WEEKLY SECURITY BRIEF

Vol. 3-Issue No 29

31st August, 2020

NATIONAL

Attack on the house of Provincial Minister in Chagai District, Balochistan

The residence of Provincial Minister Mir Muhammad Arif Hassani was attacked by unidentified gunmen in Dalbandin, Chagai District. As a result of exchange of fire, the police guard on duty at the residence sustained injuries (22nd August).

Encounter with terrorists in South Waziristan

An unidentified terrorist was killed and two LEAs personnel were injured during an encounter with the terrorists in Masap Mela area near Ladha, Tribal District South Waziristan (25th August).

Three Terrorists arrested in Charsadda, KPK

Three terrorists Luqman Khan, Bakht Rehan and Muhammad Taj were claimed to have been arrested by the police in Shabqadar area, Charsadda District. A large amount of weapons and explosives was recovered from their possession. According to the police sources, they are facilitators of a notorious commander of a banned outfit and were involved in terrorist activities including extortion of money in Charsadda and Peshawar. They also murdered one Manjeet Singh a Sikh community member in 2014 on his refusal to pay extortion money and are (26 August).

Comments and Analysis:  Terrorists are trying hard to find a foot-hold in Balochistan and KPK. So far their activities have been countered well by the LEAs. They are determined but debilitated. It is being apprehend that their attacks may increase after the reported reunification or regrouping of the banned militant outfits. Intelligence agencies and LEAs must pursue and pressurize them so that they cannot regroup and reorganize themselves.

COAS visits North Waziristan

Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Bawatoi Sector, North Waziristan Tribal District on Pak- Afghan border. During the visit, he was briefed about the security situation in the area and border management measures including progress of fencing being erected on the border. The army chief, lauded the performance of the Pakistani Security Forces for guarding the border and appreciated the tribal people for their support to fight terrorism (24 August).

Comments and Analysis: The visit of the Pakistan Army Chief to North Waziristan is significant in the wake of Afghan army’s recent exercises/drill across the border and the Afghan government sponsored anti Pakistan public demonstration in Kunar, Kabul and Kandhar against erection of fence at Pak-Afghan border by Pakistan. Pakistan has clarified it time and again that the fence is being constructed well within the territory of Pakistan and its aim is to prevent infiltration of terrorists and smugglers from Afghanistan into its territory. The visit of COAS aimed at raising the morale of the Pakistani soldiers deployed at the border and to give a strong message to the Afghan Government about Pakistan’s preparedness to face any sort of aggression against it.    

Foreign Minister’s meeting with delegation of Afghan Taliban

Foreing Minister meets Taliban delegation- File Photo

The Doha based Afghan Taliban’s delegation led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Bradar called on Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Islamabad to discuss the peace process in Afghanistan. The Taliban leader expressed his thanks to the Government of Pakistan for inviting them, supporting the cause of Afghanistan and hosting Afghan refugees in the country for the last four decades. The Foreign Minister affirmed Pakistan’s continued support about peace process for stability in Afghanistan and the region. He advised them to grab the opportunity created by the US-Taliban agreement for starting intra-Afghan dialogue (25th August).

Prime Minister’s telephonic talk with Abdullah Abdullah

Abdullah Abdullah

PM Imran Khan held telephonic conversation with Chairman of Afghan National Reconciliation Commission, Abdullah Abdullah, and invited him to visit Pakistan at the earliest. During the same he, urged the Afghan leaders to seize opportunity to achieve political settlement for bringing peace, security and stability in Afghanistan. The Afghan leader responded positively and expressed support towards the peace efforts (26th August).

Comments and Analysis: It is true that US-Afghan Taliban agreement, inked last February, has provided a unique opportunity to bring peace in the war-torn country.  Pakistan being the worst victim of turmoil in Afghanistan, advised both Taliban and the Afghan Government to beware of the spoilers of the peace efforts and must start intra-Afghan dialogue that could pave the way to form future Afghan Government.

A few circles within the Afghan Government raised objection over the recent visit of the Taliban delegation to Islamabad due to UNSC’s restrictions on their travel. Nevertheless, it has to be understood by all the parties that the current efforts for peace process are being carried out in larger interest of Afghanistan to bring all the stakes holders on the negotiation table, in accordance with the spirit of the said agreement duly approved by the UN.

