The Security Brief

Vol. 6-Issue No 49

18th February, 2021

Editorial

PAK US RELATIONS IN BIDEN ERA

US President Joe Biden

The new US president Joe Biden served as the Vice President from 2009 to 2017. Therefore, he has good knowledge of the issues related to West and South Asia and adequate experience to deal with Pakistan. No doubt, the times have changed and new realities have emerged during the last four years. Though the era of Bush’s jingoism is over, the Biden led US administration would not like to jilt Pakistan as the US has serious stakes in the region.

Afghanistan is one perennial issue where the US would continue to need Pakistan’s support. Second, if Biden manages to come out of the paranoia of China, overly hyped up by the Trump administration, it will definitely like Pakistan to play a role between the two as it did six decades ago. Thirdly, despite its preoccupation with its domestic agendas of dealing with COVID-19 etc, Biden will not be unmindful of Pakistan’s geo-strategic position that can be significant in dealing with Iran and the Central Asian Republics.

Vali Nasr has expressed apprehension that Pakistan might be low on the priority list of the new US administration. But he rightly reminds the Biden administration to place a new Pakistan policy within its broader strategic interests in West Asia. He has advised the new administration to embark on diplomatic engagement with Islamabad to build avenues of cooperation on geopolitical realities and economic opportunities. He has given example of Pakistan’s support for the US-led peace process in Afghanistan.

Hillary Clinton and Democrats know quite well that it was a folly on part of the US to abandon Pakistan after the Soviet war in Afghanistan was over. It led to a vacuum where the al Qaeda and Taliban took birth. Pakistan had to bear the brunt of the spillover of terrorism in its territory. It should learn the lesson and keep Pakistan engaged, not only for strategic reasons but also for business and diplomatic engagements. It should not pressurize or penalize it for its growing proximity with China. Pakistan was left in the lurch when China came forward to invest $48 billion in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The Chinese investment in Pakistan has risen to more than $65 billion now. But still Pakistan’s economy is not stable and needs international support. The US can see Pakistan from non-security lens and fill this gap by investing in other fields like textile and technology.

The onus is on Pakistan to keep the US and other countries of the world engaged. It is already trying hard to get out of FATF grey list and has taken ample measures in regard with countering money-laundering and terrorism financing. These efforts should be appreciated and adequate relief should be given to keep it afloat. Pakistan should continue to work in this direction as it takes time to rebuild the trust and confidence required by such forums. Vali Nasr has suggested that Pakistan needs international assistance, preferably via loans and economic aid, and it must grow its exports to boost its economy. The United States should take note that under these circumstances Pakistan will be more open to policy compromises that could provide relief on these fronts.

Though Pakistan is going through troubled times due to political and economic instability, it is not ready to be part of the Trump propelled ‘Abraham Accord’ to normalize its diplomatic relations with Israel. The time is not ripe to compel or coerce Pakistan to establish these relations as done by some Gulf countries. Pakistan feels too strongly for the Palestinian freedom struggle and its right of self-determination. It will raise voice for its moral and political support as the Islamic foreign policy is part of the constitution of Pakistan.

The other significant issue for Pakistan is the right of self-determination of the Kashmiris. This issue is also a bone of contention between the two nuclear states. Pakistan has a right over Kashmir and it is not ready to forego it. It is high time to make Biden realise about the gravity of the matter. He has the track record of being sympathetic towards such issues. He was particularly outspoken on issues related to the Kosovo conflict of the late ’90s, urging U.S. action against Serbian forces to protect Kosovars against an offensive by Serbian President Slobodan Milošević. Kashmir has great similarities with Kosovo. Modi is proving to be the Indian Milošević for Kashmiris. Joe Biden can play a forceful role to resolve the issue provided Pakistan convinces him properly.

NATIONAL

TERRORISM/SECTARIANISM- AT A GLANCE

Sindh

Sr. NoIncidentKilledInjuredArrested
1.CTD Sindh and police arrested five terrorists and killed one, in a joint operation, in Shah Latif Town, Karachi. Heavy cache of arms & ammunition, and IEDs including an explosive-Laden auto rickshaw were also recovered from the hide out (08th February).0105
2.An alleged ex-Taliban commander was arrested in Karachi by a special police team from Shangla, KP. He was wanted on the charges of attacks on police and government installations, for the last 14 years (09th February).01

Comments & Analysis: – Rikshaw-borne IED (RBIED) is an innovation. The suspects were planning to attack some key installations including the Sindh Assembly building in Karachi. As per initial interrogation reports they were sponsored by Afghan intelligence NDS and Indian intelligence RAW. Amarullah Saleh, First Vice President of Afghanistan and Ajit Doval, National Security Advisor of India are the rabid anti-Pakistan personalities who keep churning out evil designs to harm Pakistan. Fortunately, most of their sinister efforts fail as either they are either too wishful or are thwarted by the Pakistani intelligence agencies and LEAs.

