WEEKLY SECURITY BRIEF

Vol. 4-Issue No 36

24th October, 2020

INTRODUCTION

The period under review witnessed terrorist activities in KP, Balochistan and in Karachi city. The terrorists and insurgents conducted low intensity insurgency to wear out the forces. Similarly, Karachi is being targeted with a mix of terrorism, low intensity urban guerilla tactics and acute sectarianism. The situation in Karachi became further toxic due to untoward incident of arrest of Capt® Safdar (husband of PML-N leader, Mariam Nawaz) and subsequent sharp reaction of the top-brass of Karachi police.

Albeit no glaring incidents of crime came to notice, law & order situation can hardly be termed satisfactory. Corona claimed more lives than the previous month.

Eastern and Western borders remained tense due to Indian and Afghan belligerence. Terrorist and insurgent groups like TTP remained ensconced in the bordering Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nangerhar, from where they operated against Pakistan.  Turmoil and violence in Afghanistan remained on the rise. Peace process also continued at Doha, Qatar.  Veteran Afghan Mujahid leader Gulbadin Hykmatyar made his entry to make or mar the peace process.

NATIONAL

Terrorism at a glance

Ten people were injured as a result of hand grenade attack by unidentified miscreants at Samungli Road Quetta, Balochistan (14th October).

Four trucks along with two trawlers, carrying NATO goods, were put to torch by three armed motorcyclists, on Frontier Road, Bara tehsil, Khyber Tribal District of KPK (16th October). No militant group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Four persons were injured as a result of blast at a PSO petrol pump in Bannu Adda area, KPK. Police investigations are under progress (16th October). 

Lance Naik Waseemullah Shaheed

A Pakistan Army Lance Naik Waseem Ullah was killed and three others injured as a result of attack on them by the terrorists near Jhaki post, 35 km South of Turbat, Kech, Balochistan (17th October).

A police constable Hafeez Muhammad was shot dead by unidentified target killers in Martung area, Puran tehsil, Shangla District of KPK (18th October).    

A retired FC Subedar Malik Raees Khan was killed by unidentified persons in Mir Ali Bazar, Miramshah, North Waziristan tribal District of KPK (18th October).

A police constable Maamor Khan was shot dead by unidentified motorcyclist in Jamrud tehsil, KPK (20th October).   

Five persons were killed and fifteen others injured as a result of blast in four-storied Allah Noor Apartments in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Karachi (21st October). Investigations are underway to determine the cause of the blast, whether it took place due to a gas cylinder explosion or an explosive device.  

Five people were wounded as a result of an IED blast planted at the entrance of a bus terminal near Shirin Jinnah Colony, Karachi (21st October).

Comments and Analysis: – The terrorist outfits have intensified their activities in Balochistan and KPK, and especially in Karachi city. Mostly TTP and its affiliates are engaged in upping the ante as per the new strategy which is closer to urban guerilla war as they mostly resort to hit and run instead of big incidents of terrorism. Karachi is being especially targeted in a sustained manner for last many months. The activists of Jeay Sind Movement, Baloch and Pashtun nationalists are also involved in these activities to pursue their demands based on regionalism and dubbing the state institutions for their deprivation at local and provincial level.

NATO military cargo vehicles, plying between Karachi and Afghanistan, had been attacked a number of times in the past. But for the last many months such incident had not taken place. The new incident is an indicator of the renewed activities of the emboldened terrorists and extremists.  

CRIME / LAW & ORDER

  1. A citizen Anas was killed and his friend Jawad injured by unidentified attacker accompanied by a woman near old Sabzi Mandi Karachi (13th October).
  2. The bullet riddled bodies of two labourers of Karachi Port namely Abdul Karim and Ashique Khan were recovered by police from a grave yard in Bakhtawar Goth, Karachi Sindh (16th October).
  3. Two unidentified gunmen took away cash, jewelry and other valuable worth Rs/- 29.5 million on gunpoint from a house in Model Town, Lahore (16th October).
  4. One Hafiz Aslam Noor a faith healer was shot dead by unidentified persons at his house in Latamber area of Karak District, KPK (17th October).
  5. Police foiled a bid of an eight-year-old girl as Swara (compensation to settled disputes) for giving the son of her brother in Chargom area of Upper Dir. She was being handed over to the rival family as bride and Nikah has also been held. Police also arrested twelve members of the jirga and Nikah Khawan (11th October).  
  6. Peshawar police on an intelligence tip, recovered heavy cache of weapons, placed in a truck on Ring Road under the limits of PS Phari Pura, Peshawar. The recovered weapons consisted of 34 Kalashnikovs, 68 rifles of various gauges, 14 pistols, 30,000- cartridges and 325 butt- stocks. The weapons were to smuggle to Punjab (15th October).
  7. Two sisters were killed by unidentified gunmen in their house in Mohallah Sadat Utmanzai in Charsadda city, KPK (18th October).
  8. Five inspectors and 10 police personnel from Sanghar, Sindh, were found guilty of custodial killing. They had gunned down two suspects namely Ali Haider Ronjhoo and Soomar Mehar, in the Perumal area of Sanghar district, Sindh in May this year. Sanghar SSP claimed that they had resisted their arrest. An inquiry into the matter was ordered by the Chief Minister Sindh.

