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PAKISTAN: News Briefs

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87 militants and one SF among 88 persons killed during the week in FATA: At least 15 suspected militants were killed and four soldiers injured in a clash in Tirah Valley area of Khyber Agency in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on March 28.

At least 30 militants were killed and several others sustained injuries when Pakistan Air Force (PAF) fighter aircraft and helicopters pounded the bunkers of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) militants in Kukikhel, Sepah, Kamarkhel and Shalobar areas in Tirah Valley on March 25.

At least sixteen militants were killed in military action after a soldier was killed in a roadside blast in the Shabak area of Kurram Agency on March 25.

At least 15 militants were killed and several others sustained injuries when PAF fighter aircraft bombed the sanctuaries of the TTP and LI militants in Wacha Wona, Surkas, Seekhkot and other areas in Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency on March 24.

Eleven militants were killed as Security Forces (SFs) claimed more gains in Tirah Valley areas on March 23. Daily Times; Dawn; The News; Tribune; Central Asia Online; The Nation; The Frontier Post; Pakistan Today;Pakistan Observer,  March 24-30, 2015.  

80,000 Pakistanis killed in decade of war on terror, says study: At least 80,000 Pakistanis have been killed in the US-led war on terror, a study conducted by a group of international physicians' organisations revealed. A report titled "Body Count: Casualty Figures after 10 Years of the 'War on Terror" was released by the Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, along with Physicians for Social Responsibility and Physicians for Global Survival. According to the study, at least 48,504 civilians were killed in Pakistan in the fight against terrorism from 2004 until the end of 2013. The reports puts number of journalists killed in the fight at 45, while number of civilians killed by US drone strikes in the tribal areas stands between 416 to 951. The report says that Pakistan's Security Forces lost 5,498 personnel in these years of fighting while at least 26,862 militants were killed. Daily Times, March 30, 2015.

TTP planning attacks on dams and barrages, reveal Interior Ministry sources: According to sources in the Federal Ministry of Interior, Tehreek-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) with the collaboration of some other banned outfits is planning to attack the country's water reservoirs, dams and barrages. After receiving information regarding the probable attack by Taliban on the water reservoirs of country, security has been tightened at all dams and barrages. Following the threat, the Interior Ministry directed all the Law Enforcing Agencies and all the Provincial Home Departments for heightened security on water reservoirs. The News, March 28, 2015.

Over PKR 10 billion in foreign terror and Anti-Money Laundering funds frozen: Authorities in Pakistan have frozen a number of accounts used to funnel PKR 10.2 billion in cash to terror and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) suspects, officials overseeing the National Action Plan (NAP) said on March 25. Law Enforcement Agencies also recovered PKR 101.7 million either from clerics or workers of banned organisations, they said. These actions, taken with the assistance of the State Bank of Pakistan, are part of the overall efforts to throttle the flow of foreign funding to terrorists and proscribed organisations in the country. Tribune, March 26, 2015.

Most criminals in Karachi have political affiliation, says Counterterrorism Official: More than half of the nearly 6,000 suspected criminals arrested during the ongoing surgical operation in Karachi are affiliated with political parties, said an unnamed counterterrorism official on March 23. "Civilian and Intelligence Agencies have rounded up 5,882 suspected criminals since the launch of the Karachi operation in September 2013. Of them, 55 per cent are associated with political parties," a senior official of Federal Ministry of Interior said. He complained that lack of cooperation from major political players has long been undermining effective operations against criminals in the city. Tribune, March 24, 2015.

92 militants and four civilians among 97 persons killed during the week in FATA: Twenty-four militants were killed and five others sustained injuries when Pakistan Air Force fighter aircraft pounded the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) hideouts in Dars Jumaat, Sandana, Takhtakai and Khyber Sangar in Tirah Valley area of Khyber Agency in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on March 22.

Three persons of a family, including a minor, were killed when a mortar shell fell on a house in Malikdinkhel area of Tirah valley on March 22.

Four militants were killed while several others were injured in aerial operation by Security Forces (SFs) in Singar post near Tirah valley on March 20.

Twenty militants were killed and five others sustained injuries when the Army helicopters targeted their hideouts in Sandapal, Takhtakai and Nari Baba areas of Tirah Valley on March 19.

At least 44 militants were killed and several others sustained injuries when Pakistan Air Force (PAF) fighter aircraft pounded their hideouts in Kukikhel, Kamarkhel and Sepah areas of Tirah Valley on March 18. Daily Times; Dawn; The News; Tribune; Central Asia Online; The Nation; The Frontier Post; Pakistan Today;Pakistan Observer,  March 17-23, 2015.  