KPK

Sr. NoIncidentKilledInjuredArrested
1.One Sardar Ali, local news agent was shot dead and his associate Zahid Shah injured by unknown assailants in Batkhela, Swat (08th February).0101
2.A teenager Ishanullah shot dead   a homeopathic doctor Abdul Qadir in Bazidkhel area of Peshawar city (11th February).01
3.A child was killed and seven others were seriously injured when several mortar shells fired from Kunar Province in Afghanistan landed in Mokha, Gandai and Gali areas of Mamond tehsil, in Bajaur tribal District (11th February).0107
4.Four security forces personnel named Lance Naik Imran Ali, Sepoys Atif Jahangir, Anees-ur-Rehman, Aziz lost their lives in a skirmish with the terrorists during their attack on Majeeb outpost in South Waziristan tribal District. Four terrorists were also killed during the exchange of firing (11th February).08
5.Three terrorists identified as Mudassar, Akbar Din and Naik Muhammad were killed by the security forces during an intelligence-based operation (IBO) in Khushhali area, near Murali in North Waziristan tribal District (16th February)03
6.A teacher Mukhtar Hussain Baloch was shot dead by unidentified gunmen when he was going back to his home on motorcycle at the Kat Shahani area in Dera Ismail Khan. It has not yet been confirmed whether it was an act of terrorism or personal enmity (16th February).01

Comments & Analysis: – It is learnt through police sources that that the slain doctor belonged to a religious minority. A number of persons belonging to the said minority community have been murdered in KPK particularly in Peshawar District in the recent past.

Bajaur has witnessed numerous such attacks form Afghanistan`s Kunar Province in the past, killing and injuring a number of local residents. Meanwhile the Foreign Office on 12th February lodged strong protest with the Afghan Government on the incident, demanded strict action against the responsible persons and sought assurance of adherence to the sanctity of border in future. TTP and ISKP have sanctuaries in Kunar Province, set-up with the support of Afghan security forces and NDS, from where they carry out terrorist activities against Pakistan.

South Waziristan tribal district is infested with terrorists and their supporters. Last month, security forces conducted an intelligence-based operation (IBO) in the Nargosa area of South Waziristan, in which two terrorists named Usman Ali and Waheed Lashti were killed and one other was injured and apprehended. They were active members of outlawed TTP Sajna group and were experts in making IEDs.

The local administration clamped curfew in Wana and its surrounding localities in South Waziristan tribal District for indefinite period on 16th February in the wake of recent attacks on the security forces to help to trace out and apprehend the terrorists hiding in the area. The armed persons of the “Aman Committee” have also closed their office in Wana.

The IGP, KPK informed the media on 16th February that 28 more police stations were being established in the tribal Districts to improve the security and law & order situation. The ex-Khasadar force has been merged into police, 5000 policemen hailing from tribal Districts are being imparted training by the security force while 3000 more are yet to be added into the same.

Balochistan

Sr. NoIncidentKilledInjuredArrested
1.Three labourers, Wasim Ali, Shah Nawaz, Tours Aka Sunil Kumar were shot dead and another Ali Raza was injured by the unidentified terrorists on in the Killi Khurasani, Mangochar town of Kalat District. All the victims reportedly belonged to Sadiqabad area in Rahimyar Khan district of Punjab. The Balochistan Home Minister Mir Ziaullah Lango who hails from the said area directed immediate arrest of the culprits (08th February).0301
2.A suspected terrorist named Zaman was arrested be the security forces from a house in Sariab Road, Quetta, involved in various terrorist activities including targeted killings, bomb blasting and attacks on security forces. He reportedly returned from Afghanistan a few days ago (08th February).01
3. A solider named Asad Mehdi was killed in an attack by unidentified terrorists on the Hosab outpost, setup by FC for the safety of N-85 highway in Kech District. No group yet claimed responsibility of the incident.  However, the outlawed Baloch separatists’ groups are being suspected for the same (14th February).01
4.Two persons Liaqat and Abdul Waheed Jattak were killed by unidentified gunmen in separate incidents near Chakar Azam area in Panjgur and Jhal Magsi Districts. It is not yet clear whether the motives behind these murders were personal enmity or acts of terrorism. Investigations are however, underway (15th February).02

Comments & Analysis: – The planned murders of Punjabis in Balochistan have occurred after quite some time. After the massacre of Hazaras in Jan 2021, the emboldened terrorists have resorted to similar tactics again. There is a need to have a proper strategy in place to identify the culprits and networks that indulge in such activities. They should be pursued and punished to foil the attempts to make Balochistan a no-go area for other ethnicities. The prime objective of this strategy should be to make the province safe for the people from other provinces.

