The Security Brief

Vol. 7-Issue No 54

03rd April, 2021

Editorial

On Sale-State Bank or Pakistan

In an unprecedented move, the State Bank of Pakistan is likely to be given under control of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  A move, which is being seen as tinkering with the sovereignty of the country. It would amount to give financial lender to run our fiscal and financial affairs of Pakistan. Government would be just a pauper on a miser’s table.
The bill in this regard was cleared in a meeting of the federal cabinet on March 9 and was aimed at providing greater autonomy to the central bank over price control and fighting inflation by adopting exchange rate and monetary policy in an autonomous manner without the government’s interventions.
The fangs of IMF and Financial Action Task Force (FATF) are already firmly placed on the throat of Pakistan. It is quite clear that poltroon decision-makers at home have become hostage to IMF whose hitmen like Hafeez Sh and Baqar Rizvi have sold this idea in the name of maintaining discipline in the State Bank and the spending.
Renowned Economist Qaiser Bengali has cried himself hoarse over this myopic and malicious approach of giving away state bank to IMF. He has made it loud and clear that central bank independence will not work.
Another well-respected economist Ishfaq Khan revealed that Pakistan has been landed into this situation with strategic placement by the Imran Khan government. It is disastrous for the country. He argues that he advised Imran Khan to adopt other ways of coming out of economic problems.
Governor State Bank Baqir Reza is a representative of IMF. Previously he was resident representative of IMF in Egypt. After ruining its economy, he has been posted in Pakistan to repeat his performance. Prior to that he was imposed by IMF on Romania where he had accomplished the task of putting its economy on the ventilator. This smooth-talking economic hitman can debilitate Pakistan to an extent that the nuclear state will think about selling its strategic assets to the powers that want to cripple us. This is the long-standing agenda of the anti- Pakistan powers. Once it is accomplished, the hitman will just lift his brief case and leave for another lucrative post assigned to him by the IMF masters.
The State Bank is the financial agent of the government and is the banker to all banks. As the banks’ banker, it regulates and intervenes in the market for money (rupee and foreign currencies). As the government’s bank, it holds public funds and lends to (or withholds money from) the government, when it is needed.
Is IMF telling us we don’t have the experienced and capable managers who can bring discipline therefore its appointee will take over control of State Bank management, who would not be answerable to Pakistan. They will have our purse in their pocket and tell us how much to spend.
The incompetent government has remained focused on opposition bashing and destroying foreign relations with our strategic partners; therefore, it has lost marbles and ready to sell our sovereignty to IMF and FATF. It has not focused on strengthening the institutions for efficient public service delivery. It is duty of the government or the parliament to have a hawk- eyed oversight on state bank proceedings. But here the Prime Minister claims to have learned the rise in dollar through the media. He reneges on his decisions and wants his appointed minions to take the responsibilities of faulty decisions. More sadly the sources are indicating complicity of the establishment in this sort of back-end decision making on economic and financial affairs.
The government ought to pick up the gauntlet to ameliorate the situation with some solid and sustained steps. All it needs to do is to control rising import prices, enhance production capacity and supplies, and sternly strangulate monopolies and oligopolies in key markets. We will not need to sell the State Bank and our sovereignty.
An analyst rightly pointed out in a recent article that it isn’t just bad politics and wrong economics to make the State Bank autonomous of law and government, it is also a national security risk. The government does waste money; but from time to time, it must also incur unavoidable expenditures of the highest priority. In times of peace, does it help that the government’s external reserves and revenue receipts are held by an institution that monitors the government’s financial transactions for foreigners, by explicit agreement? And if war is thrust upon us, would we be able to defend the country better when the entire top financial management of the country would have flown out to their actual homes abroad at the first sound of gunfire? Think about this.
It is an ominous scenario. The hidden agenda behind this arms twisting is to keep us away from China, Iran, Turkey and Russia. It aims at sabotaging CPEC and other Chinese projects.
Pakistanis will have to oppose the imposition of this catastrophic system to avert utter disaster in the country. The matter can’t be left to the parliamentarians because they are self- serving stooges, who will fix the thumb impressions where their political masters will tell them to. People will have to rise and defeat the portentous attempt to cripple Pakistan.
If political parties are too busy in their agendas and bickering, people will have to rise against the sale of state bank. Let’s hope the government,  Baqar Reza and his cohorts correctly gauge the flared-up sensibilities of the public over this controversial colonial arrangement. He will not be able to hide behind the immunity from NAB and FIA etc. A popular clarion is rising to put the names of Hafeez Sh, Reza Baqir and accomplices on the Exit Control List (ECL).