Urban, rural areas to be purged of terrorists, says COAS General Raheel Sharif: The Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), General Raheel Sharif, on March 22 reiterated that military operations would continue at all costs to clear all the urban centres and rural areas of terrorists so as to ensure peace and prosperity in the country. The Army chief expressed this resolve during his visit to the corps headquarters where he was briefed on security in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa/FATA, Operation Zarb-e-Azb and the ongoing military operation in the Khyber Agency, which is making a steady progress, said Director General ISPR Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa in his tweet. General Raheel said the ongoing military operations will continue to their logical conclusion and the terrorists squeezed in isolated pockets would be targeted with precision. The News, March 23, 2015.

Operation bringing peace back to Karachi, says PM Nawaz Sharif: Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif on March 19 said that operation against terrorists and miscreants in Karachi was launched after taking all political parties into confidence. He said peace and stability of the country's commercial hub was in the interest of all. The situation in Karachi had considerably improved since the start of the operation and incidents of kidnapping for ransom, extortion of money and target killing had reduced, he said. Talking to the PML-N MNAs from Faisalabad Division, the PM said there was no space for terrorism in the country and criminals convicted in heinous crimes would be brought to justice. Daily Times, March 20, 2015.

48 militants and 13 civilians among 61 persons killed during the week in FATA: Thirteen dead bodies of tribesmen were found in the deserted mountains of the Shaktai area of South Waziristan Agency in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on March 15.

At least 48 Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) militants were killed and several others sustained injuries when Pakistan Air Force (PAF) fighter aircraft targeted their hideouts in Kukikhel area of Tirah Valley in Khyber Agency on March 13. Daily Times; Dawn; The News; Tribune; Central Asia Online; The Nation; The Frontier Post; Pakistan Today;Pakistan Observer,  March 10-16, 2015.  

15 persons killed in suicide attacks on churches in Punjab: At least 15 persons, including 13 Christians and two Policemen, were killed and more than 70 were injured when two suicide bombers attacked two churches near Youhanabad neighbourhood in Lahore District on March 15, sparking mob violence in which two other militants were killed. Youhanabad is home to more than 100,000 Christians, said officials. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan-Jama'at-ul-Ahrar (TTP-JuA) claimed responsibility for the attack. Dawn, March 16, 2015.

Islamabad suspends exchange of convicts with other countries, says Federal Minister for Interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan: Federal Minister for Interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on March 15 ordered halt to implementation on the agreements with other countries for exchange of convicted criminals. An unnamed official of Interior Ministry said in a statement that it was revealed in the investigations conducted on the orders of the Interior Minister that in the last many years Pakistanis involved in dangerous crimes abroad were brought to Pakistan under these agreements. Then in connivance with the officers of Interior Ministry and Provincial Governments these convicts were released illegally. Before formulating any transparent policy, the interior minister has stopped the Interior Ministry and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) from implementing the agreements. Daily Times, March 16, 2015.

Daish poses no threat to Pakistan, says Corps Commander Lieutenant General Hidayat-ur-Rehman: The Corps Commander Lieutenant General Hidayat-ur-Rehman on March 14 said that terrorist group Daish (also self-styled as the Islamic State) poses no threat to Pakistan. General Hidayat said that there was no need to fret about Daish or its potential emergence in the country. General Hidayat rejected the notion that the terrorist group was silently spreading across the country, saying that the Army and Security Forces were in control of the situation. The News, March 16, 2015.

Almost 275 schools are non-functional in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, reveals report: Almost 275 schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) are non-functional due to a lack of staff, land disputes and security issues, revealed a report compiled by Government and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) working for education in the Province. According to the report, 15 schools are closed or non-functional in KP’s Nowshera District, 17 schools in Mardan District, seven in Swabi District, seven, including five girls schools, in Peshawar, 40 in Mansehra, 37 in Swat and 14 in Buner District. Likewise, 23 schools are closed in Haripur, 20 in Upper and Lower Dir, eight in Bannu, four each in Dera Ismail Khan, Kohat, Shangrila, Tank and Karak, eleven in Hangu, two in Chitral, six in Battagram and three in Torghar. Dawn, March 14, 2015.

Terrorism common enemy of Pakistan and Afghanistan, states Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif: The Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif said on March 12 that the terrorism is the common enemy of Pakistan and Afghanistan, requiring common endeavours to get it defeated. “Pakistan is determined to eliminate terrorism at the earliest by exploiting all available resources. Building stable and cooperative relations with all the countries in the region, including Afghanistan, is part of our vision of a peaceful neighbourhood and region,” he said while talking to Afghan Minister for Refugees and Repatriation Sayed Hussain Alemi Balkhi, who called on him at the PM House. The News, March 13, 2015.

