Pakistan Security Brief – April 17, 2012

January intelligence report warned about possible Bannu jailbreak; Pakistani militant posts message about Bannu jailbreak on jihadist websites; U.S. cannot confirm Kabul attacks planned in Pakistan; Secretary Clinton says she will continue to “squeeze” the Haqqani Network; Supreme Court orders prime minister’s counsel to conclude arguments by Wednesday; Prime Minister Gilani summons meeting of Defence Committee of the Cabinet; Nawaz Sharif calls on both Pakistan and India to withdraw troops from Siachen; Law enforcement agencies arrest “mastermind” of sectarian killings; British Parliamentarian denies allegation of bounty; Benazir Income Support Programme shows signs of success.

 

Bannu Jailbreak

  • According to the Express Tribune, a confidential intelligence report dated January 5, 2012 warned that the Tariq Geedar militant group could “mount an assault on Bannu prison to free Adnan Rashid,” a former junior technician in the Pakistan Air Force who was allegedly involved in an assassination attempt on former President Pervez Musharraf. The intelligence report, along with recommended measures to thwart the attack, was distributed to officials in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) by the National Crisis Management Cell. However, the KP government attributed Sunday’s attack by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan on the Central Jail in Bannu to a “total intelligence failure,” ignoring the January report. The KP government removed four senior officials from their posts in the aftermath of the attack: Bannu Commissioner Abdullah Jan, Inspector General of Prisons Arshad Majeed, Bannu Deputy Inspector General Iftikhar Khan, and Bannu Prison Deputy Superintendent Muhammad Zahid. A militant commander who aided in planning the attack claimed that his group had “inside information” including maps of the area and jail. IG Majeed did not contradict the militant commander’s statement, saying that he “did not rule out collusion.” Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti established a five-member committee to investigate the attack, asking it to complete its inquiry within 15 days. Of the 384 prisoners that escaped during the attack, 88 have returned either voluntarily or by arrest.[1]

  • A Pakistani militant posted a message about the Bannu jailbreak on jihadi websites on Monday, claiming that the “enemy” and “apostate” forces did not resist the “liberation operation,” even though there were large numbers of them that were heavily armed. According to the militant, the security forces’ inadequate response to the operation shows “signs of collapse” within Pakistani government agencies.[2]

Kabul Attacks

  • Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey stated that the U.S. cannot yet confirm whether Sunday’s attacks in Kabul were planned in Pakistan. Gen. Dempsey was following up on the series of coordinated attacks on Sunday, in which Taliban militants attacked embassies, NATO headquarters and the parliament in Kabul, Afghanistan. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta stated that the U.S. has intelligence linking the Haqqani Network to Sunday’s attacks, and that while the attacks show the resilience of the Taliban, they also show that it “has not made any tactical gains or been able to regain territory lost in the past year or more.” Secretary Panetta added that the U.S. is concerned that Haqqani militants continue to “find safe haven in Pakistan,” a situation that he said is “not tolerable.” Panetta also said that the U.S., with assistance from the Afghan army, would be able to combat the militants and their spring offensive.[3]

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

  • On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that she “will continue to squeeze the Haqqani Network” in the wake of the Kabul attacks. According to the U.S. State Department, Secretary Clinton spoke about the attacks with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, and discussed the two countries’ “shared responsibility” to “confront and defeat terrorists.” After speaking with Clinton, Foreign Minister Khar said that Pakistan would welcome a U.S. delegation in order to discuss the new terms of engagement between the U.S. and Pakistan. According to Dawn, negotiations regarding the new framework for engagement will resume when Special Envoy Marc Grossman visits Islamabad later this month. Khar noted that both countries are committed to ensuring that their “mutual interests are served by a partnership approach.”[4]