NATIONAL

TERRORISM/SECTARIANISM- AT A GLANCE

Punjab

Sr. NoIncidentKilledInjuredArrested
1.An 18-pound Indian-made anti-tank mine was recovered by two sand loading workers from a storm-water drain near Mantra Bridge in Zafarwal tehsil of Narowal District near to Indian border. On receiving information, the local police along with the Bomb Disposal Squad reached the spot, defused the mine, and took it into custody).
2.Lahore Fruit Mandi association President Mian Faisal Majeed inform police that two unidentified motorcyclists threw “a note with the live bullet” into his house in PCSIR Colony Lahore, asking to pay a share of Rs/- 20 million from your annual business profit, as per sharia. Failing which as per “Shura’s” orders he would be killed. PS Satto Katla registered a case (29th March).
3.A social activist, Sarmad Sultan, active on twitter, went missing from Attock (31st March). He used to raise voice for the missing persons. His colleagues and fellow-activists showed deep resentment over his disappearance. He returned home a day later.
4. CTD, Punjab, in an intelligence-based operation, reportedly  arrested four suspected terrorists (names are not disclosed), associated with TTP, near Bhata Chowk, Rawalpindi and recovered explosive, detonators, cell phone and other material to be used in acts of terrorism. They were allegedly involved in a grenade blast and installing an IED and carrying out grenade attack at Gunjmandi, Rawalpindi in 2020-21 (31st March).  CTD arrested two suspected terrorists identified as Abdul Karim and Abdul Basit and recovered IED, 30 mm pistol with ammunition, prima card and a mobile phone from their possession in Mahmood Booti area of Lahore. They were associated with a banned outfit and planning attack on law enforcement agencies in Lahore (31st March).06

Comments & Analysis: – According to the civil defence department, the Indian made 18-pound weight mine was live. It is believed that the it might have come to Pakistan from the Indian side through rainwater, however, the investigations were under progress. It could have been deposited thereby some miscreants.

Lahore had experienced a number of cases of extortion by TTP or its affiliates or other fraudsters under their names, in the years 2012-13. Many of them were smashed by the police and Special Branch Punjab. Its recurrence cannot be taken lightly. This sort of activity is always precursor of the growing foot-prints of terrorists and extremists. In addition to TTP, it is high time to be doubtful about IS affiliates, which could be from the banned jehadi groups that are under pressure these days.

Sindh

Sr. NoIncidentKilledInjuredArrested
1.Pakistan rangers on a tip-off raid arrested two alleged terrorists identified as Abdul Hadi @ Sheikh and Akhtar Ghani associated with defunct Hizb-ul-Ahrar (HuA)- TTP, in Gadap town, Karachi. They were wanted in number of cases including recently shooting at wounded a business man Akhtar Munir over non-payment of “Bhatta” (protection money) (28th March).02
2.A minority community member named Deepak was shot dead and other Vikash injured by unidentified assailants riding a motorcycle in Clifton Karachi. They were returning from a holy program of Hindi Para at Clifton, Karachi. Police registered case (29th March).0101
3.A religious scholar Mufti Saleemullah belonging to the Binnori Town seminary was shot at and injured by unidentified armed motorcyclists when he was travelling in a car with his family and two students near MPR Colony, Gurumandir area, Orangi Town, Karachi (31st March).01

Comments & Analysis: – Karachi is littered with extremist elements. Mostly, sectarian and religious extremists find suitable targets, like clerics of other sects, to justify their acts and also resort to extortion. TSB has been suggesting to tackle the wave of sectarianism and extremism in Karachi and elsewhere, because terrorism emanates from it. Karachi being the economic hub of Pakistan cannot be allowed to fall prey to a few fanatics, their affiliates and supporters. The protection of minority members and Chinese should be high on the priority list LEAs.

