Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan Security Brief – June 9, 2010
Militants attack trucks carrying NATO supplies to Afghanistan outside Islamabad; six Frontier Corps soldiers and 40 militants killed during clashes in Orakzai Agency; Maulvi Nazir Taliban concerned that South Waziristan operation is imminent, demand an end to drone strikes; Foreign Minister Qureshi says Punjab government is waking up to its militant problem; Taliban militants driven from Waziristan allegedly relocating to Punjab; India supports U.S. economic package for Pakistan; General Kayani says army is capable of defeating any threat to Pakistan; ambassadors from 13 Islamic countries say they will continue to support Pakistan’s efforts to rehabilitate Swat.
NATO Supply Chain
Suspected Taliban militants attacked trucks carrying supplies to NATO forces in Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing seven people. The attack was unprecedented for its proximity to the Pakistani capital, taking place at a depot in Rawalpindi on the road to the northwestern city of Peshawar and towards the main NATO supply route into Afghanistan. According to initial assessments, there were anywhere from 6 to 15 gunmen armed with assault rifles and grenades involved in the attack. The Inspector General of Islamabad Police, Syed Kaleem Imam, noted that NATO has its own security system in place and that the Islamabad Police were not asked to provide any additional protection prior to the incident. After reviewing the existing system, Interior Minister Rehman Malk said that the government has decided to develop a comprehensive security strategy for NATO supplies.
At least six Fronteir Corps (FC) soldiers were killed on Tuesday in the Ghalijo area of Upper Orakzai Agency when militants attacked an army checkpoint. The army responded with gunfire and heavy artillery, killing 40 militants, according to local sources. Fifteen soldiers and twenty militants were also wounded during the fighting, government administration official Samiullah Khan said. The attack comes a week after the Pakistani army declared victory against Taliban militants in Orakzai Agency.
A pro-government Taliban leader, Maulvi Nazir, worries that a military operation against his Ahmadzai people in South Waziristan is imminent. “We always supported the government’s peace initiative and suffered human and material losses while helping the armed forces in restoring writ of the state which was challenged by foreign fighters for years,” argued commander Khan Mohammad, a close aide to Maulvi Nazeer in South Waziristan. Meanwhile, a meeting of Ahmadzai tribal leaders demanded an end to U.S. drone strikes, expressing concerns about civilian causalities. The leaders also decided cooperate with government officials so as to ensure that development in the region moves forward. 
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Tuesday that the Punjab government has begun operating against militants in the province. “I think some major incidents have taken place in Lahore and woken the Punjab government up,” Qureshi told Reuters in an interview at the end of a regional summit in Istanbul. “I think they are coming out of the denial that they were living in.”Qureshi also said that Pakistan’s next priority was an offensive in North Waziristan modeled after an earlier successful operation in South Waziristan. The U.S. regularly launches drone attacks in North Waziristan and has been anticipating a Pakistani offensive since last year.
Taliban militants driven out of Waziristan by the Pakistani army are said to be taking refuge in Punjab province. According to sources, this information was disclosed during the interrogations of several Afghan suspects who were arrested on Wednesday. The suspects were receiving medical treatment for wounds received in Waziristan in a makeshift hospital in the outskirts of Lahore. Police raided the house located in the Township area, finding weapons, ammunition, and large quantities of drugs.
Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, Robert Blake, said on Tuesday that India supports the U.S. economic package for Pakistan, although it is concerned about the military equipment and assistance. “They believe we have a shared interest in helping to stabilize Pakistan,” said Mr. Blake. “They're certainly well aware that a spiral-down would not be in India's interests,” he told a State Department blog forum. In a briefing on Monday, Mr. Blake said the U.S. had been in the “forefront of countries” pressuring Pakistan to address groups in Punjab operating against India.
The Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, said on Tuesday while addressing officers at the Command and Staff College in Quetta that the army is fully capable of defeating any threat against Pakistan. However, Kayani also noted, “Ultimately it is the will of the people and their support that is decisive. It is critical that the efforts of the Pakistan Army are backed by the whole nation.”
Ambassadors from 13 Islamic countries told a meeting of tribal leaders on Tuesday that they would continue to support Pakistan in bringing a sense of normalcy back to the people of Swat and other affected areas in Pakistan. Major General Ashfaq Nadeem, who commands the Pakistani military in Swat, also briefed the visiting envoys about the operation and lauded the sacrifices made by security forces and the people of Swat.