25th June, 2021
Lahore experienced a terrorist attack in form of VBIED blast in a residential area in which 3 people died and 24 others were injured (23rd June). Only two days later terrorists gunned down five FC personnel in Sangan, District Sibbi, Balochistan. A week earlier, 6 FC personnel embraced martyrdom in two incidents in Balochistan. Similar incidents happened in KPK also. It is a clear indication that the terrorists have increased their activities. In April VBIED attack in Serena Hotel Quetta resulted in loss of life and infrastructure.
In the last issue of The Security Brief, the editorial titled ‘Impending terrorist Threat’ was a clear warning of the likelihood of increase in the terrorist activities. It was for the consumption of the intelligence agencies and LEAs. But it seems adequate measures have not been put in place to preempt the attacks and foil the designs beforehand. It is good news that within twenty-four hours Intelligence Bureau (IB) located the support group of the culprits. One of the members of this group was apprehended from the Allama Iqbal International Airport, Lahore, in a joint operation of IB and CTD, Punjab. The arrested culprit revealed some valuable information which strongly indicated the involvement of Indian intelligence agency RAW in this incident.
RAW’s involvement in these attacks is very visible. Arrested members of TTP had admitted during interrogation that India was funding them. Ehsanullah Ehsan, former spokesperson of TTP, who was arrested in 2018 but managed to escape last year, also confirmed Indian funding to TTP. Afghan agency NDS has joined hands with RAW to harm Pakistan. They have allowed TTP to sit safely in Kunar and Nouristan provinces, adjacent to the border with Pakistan.
With the roll back of the US forces from Afghanistan, TTP has started attacking targets in Pakistan more frequently. They want to make their presence felt. Though Afghan Taliban have never operated against Pakistan, TTP might feel free to attack in big cities, if the US is allowed to use our ground or air to attack inside Afghanistan. This can complicate the situation and Afghan Taliban might not stop them anymore. Other miscreants inside Pakistan would be encouraged and emboldened. The sleeper cells and sympathisers are rampant in cities who will facilitate the attacks.
TTP was aware of its weak position after the counter terrorist operations in Pakistan. First of all, it decided to woo other splinter groups and bring them under its umbrella. It was done successfully in July 2020. It became more accommodative than the previous leaders like Hakimullah Mehsud and his predecessor, Baitullah Mehsud, who were accused of ruthlessly eliminating smaller independent jihadi groups that objected to waging jihad under the TTP leadership in Pakistan. This approach has helped TTP replenish its dwindling manpower. The absorption of rival and independent groups under Noor Wali indicates that he is succeeding where Baitullah and Hakimullah failed.
The masters and strategists of TTP have now given a go ahead to TTP to conduct attacks in all corners of Pakistan. They are still suffering from the debility of manpower and logistics gradually. But they are straining on the leash to create massive trouble in Pakistan. The Lahore bomb blast and killing of FC personnel in Balochistan are two clear indicators of this assessment. They are desirous to seek support of jehadi organizations in Pakistan to overcome their weakness. The TTP Chief stressed on emulating the Afghan Taliban strategy and stated that Jihadis in Pakistan should be involved in the fight against the state of Pakistan.
Attack on the house of JuD Chief can be seen in this context. It is one of the jehadi organisations that does not operate against Pakistan. It must have rebuffed the idea, if approached for it. It was already the top target of India. On RAW’s behest TTP would have gleefully agreed to carry out this bomb blast. It is TTP’s policy not to claim responsibility of attack on religious place or person. Though it quickly claimed responsibility of target killing of two cops in Islamabad, it has remained silent over the Lahore blast.
There is no second opinion that intelligence is the main weapon against terrorism. The intelligence agencies of Pakistan have to play active role to preempt the terrorist attacks. They must track, trail and tackle the terrorist groups to annihilate them before they become too strong again to destabilise Pakistan.
