Pakistan Security Brief – April 26, 2012

Pakistan’s Supreme Court convicts Prime Minister Gilani of contempt; PML-N Chief calls for Gilani to “immediately resign;” Gilani discusses appeal with federal cabinet; U.S. Special Envoy in Pakistan for high level talks; Foreign Minister Khar says U.S. not listening to Pakistan’s demand to end drone strikes; USAID to cut number of programs it funds in Pakistan; Khar says military’s role in shaping Pakistan’s foreign policy “will recede;” 400,000 illegal Afghan immigrants in Peshawar ordered to leave Pakistan.

 

Guilty Verdict in Contempt Hearing

  • On Thursday morning, the Supreme Court of Pakistan convicted Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani of contempt of court. The court sentenced the prime minister to "imprisonment until the rising of the court today,” which reportedly only lasted for roughly a minute after the court’s decision was announced. Justice Nasirul Mulk, the head of the seven-member bench, stated that Gilani displayed “disobedience toward the court” and brought “ridicule on its judges.” Prime Minister Gilani was initially charged with contempt earlier this year, after he continuously refused to follow court orders to write a letter to Swiss authorities, requesting that they reopen a graft case against President Asif Ali Zardari. Although Gilani will not serve any jail time for the conviction, he may still face removal from office. According the New York Times, the prime minister “now faces a move to have him fired under a constitutional provision that prohibits felons from holding public office.” At this juncture, the Parliamentary Speaker and Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will decide if Gilani will be able to remain in his position. This process could take up to four months, and could be contested “every step of the way.” According to former law minister Babar Awan, the case will only go to the ECP if the Parliamentary Speaker refuses to make a decision regarding the possible removal.[1]

  • After Prime Minister Gilani’s conviction, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Jamaat-e-Islami, and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) demanded that Gilani resign from his position. PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif stated that the “prime minister should immediately resign,” as he brought this situation upon himself. PTI Chief Imran Khan said that Gilani is “no longer the prime minister of Pakistan” because “he has lost all moral authority.” According to Khan, the PTI will bring a “tsunami march” if the prime minister does not resign, claiming that it will be the “biggest show in the history of Pakistan.”[2]

  • Thursday afternoon, after the Supreme Court’s ruling, Prime Minister Gilani chaired a meeting of the federal cabinet in Islamabad in which he thanked its members for their support, and discussed “the post verdict strategy and the decision of the appeal.” According to the Express Tribune, the cabinet will prepare an appeal “in consultation with coalition partners” and with the advice of Gilani’s legal experts.[3]

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

  • Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told Reuters on Wednesday that Pakistan has been very “clear” in its demands for “a clear cessation of drone strikes,” but the U.S. has not been listening. Khar said that alternative methods should be used to combat militants near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, because the cost of using methods that “are not mutually acceptable is far, far too high.”[4]

  • During Wednesday’s daily press briefing, U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland announced that Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman was on his way to Islamabad to hold formal talks with Foreign Minister Khar, Foreign Secretary Jalil Jilani, Prime Minister Gilani and Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Gen. Kayani. Nuland said that since Pakistan’s parliamentary review has now concluded, the U.S. can “fully reengage” with Pakistan and negotiate the issues that came up during the review. According to Nuland, the purpose of Ambassador Grossman’s trip is to “deepen and broaden the conversation” between the two countries. Before the talks with Grossman, Prime Minister Gilani chaired a high level meeting attended by Gen. Kayani and Inter-Services Intelligence Chief Lt. Gen. Zahirul Islam, on how to move forward on negotiations with the U.S.[5]

  • USAID Assistant to the Administrator for Afghanistan and Pakistan Alex Thier told Express News that USAID will be cutting the number of programs it funds in Pakistan from 150 to 35 by 2013. Thier said that the reduction has nothing to do with declining assistance, because civilian assistance to Pakistan has actually increased with the passage of the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill. According to Thier, the decrease in the number of programs will allow USAID to implement more concentrated and focused programs that produce a greater impact in USAID’s five priority areas: energy, economic growth, stabilization, education and health.[6]

Military

  • In an interview with Reuters on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Khar said that the dominance of Pakistan’s military in shaping Pakistan’s foreign policy “will recede” as things continue to change within the country. According to Khar, Pakistan’s institutions are realizing “that there is a place and role for every institution,” and that they are able to best “serve Pakistan’s interests,” when they remain within the constitutionally defined boundaries of their institutions. Khar stated that Pakistan has reached a “new equilibrium,” in which its democratically elected government, which has been in power for an unprecedented four years, has led the country to open trade with India and negotiate new bilateral ties with the U.S.[7]