Comments and Analysis: – The above-mentioned incidents, just a glimpse of the current crime scene, have been picked from the long list of crime incidents reported in the media. The trend shows steady deterioration in law and order situation. Sindh police’s morale is already in shoes due to the ugly events that took place in Karachi last week.

Afghan leader Gulbadin Hikmatyar’s visit to Islamabad

Engineer Gulbadin Hikmatyar,

Hizab-e-Islami Afghanistan leader Engineer Gulbadin Hikmatyar, during the three-day visit to Pakistan, called on Foreign Minister, Prime Minister and President. During the meetings he discussed issues related to mutual interest between the two countries and peace process in Afghanistan. It is learnt that the Hizb-e-Islami leader was of the view that the current peace talks in Doha are taking place only between the Taliban and the Afghan Government without representation of many Afghan political parties including Hizb-e-Islami. Thus, these talks cannot be termed as intra-Afghan negotiations. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi reportedly cautioned him against the ‘spoilers’ in the peace process both within and outside Afghanistan (19th to 21st October).

Comments and Analysis: – The visit of the Afghan leadership of various political parties, groups and stake holders like that of Hizab-e-Islami leader to Pakistan is a part of ongoing efforts by USA, Pakistan and Afghanistan to bring the Afghan groups on the same page for peace in the country. However, Pakistan should be cautious about these leaders and groups who have their own axe to grind and can go to any extent for their interests. Gulbadin, despite being major recipient of US money through Pakistan during the Soviet Afghan Jihad, often broke promises and resorted to violence. He has again jumped into the peace process to get his pie in the power.  

British Defence Chief visit to GHQ Rawalpindi

British Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen. Sir Nicholas Patrick Carter called on Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa at GHQ Rawalpindi. They discussed further strengthening of security/defence corporation between the two armies (19th October).

Comments and Analysis: – British Army and Pakistan Army are maintaining strong friendly ties based on mutual cooperation in the field of military training. The visiting General of UK, lauded Pakistan’s efforts for peace process in Afghanistan and stability in the region.

REGIONAL

LoC/IHK

Indian and Pakistani troops remained alert alongside Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir despite a pause in cross border firing and violations by the Indian Army.  Nevertheless, the Indian security forces continued their state terrorism in the Indian Held Kashmir. They killed five Kashmiri youth-two each in Kulgam, Pulwama and Srinagar Districts in the fake encounters (08th09th and 12th October).

Comments and Analysis: – The law and order situation in IHK is still bad. State terrorism had made the lives of the citizens miserable. Innocent citizens are tortured and killed with impunity. Majority of the Kashmiri political parties including NC and PDP have reaffirmed their united stand for restoration of special status of the Jammu and Kashmir which was terminated by the BJP led Indian Government last year, after revocation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.

Indian Government in a calculated move has started mounting pressure on the Kashmiri political elite struggling against the declaration of IHK including Ladakh as a union territory. Under the said design, National Conference (NC) President Farooq Abdullah was compelled to appear before a “committee” probing misappropriation of Cricket funds and his alleged involvement in matches’ scam. The office of “Kashmir Times” was sealed by the authorities to curb the voice of media to bridle it from highlighting popular will of the valley and problems of citizens.