TERRORISM/SECTARIANISM- AT A GLANCE
|1.||CTD, Punjab claimed to have conducted 49 Intelligence-Based Operation (IBO) based crackdowns in various places in Punjab during the last one week, interrogated 50 suspects and arrested three terrorists including Saad affiliated with HUT, Iftikhar Ahmed with ISIS and Waseem Abbas with SMP from Lahore, Gujrat and Toba Tek Singh, respectively (19th June).||—||—||03|
|2.||CTD arrested two terrorists affiliated with TTP, identified as Ghulam Rahman Zarar and Shahid from Bahadur Pur bypass in Bahawalpur region and recovered explosive material, safety fuse and detonators from their possession (22nd June).||—||—||02|
|3.||Three people were killed, 24 including two police constables injured and number of residential premises badly damaged in a remote-controlled VBIED, with 20 kg explosive, which was parked near E/111 Block, BOR Society, Johar Town, Lahore, near the residence of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) Chief Hafiz Saeed who is currently under detention in connection with several cases (23rd June).||03||24||—|
Comments & Analysis: –An alleged suspect, namely Peter, was arrested from Allama Iqbal International airport, Lahore. He reportedly provided the car used in the blast. It is significant to note that Hafiz Saeed was one of the wanted persons by the India due to his alleged involvement in militancy in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IOJK) and Mumbai attack incident etc. and was reportedly a joint target of RAW and NDS. All parties conference called by the PM Narendra Modi was set to take place in India on 24th June to decide the future political structure of IOJK. The attack near Hafiz Saeed’s residence ahead of the said conference and increasing Taliban attacks and gains in Afghanistan, seem significant indicators towards the joint involvement of RAW and NDS behind carrying-out the said blast by their sponsored terrorist outfit TTP. The chances of involvement of BLF/BLA and IS/ISKP cannot be ruled out.
|1.||Three unidentified armed motorcyclists stormed a police checkpost at Shahu and shot and injured a police constable Ghulam Abbas Mazari on resistance and decamped with his official gun in Dadu District (18th June).||—||01||—|
|2.||CTD Sindh arrested two men (name not disclosed) from Mirpur Khas who had been sent to India for militant training by the two senior MQM leaders. They were in contact with one Wasay Jalil former MQM town Nazim Karachi and currently hiding abroad (22nd June).||—||—||02|
Comments & Analysis: – The CTD had already summoned a senior MQM leader Farooq Sattar for questioning in this regard. It is learnt that CTD/Karachi police have busted a cell linked with Karachi university and the suspects were in contact with Mehmood Siddiqui who was the focal person between the Indian Intelligence RAW, MQM and is currently hiding in India.
|1.||Police arrested two motorcyclists – Saeed-ur-Rehman and Hazrat Bilal, and recovered two rocket launchers, five rocket shells and five fuses from their possession, during checking at Shahu check-post in Orakzai tribal District (17th June).||—||—||02|
|2.||Two terrorists of TTP identified as Said Amin Shairatala, Chin Yar Titimadakhel were killed and an army soldier Naik Nazakat Khan was martyred in exchange of fire during an IBO in Spinwam area of North Waziristan. The said terrorists were involved in carrying out several IED attacks on the security forces and kidnapping of civilians/government officials (19th June).||02||—||—|
|3.||Four militants allegedly affiliated with Akhtar Mohammad group of banned TTP shot dead a young man Amanullah and injured his father Mustafa in Bargai area of Lakki Marwat District. It is learnt that the terrorist killed the victim on suspicion of providing information about them to the security authorities (20th June).||01||—||—|
|4.||Malik Abdul Ghani Khan, local leader of Awami National Party (ANP) was shot dead and his son Shah Khalid Khan and two passersby injured during an attack on their vehicle by unidentified armed motorcyclists in Haji Lawang area in Khar tehsil of Bajaur tribal District. No group claimed responsibility, yet (21st June).||01||03||—|
|5.||A tribal elder Malik Shareef Khan was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Bashera area of Kurram tribal District (23rd June).||01||—||—|
|6.||CTD killed three terrorists, identified as – Usama Khan, Najeebullah and Idrees, in exchange of fire during a raid in Kangar Gali area of Buner District of Swat. They were allegedly affiliated with defunct TTP, involved in several incidents of terrorism and targeted killings (23rd June).||03||—||—|
Comments & Analysis: – Target killing continued during the period under review.
