18th August, 2021
A girl named Ayesha was assaulted by a mob of hundreds of men who molested her, tossed her around from one man to another and tore off her clothes at Greater Iqbal Park-Minar-e-Pakistan Lahore on the Independence Day. A few tried to protect the poor girl but were pushed away by the monstrous mob. ‘However, the crowd was huge and people were scaling the enclosure and coming towards us. People were pushing and pulling me to the extent that they tore my clothes. Several people tried to help me but the crowd was too huge and they kept throwing me in the air,” Ayesha told the police.
The souls of Allama Iqbal, after whom this park has been named, and those who had passed the Pakistan Resolution at this very place, must be utterly devastated in the heavens over this gruesome incident and constant failure of the people at the helm of affairs to provide security and justice to the people of Pakistan, especially the women.
Ayesha had gone there to make a video for Tik-Tok on the Independence Day along with her friends. The frenzied mob of 300-400 men started groping them and soon were emboldened on their helplessness and it became a free-for-all bacchanalia in the open. The video clips of this incident have gone viral on the social media. The word Tik-Toker would be a fodder for the apologists to play down the incident.
The police registered a case at Larry Adda police station against the unknown culprits under section under sections 354 A (assault or use of criminal force against woman and stripping her of her clothes), 382 (theft after preparation made for causing death, hurt or restraint in order to commit the theft), 147 (rioting) and 149 (unlawful assembly) of the Pakistan Penal Code. During the distressing incident, her ring and earrings were also snatched, adding that a mobile phone of her friend, and some cash were also stolen, stated the TikToker.
It is learnt that the Lahore DIG Operations Sajid Kiyani ordered the superintendent of police (SP) to apprehend the culprits instantly by identifying the suspects from the video circulating on social media.
The incident smacks of lack of proper nurturing and upbringing of the culprits in their homes. It is unimaginable that decently brought up boys would resort to gang-molestation of a hapless girl. Secondly, it also shows that the good men are smaller in number and less determined to resist such hoodlums. Thirdly, and most importantly, where was the police of the area at that point in time. Why the park was left unattended on the Independence Day when mobs generally resort to crude hullaballoo. The matter was not reported by the area police and the Special Branch to the high ups immediately. It was the outcry on the social media that awake them from the torpor and the case was registered three days after the incident.
Women must be feeling immensely insecure. Parents must be horrorstruck over the incident and worried over the safety of their daughters. Public is justified to imagine that there is no government and system in place. The government must move fast and strong to prove all of them wrong. The culprits should be arrested, interrogated and lashed publicly in the same park, if the law permits. All culprits should be stripped and spanked by the complainant, if the law permits. If the law doesn’t permit, it may be changed to make this happen. It is high time that some heads also roll.
Grenade attacks in Quetta
At least four incidents of grenades or low-intensity bomb attacks took place in Quetta, mostly on Saryab Road, on Independence Day (14th August). Resultantly, two persons died and many others were injured. The poor vendors who had set-up small stalls to sell flags and buntings on Independence Day were targeted. It seems the handiwork of Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) who assimilate well in almost 0.8 million Balochis living in the Saryab road area. Intelligence agencies should have anticipated it and preempted it as such incidents happen almost every year on this date.
Only ten days before this incident, the terrorists targeted a police van in Serena Chowk, Quetta. Two policemen were killed and 12 others, including 8 policemen injured (8th August).Within four months, this is the streak of terrorist attacks in Quetta. Previous bomb blasts (VBIED and MCBIED) had taken place in Serena Hotel and Serena Chowk, respectively. TSB had already indicated that there was likelihood of more such attacks in Balochistan in general and in Quetta in particular.
Intelligence agencies and LEAs must prioritise their targets and objectives they want to achieve. Top priority should be to ensure fool-proof security of Quetta, as it is the capital of Balochistan and any incident there makes bigger headlines. Most resources and manpower should be directed to defend Quetta. Police and CTD should be made responsible for this task. IB and ISI should feed them with the credible and timely intelligence. These agencies may also take action on their own intelligence with or without help of the police and CTD. But the information sharing should be ensured through weekly meetings of the provincial heads of these departments. These actions should be done as per a properly devised strategy, formulated and agreed by all the stake-holders.
Within Quetta, the focus should be on Saryab road and 0.8 million people living in that vicinity should be properly documented. Their houses should be numbered and their inmates should be security cleared. All this process should be done surreptitiously and softly. General population should not be antagonized. Intelligence agencies should have deep ingress in the area through reliable sources who could inform about the suspicious persons.
Karachi Terrorist Attack
Twelve persons were killed and several others suffered burn injuries in a grenade attack on a mini-truck in Baldia area, within the limits of the Madina Colony police station (14th August). Initially it was considered a motor-cycle borne improvised explosive device (MCBIED) attack. Later on, Bomb Disposal Squad claimed to have found the lever of the grenade at the crime scene and confirmed that a Russian-made device had been used in the attack. Nevertheless, a senior police officer termed it an act of terrorism.
The police were investigating the incident from different angles to ascertain whether the perpetrators were terrorists from some ethnic group or an extremist group. The aspect of personal enmity was also being probed as all victims came from the same family. The family originally hailed from Swat. The truck was carrying 20 to 25 people who were returning from a marriage ceremony.
It seems that BLA operated in Karachi as well as it did in Quetta on the same day i.e. the Independence Day. Quetta and Karachi police and intelligence set-ups should conduct a joint investigation to confirm the connections between the similar incidents in Karachi and Quetta.