Afghanistan

Terrorism/Violence

  1. Three ISKP militants including an Arab were killed during an encounter by the Afghan security forces in Andar District, Ghazni Province (14th October).
  2. Security forces defused four landmines in Kabul and Khost Provinces (14th October).
  3. A heavy cache of arms and ammunition allegedly dumped by Taliban were seized by the security forces in Taloqan village in Takhar Province (14th October).
  4. Six police personnel were injured as a result of car bomb blast near a check post in Zabul Province (15th October).
  5. Two militants allegedly affiliated with Taliban were killed while planting mines in Anka Baik area of Khwaja Sabz Posh District, Faryab Province (15th October). Security forces defused two landmines planted in Kubaki and Javanmard Qasab area of Paghman District, Kabul Province (15th October).
  6. Thirteen civilians were injured as a result of grenade attack by unidentified persons on a wedding function in Faizabad city of Badakhshan Province (16th October).
  7. Forty-two Taliban were killed and seventeen others injured during their clashes with Afghan security forces near Bala Block, Anar Dara and Darabad Districts of Farah (16th October).
  8. Three police personnel were killed in a roadside mine blast in Parwan Province (17th October).
  9. Fourteen Taliban and eleven security personnel were killed during clashes in Badakhshan Province (17th October).
  10. Afghan security forces seized a motorcycle loaded with explosives in Ali Nagar, District of Laghman Province (17th October).
  11. Afghan security forces recovered dozens of mortar and rocket shells from the Taliban’s ammunition depot in Bajrang Chahar of Nimruz Province (17th October).
  12. A District Police Chief Faiz Muhammad Hotak along with 12 personnel were killed in two bomb blasts in Kang District of Nimruz Province (20th October).
  13. Eight local police (public apprising force) personnel were killed during an attack by the Taliban in Imam Sahib District of Kunduz Province (17th October).
  14. Twelve civilians were killed and more than hundred wounded due to a powerful car bomb blast near police headquarter in Ferozkoh city of Ghor Province (18th October).
  15. Abdul Hai Zazai, Governor, Zazai-Madin District of Khost,  along with his security guard was killed and four others injured after an Ambush in Logar Province, on their way to Kabul (20th October).
  16. Eighteen killed in a bomb blast in Kabul (24th October)

Fighting in Helmand Province

Afghan authorities claimed to have pushed back Taliban from the out skirts of Capital Lashkargah city after a week of skirmishes which took the life of three hundred Taliban and seven security forces personnel along with thirty injured (17th October).   

Comments & Analysis: – High intensity violence including gun & grenade attacks, ambushes, target killings and IED blasts have been taking place every day throughout Afghanistan. Ongoing intra-Afghan dialogue in Doha seems to have no effect on various groups and Afghan security forces on the ground.However, most of the reports mentioned above have been given by the Afghan government.

Stampede at Jalalabad

Eleven women were killed and several injured during a stampede in a stadium near Pakistan Consulate, Jalalabad, Nangarhar Province where people had gathered to apply for visa for Pakistan (21st October).        

Comments & Analysis: – The incident happened after a large number of Afghan people gathered to apply for visa/permits at the Pakistan Consulate, Jalalabad. Due to presence of large number of visa seekers and their relatives/friend’s in a cramped place in the visa center, they were reportedly redirected to a nearby sports stadium. The visa applicants jostled to secure their token from the Consulate officials, as a result went out of control including to a stamped.

Pakistan Ambassador to Afghanistan Mansoor Ahmad Khan expressed his deep sorrow over the incident and said that Pakistan Mission was engaged with Afghan authorities for better facilitation for the applicants. Visa applications to Pakistan have just resumed after a seven-month pause due to a pandemic. Had Pakistan Consulate anticipated large influx of applicants, better arrangements could have been made to avoid any ugly situation.                 

Intra – Afghan dialogue

The contact groups of Afghan Taliban and Afghan Government held the last meeting at Doha on 19th October without any productive result except agreeing to continue the discussions.

Comments and Analysis: – The meetings of the contact groups are taking place with intervals. In order to make the mechanism more convenient, the two sides have reportedly decided to reduce the numerical strength of the contact groups from seven to three members of each side. The Taliban team will be including Nabi Qamri, Qari Din Muhammad and Latif Mansoori while the Afghan Government team will comprise Ghulam Farooq Majro, Rasul Talib and Ms. Fatima Gilani. It is learnt that the two sides have also agreed on 18 articles out of 20 for the procedural rules for starting formal talks.

 Efforts are under way to bring understanding on the remaining two main articles- the religious basis under Fiqah-e-Hanfi laws and US-Taliban accord to be declared as a base for the negotiations. Ironically, violence in Afghanistan and meetings of the contact groups in Doha are going on side by side.    

Coronavirus Crisis Update

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan rose to 327,063 on 24th October 2020 (Saturday) after new infections were confirmed in the country.

The Province-wise breakup of the total number of cases as of 11:45am, October 24th, is as follows:

• Sindh: 4,272

• Punjab: 2,817

• Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 478

• Balochistan: 257

• Islamabad Capital Territory: 1,381

• Gilgit-Baltistan: 205

• AJK: 825

Deaths: 6,727

Pakistan’s Security Barometer

Terrorism: Terrorist groups like TTP are continuously operating as per their 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. There is an urgent need to bridle the situation through all means.

Border Situation: Tense – There was a brief pause in the Indian shelling and firing at LoC. On the Western border, Afghan forces and terrorists carry out small attacks on the check-posts which are effectively repulsed by the Pakistani forces.

Health Security: A new surge of Coronavirus pandemic has hit Pakistan. There is a considerable increase in the number of patients tested positive during the last four weeks.

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

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