JANUARY 2017

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- Suresh Jaura
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MORE SMOKE & MIRRORS

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PAKISTAN: News Briefs

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Stability returning to country due to ongoing Operation Zarb-e-Azb in FATA, claims CoAS General Raheel Sharif: The Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), General Raheel Sharif while addressing a gathering of army officers in the Bahawalpur Cantonment on April 28 said that stability was returning to the country due to the ongoing military operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan Agency and surrounding areas of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). "A peaceful environment in and around Pakistan is our top priority," Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) quoted the army chief as saying on social networking site Twitter. The News, April 30, 2015.

56 militants killed during the week in FATA: Nine suspected militants were killed in air strikes in Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on April 25.

Twenty terrorists, including three suicide bombers, were killed when Pakistan Air Force (PAF) fighter aircrafts targeted their hideouts in Kukikhel, Sepah and Kamarkhel areas of Tirah Valley on April 23.

Twenty-seven militants were killed in air strikes and a search operation in North and South Waziristan Agencies on April 22. Daily Times; Dawn; The News; Tribune; Central Asia Online; The Nation; The Frontier Post; Pakistan Today;Pakistan Observer,  April 17-27, 2015.  

Sabeen Mahmud Director T2F shot dead in Karachi: Sabeen Mahmud, the director at The Second Floor (T2F), was shot dead by unidentified assailants in the Phase-II area of Defence Housing Authority (DHA) in Karachi, the provincial capital of Sindh, in the night of April 24. According to reports, Sabeen, accompanied by her mother was returning home after hosting a seminar at the T2F premises in Phase-II area of Defence Housing Authority (DHA), when unidentified gunmen on a motorbike opened fire at her car. Both Sabeen and her mother were rushed to a nearby hospital where Sabeen succumbed to her wounds. Her mother is severely injured and still under treatment. Police said that Sabeen received five bullet wounds. The News, April 25, 2015.

38 Westerners killed by US drone strikes, claims BIJ: An analysis by the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism has revealed that 38 Westerners have been killed in the US drone strikes so far in different countries. These include an American and an Italian whose names were mentioned in an unprecedented announcement on April 23 by United States (US) President Barack Obama. However, these were not the only Westerners killed by the US in its covert drone war in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. The analysis by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and author Chris Woods has found that seven other US citizens have been killed since the White House launched its covert drone war on suspected terrorists in 2002. The News, April 25, 2015.

Centre wants provinces to share counter terror cost: As the president constituted the 9th National Finance Commission (NFC) to distribute resources among the federating units, the Federal Government has proposed the provinces share the cost of counterterrorism efforts and disaster management. President Mamnoon Hussain constituted the 9th NFC on April 24 to determine the fresh award for distribution of Federal taxes between the Centre and the provinces for the next five years, according to an official handout. The Finance Ministry also issued the notification of the commission's formation in addition to its terms of reference. Tribune, April 25, 2015.

26/11 accused have set up Karachi-style control room in Rawalpindi jail, says report: Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba's (LeT) 'technology chief' Zarrar Shah and his fellow militants continue to direct terrorist activity from behind bars under Inter-Services Intelligence's (ISI) watch, setting up in jail in Pakistan's Rawalpindi a control room like the one in Karachi to oversee the 26/11 (November 26, 2998) Mumbai (Maharashtra) attacks, a report said. Times of India, April 25, 2015.

JuD supports Pakistan Army's 'jihad' in Kashmir, admits JuD chief Hafiz Saeed: The Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) founder and Jama'at-ud-Dawa (JuD) 'chief' Hafiz Muhammad Saeed on April 18 admitted that his organisation helps the Pakistan Army in supporting Kashmiris. Speaking during an interview with Pakistan's Channel 24, Saeed said, "There are lakhs of people in Kashmir who are demanding freedom. If the Indian government resorts to firing then we will also retaliate in a strong manner." "We support Pakistan, Pakistan government and Pakistan Army in their effort to help the people of Kashmir who don't have freedom. And we call it jihad," he added. Zee News, April 22, 2015.