TTP militant threatens Nobel Laureate Malala

The former spokesperson of TTP, Ehsanullah Ehsan (real name Liaqat) threatened Malala Yousafzai in a tweet from his official account (EUEofficial35) to settle the score with her and her father. He taunted that this time an expert would be dispatched to do the needful. Malala took notice of this threat on social media and tweeted about it with a question that how did he escape from the prison.

Comments & Analysis:  Ehsanullah Ehsan is the dreaded terrorist who was involved in a number of terrorist acts carried out by TTP across Pakistan. He was arrested and appeared on the national TV to express his repentance. However, he escaped from the custody of the forces last year and restarted his terrorist acts. Many quarters doubted the story of his escape. Pakistan and UK (where Malala lives) should take prompt actions to track and arrest the culprit and also provide adequate security to Malala. Foreign Office is not sure about the authenticity of Ehsanullah’s account.

Govt employees protest at Islamabad for salary increase

The police fired tear gas shells at protesting government employees demanding increase in their salaries, allowances, and release of their number of colleagues including their leader Rehman Bajwa from detention u/s 16 MPO, when they attempted to move towards Parliament House for demonstration in the federal capital, Islamabad on 10th &11th February. However, the matter was resolved after the government announced increase of 25% salaries from BS-1 to 19 as ad-hoc relief w.e.f March, 2021 and ordered the release of the detained leaders and employees (12th February).

Comments & Analysis: – Usually the salaries of the government employees are enhanced annually in every budget. But it was not made during the last budget due to financial constraints. Besides, the situation was compounded with enormous price hike of all commodities and services. The salaried class was extremely perturbed as it was difficult for them to make two ends meet. The pensioners were also ignored. After initial mishandling, the Government realized the gravity of the situation and made a right decision to address their demands. The pensioners should also be compensated accordingly.

Dispute over incentives from Angoor Ada border gate

Dispute between the sub-tribes of Ahmadzai Wazir tribe in South Waziristan tribal District is taking place over the incentives from Angoor Ada border gate. Reportedly after failure of talks with the District administration to resolve the dispute, Zalikhel, Tojaykhel, Khojak Khel, and Gangi Khel sub-tribes have started taking positions for a possible armed clash, while other parties to dispute including Zalol Khel and Adha Jhamsikhel tribes have also taken positions for retaliation in case of any aggression (15th February).

Comments & Analysis: – It is learnt that the people living near Angoor Ada have started leaving their houses over the fears of collateral damage in case of any clash. The local people have expressed grave concern over the increasing tension in the area and called upon the local administration to intervene to defuse tension.

The main demands of the aggrieved parties include payment of rightful share from the incentives of Angoor Adda border gate, allowing trucks of the four sub-tribes to pass Angoor Ada gate without Customs duty, and action against elements creating law and order issues in Barmal area. The district administration has sought some time from the aggrieved tribes for peaceful resolution of the dispute.

DEFENCE/NATIONAL SECURITY

Pak-Turkey military drills  

The opening ceremony of Pakistan-Turkish joint military exercise “ATATURK-XI” 2021, was held at Special Services HQ, Tarbela. The three weeks long joint exercise by the special forces of the two counties are scheduled to undertake the exercises related to Counter-Terrorism, Close Quarter Battle, Cordon and Search, Fire and Move techniques, Helicopter Rappelling, Compound Clearance, Hostage and Rescue and Free Fall operations (09th February).

Comments & Analysis: – The joint military exercise will further sharpen the experience/skills and emerging trends in military modernization and cooperation. Pakistan and Turkey have increased defence and military cooperation in recent years. It is the need of the hour to strengthen regional defence and cooperation mechanisms.

Corps Commanders’ Conference

The Corps Commanders Conference was held at GHQ, Rawalpindi under the Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa. It took comprehensive review of the internal and regional security environment with focus on country’s borders and LoC (09th February).

The Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (JCSC) meeting

The Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (JCSC) meeting was held at Joint Staff Headquarters, Rawalpindi, under the chairmanship of Gen. Nadeem Raza, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee which was attended by the three services Chiefs – Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi, Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan, and senior officers from Ministries of Defence and Defence Production. The forum discussed the emerging regional geo-strategic environment including the fast-paced developments in the realm of strategic and conventional policies / doctrines and operational preparedness of the Armed Forces (11th February).

Comments & Analysis: – It is learnt that in the both above mentioned meetings, held separately, the participants discussed the situation of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJ&K) and reiterated that Pakistan will continue to provide all out diplomatic, moral, and political support to the brave people of IIOJ&K in their indigenous struggle to help them secure justice and their right to self-determination in line with United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Training launch of Babur Cruise Missile IA

Pakistan conducted a successful training launch of Babur Cruise Missile IA, with a range of 450 kilometers which is capable of engaging targets at land and sea with high precision. The missile was launched from a Multi Tube Missile Launch Vehicle. The Training Launch was witnessed by Dr. Raza Samar, Chairman National Engineering and Scientific Commission (NESCOM), Lt Gen. Muhammad Ali, Commander Army Strategic Forces Command and other senior officers including scientists and engineers (11th February).

Comments & Analysis: – Pakistan is making rapid advancement in its indigenously manufactured missile program, at par with the latest development in the region and in the world. The robust missile system is being developed as the main deterrence against the aggression of the enemy.

War games – training exercise Jidar-ul-Hadeed

The four-week-long defensive manoeuvre exercise “Jidar-ul-Hadeed” began on January and will end on February 28th. The Karachi Corps troops have been participating in the tactical drill and procedure as a part of the exercise. The defensive manoeuvre exercise is aimed at validating the concept of defence in extreme desert conditions, 74 kilometres ahead of Chhor and 165 km away from Hyderabad, Sindh, under a conventional operations setting. It involves integrated maneuvers of infantry and mechanised forces in a defensive role (14th February). The COAS Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa visited training area in Chhor on 15th February where he was received by the Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Nadeem Ahmed Anjum. The COAS lauded the standard of training, operational preparedness, and combat readiness of the troops.

Comments & Analysis: – The military drills of both Pakistan and India are interestingly happening at the same time across the International border. India-US joint exercise “ Yudh Abhyas ” (08th to 21st February) are also being carried out on other side of the Thar desert in Rajasthan. The army had established Desert Warfare School at Chhor in 1987 in recognition of the importance of desert warfare training.

COURT HEARINGS/DECISION

Notices to rowdy lawyers involved in IHC attack Islamabad

Notices were issued to number of lawyers including Ahsan Majeed Gujjar, Arbab Ayub Gujjar, Faisal Jadoon, Farzana, etc. They were among those 400 lawyers who stormed the IHC building, injured the IHC staff and manhandled a journalist, besides damaging the furniture and smashing the window of the Chief Justice Block on 08th February. The police registered an FIR against 21 lawyers under various sections of the Pakistan Penal Code and anti-Terrorism Act. The Chief Justice IHC Athar Minallah directed to constitute a JIT to probe into the case (12th February).

Comments & Analysis: – A large number of lawyers had illegally constructed their chambers in the CDA land around the courts in Islamabad. The CDA demolished the illegal construction which infuriated the lawyers who resorted to violent attacks on various courts including IHC. The IHCBA and District Bar Association condemned demolition of chambers and also regretted the lawyers’ attack on the IHC. They demanded withdrawal of the FIR registered against the lawyers and removal of the district and sessions judge (west), action against officials of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and the district administration in this regard. The J IT report will reveal the facts behind the matter.

Generally, people have shown disdain over the uncouth behaviour of the lawyers and expect stern action against them to restore the sanctity of the courts. The saner elements within the lawyers also dislike the rowdy behaviour of the lawyers.

No legal authority of Taliban to decide cases in Pakistan

The two-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC) comprising Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Maqbool Baqar ruled that the Taliban had no legal authority to decide cases on the territory of Pakistan which is Governed by the law of the country. It issued this order while hearing a land dispute case in which the petitioners had presented in their defence a “verdict” issued by the “Emarat-e-Islami Taliban, Waziristan Afghanistan” in 2009 (11th February).

