Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan Security Brief – July 30, 2010
New Pew survey indicates majority of Pakistanis view US as an enemy; US Vice President Biden says ISI “changing” behavior towards Afghanistan; security forces kill 12 militants in Kurram; NATO oil tanker attacked in Quetta; President Zardari decides not to cancel UK visit.
According to the results of the 2010 Pew Global Attitudes Survey released on Thursday, 59% of Pakistanis view the United States as an enemy while only 17% view the US in a favorable light. The findings mean that Pakistan was the most unfavorable country towards the US out of the 22 countries included in the poll. The poll also found that the majority of Pakistanis oppose the war in Afghanistan while relatively few people considered the Taliban and al-Qaeda to be a significant threat to their country (54%, down from 73% in 2009). Support for Pakistan’s government was also weak, with only 20-percent of respondents showing approval for President Asif Ali Zardari.
- US Vice President Joe Biden said in an interview on Thursday that Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) was “changing” its behavior towards Afghanistan. Biden further stated that money being used towards “public works and economic projects that are needed to sustain a democracy” in Pakistan are not being diverted to militant groups and that US forces are inflicting “significant damage” on the al-Qaeda network in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Twelve militants were killed and 15 others wounded on Thursday when security forces attacked militant positions in Kurram Agency. According to government sources, security forces also destroyed an important militant hideout. Meanwhile, ten people were killed and their homes destroyed in sectarian violence. According to local residents, members of a Shia group were behind the attack. The incident occurred in Sanghbakht, near the Afghan border. “They first evicted the residents from their homes, ransacked them and killed 10 people on the spot,” the residents said. Police believe the attack could be retaliation for an attack on a convoy of Shias three days ago in which several people were killed.
The Thall-Parachinar road is still closed following the ambush of a convoy nearly two weeks ago during which 15 people were killed and six other people were kidnapped. The road closure has reportedly caused an acute shortage of food and medicine in Kurram Agency.
- An explosion partially damaged a NATO oil tanker near a hotel in the Akhtarabad area of Quetta, causing thousands of liters of oil to spill onto the roadway. Two suspects have been arrested while attempting to flee the scene and an investigation into the incident is currently underway. No casualties were reported.
- A senior Pakistani official has indicated that the government had considered cancelling President Asif Ali Zardari’s planned five-day trip to the UK next week following Prime Minister David Cameron’s remarks about Pakistan’s role in sponsoring terrorism. However, Pakistan has decided to go ahead with the August 3 visit due to the “bigger issues involved,” including the “long-term strategic relationship between the two countries.” However, it appears that ISI chief General Ahmad Shuja Pasha has cancelled his visit to the UK following Cameron’s statements.
- During a senate address on Thursday, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani indicated that forming a consensus on a new “national policy against terrorism” would be the primary focus of an upcoming all-parties conference. Gilani stated that he had “readily accepted” the idea of holding an all-parties conference when the idea was suggested to him by PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, who wanted to include the country’s political leadership in addressing issues such as targeted killings in Karachi and the “scenario in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab.”
- At least two people were injured during clashes between two political groups in Karachi. Armed men from the two groups were arguing in Gardan Town when the dispute reportedly escalated to an exchange of gunfire. The firing incident caused the early closure of shops and other businesses in the area while police claim to have arrested two suspects in connection with the shooting.
- On Thursday, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed his disapproval with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi over his handling of a recent press conference in Islamabad with Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna. Singh stated that Qureshi’s actions at the press conference “could have been avoided because it detracts from larger elements of agreement reached.” However, despite the criticisms Singh told reporters that he was looking forward to Qureshi’s visit to New Delhi later this year.