TTP claims to have successfully test-fired missile called 'Omar-1': The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on April 20 claimed to have successfully test fired its first 'indigenously developed' missile named as 'Omar-1'. To justify its claim, the TTP has issued a statement and posted a video demonstrating the launch of missile. In the video, different parts of the missile were assembled before its launch. The TTP said that special feature of 'Omar-1' is its design. "It can easily be assembled and dissembled in accordance to the situation," said Muhammad Khorasani, the TTP 'spokesman'. Times of India, April 22, 2015.

48 militants and two SF personnel among 50 persons killed during the week in FATA: At least five militants were killed and another three Security Force (SF) personnel were injured during clashes between SFs and militants in the area of Nangrosa Sipah of Tirah Valley in Khyber Agency in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on April 19.

One of the top 'commanders' of the Haqqani Network was among six militants killed during clashes with the SFs in the Beermal area of South Waziristan Agency on April 18.

Eight militants were killed when gunship helicopters shelled their hideouts in Kasha, Babo Tang Killay, Drand Sheikhan and Ahat Mela areas of Orakzai Agency on April 17.

At least 10 terrorists were killed and another six were arrested in a pre-dawn crackdown in the Sheikhan area of Orakzai Agency on April 16.

Islamic State (IS, also known as Islamic State in Iraq and Syria / ISIS) ''commander-designate'' for Pakistan, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, was killed along with two others in a bomb explosion in the Toor Dara area of Tirah Valley in Khyber Agency on April 16.

Five militants were killed when gunship helicopters pounded their hideouts in Kasha, Shakar Tangi, Safial Darra and other areas of Orakzai Agency on April 14.

At least 10 militants were killed when military planes pounded their hideouts in Chappar Mushti, Toorsimth, Daran Shiekhan, Ovt Mela and Zaffar Ghari areas of Orakzai Agency on April 13. Daily Times; Dawn; The News; Tribune; Central Asia Online; The Nation; The Frontier Post; Pakistan Today;Pakistan Observer,  April 14-20, 2015.  

Punjab Government to challenge LeT 'commander' and mastermind of 26/11 Zakiur Reham Lakhvi's release in Supreme Court: An unnamed Government official on April 14 said that the Punjab Government will challenge in Supreme Court (SC) the release of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) 'commander' and mastermind of Mumbai 2008 terror attacks (also known as 26/11) Zakiur Reham Lakhvi, by the Lahore High Court (LHC) on April 9, 2015. On April 9, a single judge of the LHC ordered Lakhvi's release after suspending his detention under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) issued by Okara's top administrator on March 12, 2015. Lakhvi had been in detention for over five years for his involvement in 26/11 attacks. Tribune, April 15, 2015.

13 BLF militants killed in raid in Balochistan: At least 13 Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) militants, including one key militant 'commander' Hayat Bewas, were killed in a joint raid by Frontier Corps (FC) personnel and Intelligence Agencies, in Gogdan area of Turbat District on April 13. The dead militants were involved in April 10, 2015, massacre of 20 Punjabi and Sindhi construction workers. FC spokesperson Khan Wasey said that another key militant 'commander' Zareef was arrested during the operations. Wasey said several miscreants were injured in the operation. Dawn, April 14, 2015.

50 militants and one SF among 51 persons killed during the week in FATA: At least 20 Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) militants were killed as Security Forces (SFs) foiled their move to enter Pakistan from Afghanistan side in the Shunkrai area of Mohmand Agency in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in the night of April 11.

A US drone strike killed at least four Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants in Shawal valley of North Waziristan Agency on April 12.

At least 16 suspected militants were killed and at least 10 others were injured when helicopter gunships pounded militant hideouts in Kandaw and Kandu Ghaibi areas of Kukikhel in Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency on April 9.

Seven TTP militants were killed and two others were injured in other air strikes in Mehraban Kalley, Thor Darra and Wochay Wany areas of Tirah Valley on April 9. Daily Times; Dawn; The News; Tribune; Central Asia Online; The Nation; The Frontier Post; Pakistan Today;Pakistan Observer,  April 7-13, 2015.  