Comments & Analysis: – In its judgment, the court noted that the militant group illegally occupied and assumed control over a part of the territory of the “Islamic Republic of Pakistan” including parts of Waziristan by mid-2005 and any decision given by the said group would be unconstitutional, unlawful and of no legal effect. The defunct terrorist group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had attempted to establish its wrist in some parts of the ex-FATA areas, and used to impose its decisions on the people living in the areas now called tribal Districts. They have been effectively annihilated from the area.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Afghan soldier returns after treatment

According to a statement of Bajaur Scouts HQ, KP, an Afghan soldier Salahuddin, deployed on the Pak-Afghan border near Ghaki post, suffered from appendicitis pain. His colleagues requested the Pakistani security forces for medical help which was extended promptly on humanitarian grounds (09th February).

Comments & Analysis: – According to the statement, the Afghan soldiers thanked the Pakistani security forces for their positive and quick response to provide best and rapid healthcare to their sick colleague. The statement pointed out that it was not the first time that Pakistani forces had provided treatment facilities to the Afghan soldiers, as the security forces had extended healthcare to a number of Afghan troops in the past.

CRIME/LAW & ORDER- At a Glance

  1. A dead body of a minor named Abdullah was found hanged in a house of Gulshan town, Hanjarwal Lahore. Investigations are under progress to arrest the culprits (08th February).
  2. Two unidentified burglars broke into a bank in Ratta Amral area of Rawalpindi city and decamped with cash and valuables amounting to Rs/- 17 million. In another incident a citizen Nadeem Afzal’s family was robbed by two unidentified motorcyclist and fled away after snatching gold armaments worth Rs/- 01 million in the jurisdiction of Morgah police station, Rawalpindi (08th February).       
  3. Police arrested a retired army personnel named Amir Fayaz on the charge of flogging a teenager in the public on suspicion of theft of a hen in Darosh area of Chitral (08th February).  
  4. Two brothers named Syed Shabir Hussain Shah and Syed Abid Hussain Shah were shot dead by unidentified persons when they were travelling on a motorbike near the Kalapur traffic signal under the jurisdiction of Sardar police station, Karachi. The victims were booked in my cases at various police stations of the city (09th February).
  5. Bullet-riddled bodies of three people, two of them brothers, identified as Majid Akbar, Jameel Sahibdad and Hameed Sahibdad were found in Shanzani area along the Coastal Highway in Gwadar. It was reportedly a matter of old enmity (09th February).      
  6. Talaash Police arrested three robbers including Asim Khan, Hamza Khan and Haji Rehman, and recovered stolen item worth Rs/- 1.4 million for their possession in Lower Dir District (10th February).
  7. One Muhammad Yar Bugti was killed during resistance to a robbery on Northern bypass, Karachi (11th February).
  8. One Munir Ahmad committed suicide after killing his wife Jamila Bibi and daughter Asma Bibi over a family dispute at Cholistan Adda Mirana village of Bahawalpur, Punjab (11th February).
  9. The police arrested three suspects over allegation of gang rape of a girl student in Gulshan-e-Hadeed, Karachi (12th February).
  10. One Muhammad Sarwar allegedly tortured to murder a six years old child for refusing to work at village Depoki on the outskirts of Zafarwal. Narowal District. Police registered FIR against the accused his wife, and sons on charge of murder (12th February).
  11. The customs authority, on a tip-off, stopped an Afghanistan-bound truck near Torkham border in Khyber tribal District and recovered 120 pistols along with 43500 bullets which were concealed in hidden cavities of the vehicle. The two persons (carriers) were also arrested in connection with smuggling (12th February).
  12. One Farooq was killed and two others injured in a fight between the two cricket teams during a match at village Fazal Elahi near Chani Goth, Bahawalpur District (13th February).
  13. Two passersby, Imran Khan Sabir Ullah were killed in an exchange of firing between Gul Nabi and Ahmed Gul over property dispute in Sipah area, Bara tehsil of Khyber tribal District (13th February).
  14. A woman named Shahzadi was shot dead by her son Ahmed Zulfiqar over refusal to give money to the latter at Liaquatabad (Dhalla) District, Lahore (14th February).
  15. One Dost Ali and his two sons-Junaid Khan and Kifayatullah (constable) allegedly by Musharraf Khan over irrigation water dispute at village Ghairatkhel in Bannu District (14th February).

