Daily Briefs

Photo : Dawn

25 July 2020, Saturday I Vol 1, No.88

Internal analysis in Pakistan looks at four trends in the Baloch insurgency

Responses to the NTI index on Pakistan's nuclear safety and security.

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus
An internal analysis on four trends in Baloch Insurgency.
Reduced numbers, suicide bombings, middle class, and Chinese targets

An analysis in the Dawn titled “Baloch militancy trends” by Tariq Parvez identifies four trends in Baloch sub-nationalist militancy and the state’s response. (Tariq Parvez, “Baloch militancy trends,” Dawn, 25 July 2020)
First, there is a significant reduction in the number of terrorist attacks by Baloch sub-nationalist groups (BSNGs) since 2015. Parvez highlights that terrorist attacks by BSNGs between 2015 and 2019 came down from 194 in 2015 to 51 in 2019, estimating a reduction of 74 per cent in terms of terrorist attacks in the last five years. He states that although this by no mean achievement but it showcases the effectiveness of the government’s counter-terrorism measures, given that there is of the heavy-handed tactics adopted by the government to achieve the reduction in terrorism.
Second, a new trend of suicide bombings. The analysis states that there has been a fundamental change in modus operandi of terrorist attacks. Initially, BSNGs would plant IEDs on railway tracks, roadsides or carry out kill-and-run tactics, however, now suicide bombing a tactic that Baloch militants did not adopt has now become the most common tactic of religiously inspired militants. Further, these militants have not only resorted to suicide bombings but also conducted more sophisticated attacks aimed at holding hostages, as in the attacks on international bodies in the country. Further, some believe that the adoption of suicide bombing by Baloch militants has been a direct outcome of the issue of enforced disappearances and arbitrary killing of militants among others.
Third, a shift in leadership from tribal sardars to the educated middle-class youth. The author highlights that there has been a significant shift when it comes the effective leadership of BSNGs where there has been a shift from tribal sardars to the educated middle-class youth. This is seen in the two Baloch organisation, the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) and the Baloch Republican Army (BRA). Although the BLA is formally being headed by London-based Harbiyar Marri and the BRA is led by Brahmdagh Bugti based in Switzerland. The de facto leadership of these organisations who are leading the fight from Afghanistan are two militants, Bashir Zeb and Gulzar Imam, both who belong to the middle class and are former leaders of the Baloch Students Organisation. Similarly, the Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) headed by Dr Allah Nazar Baloch is a middle-class doctor (MBBS). Further, the ‘non-sardarisation’ of Baloch militant has manifested clearly in the formation of an alliance between four major groups of militants, BLA, BRA, BLF and the Baloch Republican Guard, called the Baloch Raaji Aajoi Sangar (BRAS). The formation of which is likely to challenge the state.
Fourth, increasing attacks targeting Chinese premises and personnel. Besides targeting the state institutions in Pakistan and personnel, Baloch militants have increasingly targeted Chinese premises and personnel, highlighting the recent attack on the PSX.
The author concludes by stating that the changes in Baloch militancy are fundamental in nature and call thus there need to be a revision of the counter-terrorism strategy, adding that although the present circumstances may lead to a reduction in terrorist attacks in the short run, it would lead to the further alienation of Baloch youth, which in the long term would driving them into those who are advocating these lethal tactics.

In Brief 
In the best interest of mankind, it would be better to rethink nuclear power
According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative study, Pakistan has improved the most in nuclear security by adopting new on-site protection and cybersecurity regulations, improving insider threat protection measures. The editorial quotes IAEA head Yukiya Amano visit in 2018 where he said, ‘the metropolis’s nuclear plants were “heavily protected” and that Pakistan is “committed to nuclear safety”.
The editor put forward the risks associated with nuclear energy more disastrous as compared to its advantages and states for a shift for environment-friendly alternatives giving an instance of Japan’s Fukushima disaster of 2011. (“Nuclear security”Dawn, 25 July 2020)

NTI Index suggest Pakistan for more stringent controls
The recent NTI report criticizes Pakistan is increasing its supplies of weapons-usable nuclear materials. As the report highlighted the loopholes and suggest improvements country could bring forward. For Pakistan, the report suggests, more stringent control and accounting measures and insider threat prevention also, ratifying the International Convention for the Suppression of Nuclear Terrorism and voluntarily supporting the IAEA. (“Nuclear Security”The Express Tribune, 25 July 2020)

Opposition asks the government for an action plan on FATA
On 24 July, the opposition has said, it would not continue with the 24-member committee for legislation business. They also said, ‘The opposition will not be a party in any legislation that would give arbitrary powers to the administration for detaining anyone for a specific period without evidence. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi headed the opposition members of the committee in its inaugural sitting assured ‘the government that the opposition is prepared to cooperate in any legislation of national interest but it must be reasonably judicious and shouldn’t be used as a tool of coercion by the government to haunt its opponents’. (“Opposition asks govt to provide parameters of FATF action plan”The News International, 25 July 2020)

