WEEKLY SECURITY BRIEF

Vol. 4-Issue No 32

21st September, 2020

NATIONAL

Soldiers killed in North Waziristan, KPK

Sajid Ali

A soldier namely, Sajid Ali, embraced martyrdom as a result of roadside mine blast near a check post on Boy a Road, Miramshah, North Waziristan tribal District (12th September). Two other soldiers, Hawaldar Taj Bar Ali Sepoy Rashid were martyred during a search operation against the terrorists in Spalga area, Miramshah, North Waziristan tribal District (19th September).

Terrorists killed in North/South Waziristan KPK & in Balochistan

Four terrorists including their commander Ahsan Ullah @ Ahsan Sanary were killed during an operation by the security forces in village Ghariom/Shaktu near the inter-District boundary of North and South Waziristan tribal District (13th September).

Four terrorists of a banned outfit were killed during a search operation by the security forces in Awaran District, Balochistan. Heavy cache of weapon and ammunition recovered from their possession (19th September). 

 Comments and Analysis: – It is learnt that Ahsan Sanary was master mind of several terrorist activities in North and South Waziristan. He was reportedly involved in the planning and execution of the killing of several security personnel including Capt. Sabih and Lt. Nasir. The said terrorists were reportedly affiliated with TTP.

Sectarian Killing?

Syed Raza Hussain Naqvi, a branch manager in a National Bank, was shot dead in Islamabad (17th September).

Comments & Analysis: It is being claimed that it was a sectarian target killing. Investigations are underway. During last three weeks there has been increase in sectarian temperature in the country.

COAS inaugurates Combat Skills Training Complex

The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa during his visit to Gujranwala Cantt, inaugurated “Burraq Combat Skills Training Complex” (BCSTC). The inauguration ceremony was also attended by Corps Commanders of Gujranwala and Mangla along with other senior army officers (16th September). The COAS also witnessed integrated training of the strike formation.

Comments and Analysis: – BCSTC has been established with the aim of enhancing mechanized elements’ crew proficiency. The display of training included all elements-armored, artillery, engineers and mechanized infantry to demonstrate operational combat worthiness. The COAS after witnessing the integrated training of the strike formation, appreciated its operational readiness and high morale of the troops.

Protest over police station in Landi Kotal, Khyber, KPK

Tribal elders and Maliks (25/30) held a jirga under Bismillah Khan Afridi in Landi Kotal, Khyber tribal District. They criticized the establishment of a police station in Loe Shalman and merger of FATA with KPK. They observed, the Government instead of providing basic facilities of life to the local residents is building a police station. Malik Bismillah threatened that the movement for restoration tribal system will be accelerated and taken to its logical conclusion (15th September).                

Comments and Analysis: – The merger of FATA with KPK was materialized after necessary enactment in the Parliament. The aim behind the merger was to establish state writ and provision of constitutional rights and facilities to the citizens of ex-FATA as the area was adversely affected due to the presence of terrorists, criminals and illiteracy. A small segment of elders/Maliks resisted this change as they were accustomed with the old culture and feared loss of their privileges and authority. A new police station was inaugurated by Capital City Police of officer (CCPO) Peshawar in Tira Maidan area of Tehsil Bara in Khyber tribal District on 17th September, where no opposition by the local tribes came to notice.    

Afghan Peace Process in Afghanistan

A webinar about Afghan Process: Prospects and Pitfalls, likely impact on Pakistan was held under the auspices of “Centre for Peace and Security Research” Lahore. The highly experienced ex-diplomats and Ambassadors of Pakistan like Asif Durrani, Syed Abrar Hussain, Ayaz Wazir and Shamshad Ahmad Khan (Former Foreign Secretary) were the distinguished panelists. They were unanimous in their opinion that Pakistan was eager to see peace in Afghanistan because the prolonged violence in Afghanistan has been adversely affecting the stability, security and economy of Pakistan. They also said that settlement between Taliban and Afghan Government was much needed to bring peace and stability not only in Afghanistan but also to bring stability in the region (10th September).

Comments and Analysis: – The Webinar attracted a large audience and was covered by the local and foreign media. The discussion by the seasoned diplomats brought new avenues of the issue to the light. Their valuable recommendations and suggestions would show a doable way forward to the concerned parties.

US Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad visited Islamabad and New Delhi

A delegation headed by US Special Representative for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa at GHQ Rawalpindi. Pakistan’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Muhammad Sadiq was also present there. Matters of mutual interest, regional security and on-going Afghan Reconciliation Peace Process were discussed during the meeting (14th September).

Later accompanied by his three-member team, Khalilzad flew to New Delhi directly from Islamabad and held meetings with the Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla during his brief stay there. He also appreciated India’s participation in the process of intra-Afghan dialogues held in Doha on 12th September and shared the US perspective on the Afghan Peace Process (15th September).    

Comments and Analysis: – The COAS during the meeting emphatically conveyed Pakistan’s desire for peace and connectivity in the region and to ensure success about the long-awaited peace process in Afghanistan. The visiting delegation highly appreciated Pakistan’s role in the own going peace process for Afghanistan and said that the same could not have succeeded without Pakistan’s sincere and un-conditional support. The objective of the flying visit of the US envoy could be to ask Pakistan and India to press Taliban and Afghanistan Government to exercise more flexibility to make the dialogues fruitful.

