THE SECURITY BRIEF

Peace is Paramount

Vol. 8-Issue No 70

03rd August, 2021

Editorial

WILL KABUL FALL?

Ever since the US and NATO forces have started vacating Afghanistan, the social media and main stream media are abuzz with the stories of relentless victories of Afghan Taliban. It has created an impression that Taliban would over run the entire Afghanistan very soon. According to different estimates, they have reportedly established their control over 180 Districts of the country. Some analysts consider it blitzkrieg whereas an American general opined that Taliban have gained strategic momentum.   In order to confirm the veracity of these reports and estimates there is a need to have a closer look at the facts and figures and the strengths and strategies of the the Afghan Security and Defence Forces (ANDSF) and Taliban.

 According to some estimates, ANDSF consist of over 3,00,000 personnel divided into Afghan National Army, Afghan air force, Afghan national police, Afghan local police and National Directorate of Security (NDS). It is operating all over the Afghanistan. The Afghan National Army (ANA) has eight corps stationed at Kabul, Kandahar, Gardez, Chugha-Serai, Jalalabad (Nangarhar), Ghazni and Herat. It has Special Forces Brigade trained by USA with headquarter at Kabul. One Battalion of these special forces are also attached with each Corp/formation. It has reportedly a strength of around 10,000 commandos that are utilized for rescue operations.

The Afghan air force (AAF) is divided in 4 wings- based at Kabul, Kandahar, Sindang and Mizar-e-Sharif with around 7,000 personnel and over 200 aircrafts and helicopters. Afghan air force has been setup with modern weapons and training as a professional soldier during the last twenty years. Two weeks ago, the US provided three new propeller-driven A-29 Tacano light attack aircrafts and three newly refurbished UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to the Afghan Air Force.

On the other hand, Taliban reportedly comprise 2,00,000 personnel, 60,000 devoted fighters and 1,40,000 local militias and supporters. They are battle hardened and know how to employ proper strategies and tactics. They neither have the support of air force nor missiles to hit Afghan jet fighters. They mostly rely on weapons and ammunitions snatched from the Afghan security forces who surrender or leave behind while fleeing from an area.    

The comparison shows that ANDSF have edge over Taliban in term of weapons, equipment and numerical strength. The actual difference is the AAF which has the ability to strike at the Taliban positions. On the other hand, Taliban appear to be more motivated and devoted to fight which gives them edge over the Afghan army. But there are instances when Afghan army fought well and even retook the areas captured by Taliban. For these reasons, despite rapid advancement of Taliban, it cannot be termed blitzkrieg. It has to struggle hard to capture the urban areas, especially the capitals of provinces, and to retain the control. However, Taliban have definitely gained a strategic momentum, as was stated by the US General.

Fierce fighting has continued between the Taliban and Afghan forces at several places for the last several weeks. During the last week of July pitched battles took place at Herat, Lashkargah and Kandahar, which were continuing till the filing of this report. At the far flung and difficult areas Taliban gained victories and the Afghan forces fled away. A large number of Afghan soldiers took refuge in Pakistan and Tajikistan.   

The question is, will Kabul fall to Taliban in near future. The above facts and figures show that despite advances, Taliban lack the capacity to easily capture Kabul or other provincial capitals and retain their control. Moreover, knowing these strengths and weaknesses, Taliban strategy is not to enter into a pitched battle with Afghan army to capture Kabul very soon. They would like to build further strategic momentum, carry out terrorist attacks in Kabul and find alternate ways to make Ashraf Ghani come to terms.

Two earlier incidents from the history further reinforce the estimate that it is difficult to capture Kabul in particular and provincial capitals in general. One example is Battle of Jalalabad (1989) in which despite the best efforts Mujahideen could not capture Jalalabad. Rather it resulted in heavy losses and set-backs to them. Hundreds of Mujahideen were killed and injured and the attack was repulsed by Najibullah’s Afghan communist army.

Second incident was Gulbuddin Hikmatyar’s attempt to capture Kabul when Burhanuddin Rabbani was in power. His fighters used to unleash barrages of rockets from nearby vicinity, just to the southeast of Kabul, killing and injuring thousands of citizens and causing substantial loss to the city buildings, from 1992 to 1996. But despite his ferocious fighters and determined attacks he could not capture Kabul.