US drones killed 50 AQIS militants over past few months, claims AQIS: The al Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) on April 12 claimed that a series of American drone strikes have killed nearly 50 of its members, including two senior leaders, over the past few months. Deputy head AQIS Ustad Ahmad Farooq and Qari Imran, the group's central council member and in charge of al Qaeda in Afghanistan, were killed in separate US drone attacks in North Waziristan Agency of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on January 5 and 15 respectively, AQIS 'spokesperson' Usama Mehmood said in an audio message. The audio was emailed to the media on April 12. Tribune, April 13, 2015.

LeT 'commander' and 26/11 accused Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi released: Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) 'commander' and mastermind of 26/11 attacks, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, was released from Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi District on April 10. The Lahore High Court (LHC) on April 9, 2015, suspended his detention and ordered his immediate release. Jama'at-ud-Dawa (JuD) supporters were present outside the prison to receive Lakhvi. Lakhvi's counsel Raja Rizwan Abbasi had said that the government was left with no other 'legal option' but to release his client after the LHC suspended his detention. "Neither the government nor the Adiala Jail authorities can violate the court's order this time," he said. Sources said that Lakhvi was released overnight without any announcements from jail authorities or the JuD. Lakhvi was shifted to an unspecified location after his release, the sources added. The News, April 11, 2015.

263 hardcore terrorists killed in Tirah valley of Khyber Agency, says ISPR: In a series of tweets posted on his official Twitter account on April 8, Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asim Bajwa outlined Pakistan Army's successes in Operation Zarb-i-Azb, revealing that 263 terrorists have been killed so far in Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency. The ISPR spokesman tweeted that the information was given in a briefing to Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif during his visit to frontline troops amidst the ongoing operation in Khyber Agency. The News, April 9, 2015.

UNSC slaps sanctions on TTP 'chief' Mullah Fazlullah: The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on April 7 slapped sanctions on Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) 'chief' Mullah Fazlullah (40) for perpetrating and financing terror acts. Fazlullah was added to the UNSC al Qaeda Sanctions list and will now be subject to assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo. The Security Council Committee approved Fazlullah's entry to its al Qaeda Sanctions List of individuals and entities for "participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan." Business Standard, April 8, 2015.

US approves billion-dollar arms sale to Pakistan: The United States (US) State Department on April 7 approved Pakistan's request for a billion dollars worth of military hardware and equipment, identifying Pakistan as a country of vital importance for US foreign policy and national interests. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale. "This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a country vital to US foreign policy and national security goals in South Asia," the certification said, adding, "This proposed sale of helicopters and weapon systems will provide Pakistan with military capabilities in support of its counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in South Asia." Dawn, April 8, 2015.

27 militants and eight SF among 35 persons killed during the week in FATA: At least 16 people including 12 militants and four soldiers were killed during fierce fighting in Utmela area of the Orakzai Agency in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on April 5.

Meanwhile, 10 militants were killed and several others injured when fighter jets bombed their hideouts in Dwa Toi and Takhtakai areas of Kukikhel in Khyber Agency on April 5.

Helicopter gunships conducted several air sorties, as part of the ongoing Khyber-II operation , killing at least five suspected Lashkar-i-Islam (LI) militants and destroying hideouts in Nangrosa, Spin Drand and Thor Khel areas of Sipah of Tirah valley on April 4 morning. Daily Times; Dawn; The News; Tribune; Central Asia Online; The Nation; The Frontier Post; Pakistan Today;Pakistan Observer,  March 31-April 6, 2015.  

Army will accomplish mission to eliminate terrorism irrespective of cost, says CoAS General Raheel Sharif: According to a press release issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on April 1, the Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) General Raheel Sharif said that the Pakistan Army would not stop short of accomplishing its mission to eliminate terrorism, irrespective of the cost. He said that the military is fully prepared to deter and defeat any form of aggression. Tribune, April 2, 2015.

Sindh IGP says targeted operation be made effective, successful: Inspector General of Police (IGP) Sindh Ghulam Haider Jamali presided over a meeting on security at Central Police Office in Karachi on March 30 and said that the ongoing targeted operation should also be made effective and successful besides bring criminals to their logical end. The meeting reviewed the performance of Police, Counter Terrorism Department, Crime Branch Sindh and National Action Plan. It was decided to smash drug and gambling dens in the city through effective Police crackdown. Daily Times, April 1, 2015.

[Source: SATP]

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