WEEKLY SECURITY BRIEF

Vol. 4-Issue No 30

07th September, 2020

NATIONAL

Six soldiers killed in two incidents in South Waziristan

Three personnel of the security force, namely Subedar Nadeem, Lance Naik Mussawar and Sepoy Saleem embraced martyrdom and four others were injured in an attack by the terrorists in South Waziristan District of KP. No militant group claimed responsibility of the said incident (31st August).

In another incident three personnel of security force, namely, Lt. Nasir Hussain Khalid, Naik Muhammad Imran, Sepoy Usman Akhter were martyred and four others injured due to roadside IED blast in Gharion area of North Waziristan Tribal District, KP. They were deployed to provide security to the road construction teams in the area (03rd September).     

Comments and Analysis: – KP, especially the tribal districts, are bearing the brunt of resurgence of terrorists in the area. Though by now the change in their modus operandi is quite clear, effective antidote has not been employed to counter IEDs and target killings.

Both Tribal Districts have faced a large number of terrorist incidents/attack in the current year. According to the recent UNO report, more than six thousand insurgents of Pakistani origin are presently operating in Afghanistan. Majority of them are affiliated with TTP, its splinter/allied groups and ISKP. They manage to sneak across the border to attack on Pakistani military and civilian targets. It is important for Pakistan to complete the fencing process at the Pak-Afghan border to plug the holes exploited by the terrorists.

Three police personnel injured in IED blast at Lower Dir, KP

Three police personnel Hawaladar Tariq Munir, Constable Jan Bacha and Driver Nazir were injured when their vehicle ran over roadside IED device planted by unidentified terrorists in Maidan area of Lower Dir District, KPK (31st August).

Comments and Analysis: – It is second attack on the police in this area in one month. Earlier a police post was attacked by the terrorists on 11th August which indicates growing footprints of terrorists in the area. Any militant group has not claimed responsibility of the said incidents, however, TTP and its allied groups are being suspected in this regard. Terrorists are expanding their area of operation.

Banned outfits leader killed in Mastung, Balochistan

A terrorist of the banned outfit identified as Mohammad Nawaz @ Sindhi was claimed to have been killed during an intelligence based operation by LEAs in Paringabad area of Mastung District (31st August). He was reportedly involved in several terrorist activities including master-minding the suicide attack on the election rally of Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) leaderNawabzada Siraj Raisani. A large quantity of arms, ammunition and explosives was also recovered from his hideout.

Comments and Analysis: – The suicide attack on the election rally of Nawabzada Siraj Raisani in 2018  was one of the deadliest terrorist attacks on a public gathering in Balochistan in which 128 persons were killed and 150 injured. The Islamic State (IS) had reportedly claimed responsibility of the said incident and also revealed that suicide bomber Abu Bakar al-Pakistani had carried out this terrorist act. Raisani was a patriotic Baloch leader who always pleaded in favour of Pakistan. The neutralization of the said terrorist envisaged good output on the part of LEAs.

Three JuD leaders convicted of terror financing in Lahore, Punjab

An anti-terrorism court convicted three leaders of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) in the case FIR Number 91/2019, registered by Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) Lahore. The court awarded the accused persons a collective imprisonment of sixteen-and-a-half-years to Prof. Zafar Iqbal and Hafiz Abdul Salam while one-and-a-half-year jail term to Hafiz Abdul Rehman Makki (28th August). 

Comments and Analysis: – CTD Punjab had registered 23 FIRs against the leaders of JuD in various cities of Punjab. However, the trial in several cases were transferred to Lahore following an order passed by the High Court on petition of the accused persons. JuD Chief reportedly stated that JUD’s over 300 seminaries, schools, hospitals, ambulance services and publishing houses have no link with any armed group. The LahoreHigh Court has already suspended sentences of Hafiz Abdus Salam and Hafiz Abdul Rehman Makki in another FIR under similar charges. The JuD Chief Hafiz Saeed has already been convicted for jail term in two of the FIRs.

The fair and free trials of the cases related to terrorism and money laundering by the Pakistani courts depict Pakistan’s sincere intentions to control the twin menace. A number of laws have also recently been passed by the National Assembly to meet the requirements of FATF.

Four citizens injured in Quetta’s bomb blast

Four citizens were injured in a bomb blast planted in a motorcycle near a Mosque on Sariab Road, Quetta (04th September).