The reason of failures to capture these two cities was that the attackers were not adept in regular warfare and the cities were well-guarded. Similarly, Taliban are used to asymmetrical warfare and have little experience of regular war. Kabul, Qandahar and Jalalabad are much more well-guarded than ever before. The Ashraf Ghani strategy is to pull back its forces from rural and other areas to concentrate on defence of the capitals of the provinces, most importantly Kabul. It appears that these cities, especially Kabul, will not fall in the hands of Taliban very soon.

Besides, the Taliban have already declared that they would not target main cities, capital Kabul and foreign embassies and diplomatic missions. Ostensibly, the main aim behind occupying the maximum territory in Afghanistan is to exhibit its strategic momentum to use it as a bargaining chip during the ongoing peace talks at Doha, Qatar for carving out a suitable political road map for future government in the country.        

NATIONAL

TERRORISM/SECTARIANISM-AT A GLANCE

Punjab

Sr. NoIncidentKilledInjuredArrested
1. Punjab Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) has apprehended two suspects (brothers) who shifted from Quetta and are residents of Defence area of Lahore, in-connection with their involvement in killing of Chinese workers of Dasu Dam project (28th July).02

Comments & Analysis: –Terrorists and their local supporters are lurking in all provinces. Their networks must be unearthed and smashed.

Balochistan

Sr. NoIncidentKilledInjuredArrested
1.Four people were injured while a Frontier Corps (FC) vehicle was slightly damaged in an IED blast outside the main gate of the vegetable market in Hazar Ganji area of Quetta. It is learnt during the initial investigations that it was a time device of one kg explosive (26th July).  04
2.A Levies Solider Abdullah was shot dead by unidentified armed motorcyclists near Wed Market, Khuzdar and fled away (28th July)01

Comments & Analysis: – It is the continuation of the strategy of using IEDs in Balochistan.

Sindh

Sr. NoIncidentKilledInjuredArrested
1.A Chinese factory worker identified as Huang Cheng Feng was injured while his colleague and the local driver remained unhurt during a gunshot attack on their motor car by unidentified armed masked wearing motorcyclists, near Gulbai Bridg in SITE area of Karachi (28th July).  01
2.A former MQM worker Shahid Javid was shot dead by unidentified motorcyclists when he was riding on a motorcycle alongwith his friend on Shah Suleman Road, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Karachi. The assailants managed to escape (30th July).01

Comments & Analysis: – It is learnt through police sources that the Chinese were not associated with any government project and were roaming without security guards. Added that the defunct Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) spokesperson Major Gohram through social media, claimed responsibility of the attack.

KPK

Sr. NoIncidentKilledInjuredArrested
1.A local cricketer named Wajid was shot dead by unidentified men near his home in Hurmaz Village in Mir Ali Tehsil of North Waziristan tribal district and fled away. The victim had no personnel enmity with any one (26th July).  01
2.A retired FC official named Sardar was killed by unidentified armed persons in the limits Micchini Gate police Station, Peshawar. The assailants managed to escape (26th July).01
3.A hand grenade was hurled by unidentified terrorists into Khushal High School for Afghan children in Tajabad area of Peshawar but no one was hurt due to the absence of students there (27th July).
4.Two tribal elders – Malik Sahib Rehman and Malik Khairullah riding on a motorcycle were shot dead by unidentified gunmen from a motor car near Sargardan Chowk, Data Khel Road in Miramshah tehsil of North Waziristan tribal District. After attack, the assailant fled away from the spot (28th July).01
5.A police official named Bin Yameen was killed and a passerby injured during a grenade attack on a police Mobil van by unidentified terrorists in near Karkhano Market in Hayatabad area of Peshawar. The attackers made good their escape (30th July).0101
6.A police mobile van escorting Polio Vaccine Team was targeted with a remote controlled IED planted by unidentified terrorists beneath the bridge of a seasonal stream on the main Ladha-Wana road. The vehicle was partially damaged but no one was hurt. The same day, in another incident the terrorists reportedly tried to target a vehicle of the security forces with remote controlled explosive device near Sharwangi check post on Ladha-Wana Road, South Waziristan tribal District but failed (1st August).  
7.An army Solider – Naik Ghulam Mustafa was killed as a result of firing on a military post in Ghariom, North Waziristan tribal district (02nd August).01

Comments & Analysis: – Target killings and use of IED attacks continued in KPK during the period under review.

