Pakistan Security Brief - April 25, 2011

Wikileaks describes ISI as terrorist organization; U.S. personnel have left air base in Balochistan; Dempsey meets with Kayani in Islamabad; Khar scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia; NATO supply shipments halted due to PTI protests; Anti-Taliban militia leader killed in Bajaur; Pro-government elder killed in Mohmand; Woman killed by stray shell; Six militants killed in Orakzai, Ten insurgents killed in Khyber; Bomb attack in Hangu; IAEA declares nuclear program as “safe; ” Taseer’s daughter to continue campaign against blasphemy laws.

 

WikiLeaks

  • A new WikiLeaks revelation in the form of a guide to interrogations at Guantanamo Bay dated to 2007 describes Pakistan’s Inter-Intelligence Services (ISI) agency as a terrorist organization, alongside al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah. The document said that links between detainees and the ISI should be considered as "an indication of terrorist or insurgent activity." The document also reports on official Pakistani support for militant activities in neighboring Afghanistan as well as Pakistani training of Afghan fighters to conduct attacks on Western interests. The file additionally details past collaboration between the ISI and CIA, highlighting cases of detainees who were turned over to U.S. authorities by the ISI.[i]
 

U.S.-Pakistani Relations

  • According to a senior Pakistani intelligence official, U.S. military personnel have left a strategic air base located in Balochistan. The News reports that “As the relations between Islamabad and Washington have strained due to latter’s mounting interference and repeated breach of Pakistan’s sovereignty, the US Embassy spokesman, Alberto Rodriguez, confirmed that there are no US forces at the Shamsi Air Base in Balochistan.” Media reports in 2009 alleged that U.S. drones have taken off and been refueled at the base. The official did not confirm whether the military personnel had left voluntarily or at the request of the Pakistani government.[ii]
  • On Friday, the U.S. army chief of staff, General Dempsey met with his counterpart, General Kayani, in Islamabad. Dawn reports that, “While Admiral Mullen discussed the broader strategic challenges like alleged ISI links with the Haqqani network, military sources say, Gen Dempsey was more focused on operational matters relating to the fight against militancy.” The discussions reportedly revolved around issues of coordination, troop deployments along the border, cross-border movements of militants, and intelligence sharing, among other issues. Meanwhile, Kayani made a separate speech amid public criticism put forth by U.S. officials in recent days. Without specifically mentioning recent public allegations by U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mullen, Kayani said that thePakistan army was fully aware of the internal and external threats faced by the country.” He additionally declared that,his force had broken ‘the backbone’ of Islamist militants in the country.” [iii]
 

Ties with Saudi Arabia

  • Hina Rabbani Khar, the minister of state for foreign affairs, is scheduled to make an official visit to Saudi Arabia on Saturday. The visit is being interpreted as significant amid the events taking place during the “Arab Spring,” where old regional alliances are being revived and new alignments are emerging across the Middle East. In addition, Dawn reports that Saudi National Security Council chief Prince Bandar bin Abdul Aziz paid a visit to Islamabad at the end of March, where he reportedly discussed “contingencies under which thousands of additional Pakistani security forces might be dispatched to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to crush the uprising.”
 

NATO Supplies Halted

 

FATA

  • A suicide bomber killed an anti-Taliban militia leader in Bajaur on Saturday. A tribal police official reported that, “A suicide bomber blew himself up before the vehicle of Malik Manasib Khan killing him and four others including a paramilitary soldier and wounding five others.” Khan was the head of the Salarzai tribe, which had previously recruited a village force and had attempted to eradicate Taliban militants from the area. A spokesperson for the Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack. Meanwhile, a separate bomb attack in Bajaur killed a security officer.[v]
  • A pro-government tribal elder was killed in Mohmand Agency on Friday. Malik Sher Khan was kidnapped from his house in the Gakizai area of Lakkaro sub-district. His body was later found in the area on Friday. A spokesperson for the TTP claimed responsibility for the attack, stating that Khan had been killed due to his close links with political authorities and his plans to head a tribal lashkar against the Taliban. Meanwhile, a woman was killed in the Safi sub-district of Mohmand Agency on Sunday. A stray shell hit her house in the Kamal Khel village, though it could not be determined from where the shell was fired.[vi]
  • Six militants were killed by security forces in Orakzai Agency on Saturday. Two militant hideouts were also destroyed in the operation in the Khadezai area. However, a spokesperson for the TTP rejected the claim that any of its fighters had been killed or injured in the operation.[vii]
  • Ten militants were killed in Khyber Agency on Friday in clashes between the Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) group and Ansarul Islam (AI). Subsequent shelling by security forces in the Bazaar and Tirah valleys also resulted in casualties. The News reports that, “security forces were supporting the [Zakha Khel] tribe and the AI against the LI in the two valleys. Official sources claimed gunship helicopters shelled the hilltops occupied by the Mangal Bagh-led militants against the [Zakha Khel] tribe in the southeast of Bazaar valley in which five fighters of the LI were killed, while 11 others were injured.”[viii]
 

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa

  • A bomb attack killed a child on Saturday and injured a teenager outside of the residence of an anti-Taliban elder in Hangu. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.[ix]
 

Nuclear Program Declared “Safe”

  • On Monday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) declared Pakistan’s nuclear program to be “safe and secure.” Citing the Deputy Director General of the IAEA, Denis Flory, Dawn reports that “Pakistan is the 10th largest contributor to the Nuclear Security Fund, contributing $1.16 million. This is an example of their strong leadership and commitment as well as their serious approach to nuclear security in the course of implementing its action plan.”[x]
 

Blasphemy Laws

  • The daughter of the slain governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, said that she plans to campaign on behalf of changes to the blasphemy laws in Pakistan. Shehrbano Taseer, a reporter for Newsweek Pakistan, said that she will continue to speak against radicalization in Pakistan and continue her father’s campaign on behalf of minorities.[xi]
 


[ii] Nick Paton Walsh and Nasir Habib, “U.S. departs Pakistan base, source says.” CNN, April 22, 2011. Available at http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/04/22/pakistan.drone.strike/index.html
[iii] “US army chief of staff meets Kayani,” Dawn, April 22, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/23/us-army-chief-of-staff-meets-kayani.html
[v] “Suicide bomber kills anti-Taliban leader in Pakistan” Dawn, April 24, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/24/suicide-bomber-kills-anti-taliban-leader-in-pakistan.html
[vi] “Pro-govt elder, girl killed in Mohmand,” Dawn, April 23, 2011. Available athttp://www.dawn.com/2011/04/23/pro-govt-elder-girl-killed-in-mohmand.html
[vii] “Forces claim killing six militants in Orakzai,” The News, April 24, 2011. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=43326&Cat=7
[viii] Said Nazir Afridi, “10 militants killed in Khyber Agency,” The News, April 23, 2011. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=5482&Cat=13
[ix] “Bomb kills nine-year-old child in Hangu,” Express Tribune, April 23, 2011. Available at
[x] “IAEA declares Pakistan nuclear program safe,” Dawn, April 25, 2011. Available at
 
[xi] “Slain Pakistani Governor's Daughter Vows To Continue Work,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, April 25, 2011. Available at http://www.rferl.org/content/slain_pakistani_governors_daughter_pledges_to_continue_his_work/9503935.html