The attack on Mufti Saleemullah appears to be part of sectarian rivalry. He is a known religious figure in the Deobandi school of thought; opened 2/3 seminaries in different parts of the metropolis and inaugurated another seminary titled Saleem Academy in Orangi Town around a week ago, where he and his wife taught students including girls.

KPK

Sr. NoIncidentKilledInjuredArrested
1.JUI (F) leader Maulana Abdul Salam Haqqani was critically wounded in a blast of remote controlled IED, planted by unidentified persons in Damadola, Mamond tehsil of Bajaur tribal District (26th March).01
2.The security forces on a tip-off raid recovered explosive items from a vehicle and arrested its transporter in Zoor Bandar area in Nawagai tehsil, Bajaur tribal District (26th March).  01
3.Two police personnel, HC Shakeel and Constable Iqbal were injured in an attack on armored personnel carrier (APC) of police with a rocket and hand grenade by unidentified terrorists at Yadgar Chowk in Dera Ismail Khan. The police retaliated but the attackers escaped taking advantage of the darkness. Investigations are under progress to arrest the culprits (26th March).02
4.One Taj Muhammad was injured in Laghari village, Mamond tehsil, Bajaur tribal District as a result of mortar blast, fired from Afghanistan’s Kunar Province across the border (27th March).01

Comments & Analysis: – According to the JUI (F) leader’s family, he has no personal enmity with anyone. No militant group has yet claimed responsibility of the attack. Police investigations are under progress. After spreading the news of the attack, the JUI (F) workers staged protest at various places including blocking Bajaur-Peshawar Highway for two hours for traffic. They alleged that 12 JUI workers have been killed in such attacks at various places of the District during the last few years.

Mortar attacks from across the border, smuggling & supply of illegal arms and targeted attacks on police and LEAs are continuing intermittently in tribal districts of KPK for last one year.

NATIONAL

Armed clash averted between two tribes in South Waziristan

A month-long dispute over land ownership in the Karkanda area of South Waziristan tribal District came to an end as both the warring tribes announced ceased fire ahead of a jirga (27th March).

Comments & Analysis: – The local administration got averted a bloody clash between Datakhel and Dorani tribes by arranging ceasefire between them with the assistance of All-Qabil jirga.

Closure of illegal FM Radio Channels in Bajaur

Maulvi Radio late

The District administration has ordered closure of four FM radio channels by the names of ‘Shumal’, ‘Aman’, ‘Madrisas Tahfeezul Qaran’ and ‘Jamia Sanavia’ operating illegally at different locations without obtaining government NOC in the Bajaur tribes district (31st March).

Comments & Analysis: – These illegal FM radio channels were reportedly telecasting biased and politicized programs. The locals often complained against it to the deputy commissioner, Bajaur. They viewed it as the beginning of another wave of extremism in the area. Ominous rise of dreaded Mullah Fazalullah of TTP and Mufti Shakar had started with such tactics. Nobody should be allowed to run illegal radio stations without proper NOC and close monitoring of the transmission.

LOGISTIC/COMMUNICATION SECURITY

Dilapidated railways bridge – a serious safety threat

A dilapidated railway bridge on a rainwater drain near Qila Ahmadabad railway station reportedly poses risk to the safety of passenger trains that run between Lahore and Sialkot daily (30th March).