Fleeing terrorists to be chased and eliminated, says COAS General Raheel Sharif: The Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), General Raheel Sharif, on March 12 said fleeing terrorists will be chased and eliminated as there was no place for them to hide now. The Army Chief reaffirmed the commitment to eliminate all terrorists and rid Pakistan of all types of terrorism. The COAS, who along with Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt, visited the North Waziristan Agency in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and said that the ongoing Operation Zarb-e-Azb would not stop till the job was finished. The News, March 13, 2015.

Operation to go on till last criminal eliminated, says Corps Commander Lieutenant General Naveed Mukhtar: Appreciating the Sindh Rangers for their commitment to restore normality in Karachi, provincial capital of Sindh a day after they raided the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) headquarters Nine-Zero, Corps Commander Lieutenant General Naveed Mukhtar on March 12 said that the ongoing targeted operation will continue till the elimination of the last criminal and target killer. He said the operation should continue till the port city was purged of terrorists and criminals. The News, March 13, 2015.

Lashkar-i-Islam merges into TTP: The Lashkar-i-Islam (LI) led by Mangal Bagh has merged itself into the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) under a reorganization planned by militants. According to a statement issued by Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) ‘spokesman’ Ehsanullah Ehsan on March 12, the reorganized TTP would consist of members of his group, LI and the remaining of the TTP. The head of the new set-up was yet to be named, he added.  The TTP disintegrated last year after a group led by Omar Khalid Khurasani based in Mohmand Agency revolted against Mullah Fazlullah and formed his own faction with the name of JuA. Dawn, March 13, 2015.

TTP exploiting grievances in FATA, says US Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Sarah Sewall: Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) extremists in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have long exploited local grievances in order to sustain their activities, said United States (US) Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Sarah Sewall during her presentation on the long-term US strategy for combating terrorism at the School of Advanced International Studies in Washington on March 11. She argued that weak and unpopular Governments also create feelings that encourage terrorism.  She noted that over the past 13 years violent extremist movements had diffused and proliferated, despite continued efforts to eliminate them. Dawn, March 12, 2015.

Pakistan's cyber firm stole information from India, claims US-based IT security firm: According to a two year investigation report by US-based IT security firm, FireEye a Pakistani cyber firm, based at Islamabad, identified as Tranchulas has been found stealing information from Indian government and defence establishments. The US security firm said, the findings revealing that India remains a vulnerable target for cyber attacks even after documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed widespread spying by US National Security Agency. India TV, March 12, 2015.

List of 110 most wanted terrorists issued: Police on March 11 issued a list of 110 most wanted terrorists belonging to various banned outfits and the top ten terrorists on the list were allegedly involved in high-profile suicide attacks, besides sectarian violence. One of the most wanted terrorists, Matiur Rehman, was involved in the attacks on former President General (retired) Pervez Musharraf, former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and suicide bombing on Sheraton Hotel, Karachi. He carried a PKR 10 million head money. Dawn, March 12, 2015.

Pakistan has more atomic weapons than India, reveals Nuclear Notebook Interactive infographic: According to a new interactive infographic unveiled by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that was founded in 1945 by University of Chicago scientists, Pakistan had about 120 atomic weapons, 10 more than India, in its nuclear arsenal in 2014. The Nuclear Notebook Interactive Infographic provides a visual representation of the Bulletin’s famed Nuclear Notebook, which since 1987 has tracked the number and type of the world’s nuclear arsenals. Having reached a peak of over 65,000 in the late 1980s, the number of nuclear warheads has dropped significantly to a little over 10,000, but more countries now possess them, it shows. The News, March 11, 2015.

24 criminals executed and 26,000 arrested since the launch of NAP across Pakistan, claims report: According to a report, based on information available from December 24, 2014 to March 8, 2015, presented to the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on March 10, the Government, since the launch of the National Action Plan (NAP) to rid the country of extremism and terrorism, has so for executed 24 criminals, while the Law Enforcement Agencies have arrested about 26,000 suspects on different charges across the country. The report states that 14 people have been executed in Punjab, seven in Sindh, one in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and two in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). The News, March 11, 2015.

Islamic State has significant presence in Pakistan through propaganda website: According to authorities, the Islamic State (also known as Daesh or Islamic State of Iraq and Syria -ISIS/IS), has significant presence in Pakistan through a website managed by terrorist group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Amid confusion and a struggle to remove a legal lacuna to deal with cyber crime-related issues, relevant authorities have been reluctant to block the terrorist groups’ propaganda website — which, according to security analysts, is being used as a launching pad for expansion into Pakistan by the Islamic State and al Qaeda. Tribune, March 10, 2015.