Comments and Analysis: – The matter is under investigation. Any militant group has not claimed responsibility of the said incident yet, the banned outfits, TTP, ISKP and BLA etc. are being suspected in this regard.

REGIONAL

LAC / Indo-China border

Indian and Chinese troops continued to face-off on LAC. The two sides alleged each other for transgressing the opposite territories on 29th, 30th and 31st August. The Chinese Government stated that its troops always respected the LAC, did not cross the limit and warned India to keep its troops confined to its own territory otherwise they would suffer heavy losses. Indian Defence Minister Raj Nath Singh and Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghi met in Mosco, Russia, where they agreed to resolve the borders dispute through bilateral talks (04th September).

It is learned that India has also deployed Special Frontier Force (SFF) unit comprising soldiers of Tibetan origin along with the commandos of Indian Special Forces (Para Brigade) for conducting special missions in South Pangong Tso recently.

Indian Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen Bipin Rawat addressing the inter active session of US-India Strategic Partnership stated that his country was facing possible aggression by coordinated action from China and Pakistan along Northern and Western borders. Further said that Indian armed forces were capable of handling such challenges with befitting response to the enemies. He threatened Pakistan of dire consequences if it attempted any misadventure against India, taking advantage of its border row with China (03rd  September).

Comments and Analysis: The Indian army is reportedly claiming to hold position on some strategic locations near Black Top and high ridges of the South Pangong Tso river and lake including Chushul, Rezang La, Rechin La. Indian media claimed that Indian army had not only gained better position at some places over Chinese troops but also used the same for leverage during military and diplomatic talks with China to settle the border dispute. Indian Air Force has deployed its SU-30, Miraj and Jaguar aircrafts on front line air bases to face the reported deployment of Chinese jet fighter including Stealth J-20.

India is trying to play psy-war with China, using its media to make tall claims of tactical gains over China. Experts are of the view that India will commit a blunder if it provokes China on basis of perceived tactical gains near Pangong Tso. It may suffer heavily, if conflict spreads to other locations on 3400 km long LAC border with China. China has fortified its positions and satellite imagery shows formidable buildup of arms behind the front lines.

LoC/IHK

The LoC border remained tense due to buildup of forces on both sides of the border. However, there was a lull in the exchange of shelling and firing.

In IHK, the Indian Security Forces continued arresting and killing Kashmiri youth on the pretext of fake anti-militancy drive. They claimed to have killed militants during a fake encounter in Pattan area of Baramulla District (05th September).

The National Conference Leader and ex-Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah during a talk with media in Srinagar stated that his party would fight legally against the revocation of article 370 of the Indian Constitution. He also criticized the BJP ruling Government for transferring Muslim majority of the Valley into minority by settling Hindus there (01st September).

Comments and Analysis: – This overall situation at the LoC remained calm except two incidents of exchange of firing between the two forces. It brought some relief to the civilians residing near the border.

In IHK India’s state repression continued unabated and the Indian Government did not allow any political activities. National Conference Leader Farooq Abdullah however, started closed door meetings with the other political parties including Congress and PDP for pressing demands to restore special status of Jammu and Kashmir. A large number of Kashmiri political leadership including National Conference Leader Farooq Abdullah and PDP Leader Mehbooba Mufti were arrested on 04th August last year. It was a pre-emptive measure before declaring Jammu and Kashmir a union territory. Farooq Abdullah was released some time ago whereas Mehbooba Mufti is still under detention.

Afghanistan

Terrorism/Violence

  1. Fifteen civilians were killed in two separate incidents when their vehicle hit the roadside mines in Spin Boldak District of Kandahar Province. The unfortunate persons were going to attend a wedding ceremony (28th August).
  2. Forty-four Taliban were killed during clashes with the Afghan Security Forces on different places in Kandahar Province (29th August).
  3. The Afghan government sources claimed to have destroyed Taliban’s explosive depot containing 1100 kg explosive, in an air strike of the Afghan Air Force in the Qassem Bazar area, Marjah District of Helmand Province. Afghan authorities accused Taliban of storage of the explosives for making various types of bombs, mines and suicide jackets (29th August).
  4. Forty-four militants including their commanders Abdullah @ Herjan, Khair Ullah @ Qari Ahmed were killed during various clashes with Afghan Security Forces in Imam Sahib District of Kunduz Province (29th August).    
  5. Former Afghan Senator from Zabul Province, Mohammad Hassan Hotak was shot dead by unidentified persons in Qala-e-Wazir area of Kabul city (30th August).
  6. Eleven Taliban were killed due to air strike of the Afghan Forces in Qarma Qul District of Faryab Province (31st August).
  7. Three Afghan Security Forces personnel and two Taliban were killed during a clash in Gardez city of Paktia Province (01st September).
  8. Twenty-Two Taliban were killed in clashes with Afghan Security Forces in Dobandi and Sherlal Khail areas, Sheirzad District of Nangarhar Province (02nd September).
  9. Twelve Taliban were killed and seven others were injured in a clash with the Afghan Security Forces in Nawa Marijah District of Helmand province (02nd September).
  10. Eleven civilians were killed when their vehicle overran a roadside IED in Pacher gam District of Nangarhar Province (03rd September).          

