Pakistan Struggles to Keep Taliban Under Control

Posted: Jun 10, 2014 12:01 AM
Pakistan Struggles to Keep Taliban Under Control

North Korea: On 8 June, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that an American citizen entered the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) as a tourist on 29 April and acted in violation of the DPRK law, contrary to the purpose of tourism during his stay. He was arrested in mid-May.

The agency said, "A relevant organ of the DPRK detained him and is investigating him."

Comment: Three American citizens are now in North Korean custody. One has been sentenced to 15 years at hard labor for subversion, meaning he engaged in Christian missionary activity. The North Koreans have not announced the sentence of an earlier tourist who was detained for acting strangely by requesting asylum.

It is worth repeating that would-be defectors who say they want to help North Korea or stay in North Korea are automatically considered spies. Detained Americans provide the North with the justification to deal with the US whenever the North considers it advantageous.

Note: This incident occurred weeks before the US hostage exchange with the Taliban.

Pakistan: Three deadly security incidents occurred on Sunday.

The most sensational was the attack at Karachi International Airport by a group of gunmen, in which at least 24 people died, including ten attackers. At least 14 people were wounded. The killed terminal staff personnel were said to be mostly security guards from the Airport Security Force (ASF) and some airline workers.

The authorities suspended flight operations, closed the airport terminal and evacuated staff and passengers. Army commandos engaged in a six-hour firefight until they killed the attackers and declared the airport secure.

During this Watch, gunfire resumed at Karachi, wounding one paramilitary Sindh Ranger on the morning of 9 June. In addition, the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack. A senior official claimed its purpose was to hijack an aircraft as passengers were boarding. The rampage followed after airport security personnel prevented the hijacking.

Comment: After the publicity about the fragmentation of the TTP, its leaders evidently feel the need to demonstrate their strength as a threat. If that is the case, Readers should expect more sensational attacks.

A spokesman for the Rangers said "Indian arms and ammunition" were found on the bodies of the dead militants. There is no corroboration of this statement.

The second deadly attack occurred in western Baluchistan near the border with Iran. Five suicide bombers attacked the two hotels where 300 Shiite pilgrims were staying before returning to Iran. More than 23 civilians were killed.

Comment: No group has claimed responsibility for this attack, but attacks against Shiites usually are the handiwork of Sunni militant groups. The Pakistani Taliban are openly hostile to Shiites. Attacks occur regularly in Quetta, Baluchistan's capital, and in other major cities that have a significant Shiite population, such as Karachi and Islamabad.

The third incident was a successful government operation in Baluchistan against fighters from the Baluch Republican Army (BRA). Government paramilitary forces killed ten insurgents.

Comment: The third incident was a follow-up to an operation last Thursday in which government forces killed 30 BRA members. The BRA is responsible for attacks on gas pipelines and infrastructure in Baluchistan.

The three incidents showcase the diversity, dispersal and gravity of the threats to Pakistan's internal security. The attack at Karachi demonstrates the reach of one or more Pakistani Taliban factions. The last such attack in Karachi was against a naval base in 2011.

Afghanistan: On Sunday Afghanistan's National Security Council (NSC) accused "foreign intelligence services" of responsibility for Friday's attack targeting presidential front-runner Abdullah Abdullah. Abdullah survived the assassination attempt, which included a suicide bombing against his campaign motorcade in Kabul. Twelve people died.

"Initial investigations indicate foreign intelligence services were involved in this incident through Lashkar-e-Taiba in an organized manner, and the terrorists were aiming to disrupt the election in Afghanistan," according to an official statement.

Afghanistan-Pakistan: Afghanistan said last week that it was pulling out of security talks in Islamabad because of an increase in cross-border attacks.

The NSC "condemned" the increasing numbers of "rocket attacks by the Pakistani military against the country." It said the attacks are aimed at disrupting the run-off presidential election scheduled for 14 June. The NSC statement said Friday's attack on Abdullah was "the worst incident during the election campaign."

Comment: "Foreign intelligence services" refers to Pakistani intelligence. The Afghan government is pre-disposed to perceive Pakistani meddling in every serious security incident. It has good reason to be suspicious because almost all weapons and explosives in eastern and southern Afghanistan ultimately come from or through Pakistan. The most dangerous groups fighting the Afghan government have bases and protection in Pakistan and a long history of support from Pakistani intelligence.

An Abdullah Abdullah-led government would have strained relations with Pakistan because he primarily represents tribes and interests that are suspicious of the Pashtuns and deeply suspicious of Pakistani intelligence meddling.

Ukraine: President Petro Poroshenko was sworn into office on 7 June. In his speech he said that Ukraine would never give up Crimea and would not stop seeking closer ties with the West. He also promised to end operations against the eastern separatists this week.

Comment: The separatists rejected an offer of a ceasefire and appear to have launched a counter-offensive. Most cities in Luhansk and Donetsk regions reported attacks by separatist forces. They included Mariupol, on the southern coast. Forces loyal to the Kyiv regime supposedly had regained control of the city last month.

Egypt: On 8 June Retired Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was sworn in as president before the Supreme Constitutional Court in Cairo. In a speech on Sunday evening, he promised no reconciliation with criminals or with people who incited violence against civilians.

Comment: Al-Sisi's tone was stern and the message was directed at the Muslim Brotherhood. His priority is internal security, as the foundation of comprehensive development. His language suggests he considers himself as having saved the nation. There will be no outreach to his opponents.

End of NightWatch


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