TRIBAL DISTRICTS

Torkham road remained closed over boy’s abduction

Traffic on the main road leading to the Torkham border remained suspended for nearly five hours after the Sultan Khel tribesmen agitated over the abduction of a boy named Mohsin in Landi Kotal, Khyber tribal District. The abducted boy was later ‘dropped’ at his house in semi-conscious condition by unknown abductors after a social media outcry about the incident (27th July).

Comments & Analysis: – It is learnt through the relatives of the victim child that the police first apprehended a suspected taxi driver, but later released him at midnight without investigating him properly. The tribesmen ended the protest after the police officials assured them of fair investigation into the boy’s abduction and the re-arrest of the taxi driver.

Tribal Jirga demands production of missing persons in court

A jirga of Mohmand tribes was held in the Atta area of Khwezai tehsil in Mohmand tribal District and approved a charter of long-standing issues of local people. It demanded of the government to produce all missing persons belonging to the district in the court and if they were not guilty be released. They also urged to open Gorsal border crossing with Afghanistan to resume bilateral trade (28th July).

Comments & Analysis: – At this embryonic stage of merger of tribal areas in KPK, provincial government should be more sensitive towards their demands and all issues must be taken seriously. Tribe are accustomed to a centuries old different system and would take time to understand and get used to the new system.

LAW & ORDER/CRIME

1.  The body of a minor boy identified as Rehan, missing for the last two days was found in nearby village fields in Mandi Ahmedabad in Okara District (27th July).

2. One Mushtaq Ahmed and his wife Asma Mushtaq were shot dead while their daughter Farheen Zahra was critically injured by four armed persons due to a dispute in Kauntrili area in Gujar Khan tehsil of Rawalpindi District (28th July).

3. Three persons including retired Major Amanullah owner of Sultan Madad (Pvt), his one employee and a government vaccinator Zeeshan were arrested in the limit of Pradee police station, Karachi for stealing corona virus vaccine and privately administering them at homes of the needy persons on payment (29th July).

4.  Police rescued a woman who was allegedly chained by her four brothers to stop her from doing job in Deha Dera area of Swabi District. Police arrested her three brothers, Sair Khan, Faheem Khan and Nadeem Khan from their home, while her fourth brother escaped (28th July)

CTD headquarters to be established in 10 districts

The CM Punjab Usman Buzdar, inaugurated the CTD School Training Block in CTD HQ, Lahore and helpline (0800-11111) and inspected different sections. On this occasion, he said that CTD sub-headquarters will be constructed in 10 districts. They will be provided drones, GSM locator, sniper rifles and other equipment along with setting up of a bomb disposal unit to fight terrorism. IG Police Punjab was also present in the inauguration ceremony (27th July).

Comments & Analysis: – CTD Punjab has gradually developed into an effective counter terrorism organization. However, a lot needs to be desired to make it strong enough to face the impending terrorism. For this, most important step is to change the approach and mind-set of the organisation to be an intelligence set-up that could take preemptive actions rather than an investigative agency which tries to locate the culprits after the incident. Lahore bomb-blast near the house of Hafiz Saeed indicates this inherent weakness of CTD.  

Journalist sent on judicial remand

A judicial magistrate at Lahore while turning down the request of Khanna police, Lahore for further physical remand, sent Asad Kharal, a television journalist, to jail, on judicial remand in a case of ‘attacking’ police officials deputed for his security (27th July).

Comments & Analysis: – Sources are of the view that lately, Asad Kharal, has become quite insecure, to an extent of paranoia, ever since he was attacked a couple of years ago. It appears that he could not come out of that state of mind and got instigated on any trivial matter.

Police deploys to stop clashes between two Tribes in Pannu Aqil

Police contingents were deployed near Sangi and Dubbar areas of Pannu Aqil town in Sukhar division to stop clashes and firing between two heavily armed groups belonging to the Jatoi and Jagirani tribes over a land dispute (27th July).

2000 Khasadar and 1300 Levies personnel merge into KPK police

CM KPK Mahmood Khan has decided to merge over 2000 personnel of Khasadar force and 1300 personnel of Levies into Police. They were serving in former FATA areas turned into the new tribal districts of the province. Apart from the cabinet ministers, the meeting was also attended by Corps Commander Lt Gen. Nouman Mahmood, IG Police Moazzam Jah and, Commandant FC Salahuddin Mehsud and other senior civil and police officers (29th July).

