Pakistan Security Brief - April 30, 2012

High-level talks between U.S. and Pakistan fail to produce agreement; ISI claims credit for helping U.S. intelligence locate Osama bin Laden; White House counterterrorism advisor defends U.S. drone strikes; U.S. defense secretary said killing bin Laden was not “silver bullet;” U.S. drone strike kills three suspected militants in North Waziristan; Pakistan condemns strike; Kidnapped British aid worker found dead in Quetta; Prime Minister Gilani says he is not disqualified from office; Security operation in Lyari kills 24; Afghan Taliban rejects offer of “safe passage;” India opens oil refinery on border with Pakistan.

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

  • The “first concentrated high-level talks” aimed at ending a “five-month diplomatic deadlock” between Pakistan and the U.S. ended in failure, when U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman left Islamabad on Friday without any diplomatic agreement. Pakistan once again demanded an unconditional apology from the White House, but the U.S., angered by the recent Taliban attacks in Afghanistan, refused to apologize. Pakistani officials said that without the apology, they cannot reopen NATO supply routes, while U.S. officials are withholding “between $1.18 billion and $3 billion” of military aid for Pakistan.[1] 

  • Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate said on Friday that it deserves credit for helping U.S. intelligence officials locate Osama bin Laden’s hideout. In an interview with the Washington Post, an ISI official said that the ISI gave the CIA a cell phone number that eventually led to an al Qaeda courier with the alias Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti. According to the official, the ISI gave the number to the CIA in November 2010 and said that it had last been detected in Abbottabad. CIA officials knew that the number was Kuwaiti’s, but they never said anything and stopped cooperating with the ISI at that point, said the ISI official. A U.S. official disputed the ISI’s version of events on Friday, saying that the ISI did not provide the CIA with Kuwaiti’s number.[2]

  • On Sunday, White House counterterrorism advisor John Brennan defended U.S. drone strikes while acknowledging that the drones have sometimes killed civilians. Brennan said the U.S. has done “everything possible” to reduce the risk to the civilian population, but “sometimes you have to take life to save lives.”[3]

  • Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Friday that killing Osama bin Laden was not a “silver bullet” that destroyed al Qaeda, but he stated that bin Laden’s death along with the killings of other al Qaeda leaders, “has prevented them from having the command and control capability to be able to put together an attack similar to 9/11.” Seth Jones, a Rand analyst and adviser to U.S. special operations forces, said that it is “wishful thinking to say al Qaeda is on the brink of defeat,” since it has increased its global presence and has expanded the amount of territory it controls in places such as Yemen. As the one-year anniversary of bin Laden’s death approaches, U.S. officials said that they are on the lookout for revenge plots by al Qaeda against U.S. targets.[4]

Militancy

  • A U.S. drone strike killed three suspected militants and wounded two others in Miram Shah, North Waziristan on Sunday. The drone struck an abandoned school building believed by U.S. officials to be a base of operations for militants. The suspected militants were reportedly Punjabi Taliban fighters who belonged to the Haqqani Network. Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement condemning the strike and said that drone attacks are “violations of [Pakistan’s] territorial integrity and sovereignty” and "are in total contravention of international law and established norms of interstate relations.” According to a Pakistani government official, Pakistan may boycott the upcoming NATO summit in Chicago to send a “strong message” on drone strikes to the U.S.[5]

  • The BBC reported on Sunday that British aid worker Khalil Dale, who worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross and was kidnapped in January, has been found dead in Quetta. According to the Express Tribune, Dale’s body bore multiple bullet wounds and marks of torture. Local police said that the body was found with a note saying that Dale had been killed by the Taliban. Other reports claimed that the militants holding Dale had asked for a large ransom, which was never paid.[6]

  • Two people were killed and 14 others were injured when an explosives-laden vehicle exploded near a bus stand belonging to the Zakhakhel tribe in Jamrud, Khyber agency on Sunday.[7]

  • Ten people, including five militants from Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) were killed, and 14 others were injured in an armed clash between LI and the Akkakhel peace committee in Bara, Khyber agency on Sunday.[8]

Domestic Politics

  • Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Monday that his contempt conviction had nothing to do with “disqualification,” and that the opposition parties, which are demanding his resignation, should be patient, because he has the right to appeal his conviction in court. Gilani said that it was the prerogative of the speaker of the house to determine his disqualification, and if Speaker Fehmida Mirza disqualified Gilani, then he would join the “people of Pakistan.” He questioned the opposition’s demand that he resign on “moral grounds,” saying that he was not “convicted for committing any acts of moral turpitude.”[9]

  • On Monday, the Pakistan Peoples Party planned to move a resolution in the Senate calling on Gilani to continue serving as prime minister, despite his recent contempt conviction and subsequent calls by opposition parties for Gilani’s resignation.[10]

Lyari

  • The ongoing security operation against criminal elements in Karachi’s Lyari area continued for the fourth day on Monday. The operation has resulted in the deaths of 24 people and the arrests of approximately 20 suspects. Protesters claiming that the residents of Lyari were being unfairly targeted and demanding that the operation be stopped immediately, demonstrated on Sunday and Monday by burning tires and blocking roads in Lyari for several hours.[11]

