Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan Security Brief – June 8, 2010
Agreement reached between government and Taliban in North Waziristan; hundreds gather to watch public execution in North Waziristan of man convicted by Taliban court; 15 militants and 1 solider killed in Orakzai Agency on Monday; Punjab government accused of downplaying militant threat in order to retain its voting bloc; Prime Minister Yousuf Gilani acknowledges trust gap between Baloch people and federal government; Lal Masjid commandos seek Supreme Court intervention; U.S. Special Envoy Richard Holbrook’s Pakistan visit cancelled.
The government and Hafiz Gul Bahadur-led Taliban reached an agreement on Monday in which 20 detained militants were released in exchange for allowing a security forces convoy, stranded in North Waziristan for 45 days, to proceed. The accord signals the lowering of tensions in the agency since an incident forty-five days ago in which eight soldiers were killed and several others were wounded when militants attacked an army convoy near Hamzoni village, 25 kilometers west of Miramshah. The government responded by imposing a curfew on the Miramshah-Dattakhel road and launching a crackdown on the Hamzoni tribe.
Several hundred people gathered to watch the execution of a man found guilty by a Taliban court of double murder in North Waziristan on Tuesday. The Taliban brought the man, blindfolded and with his hands tied, to a soccer field in Miramshah, the central town of North Waziristan. “We asked the relatives of the deceased men to forgive, but they refused and under Islamic law it was decided that the convict be shot by them,” an unidentified militant told AFP. Local administration and intelligence officials confirmed the execution had taken place.
Fifteen militants and a soldier were killed on Monday when a militant group affiliated with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan staged simultaneous attacks on security checkpoints in upper Tehsil of Orakzai Agency. According to sources, the two sides exchanged fire for over two hours. Meanwhile, security forces attacked suspected militant hideouts with heavy artillery in Mamozai, Khadezai and Manropaty areas.
The ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), experts on militancy, and much of Pakistan’s media say that the Punjab government, led by Pakistan’s Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), is denying the need for an offensive against militant groups in Punjab in order to retain the groups’ electoral support. PML-N, which is in political opposition nationally, has often denounced attacks originating in the tribal areas, but has yet to denounce similar attacks carried out by groups operating in Punjab. “I think there's definitely a very mundane desire by the Sharifs to keep these groups on board so they can use their vote banks in elections,” said Ahmed Rashid, an expert on militancy.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani acknowledged during a press conference on Monday that there was a lack of trust between the people of Balochistan and the government in Islamabad. Mr. Gilani said that the government launched a development program in the province to restore confidence in the federal government. As part of the program, over 5,000 youths would receive government jobs and the province would be issued a gas royalty. Most of Pakistan’s natural gas is extracted from Balochistan and royalty issues have consistently been a point of contention between the province and the center.
The Judge Advocate General branch of the Pakistan Army has the denied the right of appeal to two army commandos who had allegedly opposed the Lal Masjid operation in 2007. The commandos, who were court-martialed in August 2008, were given 7 to 14 year prison sentences and denied copies of the proceedings and verdict necessary for an appeal in superior courts.
U.S. - Pak relations
The United States Special Envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, cancelled his June 9 visit to Pakistan after being informed that neither President Asif Zardari nor Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi would be in Islamabad. Mr. Holbrooke planned to visit Islamabad to discuss the recently concluded India-U.S. strategic dialogue, the Afghan peace jirga, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s visit to China, and the Pak-U.S. talks beginning on Friday, according to sources. U.S. Embassy spokesman, Richard Snelsire, said June 9 was only one of the several dates considered and certainly the visit would not this week.