DEFENCE

COAS visits ANF HQ

Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Anti Narcotic Force (ANF) HQ, Islamabad where he was given briefing to the working of the force. He said that drugs paddlers and producers are not only threat to the country but also humanity, therefor, should be dealt with iron hand. Earlier on arrival, he was received by ANF DG Maj Gen. Arif Malik (27th July)

KSA Foreign Minister visits GHQ

Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, called on COAS Gen. Bajwa at GHQ, Rawalpindi and discussed matters of mutual interest between the two countries, strengthening defence cooperation, regional security scenario and Pakistan’s efforts for Afghan peace process. The COAS expressed thanks to the Saudi Arabian leadership for extending support to Pakistan (27th July).

GHQ held Reception on 94th Anniversary of PLA

A reception was held at GHQ, Rawalpindi on the 94th founding anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) which was attended by COAS Gen. Bajwa, Chinese Ambassador Nong Rang, Chinese Defence Attachi Gen. Chen Whenrang and other senior officers. On this occasion, the COAS said that Pak Army and PLA will continue to contribute toward collective safe guarding their interests and termed the two forces as a “iron hand in arms”. The Chinese Defence Attaché recalling Chinese President Xi Jenpeng saying that Pakistani armed forces are mainstay of Pak-China strategic relations. He termed Pakistan and China as all-weather iron friends, strategic partners and thanked for hosting warm reception for them (29th July).

Chief of South African NDF meets Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and the COAS.

General Rudzani Maphwanya, Chief of South African National Defence Force, who was on official visit to Pakistan, called on General Nadeem Raza, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, at Joint Staff Headquarters, Rawalpindi. During the meeting issues of mutual interest, regional security and cooperation were discussed (26th July).

Afghan soldiers handed over to Afghan authorities

46 soldiers Afghan National Army (ANA) and border police, including five officers, who had taken refuge in Pakistan to escape siege of Afghan Taliban on 25th July, were returned to Afghanistan via Nawapass Pak-Afghan border post in Bajaur tribal District, by the Pakistani military authorities (27th July).

Comments & Analysis: – According to ISPR, the Pakistan Army contacted Afghan authorities for information and necessary formalities. The Afghan soldiers were allowed to arrive at the Arundu Sector, Chitral. After contact with the Afghan authorities and necessary military procedures, the soldiers and officers were provided refuge. The Afghan soldiers were provided food, shelter and necessary medical care as per established military norms. These soldiers were returned to the Afghan authorities in a dignified manner after due process.

Previously, on July 1st, at least 35 Afghan soldiers had requested the Pakistan Army for refuge and safe passage due to inability to hold their military post along Pak-Afghan international border and were handed over to the Afghan authorities after due procedure. Due to ongoing fierce fighting with Talban, over 1000 Afghan soldiers fled to Tajikistan in recent past for safe refuge after fall of Sher Khan port to Taliban.

Azad Jammu & Kashmir Elections imbroglio
Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz complained that AJ&K elections were rigged and to prove her point she shared on social media a video of alleged rigging, accusing polling staff of stamping ballot for a PTI candidate at Sheikh Soli primary school polling station in Forward Kahuta, an area of AJK’s Haveli district (28th July).

Comments & Analysis: – In the said video, one of the policemen deployed for AJK election duty can be heard telling the polling staff that they were doing an ‘illegal and inappropriate’ act. The AJK PM Raja Farooq Haider also claimed that AJK polls were stolen through money laundering.

Petrol Price Increase

On the recommendations of Oil & Regulatory Authority (OGRA), the government increased 1.71 rupees per liter price of petrol w.e.f 01st August while the prices of high-speed diesel remained unchanged (30th July).

Comments & Analysis: – Rapid increase in petrol prices is perplexing for the poor, the middle class and most importantly the salaried class.  The recent jump of Rs. 7/- within a fortnight, has perturbed the people, not only who are slightly above and below the poverty line, but the middle class too. People are being told to brace themselves for further jumps in petrol and utility prices in the coming days. Educated lot resents lack of transparency in the policies and they feel hapless hostages at the mercy of the decision makers. While the parliamentarians, so- called representatives of people, are considered the rubber stamps, at the beck and call of their party leaders in a monopolistic and exploitative system, many people are thinking how to directly make their presence felt and effectively demonstrate their resentment and reaction on these issues and approaches? Streets or social media? Which forum is more suitable to make a loud noise that can be heard and felt by the high and the mighty?