International Relations

  • On Saturday, the Afghan Taliban rejected an offer made by U.S., Afghan and Pakistani officials on Friday offering Taliban militants who wish to engage in peace talks “safe passage.” The Taliban accused the U.S. of using “dirty tactics” to try and “create schisms” within the Taliban’s ranks, and it also refused to engage in direct talks with the Afghan government.[12]

  • Indian billionaire Lakshmi N. Mittal and an Indian oil company formally opened a $4 billion refinery on the border with Pakistan in an effort to stimulate trade between Pakistan and India.” Relations between the two countries have been thawing since February, when Pakistan’s cabinet approved a plan to remove tariffs on 8,000 items for import from India and said that it would consider removing gasoline from a list of banned Indian imports. At the refinery’s inauguration ceremony on Saturday, the head of the Indian oil company said that India has been holding talks with Pakistan about exporting refined fuels to its neighbor, which follows an announcement this month that India is ready to allow investments from Pakistan.[13]  

  • A Chinese minister told the Express Tribune that reviving and modernizing the Silk Route could benefit Pakistan’s economic development. He said that Pakistan and China could cooperate to help boost Pakistan’s economy and “open new vistas of cooperation, including power generation.”[14]

    

 



[1] Declan Walsh, Eric Schmitt, and Steven Lee Myers, “United States Talks Fail as Pakistanis Seek Apology,” New York Times, April 27, 2012. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/28/world/asia/talks-between-us-and-pakistan-fail-over-airstrike-apology.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1
[2] Richard Leiby, “Pakistan's spy agency seeks some credit for bin Laden's death,” Washington Post, April 27, 2012. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/pakistans-spy-agency-seeks-some-credit-for-bin-ladens-death/2012/04/27/gIQANaU7lT_story.html
[3] “Brennan defends U.S. drone attacks despite risks to civilians,” Los Angeles Times, April 29, 2012. Available at http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/world_now/2012/04/brennan-drone-attacks.html
[4] Elisabeth Bumiller, “Raid to Kill Bin Laden Helped United States, Panetta Says,” New York Times, April 27, 2012. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/28/us/raid-to-kill-bin-laden-helped-us-panetta-says.html
“Weaker al Qaeda still plots payback for US raid,” Daily Times, April 30, 2012. Available at http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012%5C04%5C30%5Cstory_30-4-2012_pg7_9
[5] Declan Walsh and Ismail Khan, “U.S. Drone Strike Underlines Clash of Interests in Pakistan,” New York Times, April 29, 2012. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/30/world/asia/us-drone-strike-kills-3-in-pakistan.html
Kamran Yousaf, “Drone strikes: Pakistan may boycott Chicago summit,” Express Tribune, April 30, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/371964/drone-strikes-pakistan-may-boycott-chicago-summit/
[6] “Kidnapped UK aid worker Khalil Dale killed in Pakistan,” BBC, April 29, 2012. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-17886893
Shehzad Baloch, “Missing no more: Body of Red Cross official found,” Express Tribune, April 29, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/371710/missing-no-more-body-of-red-cross-official-found/
[7] Amirzada Afridi, “Jamrud blast kills two, injures 14,” Express Tribune, April 29, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/371697/jamrud-blast-kills-two-injures-eight/
[8] Ibrahim Shinwari, “Five militants among 10 killed in Bara,” Dawn, April 29, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/04/30/five-militants-among-10-killed-in-bara-2/
[9] Sidrah Moiz Khan, “Conviction has nothing to do with disqualification: Gilani,” Express Tribune, April 30, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/372080/conviction-doesnt-have-anything-to-do-with-disqualification-gilani/
[10] Zahid Gishkori, “Senate session today: PPP to move resolution in support of PM,” Express Tribune, April 30, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/371980/senate-session-today-ppp-to-move-resolution-in-support-of-pm/
[11] “Lyari operation - Day 4: Over 20 gangwar suspects arrested,” Express Tribune, April 30, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/372063/lyari-operation-enters-fourth-day/
“Pitched battle: Residents protest against operation in Lyari,” PPI, April 30, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/371768/pitched-battle-residents-protest-against-operation-in-lyari/
[12] Tahir Khan, “Afghan peace process: Taliban spurn ‘safe passage’ offer,” Express Tribune, April 29, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/371585/afghan-peace-process-taliban-spurn-safe-passage-offer/
[13] “Refinery Venture Reflects Easing of India-Pakistan Relations,” Bloomberg News, April 27, 2012. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/28/business/global/refinery-venture-reflects-easing-of-india-pakistan-relations.html
Nidhi Verma, “UPDATE 1-India holds talks over fuel exports to Pakistan,” Reuters, April 28, 2012. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/28/india-pakistan-oil-idUSL3E8FS02J20120428
[14] Irfan Ghauri, “Revival of Silk Route to benefit Pakistan: Chinese minister,” Express Tribune, April 30, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/371963/revival-of-silk-route-to-benefit-pakistan-chinese-minister/