Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan Security Brief – May 20, 2010
Pakistan says it is ready for a North Waziristan operation; aerial bombardments pound Taliban positions in Upper Orakzai; TTP commander arrested in Khyber; “peace broker” gunned down in Tank; four militants killed in Tank shootout; Peshawar court releases four terror suspects on bail; website bans in Pakistan expand to include YouTube, other sites with “blasphemous” content; at least 18 people killed in Karachi violence, Rangers given authority to operate within the city.
During a meeting between top US and Pakistani officials on Wednesday, Pakistan declared that it is “ready to expand its anti-militancy operations to North Waziristan” but also made it clear that the operation would be “started according to [its] own judgment.”
Between 15 and 25 militants were killed in Orakzai Agency during bombardments from fighter jets and helicopter gunships which targeted militant hideouts in various areas of Upper Orakzai.
A commander of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), identified as Swat Kahn, was arrested by security forces in Khyber Agency’s Jamrud sub-district on Wednesday. Frontier Corps personnel, acting on a tip, stopped Khan’s vehicle at a checkpoint in the Lalakand area. Several weapons and pictures of slain TTP leader Beitullah Mehsud were also found to be in his possession.
A prominent Islamic cleric who played a key role in brokering peace deals between the Taliban and the government has been shot to death in Tank district. Maulana Mirajuddin, a central figure in the Islamist political party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam and a former member of the lower house of parliament, was killed outside his home in Murtaza village by two unknown gunmen as he was returning from pre-dawn prayers. In 2005 and again in 2007, Mirajuddin facilitated talks which led to ceasefires between the Taliban and government forces in South Waziristan.
On Wednesday, security forces killed four militants during a shootout in Tank district’s Akakhel village. A twelve-hour long search operation was being conducted in the village when the fighting broke out. Seven homes were also destroyed in the action and there were also unconfirmed reports that several militants had also been arrested.
The Peshawar High Court ordered the release of four terror suspects on bail on Wednesday due to the failure the prosecution to provide sufficient evidence. Among those released was Maulana Khalid, a Taliban commander from Swat who was once known as the right hand man to TNSM founder Sufi Muhammad. Khalid was arrested in 2006 after he was believed to have led an attack on security forces’ vehicles in Timergara.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has expanded yesterday’s ban of Facebook to include YouTube and approximately 450 other individual web pages due to what it describes as “growing sacrilegious content.” A PTA official stated that his organization was merely following the Lahore High Court’s ruling, adding that it would unblock the sites if that’s what it was told to do. The controversy surrounding the Pakistani government’s ban on “blasphemous” online material began over a page started on Facebook that encouraged drawing images of the Prophet Muhammad.
- At least 18 people have been killed in the latest wave of “targeted killings” between political party activists in Karachi. In an effort to quell the violence, Sindh’s home minister, Zulfiqar Mirza, granted the Rangers authority to operate in the Karachi city district and has said that they are now operating in conjunction with local police to set up checkpoints and conduct raids, resulting in over 200 arrests in the crackdown so far.