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister visits Pakistan

KSA Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud

The KSA Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud visited Pakistan and held separate meetings with PM Imran Khan and Foreign Minister (FM) Shah Mahmood Qureshi. During the one-to-one meeting, Pakistani the FM underlined that the relationship between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are based on strong and robust foundations and was poised to acquire a new level. He reiterated Pakistan’s support for the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. During meeting with Prince Faisal, the PM reaffirmed deep-rooted and historic bonds between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. He recalled his visit to Saudi Arabia in May 2021 and in line with the decisions taken on the occasion, highlighted the assiduous follow-up and stressed the need for exploring new avenues of cooperation to further deepen bilateral relations in diverse fields (27th July).

Comments & Analysis: – KSA Foreign Minister Prince Faisal’s visit to Pakistan occupies much significance in the backdrop of Pakistan’s economic difficulties, regional security scenario, state terrorism in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir, US Foreign Secretary Blington’s visit to India and Pakistan’s efforts for Afghan peace process.


Ties with China have grown from strength to strength: FO

A Pakistani delegation led by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi during its two-day visit to China called on Chinese State Counselor, Foreign Minister Wang Yi and other senior officials. After conclusion of the visit, the Pakistan’s Foreign Office said that time-tested Pakistan-China friendship has flourished from strength to strength, unaffected by vicissitudes of time and changes in regional and global environment (26th July).

Comments & Analysis: – The visit carries much importance after the death of 13 Chinese and Pakistani passengers, working on Dasu Dam project during terrorist attack on their bus in the Kohistan area. It is learnt that matters related to defence, security, counter-terrorism and CPEC drew special attention in the foreign minister’s meeting with the Chinese leadership.

NSA Dr. Moeed Yusuf flies to US on official visit

National Security Adviser (NSA) Dr. Moeed Yusuf left for an official visit to the United States. His visit is part of high-level engagements between the two countries, which were agreed upon between him and his US counterpart Jake Sullivan during their last meeting on 24th May meeting at Geneva (26th July).

Comments & Analysis: – Pakistan-US relations have been uneasy for quite some time. However, both realise that they need each other at this point in time more than ever before. US- China estrangement has again put Pakistan in the centre to play a positive role. After the withdrawal of US troops Pakistan has to make substantial contribution in bringing peace in Afghanistan and the region. These two aspects would be discussed during the meeting of the NSAs.

TRIBAL DISTRICTS/AFGHAN BORDER AFFAIRS

Afghan trade resumes as Pakistan reopens Chaman border

The Chaman border post was closed by Pakistan after Taliban captured the Afghan border district of Spin Boldak and Vesh following fierce fighting with the Afghan Security Forces on 14th July. However, acceding to the pressing demands of the trade & business community and considering on humanitarian ground to keep the food, medical and other daily needs supplies moving, the authorities opened the border post for regular trade activities (26th July).

Comments & Analysis: – The border closure had caused suspension of all trade and traffic between the two countries. Hundreds of trucks carrying Afghan transit trade goods which bring transit goods from Karachi for onward transmission to Afghanistan, were stuck in Chaman.

CRIME/LAW & ORDER- At a Glance

  1. A father named Ameen along with his relatives gunned down his daughter  and her alleged lover in Nosoki village, Kamoki, Gujranwala District. The police arrested the main suspect (26th July).
  2. A young man was killed and three others received injuries (names not disclosed), when rival groups traded fire over a domestic issue in Ashraf Khel area, Landi Kotal, Khyber tribal District (26th July).
  3. A man who allegedly stabbed a baby and his mother, leading to the death of both of them, was arrested from Chak Beli Bazaar, Rawalpindi (27th July). Naseem Bibi was an extremely poor lady who used to beg for living. The alleged murderer killed her and her minor son in broad day light. 

Zahir Jaffer confesses to killing Noor, claim police

Zahir Jaffer being produced before the court

Zahir Jaffer an accused of killing Noor Mukadam at Islamabad has reportedly, confessed to committing the crime during the interrogation. His statement is being recorded and he will also be produced before a magistrate to record his statement under CrPC 164 (26th July).

Government and Ulemas to ensure foolproof security during Muharram

The federal and provincial governments alongwith law enforcement and security agencies started making full proof security arrangements ahead of Muharram in various provinces. In addition to that the Ulmas and Clerics are also holding separate meetings in all the provinces particularly at Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar (26th July).

