Pakistan Security Brief
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and National Security reiterates that Operation Zarb-e-Azb targets all local and foreign militants indiscriminately; Multiple sources report that airstrikes in Shawal Valley on July 16 killed up to 37 civilians, contradicting reports from Pakistan Army; Al Qaeda renews allegiance to Taliban Emir Mullah Omar in publication on July 20; China’s special envoy to Afghanistan praises ISI’s role in counterterrorism; Prime Minister’s special assistant on foreign affairs says Pakistan will not violate Iran sanctions regime.
North Waziristan Offensive
In a meeting on July 21 in Islamabad, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz told U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador James Dobbins that Operation Zarb-e-Azb is targeting militants without discrimination or distinction between militant groups. Aziz assured Dobbins that the operation targets both local and foreign militants, including the Haqqani Network.
Multiple reports by residents of North Waziristan alleged that many civilians died in July 16 airstrikes in a village in the Shawal Valley, North Waziristan. Inter-Services Press Relations had reported that the airstrikes killed 35 militants and no civilians, but multiple witnesses confirmed in a July 22 report that the airstrikes killed no local or foreign militants. Instead, witnesses reported that the strikes killed 37 civilians, including 20 women and 10 children. Residents expressed anger towards the government, who allegedly told them they were safe from military action and could stay in their homes.
Al Qaeda and Mullah Omar
Al Qaeda renewed its pledge of allegiance to Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Omar in the first edition of “Al Nafir”, a new online bulletin published on July 20. While published on July 20, The Long War Journal estimated that Al Qaeda published "Al Nafir" in April or May. In the publication, Al Qaeda said it fights under the “victorious banner” of Mullah Omar and that its soldiers and Mullah Omar’s soldiers are one and the same, fighting for territory towards a global Caliphate. The release of “Al Nafir” is reportedly linked to the Islamic State’s June declaration of a caliphate.
The Express Tribune reported on July 21 that China’s new special envoy to Afghanistan Sun Yuxi expressed his belief that Pakistan has been effective in combating militants and terrorism. He made this announcement after both India and Afghanistan have recently criticized Pakistan’s government and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for stoking terrorism in Afghanistan. Sun also said that he looks forward to working with Pakistan and India in the future in his new role. He is expected to visit Islamabad to open a dialogue about post-U.S. withdrawal Afghanistan with top Pakistani leaders in the military and government.
On July 21, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s special assistant on foreign affairs Tariq Fatemi spoke at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington about Pakistan’s desire for a special relationship with Iran that will not contravene UN sanctions against Iran. Fatemi also spoke about the economic corridor with China that would link Kashgar and Gwadar and a rail network that would ensure power sector cooperation.