Security Dynamics in Balochistan vis-à-vis Afghanistan
The speed with which Tehreek-e-Taliban Afghanistan (TTA) undertook offensive posture in Afghanistan surprised many observers but seemed not unexpected. The rapidity of their offensive and resultant falling down of provincial capitals, like a house of cards, especially during the preceding week even alarmed the US when it had to request the Taliban to ‘spare its embassy in coming fight for Kabul’. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claims its allegiance with the Afghan Taliban (TTA) which has implications for Pakistan as a whole and specifically for Balochistan. Although TTA has declared that it would not allow any terrorist organization to undertake any sort of terrorist venture from its land; the apparent emphasis seemed to be on Al-Qaida and ETIM to probably satisfy US and China respectively.
However, Mufti Noor Wali’s interview with CNN depicted another reality for Pakistan. With TTA at the helm of affairs in Afghanistan, TTP will get the likely spurs to undertake terrorist activities in Pakistan, with relevant ease.
In Balochistan, there have been incidents which indicate a working relationship between TTP and BLA and it seemed natural because of their confluence of interests. The emerging nexus between TTP and BLA is a disturbing factor. Terrorist incidents in Quetta during last few weeks, though claimed by BLA, had the patterns similar to TTP. The practice of ‘outsourcing’ in terrorism is not a new phenomenon and has been in practice by many terrorist organizations in the past. ‘Outsourcing’ is when funding is provided by one terrorist outfit and the activity is undertaken by another outfit. Outsourcing provides an in-built advantage to keep the counter-terrorism efforts at bay, confused and paralyzed. A similar practice in Balochistan can be employed by terrorist organizations to accrue benefits and thus complicate the security and intelligence efforts.
The CPEC projects in the Makran belt are a serious cause of concern for many ‘friendly’ and ‘unfriendly’ countries and is a target of Hostile Intelligence Agencies (HIAs). It remains a ‘soft underbelly’ with reference to security and remains the favourite target of terrorists. Most of the Baloch sub-nationalists, especially belonging to BRAS – a joint platform of three terrorist organizations; BLA (Aslam Achoo), BLF and BRA (Gulzar Shambay) – have shown their potential and capability to undertake terrorist activities in that area, in the past e.g., PC attack in Gwadar, Ormara killings, etc. A renewed effort to undertake terrorist attacks in Southern Balochistan (Makran belt) by BRAS or its affiliates cannot be denied.
Under the current conditions in Afghanistan, it is imperative for the security and intelligence agencies to increase their efforts in the counter terrorism domain, in order to avoid untoward incidents in the province.
The writer is a security analyst who served in Balochistan. He is affiliated with the School of Strategic Studies.
Release of TTP terrorists – Implications for Pakistan
It is a point of worry for Pakistan that about 2500 terrorists and many key leaders of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have been released from prisons across Afghanistan since the Taliban took control of the country. Among these sworn enemies of Pakistan, one of the most known and dreaded is Maulana Faqir Mohammad, the former deputy chief of the TTP, who had close ties with Al Qaeda chief Ayman al Zawahiri. The video clips showing him being released have been circulating on social media. The TTP spokesperson also confirmed his release.
According to media, other key commanders released by the Taliban include Baitullah Mehsud’s driver Commander Zali, Waqas Mehsud, Hamza Mehsud, Zarqawi Mehsud, Zaitullah Mehsud, Qari Hameedullah Mehsud, Dr Hameed Mehsud and Mazhar Mehsud.
The release of large number of TTP terrorists would strengthen its position to pose greater challenge to Pakistan’s internal security. They are emboldened by the victory of Afghan Taliban in Afghanistan. They like to emulate them and have close linkages with them. There is no doubt that Afghan Taliban have never encouraged or supported TTP to create violence in Pakistan but they do have soft corner for them.
Pakistan should demand the list of released TTP prisoners from the Afghan government, now led by Afghan Taliban and also ascertain the charges on which they were interned. On basis of that list Pakistan should check the criminal record of these terrorists in Pakistan which may be brought to the notice of the Afghan Ministry of Interior for necessary legal action against them.
The TTP Chief Noor Wali Mehsood made it very clear in a recent interview with CNN that their fight was against Pakistan and its army. Obviously, most of the released TTP terrorists would report back to their camps for further instructions to launch attacks against Pakistan. Pakistan should obtain their latest pictures and add them in the Red Book which may be circulated to all police stations, CTDs, Customs and intelligence agencies to apprehend them. Posters containing their photos and names should be pasted at the public places like railway stations, bus stands and markets so that people could identify them and get them arrested.
All agencies and LEAs should be on the high alert for the next few days.
LoC/IOJK (Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir)
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.
Taliban are in full control of the situation in Afghanistan. Ashraf Ghani and team have fled away to foreign lands, leaving no opposition for the Taliban. No more fighting has been reported in any part of the country. Most of the people are worried and nervous. However, Taliban have assured them clemency and full protection. The situation is limping back to normalcy.
Coronavirus Crisis Update
- NCOC has decided to prohibit unvaccinated people from travelling on trains from Oct 1.
- While 29 million people had received their first dose, only seven million got both jabs.
- People need to be careful in Muharram and NCOC has advised to avoid majalis in closed places.
- The United States, through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), handed over one million Covid-19 antigen rapid diagnostic test (RDT) kits to Pakistan at the event.
- All 18+ Citizens must register themselves by sending their CNIC no to 1166 (free sms) from any mobile no or visit nims.nadra.gov.pk and just walk-in to nearest centre for vaccination.
Pakistan’s Security Barometer
Terrorism: TTP, its affiliates and BLA have stepped up 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 transition in Afghanistan. The intelligence agencies must take proactive pre-emptive measures to unearth the networks and sleeper cells 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), is becoming restive. Chaman border is closed by Afghan Taliban. Home grown terrorists, TTP, try to attack the check posts on Pak-Afghan border.
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
Centre for Peace and Security Research. 131-Shadman II, Lahore.