Comments & Analysis:- Police and intelligence agencies should take all necessary security measures to ensure peace during Muharram. Firebrand speakers must be banned from making provocative speeches which can trigger violence. More importantly, SoPs should be devised and implemented to counter the threat of COVID-19 which is on the rise in form of Delta (Indian) variant. It would be advisable to ban the processions.

Punjab Government bringing BMP, BL under police

The Punjab government has decided to bring the Border Military Police (BMP) and the Baloch Levies (BL) performing their duties in Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur, operating for the last 117 years, under the control of the Punjab Police. They are presently working under the Home Department, Punjab. The BMP and the BL are headed by a political assistant whose authority is equal to a deputy commissioner. He submits his reports to the Home Department, Punjab. For this purpose, the Border Military Police Act 1904 will be amended. On the directions of the Punjab government, over 300 vacancies in the BMP and the BL will be filled in a few days (26th July).

Floods

The Federal Flood Commission (FFC) predicted “high to very high flood” in River Jhelum (upstream Mangla) and in River Chenab at Marala, Khanki and Qadirabad Headworks; medium to high flood likely in the nullahs of rivers Chenab and Ravi, besides, low to medium floods in River Indus at Tarbela (upstream).

A meeting was held at Central Police Office (CPO) Laore, to review the situation of riverine check posts and the current condition of weapons, vehicles, motorcycles, boats and other equipment. Punjab Highway Patrol was given additional charge of monitoring a total of 49 riverine check posts, including five in Rawalpindi region, 10 in Sargodha region, 24 in DG Khan Region and 10 in Bahawalpur region (26th July).

Comments & Analysis: Currently all main rivers including Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi and Sutlej are discharging “normal flows” and there is no riverine flood situation in the country. But torrential rains can create danger of high floods. NDMA, PDMA, Pakistan Red Crescent and the police should be prepared to handle the flood situation.

REGIONAL

LoC/IOJK (Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir)

The Indian security forces continued their anti-militancy drive and killed several Kashmiri youths during fake encounters and arrested several including – one in Srinagar and two in Pulwama Districts (27th & 30th July).

Indian Border Security Force (BSF) claimed to have fired on the three suspected drones (UAVs) flying near LOC in Samba district but they could not be hit successfully and disappeared quickly (29th July).

Indian State Minister for Home Affairs Natita Anand Roy stated in Indian Parliament Loksabha said that Jammu & Kashmir would be given the level of state (province) when normalcy returned there (27th July). The PDP president and ex-CM of IOJK Mahbooba Mufti said that India should start dialogue with Pakistan to settle the Kashmiri dispute for preventing further bloodshed, as it had earlier made ceasefire agreement on LoC. She added that she already told  Indian PM Narinder Moudi that India has to return everything to Kashmir which it had snatched on 05th August 2019 by revoking article 370 of the Constitution (28th July).

Comments & Analysis: – The situation remained peaceful at LoC where Pakistani and Indian troops continued their deployment in the forward posts, during the period under review. The situation in the occupied Kashmir remained disturbing as usual due to persistent state terrorism against the innocent people of the valley.

LAC/INDO-CHINA BORDER

The 12th round of the Corps Commander level talks between India and China for disengagement of the troops took place at Mildo point inside China in Ladakh sector. The Indian team was headed by the Commander of 14 Corps Lt Gen PK Menon while the Chinese side was led by Maj Gen Lou Lin (31st July).

Comments & Analysis: – Eleven meetings at senior military level have already taken place and but couldn’t produce any considerable results. The 12th  round of meetings took place after three months and lasted for 09 hours. No official comments have been made by the two sides in this regard, yet. It is, however, learnt that India requested to disengage the troops on all the friction points particularly at Gogra and Hot Spring to initiate unhindered patrolling rights of the forces of two side in Depsang, initially in Ladakh sector alongside LAC. It shows that Chinese forces are in a dominant position.

India’s machinations continued as it moved army’s “1 Strike Corps” to eastern Ladakh. The corps resources include armoured formations and infantry combat vehicles. The troops at Mathura located across Indo-Gangetic plains, have been tasked to the Northern Command. These resources include armoured formations and infantry combat vehicles, besides troops. The other two strike corps are stationed at Anmbala and Bhopal. The Indian Army has also reportedly deployed motion-sensitive cameras and sensors to monitor Chinese activity in forward areas along the LAC. In addition to that Indian Air Force deployed Rafale fighter jets acquired from France at Hasimara Airbase in West Bengal close to the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction on the eastern front with China. These pressure tactics have failed to impress China.