|1.||CTD Balochistan claimed to have killed four insurgents (names not disclosed) allegedly affiliated with the defunct Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) during exchange of fire in Malabar Coal mines area of Bolan District (17th June).||04||—||—|
|2.||A soldier, Naik Aqeel Abbas was martyred during an ambush by the unidentified terrorists, near Turbat (17th June).||01||—||—|
|3.||A government school van carrying 11 teachers was fired upon by three unidentified armed motorcyclists near Dasht Baba old railway crossing in Piranabad area of Mastung District. Resultantly three lady teachers were injured (19th June).||—||03||—|
|4.||CTD Balochistan killed a wanted terrorist (name not disclosed), belonging to a defunct organization, while two officials were injured in exchange of fire and grenade attack by him during a raid on his hideout in Goharbad area of Sariab, Quetta (22nd June).||01||02||—|
|5.||Unidentified armed gunmen, wearing the security forces uniform, intercepted a vehicle of National Bank of Pakistan/Nokkundi area Branch on RCD Highway in Satt Landhi area in Chagai District. The gunman shot and injured the Levies force sepoy Naimat Ullah, Beaton incharge Iqbal Baloch on resistance and fled away after snatching Rs/- 50.3 million at gunpoint (22nd June).||—||01||—|
Comments & Analysis: – The attack on school van is an alarming development indicating desperation of the terrorists, most probably TTP, to operate out of its new strategy of targeting the LEA personnel only. It is gradually adding back its old tactics which indicates that its resources are being replenished. The snatching of huge amount of money from NBP vehicle is one way of meeting the expenses of their terrorist network.
PM’s emphatic ‘No’ to US request for bases in Pakistan
Prime Minister Imran Khan emphatically denied to give military base to the US, in an interview with Jonathan Swan on “Axios on HBO” (20th June). In a question posed by Jonathan that would Pakistan provide military base to the US after its withdrawal from Afghanistan, PM said, ‘Absolutely not’. To another question he responded that the matter to provide air space was not discussed. He also said he was not aware whether Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal was expanding or shrinking.
Comments & Analysis: – Why did Imran Khan use categorical and loud words to respond to the question regarding provision of military base to the US? There are different views about it. However, it is necessary to see three developments to understand the context of his loud ‘Absolutely Not’ response.
Development one: In May, Pentagon official said that Pakistan had allowed the US military to use its airspace and given ground access so that it can support its presence in Afghanistan. The diplomatic sources in Washington seconded him and added that Pakistan had always allowed overflights and ground access to the US to facilitate its military presence in Afghanistan and would continue to do so.
This development was enough to earn widespread reaction from all sides.
Development 2: The US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met Pakistan’s NSA Moeed Yusuf. This was the first highest-level physical contact between the two countries since the Biden administration took office. The discussion was described by both sides as “positive”. Moeed Yusuf said in a tweet: Both sides agreed to continue the conversation to advance cooperation in Pak-US bilateral relations.”
The amicable tone gave impetus to the growing suspicion that Pakistan was about to give CIA base to the US. Severe reaction started boiling up amidst the news that the base was being given at Naseerabad, Balochistan.
Development 3: The Pakistan FO spokesperson had to announce that it was a baseless news and Pakistan was not going to give any base to the US. However, he added that Pakistan and the U.S. have a framework of cooperation in terms of Air Lines of Communication (ALOC) and Ground Lines of Communication (GLOC) in place since 2001. No new agreement has been made in this regard.
It was an ambiguous statement which further strengthened the view that some sort of arrangement was being discussed between Pakistan and the US in regard with facilitating the latter.
After this statement an absolute silence ensued on part of the government for a few days. Then came this Jonathan interview in which Imran Khan refuted the idea in strong terms. But analysts are of the view that the parlance was quite undiplomatic therefore it could be for consumption of the Pakistani public rather than a message to Joe Biden. Secondly, like the FO spokesperson, Imran Khan also did not refute in absolute terms the chances of use of Musharraf era framework of cooperation with the US.