Induction of Chinese Frigate in the Pakistan Naval fleet  

Pakistan Navy announced the induction of first Type-054 A class frigate (warship), built in China. The steel-cutting ceremony in this connection was held in Hudong–Zhonghua ship yard, Shanghai, China (23rd August).  

Comments and Analysis: The Type-054 A Class frigate, fitted with latest sophisticated surface to surface and anti-air weapon combat management system is a state of the art of Chinese technology including radar and other navigational equipment to meet the current sea- battles requirement. This warship will considerably increase the operational capabilities and combat fire power of the Pakistan Navy. The ship Pakistan had placed orders to China for four ships of similar type.

The Type-054A has clear edge over Indian Navy’s existing Talwar class of frigates, purchased from Russia as it uses a vertical launch system (VLS), which is buried in the ship’s deck, to store and fire its HQ-16. The Indian Navy’s Talwar class frigates use an older ‘single-arm’ launcher than can fire only one missile at a time, while the VLS allows the launch of multiple missiles simultaneously.

India will try to instigate the US over Pakistan’s shift to China for its defence armaments and attempt would be made to relate it with China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

REGIONAL

LAC / Indo-China border

The situation at Galwan-Ladakh Sector on LAC remained unchanged with continued face-off between the Indian and Chinese troops. The Chief of Indian Defence Staff (CDS) Gen Bipin Rawat stated that India had “military options” to deal with China on the Galwan-Ladakh issue, if talks between the two countries at the military and diplomatic level failed to yield any result (24th August).

Nevertheless, the Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Weidong stated that his country sees India as a partner and not rival and expressed hope that the dispute will be resolved through dialogues, mutual consultation at bilateral level (25th August). Whereas, the Indian External Affairs Minister Jai Shankar stated that status-quo, disengagements and respecting the past agreements between the two countries are inter-linked for resolving the current dispute (26th August).

Comments and Analysis:  There is a stark difference in the statements issued by the Indian General and by the Chinese Ambassador, obviously one is a soldier and the other a diplomat. But this comparison amply reveals the intentions of both the countries. India’s belligerence is obvious. India has reportedly placed heavy purchase orders for winter protective clothing of its troops, deployed on LoC and LAC. India’s stubbornness to settle the border issue through power indicates its intention for a long face-off by the Indian army in the disputed areas of Ladakh. India has also decided to purchase two more ‘Phalcon’ airborne warning and control system (AWACS) worth $1billion, from Israel. India has also decided to fast-track the Rs3500 crore ‘Project Cheetah’ to upgrade its Israel Heron drones with laser-guided bombs, air-to-ground anti-tank missiles and other precision-guided munitions as well as advanced reconnaissance capabilities.

LoC/IHK

The Pakistani and Indian forces continued their deployment on LoC. The Indian Security Forces during their fake anti-militancy drive claimed to have arrested five Kashmiri youth from Bandipora under the charge of alleged association with a militant organization “Islamic State in Jammu and Kashmir” and planning to attack an army camp (22nd August). Indian authorities tightened curb on taking out Muharram procession (Mourning procession) in the valley and stringent security measures were made in Srinagar. Earlier when police used force to disperse the procession it turned into a rally demanding freedom from India.

National Conference Party President and three-time Chief Minister of IHK Farooq Abdullah reiterated that the Gupkar declaration adopted by several political parties including Congress and PDP on 04th August last year was a base for launching peaceful struggle for the demand of restoration of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir (25th August). Reacting over the same, BJP Gen Secretary Murli Dhar Rao termed Gupkar declaration as “Anti-National Agenda” by the said political parties to follow the Pakistani narrative in this regard. He boosted that BJPs agenda was not only to abrogate the article 370 of the Indian constitution but also “retrieving” the territory under the name of Azad Kashmir from Pakistan (26th August).   

Comments and Analysis: Four pro-India Kashmiri political parties and two Indian political parties, including the main opposition Congress Party, said in a joint statement that India’s move “unrecognizably changed the relationship” between the region and New Delhi. It called the changes “spitefully shortsighted and unconstitutional” and sought to “collectively fight” them. They have demanded of restoration of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir (IHK). These political parties are well aware of the sentiments of the people of IHK. The general masses are terming Gupkar declaration II as first step of political resistance against the BJP government’s revocation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution about the special status of Kashmir.

