Country Report on Terrorism 2011 - Chapter 2 - Pakistan


Overview:Counterterrorism efforts in Pakistan continued to have wide-ranging regional and global implications. Pakistan remained a critical partner on counterterrorism efforts, actively engaging against al-Qa'ida (AQ) and the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP). However, its cooperation regarding other terrorist groups, such as Lashkar-e-Tayiba (LeT), was mixed. A series of events, including the May 2 Abbottabad raid that killed Usama bin Ladin, sparked intense international and domestic scrutiny of Pakistan's security establishment and strained the U.S.-Pakistan relationship and bilateral counterterrorism efforts.  Cooperation began to recover slightly, as evidenced by the Pakistan military's September announcement marking the capture of senior AQ leader Younis al-Mauritani in a joint U.S.-Pakistan operation.  However, progress stalled following a fatal November cross-border NATO/International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) incident that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. Despite strained ties, Pakistani officials publicly reiterated that cooperation between the United States and Pakistan was in the best interest of both countries. 

In addition to Pakistan's counterterrorism efforts, a deluge of politically and ethnically-motivated targeted killings in Karachi consumed the attention of Pakistan's Parliament, Supreme Court, and law enforcement agencies during the summer months. 

Extremist groups also attempted to incite violence against reformers of Pakistan's blasphemy law.  Elements of the TTP released statements praising the January assassination of Punjab Governor Salmaan, who had publicly spoken against the blasphemy law as divisive, encouraged Pakistanis to be more tolerant of other religions and cultures, and denounced extremism. In March, Pakistan's Minister of Minority Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti, was also assassinated for speaking out against extremists. Bhatti encouraged Pakistani religious leaders to publicly denounce extremism and was a vocal critic of Pakistan's blasphemy law, which he saw as a tool for justifying extremist intolerance and violence. TTP claimed responsibility for Bhatti's death. Finally, in September, Sunni extremists conducted execution-style attacks on Shia pilgrims in Balochistan, evidencing a disturbing escalation of sectarian violence.

2011 Terrorist Incidents:   Over 2500 civilians and 670 law enforcement personnel died in terrorist-related incidents, and the presence of AQ, Taliban, and indigenous militant sectarian groups continued to pose potential danger to U.S. citizens throughout Pakistan.  The TTP claimed responsibility for the majority of Pakistan's almost daily attacks that targeted civilians and security personnel, with incidents occurring in every province. These included:

  • On March 9, a suicide bomber killed at least 43 and injured 52 in an attack on the funeral procession for the wife of a local tribal militia member in Peshawar.
  • On May 13, two suicide bombers killed at least 90, including 17 civilians, at a Frontier Corps training center in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.  The TTP claimed responsibility and called the attack retaliation for Usama bin Ladin's death.
  • On May 16, militants shot dead a Saudi diplomat in Karachi; the TTP claimed responsibility.
  • On May 20, the TTP attacked a U.S. Consulate General vehicle in Peshawar, killing one person and injuring one dozen, including two U.S. Consulate General employees.
  • On May 22, a gun battle with militants at Pakistan Naval Station Mehran in Karachi killed ten military personnel.  The TTP claimed responsibility and again designated the attack as retaliation for bin Ladin's death.
  • On June 11, twin bomb blasts killed at least 39 and injured 88 in a supermarket near Peshawar.  The TTP denied responsibility stating that foreign agencies were attempting to malign the group.
  • On August 13, a U.S. citizen was kidnapped from his residence in Lahore. On December 1, AQ leader Ayman al-Zawahiri claimed to be holding the citizen and issued a list of demands in exchange for his release.
  • On September 7, twin suicide attacks targeting the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of the Frontier Corps's residence in Quetta killed at least 26 and injured 60.  The DIG's forces were involved in the arrest of al-Mauritani.  The TTP claimed responsibility.
  • On September 13, TTP militants attacked a school bus in a suburb of Peshawar, killing four children and the driver.
  • On September 20, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militants in Balochistan ordered Shia pilgrims off a bus, lined them up, and opened fire on them, killing 29.

Legislation and Law Enforcement:   In June, President Zardari signed the “Action in Aid of Civil Power Regulation, 2011,” which provides a new framework for the detention of insurgents in the Federally and Provincially Administered Tribal Areas.  The regulation provides a legal framework for security forces to take, hold, and process detainees captured during conflict.  Human rights organizations have criticized the regulation because it gives broad powers to the Pakistan military and these groups allege it is inconsistent with Pakistan's international human rights obligations.  However, the Regulation establishes a legal framework that did not previously exist, and provides for detainee transfer to civilian custody for potential prosecution under Pakistan's criminal law.  Media reports indicated that Pakistani authorities began implementing the regulation in November and that some transfer of detainees from military to civilian custody began before year's end.

Despite calls by the Prime Minister to move forward, Pakistan's legislature did not approve legislation aimed at strengthening its Anti-Terrorism Act. The acquittal rate for terrorist cases remained as high as 85 percent.

In November, biometric screenings at land border crossings began on the Afghan and Pakistani sides of the border.

Pakistani security forces conducted substantial counterterrorism operations in Kurram, Mohmand, Orakzai, South Waziristan Agencies, and in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province that resulted in the death or detention of thousands of militants.  Law enforcement entities reported the capture of large caches of weapons in urban areas such as Islamabad and Karachi.  In May, the Pakistani military significantly disrupted AQ's Karachi network by arresting senior commander Muhammad Ali Qasim Yaqub.  Pakistani authorities captured Umar Patek, a key suspect in the 2002 Bali bombings, and returned the suspect to Indonesia for prosecution.

Trial proceedings continued against seven alleged 2008 Mumbai attack conspirators, including alleged LeT commander Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi.  While most of the proceedings focused on procedural issues, during high-level bilateral meetings Indian leadership agreed to allow a Pakistani judicial commission visit India to record statements from key prosecution witnesses. 

Pakistan remained a critical partner nation in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance program, which provided tactical and investigative training at the Federal and Provincial levels.

Countering Terrorist Finance:   Pakistan is a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. Pakistan has been under review by the FATF because of deficiencies in its Anti-Money Laundering/Countering Terrorist Finance regime.  In 2011, the FATF, in consultation with Pakistani authorities, added additional items to Pakistan's 2009 action plan, including a requirement that the government respond to third-party information requests. 

UN-designated terrorist organizations were able to evade sanctions by reconstituting themselves under different names and gained access to the financial system.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes:

Regional and International Cooperation:   Pakistan is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum and supported the September inaugural meeting of its Coordinating Committee.  In his address at the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Interior Ministers Conference, Pakistani Minister Rehman Malik recommended that SAARC create an inter-policing agency modeled after INTERPOL to better coordinate efforts to counter terrorism and money laundering. 

Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Turkey signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together to control money laundering and smuggling, eliminate terrorism, and share information in real time.  In November, Pakistan hosted an Afghan delegation investigating allegations that the Pakistani-based Quetta Shura was responsible for the September assassination of former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani. 

Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism:   Pakistan took some steps to support both public and private sector initiatives to counter violent extremism.  This included offering support for the United Arab Emirates' new International Center of Excellence on Countering Violent Extremism, launched at the GCTF.  On a local level, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting developed a public awareness campaign.  In Swat, Pakistan's army hosted a national seminar on de-radicalization for journalists, academics, and international donors to showcase its facilities in the region.