Islamic State supporters launch Facebook rival named Khelafabook: Islamic State (also known as Daesh or Islamic State of Iraq and Syria -ISIS/IS) supporters have launched their own version of Facebook, named ‘Khelafabook’. The homepage of the social networking site shows the map of world with an IS logo over all continents. However, Khelafabook, which resembles Facebook, is currently down. The message on the site’s main page reads that the site has been temporarily shut down to protect the identity and information of its members. Tribune, March 10, 2015.

Three zones set up in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for swift action against militants: In order to step up action against hardcore criminals and militants, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police have established three zones of the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) with an immediate effect to cover almost all areas of the province. The CTD was earlier known as the directorate of counter terrorism (DCT), which would only gather intelligence information and pass it to the Districts and other units of Police force for further action.  Dawn, March 10, 2015.

Operations to continue until militancy is eliminated, states General Raheel: The Chief of Pakistan Army staff General Raheel Sharif visited the Corps Headquarters in Peshawar on March 7 where he was briefed on progress made in the ongoing Zarb-i-Azb and Khyber-1 operations. The Army Chief was also briefed on the security situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Dawn, March 8, 2015.

Extrajudicial acts by Police aimed at curbing crime, says DIG Sanaullah Abbasi: Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Sanaullah Abbasi while speaking to journalists at the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) office in Hyderabad District of Sindh on March 6 said that extrajudicial killings and other actions cannot be justified officially but society has come to accept this 'modus operandi' of Police to eradicate crimes and make streets safer. "It is not necessary for an encounter to be seen as genuine only if a Policeman loses his life in it. You can see Police have restored peace and order in the city (through this modus operandi)…," he said. Dawn, March 7, 2015.

Islamabad lifts unannounced ban on non-terror executions: The Government of Pakistan on March 6 lifted an unannounced ban on executions in all cases other than terrorism since that has already been implemented in the aftermath of December 16, 2014, Peshawar school attack. The Federal Government has informed Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), Gilgit-Baltistan and all four Provincial Governments in this regard. According to the order by the Federal Ministry of Interior, over 1,000 convicts would be hanged across the country. The News, March 7, 2015.

International cooperation needed to eliminate terrorism, says Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasneem Aslam: Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasneem Aslam on March 5 said in Islamabad that terrorism is a menace that any country alone cannot fight and required cooperation of all countries. The Spokesperson said menace of terrorism is a problem that affects everyone, particularly this region. She said Pakistan has suffered the most and it has done more than any other country to counter terrorism and we expect similar role from other countries. She said there are reports and also investigations about the number of incidents took place in India. The Nation, March 6, 2015.

Ban on Haqqani Network under consideration, says Pakistan Ambassador to US Jalil Abbas Jilani: During a roundtable organised by the Christian Science Monitor in Washington on March 3, Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States (US) Jalil Abbas Jilani said that a formal announcement on outlawing the Haqqani Network it still under consideration. "These are the kind of issues that are in the works, I would say," Jilani said, when asked on a timeline for a formal announcement on the subject. Earlier in January 2015 Pakistani officials had said that Islamabad had decided to outlaw the militant group and that a formal announcement would come "within weeks." The News, March 4, 2015.

Pakistan and India agree to end tension on LoC and Working Boundary, says report: Pakistan and India on March 3 agreed to end the tension on the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary and narrow down the differences in "a spirit of friendship and cooperation". Indian Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Adviser to PM on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Special Assistant to PM on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi after one-on-one and delegation-level talks with his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry. The News, March 4, 2015.

2,000 unregistered Afghans deported since December 16, 2014, attack on APS School, says unnamed security official: Pakistan has deported around 2,000 unregistered Afghans after the attack on Army Public School in Peshawar on December 16, 2014, said an unnamed security official on March 2. According to the sources, "Pakistani authorities have clearly conveyed to the Afghan Government that around three million refugees are posing grave security risk and it is now working to send back non-registered Afghan refugees at the earliest to minimise these risks." Tribune, March 3, 2015.

145 seminaries classified 'highly sensitive' in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, reveals Government Report: A report compiled by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Provincial Government, titled 'District-wise details of Madaris', revealed that 145 madrassas in the Province fall in the 'highly sensitive' category. It states that of the 3,010 seminaries in the terror-hit province, 26 per cent are unregistered. It also reveals that in the KP region, 57 per cent of the Category B (highly sensitive) madrassas are in Tank District, which has a total of 123 madrassas. Dawn, March 3, 2015.

[Source: SATP]

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