Some others think Iman Khan is quite irked over Joe Biden’s cold shoulder given to him as he neither called him nor invited for the Climate summit. This message could be to Joe Biden to talk to me first. So, the room is still open for further conversation, as Moeed Yusuf had said.
It looks like the rumour or news of giving bases or air space, is not totally baseless.
Peshawar High Court seeks govt report on ex-Fata landmine explosions
A Peshawar High Court bench directed the Federal Government to produce a detailed report on landmine explosions in the merged tribal Districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, especially South Waziristan, within three weeks (22nd June).
Comments & Analysis: – The petitioners Sajad Ahmed Mehsud and four others sought the demining of the tribal region, proper rehabilitation of displaced person during the military operation in the area and removal of landmines at the earliest especially in South Waziristan which have took the lives of several hundred innocent people.
British High Commissioner’s Visit to GHQ
Dr. Christian Turner British High Commissioner to Pakistan, during his meeting with General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), at GHQ, Rawalpindi discussed the matters of mutual interests between the two countries, security situation in the region including recent development in the Afghan peace process and Pakistan efforts for peace and stability which was lauded by the British diplomat (18th June).
COAS’s visit to Azerbaijan
General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army staff (COAS), in his two-day official visit to Azerbaijan called on President Ilham Aliyev and Defence Minister Colonel General Hasanov Zakir Asghar Oglu at capital Baku. During his meetings with them, the matters of mutual interest and promoting defence cooperation between the two countries, security situation in the region and Pakistan’s efforts for Afghan peace process were discussed (21st June).
Fence over Durand line by Pakistan will be completed soon
Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad told the national assembly that the fence over the Durand line (Pak-Afghan border) has almost 88% completed, and the remaining work is expected to be completed by the end of the month (19th June).
Comments & Analysis: – Pakistan started fencing the 2640 km lengthy border with Afghanistan in March 2017 for safe guarding its boundary to prevent the movement of terrorists, miscreants and smugglers across the western border and is going to complete after the span of four years. The next few months after withdrawal of the foreign forces from Afghanistan may be crucial for Pakistan to face the terrorist attacks of TTP and ISKP and some other groups.
Clash between Janikhel tribesmen and police
A clash between the demonstrating Janikhel tribes and police took place near press club Lakki Marwat resulting in death of a person and injuries to 20 persons including 10 policemen (23rd June).
Comments & Analysis:- The protesters wanted to march toward Islamabad for sit-in protest along with the body of their tribal elder Malik Naseeb Khan, killed by unidentified persons, three weeks ago. They are protesting for last three weeks. Local civil administration has failed to pacify them.
Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) an autonomous government-controlled body, revealed that as per Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 9105 Pakistanis are imprisoned in foreign jails of 75 countries across the world. Necessary steps are being taken by the government for their release, that include periodic consular access, provision of basic necessity items on each visit to jail, taking up complaints of prisoners with jail authorities and forwarding clemency requests of the prisoners to courts (18th June).
CRIME/LAW & ORDER- At a Glance
Arrest of cleric for sexually abusing a student
Mufti Aziz-ur-Rehman working in Jamia Al-Manzoor, Sadar, Lahore was arrested on the charges of sexually abusing a student of a Madrassa (religious seminary) four days ago. His sons were also arrested from Mianwali District (19th June).
Comments & Analysis: – According to the police sources, after committing the alleged offence, Mufti Aziz-ur-Rehman went into hiding at the home of his son in Mianwali. After his objectionable video of sexual abuse of the victim Sabir Shah of Swat by him went viral on social media, the Lahore police booked him under the relevant sections of PPC.
KP police gets 20 armoured vehicles for CTD
The UN Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) handed over 20 B6 level armored pickups to Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police, through NACTA, for combating terrorism and drug menace in merged tribal Districts, in a ceremony in CPO office at Peshawar. On this occasion the IG police stated that CTD units have been operationalized, in addition to training of 17,000 Levies and Khassadar personnel by Pak army, integrated in KP police (21st June).