Comments & Analysis: – As learnt, some passengers who frequently travel by the Allama Iqbal Express and Lasani Express on the track linking Lahore and Sialkot via Narowal, around a century-old pillars of the bridge had developed cracks some three years back, but the Pakistan railways authorities did not take the issue that could cause a major tragedy as two crowded passenger trains cross it twice daily.

Special Branch Punjab has been pointing out the glaring vulnerability in its periodical safety & security audit reports.

COURT HEARING

Peshawar court orders FIR against Aurat March (Women March) organisers

A local court in Peshawar ordered registration of a case against the organisers of the AuratMarch on March 08th for alleged blasphemous slogans and carrying objectionable posters (27th March).

Comments & Analysis: – The organisers of the Aurat March had denied using derogatory remarks against Islam or the Holy Prophet during the event. They argued that a doctored video was circulated by some elements for their vested interest and to defame their struggle. Aurat Marches are staged annually on 08th March since the last few years and events are held in many cities that invoke reaction from pro religious and conservative circles over the controversial slogans and banners displayed in the Aurat March.

Perpetual warrant of Ammar, brother-in-law of late Mullah Akhtar Mansour

Mullah Akhter Mansour

An ATC court in Karachi issued perpetual arrest warrant for, Ammar, the brother-in-law of slain Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour, who reportedly escaped to Afghanistan to avoid arrest in a case related to generating funds for terrorism through sale and purchase of properties in Pakistan (29th March).

Comments & Analysis: – The FIA had booked Mullah Akhtar Mansour @ Mohammad Wali, alias Gul Mohammad, and his two alleged absconding accomplices – Akhtar Mohammad and Ammar over their alleged involvement in generating funds through purchase and sale of properties in Karachi using fake identities to fund terrorist activities in the country. Earlier this month the proceedings were abated against Mullah Mansour, who was killed in a US drone strike on May 21st, 2016 at the Pak-Iran border.

DEFENCE/ NATIONAL SECURITY

Saudi Commander calls on COAS

Commander Royal Saudi Land Forces Lieutenant General Fahd Bin Abdullah Al-Mutair called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa at GHQ, Rawalpindi. During the meeting, they discussed regional security situation and issues of mutual interest including cooperation in the fields of defence, security and military training between both the armies. He appreciated Pakistan Army’s sincere efforts in bringing peace to the region especially its role in the Afghan Peace Process (26th March).

Comments & Analysis: – Pakistan has close brotherly ties including cooperation in the defence field with Saudi Arabia.  It is normal practice of the senior military leadership to undertake visits to each other to strengthen this friendship.

Shaheen 1-A ballistic missile Test

Flight test of the Shaheen 1-A, surface to surface ballistic missile was successfully conducted. It was aimed at “re-validating” various design and technical parameters of the country’s weapon system including an advanced navigation system (26th March).

Comments & Analysis: – It is learnt that this was the fifth missile test by Pakistan since the start of the year, with launches of the Shaheen-3, Ghaznavi, Babur cruise missile, and the Fatah-1 conducted. The Shaheen 1-A with an advanced guidance system is considered one of the highly accurate missile systems which is capable of delivering a nuclear warhead and striking a target up to 900 Kilometers.

‘ACES meet 2021-1’ Exercise at PAF Base

Multi-National air exercise “ACES Meet 2021-1” has started at an Operational Air Base of PAF which included Pakistan Air Force, Royal Saudi Air Force and UAE Air Force while Bahrain, Egypt and Jordanian air forces are invited as observers. Air Vice Marshal Waqas Ahmed Sulehri, Deputy Chief of Air Staff (Operations), PAF was the chief guest at the opening ceremony of the exercise (29th March).

Comments & Analysis: – It is learnt that the cycle of ACES Meet is unique because participating air forces bring along a vast experience of combat operations, whether in counterterrorism or composite flying domains. Therefore, this platform may be useful to share the invaluable experiences for mutual benefits. The Defence Attaches of Jordan and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Air Attaché of United States of America also attended the ceremony.

