Pakistan Security Brief

Cinemas torched in protest of anti-Islam films; Obama administration pays for anti-film protests on Pakistani TV; Islamabad protest turns deadly; FO registers formal complaint with U.S. Ambassador; Pakistan soon to enter confidential talks with U.S., Afghanistan; Afghan Foreign Minister warns Pakistan over cross-border shelling; Three militants killed in Bara; Balochistan becoming “Talibanized”; UN team finishes investigation on missing persons in Pakistan unsatisfied; Court dismisses 11 parliamentarians over dual nationality.

Anti-Islam Film Protests

  • Tens of thousands of people protested in Pakistan on Friday, a day that the government promoted as a day of protest against the anti-Islam film. Demonstrators set fire to at least six cinemas in Peshawar and Karachi. Rioters torching a cinema in Peshawar were fired upon by the Pakistani police and the bullets unintentionally hit a driver for a Pakistani television station, ARY TV. Protestors also torched Peshawar’s chamber of commerce, compelling police to use their batons and tear gas to force the demonstrators back. At least eleven people were wounded according to a police officer. At least three people have died during protests around the country so far on Friday. The government blocked cell phone service “in 15 major cities to prevent militants from using phones to detonate bombs during the protests.” Protests were held in Lahore, Karachi, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, FATA, and Islamabad on Friday.[i]

  • In an effort to clam street protests over the film “Innocence of Muslims” in Pakistan, the Obama administration spent $70,000 on Thursday to air advertisements condemning the video and disavowing government support for it on Pakistani TV channels. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland noted that the “sense was that this particular aspect of the president and the secretary’s message needed to be heard by more Pakistanis than had heard it, and that this was an effective way to get that message out.”[ii]

  • A protest raged near the diplomatic enclave in Islamabad on Thursday and Friday. The protests had become violent on Thursday with protestors clashing against police and paramilitary officers, resulting in around 50 injuries. Police officers ran out of rubber bullets from excessive firing, according to a report by Express News. Geo reported that up to 19 people have died in Pakistan on Friday from the protests, the largest death toll in any Muslim country thus far from the anti-Islam film protests.[iii]

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

  • On Friday, the Foreign Office registered a formal complaint over “Innocence of Muslims” with acting Ambassador Richard Hoagland, asking the U.S. government to take the film off of social networking and media sites in addition to punishing its makers. The FO argued that the film was an attack on the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims and was perpetuating hatred among the world’s religions.[iv] 

  • Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said on Thursday that Pakistan would soon enter confidential talks with the U.S. and Afghanistan to improve counter-terror efforts and understanding between the three countries. She did not, however, say whether or not Pakistan would take action against the deadly Haqqani network behind many of the most lethal attacks in Afghanistan.[v]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Relations

  • On Thursday, Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul warned Pakistan to stop shelling parts of eastern Afghanistan from Pakistan, saying that such attacks had caused “unprecedented anger and frustration among Afghans.” He accused Pakistani officials of remaining mute over repeated cross-border shelling into Afghanistan’s Kunar province, while the Pakistani officials complained that some Pakistani Taliban had taken refuge in Afghanistan and were launching attacks on Pakistan from their hideouts. Rassoul said that Afghanistan wanted good relations with Pakistan and that governments of the two countries had been in talks about the issue.[vi]


  • In a clash with pro-government security forces on Thursday, three militants were killed in Bara sub-district of Khyber agency. Allegedly the militants were associated with outlawed group Lashkar-e-Islam.[vii]


  • According to the unofficial Balochistan representative to the UN Mehran Baloch, the region is becoming “Talibanized” at an alarming rate. In a Thursday seminar, he criticized the national and regional government’s efforts in Balochistan to “obstruct” the work of the UN Working Group on Involuntary Disappearances to mask the atrocities that occur in the region, saying officials had used “every trick” to do so. He called attention to the killings of members of the Hazara ethnic minority, and added that militant groups sometimes establish themselves in the region under the guise of social welfare work .[viii]

  • A two-person delegation, led by a French law professor, Olivier de Frouville, has spent the last ten days in Pakistan in an attempt to find out more about the problem of illegal abductions in Pakistan. Although the team was invited by the government to investigate the issue, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, the paramilitary Frontier Corps, and the Supreme Court all refused to meet with the UN delegation. The ISI and the Frontier Corps are thought be responsible for most of the abductions, many of which happen in Balochistan province. The Balochistan government acknowledges 100 people as missing while some campaigning groups estimate as many as 14,000 are missing. Some of the relatives of the missing people in Pakistan spoke to the U.N. and told them that they had been “threatened by officials when they tried to register cases or testify.” Frouville suggested that military personnel facing charges of abduction should be suspended and tried in ordinary courts as opposed to the secretive military courts they are tried in presently.[ix]

Domestic Politics

  • The Pakistani Supreme Court disqualified eleven members of parliament and the provincial assemblies from office on Thursday for having dual nationalities. Those disqualified included four members of the National Assembly and seven members of the provincial assemblies of Punjab and Sindh. The lawmakers are required to return any money earned while serving in the post.[x]


[i] “Violent mobs set afire six cinema houses in Karachi, Peshawar,” Dawn, September 21, 2012. Available at; Riaz Khan, “1 killed in prophet protests in Pakistan,” Associated Press, September 21, 2012. Available at
[ii] Anne Gearan, “U.S. disavows anti-Muslim video,” The Washington Post, September 21, 2012. Available at:
[iii] Declan Walsh, “19 reported dead as Pakistanis protest Muhammad Video,” New York Times, September 21, 2012. Available at
[iv] “FO hands over demarche to Richard Hoagland over anti-Islam film,” Dawn, September 21, 2012. Available at:
[v] “Pakistan to talk counterterrorism with US, Afghans: Khar,” AP, September 21, 2012. Available at:
[vi] “Afghanistan warns Pakistan over cross-border shelling,” AFP, September 21, 2012. Available at:
[vii] “Three militants killed in Bara,” The News International, September 21, 2012. Available at:
[viii] Murtaza Ali Shah, “Balochistan being Talibanised, UNHRC told,” The News International, September 21, 2012. Available at:,-UNHRC-told.
[ix] Declan Walsh, “U.N. presses Pakistan over the fate of hundreds of missing people,” New York Times, September 20, 2012. Available at; “Key Pakistan institutions snub UN team investigating thousands of missing persons,” Associated Press, September 20, 2012. Available at  
[x] Nasir Iqbal, “Verdict on dual nationality issue: Court sends 11 legislators home,” Dawn, September 21, 2012. Available at
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