REGIONAL

LAC / Indo-China border

Indian and Chinese troops’ face-off continued in Ladakh on LAC. Indian Defence Minister Raj Nath Singh stated in Lok Sabah that no one could stop them to patrol within the limits of Indian territory (17th September). More troops and armaments were being deployed by the two rivals on the front with the aim to fortify their respective positions. On the other hand, rapprochement efforts continued between the two through talks between the military commanders and diplomatic meetings.

Comments and Analysis: –According to reports, at least three firing incidents took place between Indian and Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh  near southern bank of Pangong Lake on 29th-31st August, near Mukhpari heights on 07th September and near northern bank of Pangong Lake on 8th September. The statement of the Union Minister Raj Nath Singh in Lok Sabah was an eye wash to cover up the loss of Indian territory in Ladakh to the Chinese Army and to boost morale of Indian Army and public.  

Since the five-point plan for disengagement agreed between the Indian and Chinese Foreign Ministers in Moscow on 10th September, the situation on the ground has remained relatively calm but tense. The focus now remains on the next round of Corps Commanders Conference scheduled to be held soon between the two countries.

LoC/IHK

As a result of unprovoked mortar shelling by the Indian Army a young girl was killed and three others injured in Battal Sector in Azad Kashmir (11th September).

Indian Security Forces during their concocted anti-militancy drive, killed seven Kashmiri citizens including a forty-five years old woman in Baramulla, Sopore and Batamaloo area of Srinagar. They also arrested number of citizens in different areas of Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipore, Ganderbal, Pulwama, Shopian, Rajouri and Samba Districts (14th 15th and 17th September).

Comments and Analysis: – State terrorism continued in IHK involving security forces raids, fake encounters and killing of innocent citizens. Sometimes, this highhandedness leads to public protests as reaction against the atrocities of the Indian Government.  According to Kashmir Media Service, twenty Kashmiri citizens were killed, ninety-two injured, twenty-eight arrested and five women gang-raped/molested by the Indian forces in the month of August 2020.

Afghanistan

Terrorism/Violence

  1. Seventy militants were killed/injured during air strikes by the Afghan Security Forces in Kandahar, Balkh, Helmand and Nangarhar Provinces (13th September).    
  2. The brother and guard of the Barak District’s Governor Ahmed Wais Abdul Rehman Zia were allegedly killed during an attack by the Taliban in Logar Province (14th September).
  3. Four Taliban were killed and five others arrested during a clash with Afghan Security Forces in Kotwal area of Tarinkot city, Uruzgan Province (14th September).
  4. Heavy cache of arms and ammunition was claimed to have been by seized by the Afghan Security Forces from a Hospital in Jalalabad Province (14th September).
  5. Thirty-eight land mines claimed to have been defused after their detection by the Afghan Security Forces in Kandahar Province (15th September).
  6. Two civilians were killed and twelve others wounded due to IED blast in Kalafgan District of Takhar Province (16th September).
  7. Thirty Taliban and twenty Afghan Security Forces personnel were killed during the clashes with each other in Sheirzad, Khogyani and Hisarak Districts of Nangarhar Province (16th September).
  8. An officer of the  National Directorate of Security (NDS), Col. Jan Muhammad Amin was shot dead and his driver injured by unidentified armed motorcyclists in Kabul (16th September).
  9. Two Taliban commanders namely Ghairullah @ Mulla Danger and Salahuddin Siddiqui were claimed to have been killed and ten injured during an encounter by the security forces in Surobi District of Kabul Province (17th September).

Comments and Analysis: – The above-mentioned incidents of terrorism and clashes with the security forces have been quoted by the Afghan authorities. On the other hand, Taliban or any other militant group has not given any comments about the same. Contrary to the earlier hopes, the infighting and violence continued with no change in various provinces including Kabul despite peace talks in Doha. This propensity does not augur well for the peace prospects in Afghanistan.

Intra-Afghan dialogues in Doha

The meetings between the Afghan Government and Taliban are under progress in Doha except a brief halt which occurred on the issue of formulating the mutually agreed code of conduct and agenda. The contact groups of the both sides are making efforts to resolve the issues under the direction of their respective high commands (15th September). 

Comments and Analysis: –   Meetings between the both sides are under way to reduce differences and build mutual trust to bury the hatchet which led to the conflict. The Commander of US and NATO Forces in Afghanistan Gen. Miller scott said that progress of the intra-Afghan dialogue in Doha was promising. The Chairman of the Afghan National Council for Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah commented that the hard decisions were required for reaching the settlement.

Coronavirus Crisis Update

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan rose to 306,304 on 21st 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 21st, is as follows:

• Sindh: 3,080

• Punjab: 1,250

• Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 538

• Balochistan: 145

• Islamabad Capital Territory: 180

• Gilgit-Baltistan: 82

Deaths: 6,420

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 Sectarianism & Religious Extremism: On the rise. Especially, the Shia-Sunni provocations can turn into ugly sectarian violence. There is an urgent need to bridle the situation through all means.

Border Situation: Tense – Line of Control (LoC) is constantly facing Indian shelling and firing.

Health Security: Though Coronavirus pandemic is decreasing in Pakistan, the situation cannot be declared normal. A new surge is expected in December.

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

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