CRIME/LAW & ORDER- At a Glance

  1. The Rangers and police, in a joint raid, arrested one Irfan Ahmad in-connection with impersonating as an army Colonel in a Boat Basin area of Karachi and a fake identity card, uniform and different documents were recovered from his possession (26th March).   
  2. Six people including a woman were killed and seven others injured due to gun attack on a passenger vehicle by unidentified terrorists on 25th March in Naltar valley, Gilgit District. A large number of people staged protest demonstration before the CM House for immediate arrest of the culprits. Later the police claimed to have arrested all the accused including Hussain and Wajid Hussain for their alleged involvement in the attacks due to their old enmity with the slain persons (27th March).
  3. Robbers killed a woman named Shaheen and injured her sister along with two minor children during a robbery at the Railway Colony, Mughalpura Lahore (27th March). In another incident one Tehreem Bibi was found allegedly murdered in her house at Shahdara Lahore, the same day.
  4. Nine robberies reportedly took place in different places and separate incidents included snatching of motorcycles, two motor cars and cash within a single day in Rawalpindi District (27th March).      
  5. Three persons, including a lawyer named Zeeshan, Uzair and Advocate Irfan were killed while another injured as a result of exchange of fire between the two rival groups over a property dispute at Ouch Sharki (27th March). 
  6. The police arrested a person on charges of raping and killing his minor step daughter in village Chak No-201/RB, Chandian Talawan, Faisalabad District (28th March).
  7. Three traders included Atif, Zubair and Boota were killed and several other injured during a clash between the two groups in Bara Market, Shah Alam Gate, Lahore (29th March).
  8. A man Muslim Khan and a woman Tehmina were killed over relationship issue in Mitni while in another incident Zar Khan and Kamran were killed in armed clash between the two groups in Bazidkhel in Peshawar District respectively (29th March).
  9. A six-year-old girl was raped by a person in the Jand locality in Attock District when she coming back home. Police is hunting the rapist (30th March).
  10. A shopkeeper Naseer and two passersby Munawar and Hafiz Ayaz were killed a dispute between the two sides in Subedar Bazar, Daska, Sialkot District (01st March).
  11. The police registered a case against a man on charge of raping “a delivery boy” of an online food business in the limit of Burki police station of Lahore. In another incident a body of unidentified girl was found in the Canal near Harbanspura, Lahore (01st March).    

Crime Details 27/03/2021 to 02/03/2021

CrimesPunjabKPKSindhBalochistanTotal
Murders(Taxila-1. Sahiwal-1, Taxila-1, Lahore-1, Iqbal Town-1, Okara-1, Faisalabad-1, Lahore-3, Toba Tek Singh-3, Bahawalpur-1, Bahawalpur-4, Sialkot-3) = 21(Lakki Marwat-2, Mansehra-1, Chitral-1, Swat-2, Haripur-1, Lower Dir-3, Peshawar-2, Lakki Marwat-2, Bajaur-1, Shangla-4, Swabi-1) = 20(Karachi-1, Hyderabad-3, Clifton-1, Larkana-1, Hyderabad-6, Sindh-2, Dadu-2, Karachi-1, Vehari-8, Larkana-10) = 35(Dera Murad Jamali-1) = 0177
Gang rape(Faisalabad-1, Taxila-1, Lahore-1) = 0303
Robberies/ Dacoits(Lahore-1, Liaqat Abad-1, Defnce-1, Sanda-1, Hanjarwal-1, Mustafabad-1, Millat Park-1, Mughalpura-1, Nishtar Colony-1, Multan road-1) = 10(Mansehra-1) = 0111
Kidnapping(Chagai-1) = 0101
Police encounter(Toba Tek Singh-2) = 02(Gulshan-i-Iqbal-1) = 01 03
Injured(Taxila-6. Taxila-2, Lahore-2, Iqbal Town-2, Lahore-1, Bahawalpur-1, Rawalpindi-2, Narowal-19) = 35(Peshawar-14, Mansehra-1, Bajaur-1, Mansehra-25, Lower Dir-1, Peshawar-3, Bajaur-5, Shangla-7, Swabi-1) = 58(Sukkur-1, Hyderabad-3, MirpurKhas-3, Clifton-1, Hyderabad-1, Karachi-1, Sukkur-2, Larkana-30, Dadu-47) = 89(Dera Murad Jamali-1) = 01183
Total Crime7179  13503 