Indian railway is reportedly undertaking a project to connect a small northeastern Indian state along its border with China to the rest of the country. The project aims to extend the railroad to Nathu La in the Himalayan state of Sikkim, on the India-China border, to facilitate troop movement in case of an emergency. The 45km (28-mile) project, work began in 2009, connects Sevoke in West Bengal to Rangpo in Sikkim. Apart from bringing Sikkim onto India’s railway map with its network of 14 tunnels and 17 bridges in a single broad-gauge rail line. Most of the railway project lies in West Bengal, with only 3.44km (2-mile) in Sikkim.

AFGHANISTAN                                                 

The Conflict Tracker

During the period under review 128 Afghan National Defence Security Forces (ANDSF)/pro-govt-militias personnel, 107 Taliban/militants of other groups and 112 civilians were killed across the country. The Kandhar international Airport remained closed for flight operations due to damage caused to its runway in rocket attacks (03rd August). Double taxes are reportedly being collected on the same consignments of goods in the same country one by Taliban in Spin Boldak and the Afghan government Customs authorities in Kandahar by imposing import and export duties. The situation at other crossing points under the control of Taliban with Iran, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan is not much different. Afghan government said that it was losing millions of Afghani currency every day under the head of customs duties and other taxes on import and export. According to the Finance Ministry the Afghan government has been deprived of the amount of 05 billion Afghani currency after 06 Foreign Crossing points were captured by the Taliban (02nd August).

Taliban have increased their pressure on most of the provinces particularly Herat, Helmand and Kandahar by encircling and cutting approach supply routes to the target. The ANDSF alongwith its commando units are following the strategy of fortification of the defence of big cities of strategic importance including the capital Kabul with the collaboration of government supported Public Uprising Forces, Local Militias of War Lords and support of the Afghan Airfoce to counter Taliban attacks.  The advance and retreat on the both sides have taken place many a time. A fierce battle has been going on in Herat for the last couple of days and according to a recent report the Taliban in their tactical move reached near Herat city where ANDSF with re-enforcement of additional troops and support of Muhammad Ismail Khan former governor and Jehadi leader’s militia is defending the city. The situation in Helmand capital Lashkargah is not different where close distance clashes are taking place between ANDSF and Taliban. Palpable panic is prevailing in the city. On the other hand, ANDSF spokesperson Gen Omar Shinwari said there was no need to panic as they have established a strong defence line in Herat, Helmand and Kandahar to stop the advance of Taliban fighters (02nd August)

The US Air force in support of ANDSF reportedly under took 05 strikes during the last two weeks targeting the Taliban to disrupt the positions on ground in Kandahar and Helmand provinces and destroyed their vehicles, arms & ammunition mostly dropped by the Afghan security forces on their surrender and vacating their positions. Several Taliban were killed in the air strikes (30th July). A security guard of UNO office in Herat was killed during an attack (30th July) while the four journalists who visited Spin Boldak in Kandahar on the invitation of Taliban to verify on ground the allegations of the Afghan government on Taliban for killing of civilians, were arrested on their return to Kandhar by the National Directorate of Security (NDS) on the charges of collaborating with Taliban (1st August).

MILTIARY& DIPLOMATIC DEVELOPMENT

U.S. issues new flight restrictions over Afghanistan

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reportedly imposed new flight restrictions over Afghanistan for U.S. airlines and other U.S. operators in response to the changing security environment. The FAA, in an emergency order, said flights operating below 26,000 feet are prohibited in the Kabul Flight Information Region, which largely covers Afghanistan, unless operating in and out of Hamid Karzai International Airport, citing the risk “posed by extremist/militant activity. The restrictions do not apply to U.S. military operations (26th July).

Afghans who worked for US Govt face ‘increasing threats’

Interpreters and other Afghans who worked for the US government over the last 20 years said they were concerned about “increasing threats” to them and families. They staged protests in Kabul to press demand of their early evacuation to USA and other safe countries (26th July).

