Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan Rangers arrest five suspected militants in Karachi; ‘The News’ says al Qaeda still a force to reckon with, warns of “Pakistanization of al Qaeda;” Pakistani militants claim Asim Umar was a member of HuM and highly respected by local and foreign militants; PTI agrees to negotiate on five of six demands; Leader of Opposition asks army chief to rebuke attempts to draw army into political crisis; Political crisis will not affect nuclear realm, says report to U.S. Congress; Indian and Pakistani prime ministers not to meet on sidelines of UNGA; Foreign Office denies Indian charges that spy arrested in Sri Lanka was working for Pakistan; NCTC claims TTP still a major threat to Pakistan.
On September 11, Pakistan Rangers arrested five suspects including a member of a banned militant outfit allegedly involved in sectarian killings in the areas of Sharafi Goth, Zaman town and Karnal Basti in Karachi. The forces also reportedly recovered a huge cache of arms and ammunition.
An article published in The News on September 11 outlines the existence of a thriving al Qaeda network in Pakistan and claims that al Qaeda is still a force to reckon with despite American efforts to destroy the group since September 11, 2001. The report also says that Pakistan continues to be a hotbed of extremism and militancy, providing a base to al Qaeda and its sprawling network of jihadist outfits. The appointment of Asim Umar, a Pakistani ideologue and former member of the Punjabi Taliban, as head of the South Asia branch of al Qaeda is further indicative of “Pakistanization of al Qaeda.”
According to a news report on September 11, Pakistani militants who claimed to have worked with Asim Umar, the head of the new “al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent,” said that he is highly respected by Arab, Pakistani, Afghan and foreign militants alike. Asim Umar was also an active member of Harkat-ul- Mujahideen (HuM), a banned militant outfit fighting in Indian Kashmir, and headed a Harkat training center in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
On September 11, in a briefing to a U.S. Senate Committee, the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) Deputy Director Nicholas Rasmussen declared that the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) remains a significant threat to Pakistan despite the ongoing military operation in North Waziristan and leadership changes within TTP. He also addressed the threat posed by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) to the U.S. in the form of the training it provides to Pakistani and western militants, some of whom might plot terrorist attacks in the West “without direction from LeT leadership.”
In a joint session of the Parliament on September 10, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar told the House that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) negotiating committee had agreed to negotiate on five out of six of its demands, given the refusal of government negotiators to discuss the demand for the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
On September 10, Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah, leader of opposition in the National Assembly, advised army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif to rebuke calls from politicians trying to drag the army into political matters. He also praised the military for playing a neutral role in the ongoing political crisis.
According to a report titled “Pakistan Political Unrest” released by the U.S. Congressional Research Service, the political crisis in Islamabad will have no impact on Pakistan’s nuclear security because Pakistan’s nuclear assets have long been assumed to be controlled by the military. The report also expresses disappointment with Pakistani military’s long-standing approach to counterterrorism and counterinsurgency. It further notes that the marginalization of the democratic government in Pakistan could have negative implications for U.S. interests with respect to Afghanistan’s stability and Indo-Pakistan relations.
- In a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs in Islamabad on September 10, Sartaj Aziz, Special Advisor to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Foreign Affairs and National Security declared that no meeting was scheduled between Prime Minister Sharif and his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in late September.
- On September 11, Pakistani Foreign Office spokeswoman Tasneem Aslam rejected a report released by India’s National Investigation Agency which claimed that a Sri Lankan citizen had been arrested on charges of spying for Pakistan. Aslam also clarified that this was not a new development but three-month old news that Indian authorities were now resurrecting.