Source: Media & National dailies  

REGIONAL

LoC/IIOJK

India and Pakistan hold brigadier-level meet on ceasefire pact

Indian and Pakistani armies held a brigadier-level meeting at Poonch-Rawalkot crossing as a follow-up to their agreement to observe ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir (26th March). During the continued fake anti-militancy drive by the Indian security forces two Kashmiri youth named Inayat Ullah and Adil were killed in Sephora (28th March).

Comments & Analysis: – The situation on LoC remained calm and no incident of ceasefire violation has been reported during the period under review. Indian Army Chief Gen. MM Naravane said that the LoC had been silent for the first time in around five to six years as not a single shot was fired in March barring an odd incident. However, at the same time, he blamed that the terror infrastructure including terrorist launch-pads on the Pakistani side remained intact. Similarly, Indian forces have not stopped their atrocities inside IIJOK.

LAC/INDO-CHINA BORDER

Threat to India only abated but not gone away: Gen Naravane

Indian Army Chief Gen. MM Naravane said that the threat to India has only “abated” following the disengagement in Pangong lake areas in Eastern Ladakh after the agreement with China but it has not gone away altogether. He also asserted that it would be incorrect to say that the Chinese troops were still sitting on territories in Eastern Ladakh that were in India’s control before the face-off erupted in May last year (26th March).

Comments & Analysis: – The Indian army’s perception about ground situation in the mountainous region is focused on keeping its military strength in the rear areas. The border standoff between the Indian and Chinese armies erupted on May 5th last following a violent clash in the Pangong lake areas and both sides gradually enhanced their deployment by rushing in tens of thousands of soldiers as well as heavy weaponry. As a result of a series of military and diplomatic talks, the two sides completed withdrawal of troops and weapons from the North and South banks of Pangong lake in line with an agreement on disengagement last month. The whole issue of Line of Actual Control (LAC) is because of loosely demarcated grey areas, which causes the confusion of claims and has the potential to lead to new skirmishes in future.

AFGHANISTAN

Terrorism/Violence

  1. Two Afghan security forces personnel including Commander Abdul Khaliq Farahi were shot dead by unidentified persons in the capital city of Farah (26th March).       
  2. During a clash with Taliban ten police of personnel including Sangin District police Chief Abdul Muhammad Sarwari was also killed and two wounded while sixteen Taliban also killed in Lashkargah city of Helmand Province (27th March). In other incidents three army personnel were killed and five others injured in bomb attack in Gereshk District in the said Province (27th March).
  3. Thirteen people were killed and twenty-five others wounded in targeted attacks/IED blasts in different incidents in the various Provinces. The incidents took place in Kabul, Paktia, Laghman, Kandahar and Khost Provinces within 24 hours (27th March).
  4. An Afghan air force person Saif Ullah Faqir was killed by unidentified gunmen in Kabul (28th March). In another incident two police officials were allegedly killed by Taliban in the Dhan-e-Dara water Dam area in Pushtun Kot District of Faryab Province (28th March).
  5. Three health workers, Baseera, Samina and Nageena, deputed on Polio vaccination duties were killed by un-identified gunmen in Jalalabad city of Nangarhar Province (29th March).
  6. Dewalt Ben Tajik @ Abul Muhommad Al-Tajiki, allegedly associated with al-Qaeda in India subcontinent (AQIS) was claimed to have been killed during an operation by the National Directorate of Security (NDS), in Gilan District of Paktika Province (30th March). 
  7. Three security forces personnel were killed and a number of others injured in a crash of black hawk helicopter in Gresik District of Helmand Province. The Taliban reportedly claimed to have shot down the helicopter while the Afghan Government denied it (31st March).
  8. Afghan security forces claimed to have killed eight Taliban including their commander Qari Israr in Salim Valley, Zhari District of Kandahar Province.