Comments and Analysis: – The above mentioned figures are based on the claims made by the Afghan authorities about various attacks/violence vis-à-vis casualties. Both, the Afghan Security Forces and Taliban, are flexing their muscles to create pressure before talks. These skirmishes are causing heavy losses of life and property and estrangement is further deepening which could jeopardize the intra-Afghan talks. Pakistan is wary of this state of affairs and has repeatedly urged the Afghan Government and Taliban to show restraint to create a conducive environment for successful talks. The UNO representative has also called the two sides for ceasefire on humanitarian grounds, ahead of starting intra-Afghan dialogue in Doha.         

Afghan President nominates committee for Intra-Afghan Dialogues

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced the forty-member committee to act under the country’s High Council for National Reconciliation headed by Dr. Abdullah Abdullah for peace negotiations with Taliban. The list includes former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Former Vice President, Abdul Rashid Dostum, Mujahideen Leader Gulbadin Hikmat Yar, Abdul Rasul Sayyaf and woman activist Safiya Siddiqui (29th August). Later in a joint address to the dialogue committee, President Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah asked the committee members to effectively project their view points during meetings with Taliban for bringing sustainable peace and stability in the country. Meanwhile, the Afghan Government and Taliban, through prisoners’ swap (accept only seven Taliban involved in killing of French and Australian citizens) have completed the basic condition of US Taliban accord (03rd September).      

Comments and Analysis: – Hamid Karzai, Gulbadin Hikmatyar and Rabbani regretted to join the said committee on different counts. Taliban have already nominated twenty-member committee for starting intra-Afghan dialogue with the Afghan Government Committee in Doha, Qatar.

After completion of recent swap of prisoners between the Afghan Government and Taliban, the Afghan Government is set to send its committee for starting intra-Afghan dialogue with Taliban in Doha, Qatar. The Chairman of Afghan National Reconciliation Council Dr. Abdullah Abdullah stated that the first thing to be discussed in the said dialogues would be to enforce permanent ceasefire by the two sides in Afghanistan.    

Pakistan-Afghanistan talks under APAPPS

The bilateral meeting of ‘Afghanistan and Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity’ (APAPPS) was held in Kabul between Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Suhail Mahmood and Deputy Afghan Foreign Minister Mirwais Nab along with their respective teams. The two sides reiterated their commitment to optimally utilize the forum on all key issues. Pakistani delegation also called on the Afghan Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar (31st August).

Comments and Analysis: – It was a significant meeting between the two countries following recent visit of Afghan Taliban and PM Imran Khan’s telephonic conversation with the Chairman Afghan Reconciliation Council Dr. Abdullah Abdullah. The mutual body of APAPPS was established in 2018 for providing a comprehensive and structured mechanism for institutional engagements between the two countries. During the current meeting, Pakistani delegation discussed matters related to counter terrorism, expansion of bilateral economic and security corporation, refugees and the Afghan peace process.    

It is learnt that the Afghan Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar, apart from other issues, also discussed the matter related to erection of fence by Pakistan on the border to prevent movement of terrorists/smugglers and recent cross firing incident between the security forces of the two countries.           

Coronavirus Crisis Update

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan rose to 298,903 on 07th September 2020 (Monday) after new infections were confirmed in the country.

The province-wise breakup of the total number of cases as of 11:15pm, September 07, is as follows:

• Sindh: 130,671

• Punjab: 97,226

• Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 36,625

• Balochistan: 13,292

• Islamabad Capital Territory: 15,750

• Gilgit-Baltistan: 3,008

• AJK: 2,331

Deaths: 6,345

Pakistan’s Security Barometer

Terrorism: Terrorist groups like TTP have adopted new twin strategy, i.e. target killing and IEDs. 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 decreasing 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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