Crime Details 11/02/2021 to 18/02/2021

CrimesPunjabKPKSindhBalochistanIslamabad
Murders(Gujjar Khan-1, Rawalpindi-2, Toba Tek Singh-1, Muzaffarabad-1, Hanjartwal-1, Kahna-1, Lahore-1, Sharaqpur-1, Lahore-3, Chakwal-2, Bahawalpur-2, pindi-1, Narowal-1, Kasur-8, Faisalabad-2, Lahore-1, Rawalpindi-1, Chakwal-1, Lahore-1, Taxila-1, Gujjar Khan-1, Bahawalpur-1, Faisalabad-1, Lahore-1, Taxila-1, Choong-1, Shah Kot-1, Kasur-6, Shafiqabad-1, Taxila-1, Bahawalnagar-2, Toba Tek Singh-1, Faqirwali-1, Sargodha-3, Nankana-2, Manawan-1, Taxila-1) = 59(Lakki Marwat-5, North Waziristan-6, Buner-4, Peshawar-1, Dera Ismail Khan-3, South Waziristan-4, Lakki Marwat-3, North Waziristan-2, North Waziristan-3, Dera Ismail Khan-1, Haripur-1, Dera Ismail Khan-1, Kohat-2) = 36 (Karachi-3, Karachi-1, Thatta-4, Thatta-4, Karachi-3, Badin-2, Ghotki-1, Karachi-1, Hyderabad-14, Baber Market-1, Larkana-1, Larkana-4. Shikarpur-2) = 42 (Quetta-1) = 01(Islamabad-1) = 01 
Gang rape(Sargodha-1, Pakpattan-1, Gujranwal-1) = 03 — (Karachi-1, Dadu-1) = 02
Robberies/ Dacoits(Defence-1, Qila Gujjar Singh-1, Galab Market 1, Ghaziabad -1, Samnabad-1, Shumali Choowni-1, Choong-1, Nasirabad-1, Qila Gujjar Singh-1, Johar town-1, Islampura-1, Shadara-1) = 12 (Baber Market-1) = 01
Kidnapping(Shah Kot-1, Lahore-2) = 03
Police encounter(Faisalabad-1) = 01
Injured(Lahore-11, Chakwal-4, Lahore-7, Kasur-5, Faisalabad-2, Faisalabad-10, Muzaffargarh-2, Bahawalpur-2, Gakhar Mandi-1, Faisalabad-3, Faisalabad-1, Lahore-1, Toba Tek Singh-14) = 63(Lakki Marwat-1, Buner-3, North Waziristan-1, Bannu-1) = 06(Karachi–2, Mirpurkhas-4, Larkana-5) = 11
Total Crime14142560101

Source: Media & National dailies  

REGIONAL

LoC/IIOJK

Indian security forces continued their so-called anti-militancy drive in IIOJK. During the same they killed two Kashmiri citizens named Sarfaraz and Riaz Ahmed during separate incidents in Uri (11th February) and arrested four persons including a nursing student in Samba District and allegedly recovered arms and ammunition from their possession which were to be used for terrorist activities on the 2nd anniversary of Pulwama incident (13th February). The DGP, IIOJK in a press conference claimed the arrest of a group of militants including Hidayatullah allegedly belonging to an organisation Lashkar-e-Mustafa and recovered weapons and video of the reconnaissance of the house of NSA Ajit Doval for carrying out attacks in Jammu & Kashmir and New Delhi (13th February).

The Indian police detained ex-CM Omar Abdullah and his family under house arrest in Srinagar (13th February). Meanwhile, on the appeal of All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), a complete strike was observed as protest in Kashmir against the visit of 24 Ambassadors of the European countries to Srinagar to assess the ground situation (16th February).

Comments & Analysis: – The situation on LoC remained relatively calm where the forces of Pakistan and India are deployed on their forward posts. However, the India through state terrorism continued killing and arrests of innocent Kashmiri citizens and hoodwinked the world through diplomatic move by arranging the European delegation’s visit to the selected locations in Srinagar. India tried to give a false impression that the Kashmiri people were happy with India after finishing the special status of Jammu & Kashmir. A protest demonstration of APHC, Azad Kashmir chapter was also held before the Indian High Commission at Islamabad in this regard.

It seems that the Kashmiri struggle will spread out of IIOJK into mainland India. The Kashmiri freedom fighters will join hands with other large segments of oppressed Muslims and Sikhs in India, in their struggle for their right of self-determination.

LAC/INDO-CHINA BORDER

India-China Disengagement agreement 

India and China have stated that an agreement on disengagement at Pangong Lake was being finalized. Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh disclosed that both sides will cease their forward deployments; China’s Ministry of Defence announced to start synchronized and organised disengagement (14th February).