Militancy

Domestic Politics

India-Pakistan Relations

Bounty

  • British Parliamentarian Lord Nazir Ahmed denied the allegation that he announced a 10 million pound bounty for the capture of President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush. The Express Tribune published the statement on Monday, and then later retracted it. Ahmed, who was suspended by Britain’s Labour Party for his alleged statement, told Reuters that he never mentioned Obama or a bounty, and that he would never urge someone to attack or capture another person. According to Ahmed, he said that he wanted to help raise money for the prosecution of Bush and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair for their “war crimes” in Iraq and Afghanistan, but he was “deliberately misquoted” by political enemies trying to discredit him.[10]

Welfare

  • The Associated Press (AP) reported on the Benazir Income Support Programme, a cash-transfer program in Pakistan that is named for the late Benazir Bhutto and is modeled after programs in Africa and South America. According to the report, the program, which has handed out $1.3 billion to 5.2 million people since it began in 2008, has been relatively successful compared to other cash-transfer programs in Pakistan that have been plagued by allegations of corruption and misuse of funds. According to AP, President Asif Ali Zardari has often played up his association to the program named after his late wife to garner more support for his party. However, the head of the program, Farzana Raja, said that the funds “have not” and “will not” be used for “political reasons.”[11]



[1] “Brazen attack: Bannu jailbreak reports suggest ‘inside job,’” Express Tribune, April 17, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/365865/brazen-attack-bannu-jailbreak-reports-suggest-inside-job/
Zulfiqar Ali and Abdul Salam, “Inquiry into jail attack ordered: Four senior officials removed,” Dawn, April 17, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/04/17/inquiry-into-jail-attack-ordered-four-senior-officials-removed/
“Head rolls as KP government investigates Bannu jailbreak,” Daily Times, April 17, 2012. Available at http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012%5C04%5C17%5Cstory_17-4-2012_pg1_3
[2] “Pakistani Jihadist Reports on Bannu Prison Break,” SITE Intelligence Group, April 16, 2012. Available at SITE.
[3] Huma Imtiaz, “The Haqqani connection: ‘No intelligence that Kabul attack planned in Pakistan,’” Express Tribune, April 17, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/365815/the-haqqani-connection-no-intelligence-that-kabul-attack-planned-in-pakistan/
Robert Burns, “US: Unclear if Afghan attacks came from Pakistan,” Associated Press, April 16, 2012. Available at http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2012/04/16/us_unclear_if_afghan_attacks_came_from_pakistan/
[4] “Clinton to continue to press Pakistan on Haqqani network,” AFP, April 17, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/365928/clinton-to-continue-to-press-pakistan-on-haqqani-network/
“Clinton spoke to Pakistan minister about Afghan attacks,” Reuters, April 16, 2012. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/16/us-usa-pakistan-clinton-idUSBRE83F0XV20120416
“Baqir Sajjad Syed, “US appears firm on repairing ties with Pakistan,” Dawn, April 17, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/04/17/us-appears-firm-on-repairing-ties-with-pakistan/
[5] Shabbir Mir and Farman Ali, “Sectarian tensions: Alleged mastermind, five others arrested for GB unrest,” Express Tribune, April 17, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/365827/sectarian-tensions-alleged-mastermind-five-others-arrested-for-gb-unrest/
[6] “Kurram Agency: Six militants killed in action by forces,” Geo, April 17, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=44808
[7] Azam Khan, “Contempt case: SC asks Aitzaz to conclude arguments by Wednesday,” Express Tribune, April 17, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/365945/pm-contempt-aitzaz-waiting-for-reference-books-to-present-case-in-sc/
[8] “DCC meeting to review Pak-US ties, Nato supply,” Geo, April 17, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=44799
[9] “Pakistan, India should withdraw troops from Siachen: Sharif,” Express Tribune, April 17, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/365963/pakistan-india-should-withdraw-troops-from-siachen-sharif/
[10] “Britain’s Lord Nazir denies bounty offer for Obama capture,” Reuters, April 17, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/04/17/britains-lord-nazir-denies-bounty-offer-for-obama-capture/
[11] “In Pakistan, welfare scheme shows signs of success,” Associated Press, April 17, 2012. Available at http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/04/17/in-pakistan-welfare-scheme-shows-signs-success/