Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan Security Brief – September 10, 2010
Security forces in major cities on high alert for Eid holiday; angry demonstrators protest Florida pastor’s plans to burn Korans on 9/11; UN set to issue new appeal for flood aid; Prime Minister Gilani dispels rumors of army takeover of civilian government.
Security forces in major cities across Pakistan went on high alert on Friday in an effort to prevent any potential terrorist attacks during Eid celebrations. More than 14,000 police personnel have been deployed in Karachi and have been stationed at critical locations and large public areas throughout the city. Lahore has also put 13,000 policemen on alert to respond to any potential terror threat while over 3,000 Islamabad police and rangers have been dispatched to protect mosques and other “sensitive installations.”
Around 200 angry demonstrators took to the streets in Multan on Thursday to protest Florida pastor Terry Jones’ plans to burn Korans on the anniversary of 9/11 while President Asif Ali Zardari called Jones’ planned event “despicable.” Similar protests were also reported to have taken place in Karachi. An unnamed Pakistani Taliban commander in Wana, South Waziristan also took advantage of the opportunity to criticize the planned Koran burning, saying that “setting fire to our holy books is just the latest part of American policy that burns the bodies of Muslims in B-52 and drone attacks.” The commander also added that the “ultimate consequence” of the Koran burnings would be the creation of “more suicide bombers who will hunt out Americans in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” Jones has said that the Koran burning event is currently on “temporary hold” pending discussions with Imam Muhammad Musri over the issue of the mosque and Islamic cultural center in New York which is planned to be built a few blocks from Ground Zero.
Valerie Amos, the UN’s Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and administrator of the Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF), announced that the UN will soon begin the first phase of a new appeal for increased relief funding, adding that it has received approximately 64-percent of its initial $460 million for flood aid in Pakistan. After a three-day visit to relief camps in some of the worst hit parts of Sindh and Nowshera, Amos said that relief efforts need to “scale up at every level”, adding that “there is almost a new emergency every day.” Amos’ announcement comes as the World Food Program warned of the severe challenges of food availability faced by flood victims due to a 15 to 20-percent increase in food prices over the past few weeks.
Around twenty more villages have been flooded in southern Sindh as rescue efforts in the region were hindered by fresh rains on Friday leaving thousands of people stranded throughout areas of Dadu district. Sindh’s irrigation minister Jami Saifullah Dharejo said that local residents and military personnel are working to strengthen river embankments in response to the fresh rainfall which is expected to continue through Saturday. Elsewhere in Sindh province, residents of Sujawal have reportedly begun to return to their homes after the roads between Sujawal and Chohar Jamali were reopened, allowing passage to the commercial centers of Jacobabad and Shahadkot. According to the latest death toll, approximately 1,760 people have lost their lives as a result of the flood disaster.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani discounted the rumors of an impending army takeover of the civilian government and remained firm in his assertion that the government will finish its five-year term. Addressing his government’s recent loss in credibility and public support, Gilani said that the critics of the government should wait for the next election and “vote us out then.” Gilani also completely dismissed any possibility of a military coup, saying that “neither will the army take over nor does it want to.” A recent article by Ahmed Rashid published in the The National Interest further examines the internal political struggles in Pakistan.
- Tribal clashes over the distribution of water in Kurram Agency resulted in at least twelve people killed and several others wounded on Friday. Local residents reported that an exchange of fire broke out in upper Kurram between the Shalozan and Shalozan Tangi tribes. This incident is the latest outbreak of violence in an ongoing dispute which has claimed at least 27 lives over the past week.