Comments & Analysis: – The provision of 20 armored vehicles to CTD is expected to contribute not only to its resources but also capacity building and operational capabilities in the field.
Crime Details 19/06/2021 to 25/06/2021
|Murders||(Bahawalnagar-3, Lahore (Harbanspura)-1, Kasur-1, Gujrat-2, Sargodha-1, Taxila-2, Bahawalnagar-2, Lahore-3, Gijranwala-1, Taxila-1, Sahiwal-1) = 18||(North Waziristan-2, Lakki Marwat-2, Dera Ismail Khan-2, Lakki Marwat-1, North Wazlristan-3, Mardan-2, Lakki Marwat-1, Bajaur-1, Peshawar-3, Haripur-1, Lakki Marwat-1) = 19||(Karachi-3, Hyderabad-7, Karachi-1, Larkana-1, Karachi-1, Sukkur-1) = 14||(Islamabad-1, Islamabad-1, Islamabad-1) = 03||—||(Turbat-1, Quetta-4) = 05||(Muzaffarabad-4) = 04||63|
|Robberies/ Dacoits||(Rawalpindi-2, Taxila-1) = 03||—||—||(Islamabad-1, Islamabad-1) = 02||—||(Islamabad-1) = 01||—||06|
|Gang Rape||(Toba Tek Singh-1) = 01||—||—||—||(Gilgit-1) = 01||—||—||02|
|Kidnapping||(Lahore-3) = 03||—||—||—||—||—||03|
|Injured||(Lahore-1, Lahore-24) = 25||(Swabi-2, Bajaur-2, Lakki Marwat-20) = 24||(Hyderabad-6) = 06||(Islamabad-1, Islamabad-1, Islamabad-1) = 03||—||(Quetta-4) = 04||—||62|
|Police encounter||—||(Swat-3) = 02||(Karachi-2) = 02||—||—||—||—||04|
Source: Media & National dailies
LoC/IOJK (Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir)
The Indian security forces during their continued fake anti-militancy drive killed three Kashmiri youth including Mudassar Pandit, alleged commander of LeT in Sopore area of Baramulla district (20th June). A police constable Javed Ahmed and CID Inspector Pervaiz Ahmed Dar were shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Srinagar (18th & 21st June). On political front, PM Narendra Modi invited the main political parties – BJP, Congress and local Kashmiri parties PAGD Alliance led by Umar Farooq and Mehbooba Mufti to attend All Parties Conference on 24th June for starting political process in the Jammu & Kashmir (IOJK).
Comments & Analysis: – The situation remained calm on LoC during the period under review. The Indian Government is eventually compelled to call an all-parties conference to start political process in the valley. The People Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) will reportedly attend the proposed All Parties Conference and put forward its demand for restoring the special status of Jammu & Kashmir which had been altered on 05th August, 2019 by revoking articles 370 and 35-A of the Indian Constitution.
During the period under review 260 security forces/pro-govt-militias, 245 Taliban / militants of other groups and 30 civilians were killed while 55 were injured in 80 districts across the country, particularly in Kabul, Baghlan, Takhar, Badakhshan, Paghman, Ghor, Lashkargah, Herat, Laghman, Badghis, Faryab, Nangarhar, Balkh and Kunduz Provinces. Nearly 40 districts in 28 of 34 provinces have fallen to Taliban mostly by surrendering or fleeing away. Taliban took possession of huge quantity of arms & ammunition and military hardware including battle tanks, large number armed personnel carriers, Humvees and heavy vehicles left by the Afghan security forces. On the other hand, security forces claimed taking back of three Districts as a result of their counter offensives. The reports regarding uprising of local militias (private resistance forces) supported by the government and NDS to counter possible Taliban’s attacks in some areas including Badghis Province, have surfaced (23rd June).
Reshuffle in Interior and Defence Ministries with change of Army Chief
Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani, made changes in the Interior and Defence ministries including replacing the army chief. He appointed Bismillah Khan Mohammadi replacing Asad Ullah Khalid as caretaker Defence Minister and Abdul Sattar Mirzawakal replacing Hayatullah Hayat as Interior Minister and General Wali Mohammad Ahmadzai replacing General Yaseen Zia as the new Chief of Army Staff (19th June).