Comments & Analysis: – USA, Canada and some western countries had announced to provide them safe refuge initially to 8000 persons but any practical step has not been seen yet on ground in this regard. It is learnt that the total number of such Afghan nationals alongwith their families are over 50000. It is learnt that the USA and allies may make request to the neighbouring countries to arrange their temporary stay over there till finalization of their visa process.

INTERNATIONAL

IRGC Commander warns Israel

The Irani Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Commander Major General Hosein Salami while speaking at a ceremony in Kermanshah province said that Lebanon and Hezbollah were standing strong against the Zionists, and whenever the enemy wanted to make accesses, Hezbollah bridled them from the very beginning (26th July).

Comments & Analysis: – Irani Revolutionary Guards is a force comprising over 180000 personnel assigned with various responsibilities with regards to the protection and security of the Islamic ideology and system in the country besides performing security related operation. liked the two lands, navy and even aerospace interests of the country. It is reportedly maintains contacts with religious and militant organisations of other Muslim countries particularly Lebanan based Shiite organisation Hizabullah, headed by Sheikh Hassan Nasarullah a formidable arm against Israel and other pro-government groups in Syria. IRGC is on the proscribed list of USA, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain as a terrorist organisation.

After 18 years, US announces to end combat mission in Iraq

US President Joe Biden and the Iraqi Prime Minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, sealed an agreement formally ending the US combat mission in Iraq by the end of 2021, more than 18 years after troops were sent to the country.

Comments & Analysis:   Coupled with Biden’s withdrawal of the last American forces in Afghanistan before 11th September, the US is completing its combat missions in the two wars that George W Bush began. There are currently 2,500 US troops in Iraq focusing on countering the remnants of Islamic State. The US role in Iraq will shift entirely to training and advising the Iraqi military to defend itself.  A US-led coalition invaded Iraq in March 2003 based on charges that Saddam Hussein’s government possessed weapons of mass destruction, which turned out to be untrue later because such weapons were never found. Saddam was removed and hanged. A large number of Iraqis were killed and suffered endlessly. The US however tasked itself with the mission to help defeat ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria.

INDIA

US Secretary of State visit to India

The US Secretary of State Anthony Belington led a high-level delegation to India and held meetings with the Indian Prime Minister Narindera Moudi, External Affairs Minister J Shankar, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and other top officials. During these meetings, the two sides discussed to the matter of strengthening geo-economic and political interests, security situation in Afghanistan, South Asia, Middle East and Far East, making four countries alliance more vibrant to counter Chinese influence in Asia and Pacific under the changing global scenario. The visit also paved the way for boosting Indian defence capability and economic uplift with the support of USA (27th & 28th July).

Coronavirus Crisis Update

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan was registered to be 34,831 from 26th July to 03th June, 2021 (Tuesday) after new infections were confirmed in the country.

The Province-wise breakup of the total 17,762 active cases and total deaths 481 during this period is as follows:

ProvincesTotal Active CasesTotal Deaths
Sindh10,329224
Punjab2,670139
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa1,80957
Balochistan9403
Islamabad Capital Territory1,61411
Gilgit-Baltistan17624
AJK1,07023
Total17,762481

Comments & Analysis: – Corona virus is again on the rise in form of Delta (Indian) variant. COVID positivity in Karachi recorded 26pc rate.  Sindh to go under ‘strict lockdown if virus cases continue to surge’. Punjab is also under partial lock down. Sadly, China has banned import of Pakistani rice due to Covid virus found in rice bags.
Reportedly, the second consignment of 3 million doses of Moderna (MRNA-1273) COVID-19 vaccines, donated by the Government of the United States to the COVAX Facility, has arrived in Pakistan, bringing the total doses donated by the US Government to Pakistan through COVAX to 5.5 million since 8 May (27th July). The donation is part of the 870 million additional COVID-19 vaccine doses pledged by the G7 through the COVAX facility dose-sharing mechanism to support global equitable access to vaccines in 2021 and 2022, with the aim to deliver at least half by the end of 2021. COVAX, the global COVID-19 vaccine equity scheme, has delivered a total 8 million doses of vaccine to Pakistan since 08th May, including 2.5 million doses of AstraZeneca, 100,000 doses Pfizer and 5.5 million doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.

Pakistan’s Security Barometer

Terrorism: TTP and its affiliates have increased their terrorist activities in tribal areas, and major cities of Pakistan; trying to take advantage of uncertain times after the withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan.

Threat Level: 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 wave of Coronavirus is again on the rise. 

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

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