Law Minister asks opposition in NA to support ordinance on Jadav
On 24 July, the Law Minister Barrister Farogh Naseem appeared in the National Assembly explaining the government’s stance on the controversial legislation which is aimed at allowing Kulbhushan Jadhav to have consular access. The minister asked for support from the opposition on the ordinance which he stated was issued in line with the 2017 judgement of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and to demonstrate that Pakistan is a responsible state. Further, he denied that the ordinance was similar to the NRO, adding that the government does not want to provide this to Jadav. Further, the minister rejected the criticism received from the opposition who through a strong protest boycotted the proceedings which prevented the government from implementing the controversial ordinance, alleging that the government had formulated it secretly to appease India. (Amir Wasim, “Minister defends Jadhav-specific law,” Dawn, 25 July 2020)

PM forms a three-member committee for Balochistan uplift plans
On 24 July, PM Imran Khan on Friday constituted a three-member committee who are to make a report suggesting priority areas for development in Balochistan with special focus on communications, agriculture, energy and other important sectors. The committee comprising Balochistan Chief Minister, federal Minister for Planning and Development and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance was constituted by the PM while presiding over the second meeting of the National Development Council (NDC). Further, the meeting also approved the setting up of the Balochistan Mineral Exploration Company which would help enhance the utilisation of mineral resources of the province and boost exploration activities. Further, the PM expresses his determination to end the sense of deprivation which is rampant in the province through the launching a series of development projects and committed to breaking the years of neglect the province has witnessed. Further, he guaranteed complete peace, security and socio-economic development for the people of Balochistan as a key priority of his government. (“PM forms panel on Balochistan uplift plans,” Dawn, 25 July 2020)

CAA issues notice to five officials over dubious licences
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) issued show-cause notices to five of its suspended officials who are facing an inquiry over their alleged involvement in issuing dubious pilot licences. This comes after the Supreme Court’s directives on the matter. Further, the Aviation Division is consulting legal experts on referring cases against the CAA’s information technology (IT) experts who are allegedly involved in the dubious licences scam, to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). The Aviation Division had suspended the five CAA officials and initiated inquiry against IT department officials along with others who are suspected of being involved in the exam scandal. (Wajih Ahmad Sheikh, Mohammad Asghar, “CAA issues notices to officials over dubious licences,” Dawn, 25 July 2020)

Aviation minister on PIA restriction and PIA on increasing prices 
On 24 July, Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said the restructuring of the Pakistan International Airlines was on the cards. He also said European Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) ban on PIA flights in EU countries and three cities of the UK had been imposed neither due to the PIA plane crash in Karachi nor because of his statement on PIA pilot's dubious license. “The operations of some of the PIA planes had remained banned from 2007 to 2009 on safety issues”. 
The opposition also targeted the government for a hike in prices for medicines during the pandemic. PPP parliamentary leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman said PTI government had allowed pharmaceutical companies to increase prices of medicines by up to 10 per cent and the increasing prices of medicines had become a norm for the government. (“PIA not being prevised, Senate told”Dawn, 25 July 2020)

IHC rejects the interior ministry’s report on Cynthia case
The Islamabad High Court has called the interior ministry’s report on the Cynthia D. Ritchie’s case as unsatisfactory and directed the interior secretary to review it. The court heard the petition filed by a worker of the PPP in which it requested the interior ministry to expel Ms Ritchie over visa and passport-related issues and her alleged defamatory tweets against PPP leaders. The interior ministry had submitted a report to the IHC last week stating that Ms Ritchie was in Pakistan on an extended visa, however, the report did not contain comments on the allegations that she had posted defamatory tweets against the PPP leadership. Further, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah stated that that the allegations against the US citizen were serious adding that it is the responsibility of the state conduct transparent investigations into the allegations. The hearing has been adjourned until 4 August. (“IHC rejects ministry’s report on Cynthia case,” Dawn, 25 July 2020)

Gwadar Port Authority urges Chinese to launch project
On 24 July in a meeting Gwadar Port Authority chairman Naseer Khan Kashani has urged the Chinese companies to launch projects relating to the socio-economic sector focusing on the problems faced by the fishermen in the region. During the meeting, the work ongoing projects and development in the Gwadar plan was also facilitated (Behram Baloch “Chinese firms asked to launch uplift projects in Gwadar,” Dawn, 25 July 2020)

China as a Kashmir solution for India and Pakistan, says Naeem Sarfraz
The editor gave highlights the issue between China, India and Pakistan and gives China as an alternative to solve the issue by giving instances of many agreements signed between China and other countries. He also says, “The one option never tried before is a peace initiative by China, India and Pakistan to resolve their common border disputes through the resolution of the Kashmir issue”. It also brings foreword India in a quandary, with no other option than fences with China, the lone emerging global power. For which ‘Both India and Pakistan will also have to get in step with China for a slow, deliberate and peaceful solution, not one mired in conflict, terrorism, rape, loot and plunder.’ (Naeem Sarfraz “Kashmir solution — China is now a party,” The Nation, 25 July 2020)


"While the US body has praised Pakistan’s progress on nuclear security, it has also sounded the alarm regarding the “decline in the rate of improvement to national regulatory structures and the global nuclear security architecture”. Basically, the institute is worried that geopolitical friction and the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic was weakening global cooperation in the realm of nuclear security. Perhaps this should serve as a moment to ponder the future of atomic power, both for energy and weapons, for the global community...Perhaps in the best interest of mankind, it would be better to rethink nuclear power"

-  Dawn Editorial on NTI Index 2020  (Dawn)


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