Pakistan Security Brief

Pakistan Security Brief – October 20, 2010

U.S.-Pakistan strategic dialogue begins in Washington; CIA director Panetta says agency's operations have taken a "serious toll" on al-Qaeda; two injured in grenade attack on Peshawar checkpost; CIA admits faults in Balawi suicide attack; violence escalates in Karachi as curfew is imposed, search operation launched.


U.S.-Pakistan Relations

  • U.S. and Pakistani officials met in Washington on Wednesday, signaling the opening of a three-day “strategic dialogue” between the two countries. The talks will cover a wide range of security, economic, and social issues in Pakistan. Foremost among the issues will be Pakistan’s military operations against militants in the country’s tribal regions as well as the recent flood disaster that has caused nearly $10 billion in damage throughout the country. This third round of talks will also likely be strained by recent tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan in light of last month’s incident in which three Pakistani soldiers were accidentally killed by NATO helicopters that were pursing militants across the Afghan border.[1]


U.S. Drone Campaign

  • On Tuesday, CIA Director Leon Panetta said that the increased tempo of the agency’s operations in the tribal areas of Pakistan “is taking a serious toll” on al-Qaeda’s operational capacity. U.S. drone strikes were not specifically mentioned as part of the CIA’s operations since the U.S. government does not officially acknowledge the program. Panetta cited “intelligence, weather, and also just the threat streams we’re getting on potential attacks in Europe” as the basis for the increase in agency activity in the region.[2]



  • Two people were injured, including at least one policeman, and one militant was killed during a grenade attack on the Bara Qadeem checkpost in Peshawar on Wednesday. Police opened fire after three militants riding a motorcycle threw a grenade at the checkpost. The remaining two militants managed to flee the scene. The Bara Qadeem checkpost is located on Bara road leading to Khyber Agency and has been the frequent target of militant attacks in the past.[3]

  • On Wednesday, police in Peshawar announced that they had recovered four stolen NATO transport containers loaded with army jackets, laptops, coils of cable, and other supplies. Local authorities have detained four people in connection with the theft.[4]

  • Acting on a tip from members of a local peace lashkar, security forces in Swat killed three militants attempting to enter the Shakai area through Peochar.[5]


CIA Bombing


  • CIA director Leon Panetta admitted faults in the agency’s vetting of Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, who killed seven CIA personnel in a suicide attack in Afghanistan last December. Balawi later appeared beside Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Hakimullah Mehsud in a previously filmed video in which he claimed responsibility for the attack. The inquiry into the incident found that Balawi “had not rejected his terrorist roots” and indicated that the CIA was warned by Jordanian intelligence a month prior to the attack that Balawi might have been a double-agent. Despite the shortcomings, Panetta said that “responsibility cannot be assigned to any particular individual or group” and announced that no agency officials would be disciplined.[6]


Afghan Talks


  • Members of the Quetta shura, the Haqqani network, and the Peshawar shura have reportedly held discussions with the administration of Afghan President Hamid Karzai in an effort to reach a peace agreement in Afghanistan. In these cases, NATO forces have promised not to arrest the Taliban leaders as they travel across the border into Afghanistan from their safe havens in Pakistan and have even provided air transport for the Taliban leaders as well as armed protection via land routes. NATO officials also said that Taliban founder and leader Mullah Muhammad Omar was deliberately being excluded from the talks due in part to his closeness with Pakistani intelligence services.[7]




  • Former President Pervez Musharraf said on Tuesday that if the U.S. had recognized the Taliban regime in Afghanistan it might have been able to avoid the lengthy hunt for Osama bin Laden. Musharraf further said he has always proposed a “different strategy” of recognizing the Taliban and trying to “change them from within”, adding that if “we had 18 missions there, including the U.S. mission, with the Taliban…maybe we could have resolved this Osama bin Laden tangle.”[8]




  • Unrestrained violence continues to grip Karachi with at least 30 more people reported killed in the city on Tuesday, bringing the four-day death toll to at least 51 while other media sources have placed the total number of people killed at more than 70. Around dozen people were killed in a single incident when a large number of armed men entered the Shershah Kabaari market and began shooting indiscriminately. A curfew has been imposed throughout the city as security forces began conducting search operations. However, despite the violence Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has dismissed suggestions that the army would be called in to Karachi to restore the law and order in the city and assured the public that “the political leadership of the country [is] capable of containing the situation.”[9]

[1] Shaun Tandon, “US takes up Pakistan military wish-list in talks,” AFP, October 20, 2010. Available at David Alexander, “U.S.-Pakistan dialogue faces prickly issues,” Reuters, October 20, 2010. Available at

[2] Ken Dilanian, “Stepped-up U.S. operations in Pakistan taking serious toll on Al Qaeda, CIA chief says,” Los Angeles Times, October 19, 2010. Available at,0,1405118.story.

[5] “Three militants killed in Swat,” Frontier Post, October 20, 2010. Available at

[6] “Bomber who killed seven at CIA base ‘was not vetted’,” BBC, October 19, 2010. Available at

[7] Dexter Filkins, “Taliban Elite, Aided by NATO, Join Talks for Afghan Peace,” New York Times, October 19, 2010. Available at

[9] Faraz Khan, “Karachi continues to bleed,” Daily Times, October 20, 2010. Available at\10\20\story_20-10-2010_pg1_1. Mohammad Farooq, “Pakistan: 4-day death toll rises to 51 in Karachi,” October 20, 2010. Available at “Operation amid curfew decided for Karachi,” The News, October 20, 2010. Available at “Army not being called in Karachi, says PM,” Dawn, October 20, 2010. Available at

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