Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan Security Brief – October 25, 2010
U.S. pushes Pakistan to allow more CIA officers, special operations personnel; Pakistan agrees to increase pressure on militants in the tribal areas via targeted operations; Taliban issue pamphlet in North Waziristan saying that they will seek refuge in Afghanistan in the event of a military operation; residents of Mir Ali protest Taliban, al Qaeda presence in North Waziristan; six killed in bomb blast outside Sufi shrine in Lahore.
The U.S. has reportedly been pushing Pakistan over the last several weeks to allow more CIA officers and special operations trainers into the country in order to increase pressure on militants in the tribal regions bordering Afghanistan. Islamabad has so far denied the requests.
As part of an agreement reached during last week’s U.S.-Pakistan strategic dialogue, Pakistan has agreed to increase pressure on militants in the tribal areas through targeted operations conducted by its special operations forces. The recently announced $2 billion aid package does not include specific conditions for a military operation in North Waziristan but the agreement grants the U.S. the option to cease or reduce the aid money if the U.S. believes Pakistan is not doing enough.
On Sunday, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi reiterated the consistent message that his country will pursue a military operation in North Waziristan in accordance with its own “sense of timing.” Qureshi told reporters in regard to the possible offensive that “if you do an operation without consolidating, what will happen is that you leave the place and [the militants] will fill the gap again.” Qureshi also praised the recent U.S.-Pakistan strategic dialogue as productive and successful due to the Obama’s administration acceptance of Pakistan’s position on a variety of key issues.
Pakistani security officials expressed their skepticism regarding recent U.S. efforts to pursue reconciliation talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan, calling the proposed talks a “desperate” political move to demonstrate to the American public that the military is achieving gains in the war. One unnamed official warned that the United States’ “push to produce results” in Afghanistan must not exclude Pakistan if there is any hope for “sustainable peace” in the region.
A pamphlet distributed by the local Taliban shura council in Miramshah on Sunday indicated that the Taliban would seek refuge in Afghanistan if a military operation were to be launched in North Waziristan. The pamphlet said that in the event of a military incursion into North Waziristan the Taliban would ask Afghan President Hamid Karzai to provide safe haven for its fighters. The militants promised, nevertheless, to adhere to a 2007 peace deal they had signed with the Pakistani government.
On Saturday, hundreds of residents marched through the streets of Mir Ali to protest against the Taliban and al Qaeda presence in North Waziristan, demanding that the militants leave the region immediately. A tribal elder who organized the protests said that the demonstrations were sparked off by the kidnapping of a local resident on Friday who was allegedly abducted by al Qaeda militants. The elder further said that the people of North Waziristan “will not allow the Taliban and al Qaeda to stay in our land and will get rid of them by force if necessary.” U.S. and Pakistani officials estimate that around 10,000 foreign militants are currently present in North Waziristan.
An article from the Associated Press examines Pakistan’s difficulties in maintaining peace and stability in South Waziristan following last year’s military operation against the Taliban. Despite the success of the operation, the more than 400,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) are not scheduled to begin returning to the region until next spring at the earliest. The article also draws a connection between the challenges still faced in South Waziristan with Pakistan’s reluctance to launch a new offensive against the Taliban in North Waziristan.
Helicopter gunships pounded militant hideouts in Orakzai Agency over the weekend in response to Friday’s IED attack which left six Pakistani soldiers dead. At least 12 militants were reported killed in the strikes on Saturday and another 13 were reported killed in the shelling on Sunday while ground forces simultaneously conducted search operations in various areas of the agency. A passenger van was also struck by a roadside bomb blast near Tanda village in Orakzai on Monday, killing three people and wounding two others.
On Saturday, intelligence officials revealed that security forces in Orakzai had arrested a former bodyguard of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Hakimullah Mehsud. The bodyguard, identified as Rehmatullah, served as Mehsud’s bodyguard for a period of several months in 2009 but refused to divulge Mehsud’s current location, saying that he “would rather die than share any information about the whereabouts of Mehsud.”
At least five militants were killed when security forces shelled suspected Taliban positions in central Kurram Agency on Sunday. Separately, local residents in the Chinarak area shot to death a man who was captured while allegedly attempting to plant a roadside bomb.
Two schools were blown up by unidentified militants in Salarzai sub-district of Bajaur Agency on Sunday. Local authorities said that the explosives were detonated at two schools in Manogai Mandal village and confirmed that both buildings were completely destroyed in the blasts. Khassadar forces were later arrived on the scene and began a search operation in the area.
- A bomb blast outside a Sufi shrine in Lahore on Monday morning has left at least six people dead and more than a dozen others wounded. The explosion targeted the Babar Farid shrine in the Pakpattan area of the city. Witnesses said that two men were spotted parking a motorcycle, evidently packed with explosives, outside the gate to the shrine a few minutes before the blast, which occurred as worshippers were leaving the site following morning prayers. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.
- On Monday, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani proposed increased intelligence sharing efforts between Britain and Pakistan in order to thwart potential future terror attacks in the West. A spokesman from Gilani’s office said that the prime minister proposed that the two countries “consider a mechanism as well as parameters for cooperation between their security agencies.” Gilani’s call for cooperation came during talks with visiting British Home Secretary Theresa May.
- A total of five militants were killed in separate clashes with security forces in the Matta sub-district of Swat on Sunday. In the first incident, security forces killed two militants after returning fire during a raid on a house in the Khareri area. Three more militants were killed by security forces in the Gojar Banar area after refusing to stop for a search.
- Two NATO supply vehicles were torched in the Khuzdar district of Balochistan over the weekend. On Sunday, two gunmen riding a motorcycle opened fire on a NATO truck in the town of Baghbana, wounding the driver and setting fire to the vehicle before fleeing the scene. Another supply vehicle was also torched in a separate incident in the town of Wadh on Saturday on evening.
Police arrested two suspected suicide bombers in the Sohrab Goth area of Karachi on Monday. The suspects were reportedly in possession of suicide vests and explosive materials at the time of arrest.
Violence continues to plague Karachi as four more people were killed in separate incidents of target killings in different parts of the city on Sunday. Police and Rangers conducted search operations in the Lyari and Sachal Goth areas, arresting two political activists with suspected involvement in target killings and recovering a large quantity of weapons.
- Indian officials have accused Pakistan of a “major ceasefire violation” during a cross-border incident on Monday which resulted in the death of one Indian soldier. An Indian army spokesman said that Pakistani troops opened fire with machine guns and rockets on India forward posts in the southern Poonch region of Kashmir.