Comments & Analysis: It seems a breakthrough in the stiff standoff between the Chinese and Indian forces at Ladakh. Both sides have agreed that neither will patrol the intervening area after the mutual withdrawals, till ‘an agreement is reached through future talks. But still the analysts find mistrust between the parties. The Chinese have deep distrust of Modi’s sudden policy summersaults. On the other hand, Indian Generals also have a distrust in China. However, both the parties are keeping their fingers crossed. It is the beginning of the hope of reestablishing peace in the area which has all the potential to go wrong. The actual test of the agreement would begin when the rubber meets the road. Some Indian defence analysts are skeptical about the agreement as they view it as a restriction on Indian patrolling from Finger 4 to Finger 8.

AFGHANISTAN

Terrorism/Violence

  1. Muhammad Zai Kochi, Chief of Kabul police Districts (PDS5) was killed in an IED blast while four Afghan civil servants were killed in different incidents by unidentified persons in Kabul city (09th February).
  2. NDS special forces unit claimed to have arrested alleged a network of six IS/ISKP-Haqqani network in Kabul (09th February).
  3. Nine security forces personnel were killed and five others wounded during clash with Taliban in Nimruz Province (09th February).       
  4. Two peoples were killed and another wounded by targeting three vehicles after IED attacks in Kabul (10th February).       
  5. Twenty-six Taliban and ISIS fighter were killed after airstrikes by the Afghan security forces on their hideouts in Khogyani and Achin of Nangarhar Province (10th February).
  6. Two security personnel were wounded during an IED attack on a convoy of NDS by the unidentified persons near Jalalabad airport in Nangahar Province (11th February).
  7. Five personnel of Afghan Directorate of Protection Service, deputed on the security of UN convoy, were killed by unidentified person in an attack on Kabul-Jalalabad Highway in Sarobi District of Kabul (11th February).
  8. Thirty-one Taliban were killed in an air strike by the Afghan security forces in different incidents in Helmand, Zabul and Kandahar Provinces (12th February).
  9. Seventeen Taliban were killed during clashes with the Afghan security forces supported by air force in Shirzad and Hisar District of Nangarhar Province (11th February).
  10. A driver of the Ministry of Defence, namely Muhammad Afzal and his son were shot dead by unidentified gunmen in their apartment in Kabul (12th February).
  11. A special unit of NDS claimed to have killed 07 IS/ISKP activists during an encounter and recovered one RPG, 03 Ak-47 rifles and 20 grenades from their hideout in Jalalabad District of Nangarhar Province. They were allegedly involved in number of terrorist activities and target killings (14th February).
  12. Four persons including a police person and a doctor were killed and two wounded in separate incidents in Jalalabad city of Nangarhar Province (15th February).
  13. Eleven people including an engineer were kidnapped by unidentified persons in Pashdan Dam project in Herat Province. Afghan authorities accused the Taliban behind the said incident of abduction (15th February).
  14. Six police personal were killed after an attack by Taliban in Qalat city of Zabul Province (15th February).
  15. Afghan special forces claimed to have got freed 42 persons from the prison of Taliban during a special operation in Baghlan Province (15th February).

Comments & Analysis: – Violence is not petering out due to slow process of intra-Afghan dialogue. The Afghan government is bent upon dragging the NATO and US forces in the quagmire of internal violence to perpetuate its rule and retain its power. Taliban are determined to continue fighting. ISKP and other groups grab the opportunity to make their presence felt by their terrorist acts. Afghan government should not drag its feet on the intra-Afghan dialogue process.

AFGHAN PEACE PROCESS

OIC calls for urgent cessation of violence in Afghanistan

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary General Dr. Yousef bin Ahmad al-Othaimeen has strongly condemned the series of bomb blasts, targeted killings, and a surge of violence in Afghanistan in the past few days causing a number of casualties, including civilians and law enforcement personnel. He called for an urgent cessation of violence, urged all the parties to concentrate on peace efforts and to contribute towards achieving success at the intra-Afghan peace talks (11th February).

NDS warns Taliban preparing for major spring offensive

National Directorate of Security (NDS) Chief, Hamdullah Mohib, said in a press conference in Kabul that the Taliban were preparing for war in coming spring as is indicated in the alleged increased level of violence this winter compared to attacks in the past. He said that Afghan forces were ready for any war (13th February).

Taliban’s open letter to the people of United States

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Deputy leader of Taliban issued an open letter to the people of USA, describing the organisation’s stand with regard to peace process in Afghanistan and asked them to prevail upon the President Biden administration to stick to the US-Taliban accord signed in February last year and to abide by the promise made in the accord for complete withdrawal of US and other foreign troops from Afghanistan soil by May this year (16th February).