Comments & Analysis: A survey conducted by a media channel in Afghanistan revealed that 305 Afghans have been killed and the same number wounded in series of explosions and targeted attacks in the past one month. There has been a twenty percent of increase in the terrorist incidents in the country in March as compared to February 2021 (01st March).     

AFGHAN PEACE PROCESS

The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated for the need of some kind of political settlement in Afghanistan to be done by Afghans themselves. He also said that US the decision for the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan would be made in coordination and consultation with NATO (28th March). The US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, has also concluded his four-day visit to Turkey for making arrangements of International conference going to be held there under UNO, in April in connection with Afghan Peace process (29th March). Meanwhile, the Joint Declaration issued at the end of “Heart of Asia Conference” held in Dushanbe, Tajikistan attended by Russia, China, Pakistan Afghanistan, India and others called for early settlement of Afghan crises through political means by the all sides in the country (30th March).

Comprehensive Comments: – Both the Afghan Government and Taliban have agreed to attend the forth coming international peace conference in Turkey to settle the crises. The Afghan Government, India, and some Western powers want Taliban to announce ceasefire to avoid further blood-shed and instability in the country. Taliban are unhappy over the Biden administration’s dilly-dallying on the US-Taliban Accord according to which the US forces have to leave Afghanistan till 1st May 2021. The Taliban warned on 26th March of dire consequences, if US did not pull out its forces by the May 1st deadline. About 3500 US troops are still stationed inside Afghanistan.

On the other hand, some members of the Afgha+-n security establishment have been trying to threaten the Taliban to agree on ceasefire, failing which Afghan security forces were ready to deal them with stern hand. Infect, they are fearful of fresh onslaught by Taliban. The Afghan National Security Advisor Hamadullah Mohib on 26th March warned that any haste US forces withdrawal from the country without a settlement may trigger a civil war.

The US special forces commander Gen. Richard Clark has already said that the Afghan security forces need US assistance to successfully counter the Taliban and other threats (26th March). Meanwhile, the U.S. Intelligence Agencies have also reportedly told the Biden administration that the Taliban could over-run most of Afghanistan within two to three years and would allow al-Qaeda on the soil, if U.S. troops left before a power-sharing deal is reached between the warring sides.

It is advisable for Pakistan to stay away from the Afghan quagmire as the US Secretary of Defence had not bothered to visit Pakistan when he was on a visit to India and Afghanistan for this purpose. It should concentrate on building its fence so that the new spill-over of refugees or miscreants does not enter into Pakistan.

INTERNATIONAL

Indonesian Church bombed by militants

Two suicide bombers attacked a Catholic Church in the Indonesian city of Makassar on the Easter, wounding 19 people. According to Police, the bombers were believed to be associated with ISIS inspired Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), which is also suspected for suicide attacks in 2018 on churches and a police post that killed at least 30 people in the city of Surabaya (28th March).

Comments & Analysis: – It is learnt that around 20 suspected JAD members were arrested in January. The group is also believed to have been involved in a bomb attack on a Philippine church in 2019 that killed more than 20 people. President Joko Widodo condemned this act of terrorism and urged people to remain calm while Pope Francis prayed for the victims. Indonesia’s deadliest terrorist attack took place on the tourist Island of Bali in 2002, when bombers killed 202 people, most of them foreign tourists.

Myanmar protests continue a day after more than 100 killed

The protests in Myanmar continued against the military regime. The demonstrators returned to the streets to press their demands for restoration to democracy, just a day after security forces killed large number of demonstrators since the military coup in the country. The protest has now taken the shape of civil disobedience movement by hurling garbage on streets since 28th March. A number of protest demonstrations were held in Yangon and Mandalay, the country’s two biggest cities, as well as elsewhere (29th March).