Afghanistan

Terrorism/Violence

  1. Mullah Akhtar unknown Taliban commander was claimed to have been arrested by Afghan Security Forces in Shakardara, Kabul Province (22nd August).
  2. Seven civilians were killed when their vehicle hit roadside mine in Jaghatu District, Ghazni Province (23rd August).
  3. Taliban reportedly attacked the District Government compound in Dehyak, Ghazni Province and destroyed it (23rd August).  
  4. Three Afghan Security Forces personnel were killed and six injured during the clash with Taliban in Dih Yak District of Ghazni Province (24th August).
  5. Eight personnel of Afghan army were killed in Taliban’s attack on their check post in Shahrak District, Ghor Province (24th August).
  6. Three personnel were killed and fourteen injured as a result of bomb blast near an army post in Balkh Province (25th August).
  7. Afghan Special Forces claimed to have arrested suspected terrorists including a woman planning to carry out a terrorist attack on “Ashura Mourners” in the Kote Sangi area of Kabul city. Two suicide jackets and six explosive devices were also recovered by the police from their possession (26th August).
  8. Ten persons were killed in a religious seminary (Madrassa) as a result of Afghan forces air strike in Bakzado area of Baghlan Province (26th August).  

Comments and Analysis: – Violence, attacks and clashes between the Afghan Security Forces and Taliban continued in the country. The police chief of Kabul was recently transferred due to his failure to control terror incidents and rise of crime in the capital. The streak of violence and clashes between the Afghan forces and Taliban does not augur well for the future of Afghanistan. Afghan people are fed up of the ongoing violence in the country and look forward for permanent ceasefire between the Afghan Government and Taliban.

Afghan Governments willingness to start intra-Afghan dialogue   

Chairman National Reconciliation Council, Abdullah Abdullah and Afghan Foreign Minister, Hanif Atmar, through different statements, indicated the Afghan Government’s likely readiness to start intra-Afghan dialogues with Taliban in the next week (27th August).

In an immediate reaction, Afghan Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen cautiously welcomed the statement and said that it was good news provided the remaining Afghan Prisoners were released before starting the dialogue (27th August).

Comments and Analysis: Ostensibly the environment doesn’t seem very conducive for initiating a sincere intra-Afghan dialogue between the Afghan Government and Taliban. As is evident from the incidents of violence quoted above, it seems they have deep resentment against each other and want to subdue the other party with force instead of talks. Hanif Atmar has a history of deep hatred against Taliban and lacks sincerity to enter into negotiations with them. Way back in 2010 he was removed from the Ministry of Interior by the then Afghan PM Hamid Karzai in the wake of attacks on the June 2010 Afghan peace Jirga. Hawks like Hanif ought to be bridled to ensure inception of peace talks.

Coronavirus Crisis Update

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan rose to 295,636 on 30th August 2020 (Sunday) after new infections were confirmed in the country.

The province-wise breakup of the total number of cases as of 01:00pm, August 30, is as follows:

• Sindh: 129,268

• Punjab: 96,741

• Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 36,017

• Balochistan: 12,842

• Islamabad Capital Territory: 15,611

• Gilgit-Baltistan: 2,863

• AJK: 2,294

Deaths: 6,288

Comments & Analysis:  The cases of corona virus have decreased during last month. However, the risk is not over. The decline in cases is being claimed as a success of strategy by the government. However, it is a case study to be looked into as it is a known fact that majority of people had hardly observed the social distancing and other SoPs. In June 2020, when corona pandemic was at the peak the canal of Lahore could be seen packed with children, women and men taking bath in it in clusters, without any social distancing. It is worth pondering that corona virus has not hit the poor and slum areas as much as the relatively affluent areas. For the last one month it has been observed that more than 80% people are not using masks and mingle freely. The mortality rate in the region is almost the same as in Pakistan. Despite all these points, strategy should not be shelved.

Pakistan’s Security Barometer

Terrorism: Terrorist groups are trying to reunite and reinvigorate their sleeper cells, sympathizers and activists. They are trying to carry out target killings in big cities. Low-intensity insurgency is continuing in ex-tribal areas.

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 Extremism: Fairly widespread.

Border Situation: Tense – Line of Control (LoC) is constantly facing Indian shelling and firing. Retaliation by Pakistani forces is also continuous.

Health Security: Though Coronavirus pandemic is petering out in Pakistan, the situation cannot be declared normal.

Note: Weekly Security Brief is an open source analysis report of Centre for Peace and Security Research (CPSR), Lahore, Pakistan.

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