China urges its citizens to leave Afghanistan amid rising violence remove piture
Beijing has warned Chinese nationals in Afghanistan to leave the country as soon as possible amid a sharp rise in violence and for its organizations to take extra precautions during these uncertain times (20th June).
AFGHAN PEACE PROCESS
Taliban deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar said that to make headway in the peace negotiations there was a need for the implementation of the Doha agreement which included the release of the remaining prisoners and the removal of Taliban leaders from the UN blacklist (19th June). President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah left for USA to attend meetings with President Biden and others to discusses the Afghan peace process and their future humanitarian, economic and military support to Afghanistan (24th June).
Comments & Analysis: Despite major reshuffles in the top ministers and changing of army chief the situation has not changed. Pakistan has already opposed any military option and in good faith has proposed to form a broad based mutually agreed interim Government by Afghans as the only solution. However, it was never reciprocating and instead levelled different allegations on Pakistan. The ground situation has even convinced India to make efforts for establishing some links with Taliban as a reality in Afghanistan’s future.
Withdrawal of Foreign Troops
According to CENTCOM, the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan is going on smoothly with completion of 50 percent retrograde movement. It has been decided to give lead role to Turkey for keeping the Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul safe to maintain operational working of foreign embassies and missions in the Afghanistan Capital Kabul. Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said that his country did not intend to send additional troops in Afghanistan in the existing presence of its 500 troops there (23rd June).
Comments & Analysis: – The demoralization of Afghan Government leadership has deepened in the wake of Taliban advancement in over 80 Districts. Despite resentment expressed by the Afghan Taliban, Turkey is almost determined to take the security and operations of the Kabul Airport after withdrawal of the foreign troops. A high-level US team is also expected to visit Ankara on 25th June to discuss the modalities and level of US support to it for successful discharge of its new responsibilities. Taliban had refused to attend peace conference in Ankara a couple of months ago. They have doubts that Turkey is sympathetic towards war-lord Abul Rasheed Dostum, who is bitter enemy of Taliban.
Coronavirus Crisis Update
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan was registered to be 6,680 from 19th June to 25th June, 2021 (Friday) after new infections were confirmed in the country.
The Province-wise breakup of the total 3,037 active cases and total deaths 239 during this period is as follows:
|Provinces||Total Active Cases||Total Deaths|
|Islamabad Capital Territory||187||02|
Comments & Analysis: – Last week has seen a drastic drop in the number of Corona cases. Some people also attribute this drop to the rising Celsius. Within the government service, the reluctant employees have been compelled and facilitated to get vaccinated. Despite very positive indicators, there is a need to keep the guards up to quell the pandemic.
Pakistan’s Security Barometer
Terrorism: TTP and its affiliates have increased their terrorist activities in tribal areas, some parts of KPK and major cities of Pakistan. They are trying to take advantage of uncertain times after the withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan.
Threat Level: High – The threat level is persistently high due to national, international and regional security environment. The intelligence agencies must take proactive pre-emptive measures to unearth the networks and foil the evil designs of the terrorists.
Level of Sectarianism & Religious Extremism: Simmering through the society due to unbridled activities of the extremist sectarian and religious elements.
Border Situation: Ceasefire at LoC. The Western border (Pak-Afghan), also largely remained calm.
Health Security: The third wave of Coronavirus is gradually petering out. Vaccination, though quite slow, and rising Celsius have made the difference.
Social Unrest: Rising; primarily due to exorbitant price hike and political unrest. The constant rise in electricity, petrol tariffs, medicines and inflation has impacted all segments of society. Especially the salaried class and poor people are the worst sufferers.
Freedom of Press: Pakistan has dropped three places in the World Press Freedom Index (WPFI), since last year- 144th out of 180 countries in the world.
Note: The Security Brief is based on open-source media reports
Editor: Dr.Naveed Elahi
Published by Centre for Peace & Security Research