Comments & Analysis: – At least 114 people including children were killed a day earlier during the security forces crack down on protesters against the February 1 coup that ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government. The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that killings of civilians through continuing military crackdown is unacceptable and demands a firm, unified & resolute international response. The valiant struggle of Burmese against the military rule is a strong message for the ambitious military rulers who try to subvert or tinker with democracies in other countries of Asia and elsewhere.

Iran and China sign 25-year cooperation strategic agreement

Iran and China signed a 25-year long agreement in Tehran. It was signed in Tehran by Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi (27th March).The agreement is said to have been in the works since Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Iran in 2016.

Comments & Analysis: – No details of the agreement have been officially published, but it is expected to be a $400bn “strategic accord” that includes significant Chinese investments in Iran’s key sectors such as energy and infrastructure, in addition to military cooperation. It is likely to increase bilateral trade more than 10-fold to $600bn in the next decade. Both Iran and China are under different levels of sanctions imposed by the US.

Corona virus Crisis Update

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan was registered to be 28,341 from 28th March to 03rd April, 2021 (Saturday) after new infections were confirmed in the country.

The Province-wise breakup of the total 13,963 active cases during this period is as follows:

• Sindh: 672

• Punjab: 7,562

• Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 2,391

• Balochistan: 54

• Islamabad Capital Territory: 2,903

• Gilgit-Baltistan: 46

• AJK: 335

Deaths: 455

Comments & Analysis: – Due to rapid increase in the number of corona cases, smart and selected lock downs were clamped in various cities. It is going to pose further risks to the economy in Pakistan as predicted by the World Bank. A battle to save lives and livelihoods is in progress.

Vaccination for over 60 years of age has started but the progress is slow. Generally the arrangements at the vaccination centres are being appreciated. However, sudden changes in policies and procedures caused confusion and inconvenience for the people. It became ambiguous whether 60 plus could simply walk in or had to get registered first and wait for their turn.

The Russian vaccine Sputnik V is being made available commercially at an exorbitant price of Rs.8000/ per shot. People from all walks of life have resented over this callous money-making activity. Social media is abuzz with this stupendous price scheme comparing its price in India which is said to be Rs.750 per shot. Some people say it should not be more than PKR 1500 in Pakistan. Amnesty International has written a letter to the government of Pakistan, urging it to give free shots to the people instead of selling it commercially.

Pakistan’s Security Barometer

Terrorism: TTP and its affiliates have increased their terrorist activities in tribal areas and some parts of KPK.

Threat Level: High – The threat level is high due to national, international and regional security environment. The intelligence agencies must keep the guards up and take pro-active pre-emptive measures.

Level of Sectarianism & Religious Extremism: Actively simmering through the society. Religious intolerance has increased There is an urgent need to bridle the situation through all means.

Border Situation:  Ceasefire at LoC. The Western border (Pak-Afghan), also largely remained calm.

Health Security: The third wave of Coronavirus pandemic is taking its toll in Pakistan. Prevention or containment is necessary through strict observation of masks and social distancing. People are placid and careless in this regard therefore the government should knock sense in their heads through law.

Social Unrest: Rising; due to exorbitant price hike and political unrest. The constant rise in electricity, petrol tariffs, medicines and inflation has impacted all segments of the society. Especially the salaried class and poor people are the worst sufferers. Media has highlighted instances of suicides committed by the families due to poverty and hunger.

Travel Ban: UK has included Pakistan, including Philippines, Kenya and Bangladesh to England’s COVID-related ‘Red list’. International visitors who have departed from or travelled through these countries will not be able to enter England. Ironically, most Pakistanis are feeling relieved over this travel ban because the scare of ‘New UK strain’ had perturbed them and the visitors from UK were being avoided.

Note: The Security Brief is based on open source media reports

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