Protests

  • Malik Mohammed Khan, a Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Lyari worker and Sindh Council member, was killed by unidentified men on Thursday, prompting protests throughout Karachi in which five people were injured. Protesters blocked the National Highway and shops closed down in response to the killing and to Prime Minister Gilani’s guilty verdict.[8]

Afghanistan-Pakistan Relations

  • The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has told the “nearly 400,000 illegal Afghan immigrants” living in Peshawar to leave Pakistan by May 25. District Coordination Officer Siraj Ahmad Khan said that illegal immigrants still living in Peshawar after the deadline passes, will be imprisoned and deported. According to Khan, illegal immigrants in Peshawar have contributed to greater crime and lawlessness, and the city has been severely “overburdened.” Khan stated that once the illegal immigration problem has been taken care of in Peshawar, similar deadlines would be imposed in other parts of the province.[9]

Domestic Politics

  • Express News reported on Thursday that the “memogate” commission rejected Pakistan’s former Ambassador to the U.S. Hussain Haqqani’s petition to have his statement recorded via video link from London.[10]

Illegal Drug Case

  • On Thursday, the prime minister’s son Ali Musa Gilani recorded a statement with an investigator of the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) in a case involving the illegal sale of ephedrine. Ali Musa Gilani denied any involvement in the case, and told the media that he was not one of the accused. However, contrary to his statement, the ANF’s report formally named him, as well as seven others, for their “alleged involvement in the scam.” The report stated that Ali Musa Gilani redirected ephedrine intended for export to “local use” through conspiring with health ministry staff. However, in his statement the prime minister’s son “denied any connection” with health ministry officials.[11] 



[1] Jon Boone, “Pakistani PM serves token sentence of less than a minute for contempt,” The Guardian, April 26, 2012. Available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/apr/26/pakistani-pm-token-sentence-minute?newsfeed=true
Azam Khan, “Verdict out: SC convicts Gilani of contempt,” Reuters, April 26, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/370128/pm-contempt-escorted-by-entourage-gilani-walks-to-sc/
Declan Walsh, “Pakistan’s Prime Minister Found Guilty of Contempt,” New York Times, April 26, 2012. Available http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/27/world/asia/pakistani-premier-gilani-found-guilty-of-contempt.html?_r=1
“Pakistan’s Top Court Convicts PM of Contempt,” Associated Press, April 26, 2012. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2012/04/26/world/asia/ap-as-pakistan.html
[2] Zahid Gishkori, “Contempt of court: Khan, Sharif demand Gilani’s resignation,” AFP, April 26, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/370139/sharif-demands-gilani-resign-over-contempt/
[3] Sumera Khan, “Contempt of court: Gilani chairs cabinet meeting,” Express Tribune, April 26, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/370170/contempt-of-court-gilani-chairs-cabinet-meeting/
[4] “Pakistan says U.S. not listening: drone strikes must stop,” Reuters, April 26, 2012. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/26/us-pakistan-minister-drones-idUSBRE83P0AM20120426
[5] Victoria Nuland, “Daily Press Briefing,” U.S. State Department, April 25, 2012. Available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2012/04/188448.htm#PAKISTAN
Kamran Yousaf, "As Grossman arrives, high-level huddle finalises strategy," Express Tribune, April 26, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/370006/pakistan-us-relations-as-grossman-arrives-high-level-huddle-finalises-strategy/
[6] Huma Imtiaz, “USAID to cut down over 100 projects in Pakistan: Thier,” Express Tribune, April 26, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/370038/usaid-to-cut-down-over-100-projects-in-pakistan-thier/
[7] Michael Georgy and John Chalmers, “Pakistan military's grip on foreign policy easing,” Reuters, April 26, 2012. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/26/us-pakistan-military-policy-idUSBRE83P0C820120426
[8] “Karachi violence: PPP worker killed, 5 injured in different incidents,” Express Tribune, April 26, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/370192/karachi-violence-ppp-worker-killed-5-injured-in-different-incidents/
[9] “Illegal Afghan immigrants told to leave Peshawar,” Express Tribune, April 26, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/370033/illegal-afghan-immigrants-told-to-leave-peshawar/
Zulfiqar Ali, “Illegal Afghans given a month to leave KP,” Dawn, April 25, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/04/26/illegal-afghans-given-a-month-to-leave-kp-2/
[10] Obaid Abbasi, “Video statement: Memo commission rejects Haqqani's application,” Express Tribune, April 26, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/370199/video-statement-memo-commission-rejects-haqqanis-application/
[11] “Musa Gilani appears before ANF in ephedrine case,” Dawn, April 26, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/04/26/musa-gilani-appears-before-the-anf-in-ephedrine-case/