Pakistani security forces, U.N. brace for reprisal attacks from Taliban

Event Notice: "Afghanistan: A Distant War," a discussion with renowned photojournalist Robert Nickelsberg, WEDNESDAY, November 6, 12:15-1:45 PM (NAF).  Still mad The aftershocks of Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud’s death in a U.S. drone strike on Friday are still being felt throughout Pakistan, with security forces across the country on high alert (AJAM, AP, Dawn, NYT, Post).  Authorities are ...

THIR KHAN/AFP/Getty Images
THIR KHAN/AFP/Getty Images
THIR KHAN/AFP/Getty Images

Event Notice: "Afghanistan: A Distant War," a discussion with renowned photojournalist Robert Nickelsberg, WEDNESDAY, November 6, 12:15-1:45 PM (NAF). 

Still mad

Event Notice: "Afghanistan: A Distant War," a discussion with renowned photojournalist Robert Nickelsberg, WEDNESDAY, November 6, 12:15-1:45 PM (NAF). 

Still mad

The aftershocks of Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud’s death in a U.S. drone strike on Friday are still being felt throughout Pakistan, with security forces across the country on high alert (AJAMAPDawnNYTPost).  Authorities are bracing for a reprisal attack on civilians by the militant group after intelligence reports suggest the Taliban are planning to attack armed forces installations, Western media offices, and commercial centers (AJE, ET).  The United Nations issued a warning to its Pakistan office of the potential threat of hostage situations and mass killings, and said that enhancing the security of shopping malls was especially necessary.

In an effort to counteract some of the negative repercussions, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen urged Pakistan on Monday to keep supply lines open to NATO forces in Afghanistan (Reuters). Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf party, which governs Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, voted on Monday to block the supply lines by November 20 unless the United States stops drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal regions (NYT). Without the land routes across Pakistan, NATO forces must use more expensive methods, like airlifts, to deliver supplies like food, potable water, and fuel to the troops.  Rasmussen did not comment on the drone strike that killed Mehsud, but did say that: "terrorism constitutes a threat to the whole region."

Investing in the future

Pakistan’s Express Tribune newspaper reported on Tuesday that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has dedicated $33.9 million to continue the Training for Pakistan Project (ET). According to a statement issued by USAID, more than 6,000 Pakistani professionals will take part in educational opportunities funded by the project over the next four years.  The program includes the facilitation of an USAID alumni network that will encourage continued engagement in Pakistan’s development, and is designed to support Pakistan’s agricultural, health, and educational development through local, regional, and international partnerships.

Spotty registration

Over 45,000 people have been issued voter cards in southeastern Paktika province, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) reported on Tuesday, as part of the ongoing voter registration campaign (Pajhwok). IEC spokesman Zarab Shah Aajaz told Pajhwok Afghan News that 21,000 of the voter card recipients were women.  However, the provincial council deputy chief, Niamatullah Khalid, claimed residents of several districts — Dila, Gayan, and Mata Khan — could not obtain voter cards due to security concerns. Khalid did say that security was better in areas where the Afghan Local Police were deployed and that residents in those areas were joining the registration process.  The voter registration drive will end November 11.

A date of November 19 has been set for the Loya Jirga to begin in Afghanistan (Reuters). The assembly of tribal elders, government officials, and community members will meet for several days to discuss the Bilateral Security Agreement between the United States and Afghanistan and to decide the future of US troops in Afghanistan.   

Taliban recruiter caught

Mullah Rahmatullah, a key Taliban figure who was instrumental in recruiting militants, was arrested on Monday in northern Balkh province, following an intelligence report, though details of that report are unclear (Pajhwok). 

In a separate incident, police fatally shot a man they claimed was a suicide bomber near the Friendship Gate on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in southern Kandahar province on Tuesday (Pajhwok). The suspect ignored police signals to stop, prompting security personnel open fire.  His car exploded as a result, confirming police suspicion of a car bomb.

Everyone’s a critic

Zabihullah Mujahid, an Afghan Taliban spokesman, had some choice words for the Daily Beast on Sunday, releasing a statement that claimed the web-based news organization had violated "the basic principles of journalism" when it reported on Friday that the Quetta Shura had met in Islamabad to discuss peace (Voice of Jihad).  Mujahid’s chief complaint was that no one had contacted him for a statement and he added that the report, which the Daily Beast said was an exclusive given by a senior Taliban commander, was "far from reality, purely propaganda based and fabricated."  The Daily Beast fired back on Monday with its own statement, saying: "It’s always fun to be lectured about ethics by a terrorist organization dedicated to bringing the world back to the seventh century" (Daily Beast).

Emily Schneider is a program associate in the International Security Program at New America. She is also an assistant editor of the South Asia channel. Twitter: @emilydsch

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