May 15, 2007

More advisories... the net tightens

Country Risk Rating High

Advisory I- Supreme Court Official Killed in Islamabad; Nationwide Strike Commences

A senior Supreme Court official was killed by gunmen early on 14 May at his residence in Islamabad.

According to the official's wife, two or three gunmen shot him and immediately fled the scene in what appears to have been a targeted killing.

Meanwhile, shops across the country closed in response to a strike called by opposition parties Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD), Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf (PTI) and Awami National Party (ANP).

Troops in Karachi were allegedly given orders to shoot protesters in response to a break down in law and order in the city over the weekend which killed at least 42 people and injured approximately 140. The Sindh provincial government has imposed Section 144 of the Pakistani Constitution in Karachi for a period of 30 days, banning the carrying of weapons, processions, public rallies and public meetings.

Roads leading to North Nizamabad, North Karachi, Site and Orangi town in Karachi have been sealed by authorities, while traffic on the National Highway and railways has been suspended. Approximately 15,000 police and paramilitary troops have been deployed in the city.

The Marriot, Avari and Sheraton hotels in Karachi, Serena and Marriot hotels in Islamabad, Avari hotel in Lahore and Pearl hotel in Peshawar are providing escort services to and from the airport for their customers.

Pakistan International Airways (PIA) has advised passengers to check with the airline for any changes in schedule for domestic and international flights out of Karachi.

Violence erupted in Karachi on 12 May, as rallies organized by opposition parties MMA, ANP and Pakistani People's Party (PPP), along with several lawyers, in support of suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, clashed with a competing rally by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the ruling party in the Sindh province and a member of the national coalition government.

The killing of a Supreme Court official comes in the wake of Chief Justice Chaudhry's petition hearing in the Supreme Court, which was scheduled for 14 May but was subsequently halted. Chief Justice Chaudhry's lawyers announced that they planned to protest in Islamabad on 14 May.

With the involvement of coalition member MQM in the violence, there are speculations that President Pervez Musharraf's government has been weakened and there may be early elections. President Musharraf, however, has declared that both presidential and general elections will take place as scheduled.

There has been some visible downgrading of physical security measures in Islamabad and Lahore on 14 May, however Karachi remains in a virtual lockdown. Further protest and violence remains likely.

advises its staff members to defer non-essential travel to Pakistan until the situation subsides. Those staff in Karachi are advised to limit movement in the city. In particular, Qasba Aligarh, Banaras, Patel Para, Sohrab Goth, Qaidabad, Dawood Chowrangi Landhi, Shahra-e-Faisal, Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Nomish Chowangi, Water Pump area, Ibne-e-Sina road, Metro Cinema, Lyari, Kala Board, Malir, PIA Colony, SITE area, Baloch Colony, Guru Mandir, Model Colony, Korangi, Qasba Colony, Jamshed Quarters and Lasbela should be avoided. In addition, Members in Islamabad are advised to avoid the vicinity of the Supreme Court.

members travelling to and from the country should check with their respective airlines about internal security mechanisms and changes in flight schedules.

Country Risk Rating High
Advisory II-Pakistani and Afghan Forces Clash

Pakistan's Frontier Corps clashed with Afghan soldiers at Jajai in the tribal Kurram Agency near Afghanistan's Paktia province on 13 May.

Pakistani authorities claim that six Afghan soldiers were killed while Afghan officials said that two Afghan civilians were killed in the fighting.

Both sides traded accusations of unprovoked firing which led to a two-hour battle. According to reports, the fighting affected Kubki village and several persons were injured in Gul Ghundi.

The latest incident will further impact on the troubled relationship between the two countries.

Afghanistan accuses Pakistan of providing assistance to the Taliban and al-Qaeda militants that stage regular attacks on Afghan and coalition forces inside Afghanistan. Pakistan denies these charges and claims that it is doing all it can to fight terrorism in the region.

The 1510 mi (2430 km) border shared by the two countries is a contentious issue. Pakistan's recent move to fence parts of the border in an attempt to control the movement of militants has angered Kabul which does not recognize it as an international boundary. The frontier region is inhabited on both sides by Pashtun tribes with strong family and clan ties who travel freely across the border.

Taliban offensives in Afghanistan generally increase during the summer with the opening of the mountain passes. Despite claims to the contrary, Pakistan continues to support its proxies in Afghanistan, including members of the Taliban. The US is also losing patience with Pakistan's less than constructive role in Afghanistan and in pursuing regional extremists. The US support of both countries is the major factor preventing a further deterioration of relations between the two countries. This is an artificial situation that will not last.

Increased clashes on the Pakistan-Afghan border are likely.

The Beaver

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Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

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