Comments & Analysis: – Ever since the announcement of new US administration to review the US-Taliban accord, the progress intra-Afghan dialogues at Doha has come to a halt. NATO is also giving impression of keeping its troops in Afghanistan beyond May this year and would leave subject to improvement in the security situation in Afghanistan. Taliban has warned to continue their attacks while the Afghan Government was also preparing to deal with them with iron hand. The Afghan government is happy over these developments, whereas Taliban and Afghans are perturbed. Similarly, the regional counties, except India, are concerned over the new developments that could further aggravate the situation in the country.

INDIA

India commits to build Dam on Kabul river

President Ashraf Ghani and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a virtual summit over the singing of the MoU to build a dam in Afghanistan. Speaking at the occasion, President Ghani said that Shahtoot Dam would provide clean water to two million people in Kabul. The Dam that will be built on the Kabul river, one of Afghanistan’s five rivers, would also be used for irrigation (08th February).

Comments & Analysis: – The project has invoked concerns in the lower riparian Pakistan, mainly because India’s role in the Shahtoot and other dam projects on the Kabul River could enable India to choke the flow of that river’s waters as well, as it desires to do on Indus river. Knowing at the bellicose approach of Modi and Ashraf Ghani towards Pakistan, the concern carries weight. It should move swiftly to take necessary steps to counter the Indian designs to make it more water-stressed.

India-US conduct joint military exercise ‘Yudh Abhyas’  

The annual bilateral joint military exercise ‘Yudh Abhyas 20’ between the Indian Army and US Army started from 08th to 20th February in India involving various type of armaments including Chinook helicopters (09th February).

Comments & Analysis:Indian Air Force inducted Chinook heavy-lift choppers in 2019 which can be used for deploying troops and machinery at high altitude locations. The joint military exercise aims to enhance cooperation and interoperability in counter-terrorism operations also. According to the US Embassy in India, the US Army Pacific-sponsored exercise involves approximately 250 US Army and 250 Indian Army soldiers.

INTERNATIONAL

IRAN/MIDDLE EAST/SOUTH EAST

Iran and Qatar discuss region, nuclear deal in high-level talks

Iran and Qatar have discussed Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers and laid the groundwork for Doha to act as a mediator between Iran and Arab rivals in the region during the first high-level talks in Tehran (15th February).

Comments & Analysis: – Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani led a Qatari delegation and met President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. On this occasion Rouhani said that ties between the two countries should continue to strengthen and discussed Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which former United States President Donald Trump unilaterally abandoned in 2018, imposing harsh sanctions on Iran.

Qatar has been working to de-escalate tensions in the region by advocating for a return to the nuclear deal for more than a year, something Iran has welcomed. After several Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, including Iran’s rival Saudi Arabia, lifted a land, sea and air blockade on Qatar in early January, Qatar said the development will not affect its ties with Iran. The relationship with Iran were one of the reasons cited for the blockade of Qatar and one of the initial conditions for the lifting the blockade was to cut its ties with Tehran.

Coronavirus Crisis Update

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan was registered to be 20,833 from 11th February to 18th February, 2021 (Thursday) after new infections were confirmed in the country.

The Province-wise breakup of the total 20,219 active cases during this period is as follows:

• Sindh: 12,624

• Punjab: 4,415

• Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 1,291

• Balochistan: 24

• Islamabad Capital Territory: 1,389

• Gilgit-Baltistan: 27

• AJK: 449

Deaths: 57

Comments & Analysis: – Though the fury of pandemic COVID-19 is gradually declining in Pakistan, people are still fearful, especially in big cities. They want to get vaccinated as early as possible. However, the pace of vaccination is quite slow. According to an estimate the vaccination rate of per 100 persons is the lowest in Pakistan as compared to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India.

Pakistan’s Security Barometer

Terrorism: TTP and its affiliates are trying to increase terrorist activities. Low-intensity insurgency is continuing in ex-tribal areas and Balochistan.

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: On the rise. Further aggravated by the killing of Hazaras in Balochistan. There is an urgent need to bridle the situation through all means.

Border Situation: Tense – However there was lull in the exchange of fire at LOC during the last three weeks. The Western border (Pak-Afghan), remained calm.

Health Security: Coronavirus pandemic seems to be weakening in Pakistan. People are worried with the pace of vaccination. Many are hoping that summers that would bring some respite in the spite of corona.

Social Unrest: Rising; due to exorbitant price hike and political unrest. The constant rise in electricity, petrol tariffs and inflation has impacted all segments of the society. Especially the salaried class and poor people are the worst sufferers.

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

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