Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan Security Brief – June 4, 2010
Wazir tribesmen raise militia to dislodge Mehsud militants along Afghan border; helicopter gunships kill militants and destroy hideouts in Orakzai Agency; police officer killed by gunmen during routine patrol in Punjab; two people injured in bomb blast in Lahore; Afghan artillery shells damage homes on Pakistani side of the border; NATO and EU to strengthen ties with Pakistan; Mumbai gunman appeals death sentence; State Department official says Pakistan is indispensable for U.S. success in Afghanistan.
Leaders of a Pakistan Pashtun tribe said on Friday that they intend to force militants loyal to Pakistani Taliban commander Hakimullah Mehsud from their territories along the Afghan border. Following a major military offensive in South Waziristan, a large number of Mehsud militants have taken refuge in areas controlled by the Wazir tribe, the Mehsud’s traditional rival in South Waziristan. “We promised to keep the peace and we will force militants to leave our areas within a week,” Wazir tribal elder Mohammad Ajmal told a gathering of tribal leaders in Wana, the main town of Waziristan. This statement was issued after a meeting with government officials.
Helicopter gunships are said to have killed 9-20 militants and destroyed four hideouts in the Orakzai Agency on Thursday. Five civilians, including three children and two women, were also killed when an artillery shell fired by security forces hit their home. Several other houses were also damaged by artillery shelling, but no injuries were reported. These incidents come a day after the Pakistani military declared the end of major operations in the region.
A police officer was killed and another seriously injuried when unidentified gunmen opened fire during a routine patrol of the Islamabad Expressway near near Zia Masjid in Shehzad Town on Thursday. According to sources, the gunmen, who remain at large, opened fire when the police signaled them to stop.
At least two people were injured on Thursday in a bomb blast at Noori Boori Shrine in the outskirts of Lahore, according to local sources. Hundreds of worshipers were present for a ceremony taking place at the shrine.
Three suspects were arrested and another was killed during a failed bank robbery in Aligarh Colony, Orangi Town, on Thursday. The suspects, believed to be members of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, were arrested after police fired tear gas into the bank and used a megaphone to demand their surrender.
Afghan forces fired five artillery shells across the border into a Pakistani village, damaging two homes, officials said on Friday. The incident occurred near a NATO supply line on Thursday in the Khyber district in northwest Pakistan. Shafirullah Khan, the top administrative official of Khyber, said the government has reported the matter to the interior ministry.
During a joint press conference in Brussels on Thursday, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen expressed the hope that cooperation between Pakistan and NATO would continue in the fight against militants along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. “We have discussed today how to develop the right framework for our future cooperation,'' Rasmussen said after meeting Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. “We stand ready to assist Pakistan in capacity building, if Pakistan so wishes.” In another meeting, EU officials said they are seeking to strengthen political and economic ties with Pakistan.
A Pakistani national involved in the 2008 Mumbai attacks is appealing his death sentence in India, according to the Times of India. The newspaper said that Indian authorities had confirmed that Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, who was convicted of mass murder, waging war against India, and terrorist acts, had approached the high court to challenge the sentence. Senior state officials in Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital, have called for the court to quickly ratify its original sentence, amid public demands for Kasab’s execution.
Pakistan is indispensable for U.S. success in Afghanistan, said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Robert Blake, on Friday. Blake, however, also noted that the United States had “strongly welcomed the important role that India has played through its various reconstruction and development projects” in Afghanistan. Mr. Blake faced a number of pointed questions from Indian journalists about American’s new pro-Pakistan policies, including sales of military equipment. “Whatever military assistance we are providing to Pakistan is to be used in its fight against terrorism, particularly in its border areas with Afghanistan,” said Mr Blake. “That is really the primary mission in front of the Pakistani army and the Pakistani military,” he added.