile will now reportedly be ready for deployment, including on nuclear submarines.
South Waziristan Aftermath
A new report by the Wall Street Journal looks at the situation in South Waziristan since the 2009 operation to expel militants, and how the area has recovered since. Many people who fled their homes in 2009 are reluctant to return because of safety concerns, despite encouragement from the Pakistani military, which sees “winning hearts and minds” and rebuilding civilian society as crucial to the overall success of the operation. Monetary and material incentives are being provided to those who return, but fear of the army, unemployment, and strict regulations are still keeping former residents away.
During a meeting between Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and Afghan Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, both officials stated the importance of cooperation and co-dependence between Pakistan and Afghanistan in their common fight against the Taliban. Mohammadi thanked Kayani for the release of Afghan Taliban prisoners, saying the move would have a big impact on the peace process.
At the U.S. Business Forum in Lahore, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson expressed reservations about the planned Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline, but said he fully supported other measures to fix the energy crisis, such as the Bhasha Dam. He stressed the importance of eliminating corruption and achieving good governance through honest leadership, and said that the U.S. is in favor of free and fair elections, but does not support any one particular party.
The Pakistani government is considering transferring authority over the Gwadar port to China. Gwadar is currently administered by the Port of Singapore Authority. The case is being heard by a Supreme Court bench, and will be decided on January 31.
Midwest Fertilizer Corp., an arm of the Pakistani-run Fatima Group, has secured a loan to build a fertilizer factory in Indiana. This is the Fatima Group’s first foray into U.S. markets, but has raised concern among some U.S. officials because Fatima Group’s fertilizers form the majority of base materials in improvised explosive devices used against U.S. troops in Afghanistan. In Pakistan, elements of Fatima’s fertilizers are used to make the homemade bombs that kill scores of people, and Fatima has reportedly not done enough to address the issue or take preventative steps, despite urgent appeals from the Pentagon.
Fasih Bokhari, Chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), wrote a letter to President Asif Ali Zardari regarding the Supreme Court’s ongoing proceedings affecting NAB, asking for more time to investigate cases and carry out orders. In the letter, Bokhari expressed reservations over the intrusive role the Supreme Court was playing in NAB investigations, and complained of a media campaign putting pressure on him.
According to senior officials in the Pakistani government interviewed by The News, Pakistan will be required to raise at least Rs. 200 billion ($2 billion) in new revenue through new tax measures, raising electricity tariffs, and other methods before it could expect to receive an IMF bailout package of $4 to $5 billion.
“Govt has turned a blind eye towards sectarian attacks: ASWJ,” Express Tribune, January 28, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/499472/govt-has-turned-a-blind-eye-towards-sectarian-attacks-aswj-leader/
“Pakistan-India bus, trade resume as tensions ebb,” Express Tribune, January 28, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/499680/pakistan-india-bus-trade-resume-as-tensions-ebb/