Night Watch

Pakistan: The nation in partial lock down. The government has tightened security nationwide, according to Pakistani media, as a precaution during the continuing counter-terrorism operations. Selected Army units have deployed to key locations in all major cities so they can act as Quick Response Forces to back up police and paramilitary forces in an emergency.

Metal detectors, body screening machines and closed circuit televisions have been installed at all major prisons. Guard forces have been reinforced. Near the Karachi central jail, for example, the Pakistan Army has deployed an armored unit to deter what the media call "a militant backlash."

The government has advised foreigners and UN staffers to limit their movement in Islamabad for the next three days and to stay away from popular shopping areas because of the threat of terrorist attacks. They also have been asked to stay in the federal capital.

Military and paramilitary forces have tightened security along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border to prevent terrorists from fleeing into Pakistan. Pakistan asked the Afghan National Army and Afghan Border Police to seal the border on their side and to engage any terrorists who try to flee, especially into Konar and Nuristan provinces of Afghanistan.

Comment: With the onset of the anti-terror operations, the Pakistani Taliban warned foreigners to leave Pakistan or risk becoming targets. The extra precautions at prisons throughout the country mean that the government has intelligence that Pakistani Taliban groups intend to attempt jail breaks to free fellow fighters.

The measures constitute a security lock down of the most likely targets for terrorist attacks. They are significant because they feature extensive, if not unprecedented, coordination among the Army, the various paramilitary forces and the police in each province and in the major cities. Improved coordination might reflect lessons learned from the operations at Karachi international airport in which Army units in coordination with the various police forces limited the attack and prevented an aircraft hijacking.

Security authorities apparently judge the next three days to be the window for the Pakistani Taliban to retaliate.

In combat action, the armed forces reported having killed 187 terrorists since the operations began. Air strikes killed most. Eight Pakistani security forces have died in the fighting in North Waziristan Agency.


Night Watch

NightWatch is an internationally acclaimed nightly newsletter that tracks and assesses threats to US national security. It has an edgy, executive style unlike any other summary of its kind.