Pakistan Security Brief - August 13, 2012

U.S. Justice Department evidence reportedly links al Qaeda member in Spain terror plot to terrorist activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan; Pakistan gives Afghan delegation access to senior Taliban leader; President Obama signs Haqqani Network Terrorist Designation Act of 2012; Pakistani government appeals Supreme Court order requiring Prime Minister Ashraf to reopen old corruption cases against President Zardari; Pakistan and India to consider meeting between spy agency chiefs; Prime Minister Ashraf emphasizes importance of Iranian-Pakistani economic projects like gas pipeline; Pakistani fighter jets bomb targets on separate days in Orakzai, killing 23 suspected militants.

Spain Terror Plot

  • New details have emerged regarding the August 2 arrest of three suspected al Qaeda members in Spain for allegedly planning a terrorist attack in Europe. In a court statement released on Saturday, Spanish National Court Judge Pablos Ruz discussed evidence provided by the U.S. Justice Department that linked one of the al Qaeda members, a Russian of Chechen descent named Elder Magomedov, to terrorist activities in Afghanistan and in Pakistan’s Waziristan in 2010. On Saturday, Spanish authorities also released a video in which suspected al Qaeda members appear to be training for a bombing using a model plane. Additionally, authorities released photographs of an underground space at the La Linea house where 5.3 ounces of an explosive substance was discovered.[1]      

Afghan-Pakistan Relations

  • According to Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s national security advisor, an Afghan delegation met with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Pakistan two months ago, a potential signal of Pakistan’s willingness to aid Afghan reconciliation efforts. Afghan officials met with Baradar, the Taliban’s former second-in-command who was detained by Pakistani intelligence agents in 2010, to gauge the Taliban’s position on peace talks with the Afghan government. Afghan officials have long demanded access to Baradar, believing he could play a key role in negotiations with the Taliban leadership. A Western official described Pakistan’s move as “a step in the right direction” toward furthering Afghan-Pakistan collaboration on the issue, yet also noted that the Afghan government would not be satisfied until Pakistan released Baradar into Afghan custody and permitting greater access to other Quetta Shura leaders.[2]  

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

  • On Friday, U.S. President Barack Obama signed the Haqqani Network Terrorist Designation Act of 2012. The legislation requires U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to submit a report within a month’s time stating whether the Haqqani Network meets the criteria of a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). Although the State Department has issued sanctions against key members of the organization, it has resisted designating it as an FTO, citing the need to maintain “multiple channels and contacts” for pursing Afghan reconciliation. Announcement of the legislation came a day before a Pakistani official spoke publicly of Pakistan’s repeated requests for the U.S. to seal the border on the Afghan side before it could launch a security operation in North Waziristan agency. His comments referenced recent discussions between U.S. and Pakistani officials regarding the possibility of a joint operation targeting Haqqani Network militants, though Pakistani officials have denied considering such an operation.[3]   

Contempt of Court Notice and Domestic Politics

International Relations

  • Express News reported that India and Pakistan are considering arranging a meeting between the heads of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). The meeting, part of a series of confidence-building measures both countries are considering to improve relations, would precede Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s expected visit to Pakistan later this year. A Pakistani official, however, stated that it was “too early” to know whether a meeting would in fact take place, suggesting only that Western countries, especially the U.S., were pushing for greater interaction between the long-time rivals in anticipation of NATO’s scheduled withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014.[6]      

  • Officials in Pakistan’s finance ministry were critical of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) decision last week to require President Asif Ali Zardari to sign a letter of intent before Pakistan could receive financial assistance from the organization. The IMF’s move—an unusual one, since a country’s finance minister typically signs the letter on behalf of the country’s state bank—came in light of Pakistan’s ongoing political situation and upcoming elections. Finance ministry officials, however, responded that the IMF’s decision unfairly singled out Pakistan, and that regardless of the country’s political situation, its leadership was obligated to uphold previous international treaties and agreements. Officials also criticized the IMF’s meetings with various Pakistani stakeholders without first consulting the finance ministry and foreign office.[7]

  • Speaking with Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan Alireza Haqiqian, Pakistani Prime Minister Ashraf called for an immediate end to the $10 billion ceiling on Iranian-Pakistani trade. During his meeting, Ashraf spoke of the two countries’ deeply rooted ties and emphasized the importance of continuing with their bilateral projects, including the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline. He also conveyed Pakistan’s interest in working with Iran during the upcoming Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit being held in Tehran.[8]   

Militancy



[1] “Spanish authorities: Suspected Al Qaeda members trained for plot using model plane,” AP, August 11, 2012. Available at http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/08/11/spanish-authorities-suspected-al-qaeda-members-trained-for-plot-using-model/#ixzz23QVlE5ME
[2] Abdulaziz Ibrahimi and Michael Georgy, “Exclusive: Afghan officials met key Taliban figure in Pakistan,” Reuters, August 12, 2012. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/12/us-afghanistan-pakistan-baradar-idUSBRE87B03H20120812
[3] “Obama signs law on Haqqani network,” Dawn, August 12, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/08/12/obama-signs-law-on-haqqani-network/
“US must seal border for Waziristan push,” The News, August 11, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-62940-US-must-seal-border-for-Waziristan-push:-official--
[4] “NRO implementation: SC to hear govt’s appeal on Aug 15,” Dawn, August 11, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/08/11/nro-implementation-sc-to-hear-govts-appeal-on-aug-15/
Amjad Mahmood, “PPP won’t take Raja’s removal ‘lying down’: Gilani,” Dawn, August 12, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/08/13/ppp-wont-take-rajas-removal-lying-down-gilani/
[5] “Zardari forms committee to remove insecurities of Hindus in Sindh,” APP, August 10, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/08/10/zardari-forms-committee-to-remove-insecurities-of-hindus-in-sindh/
“HRCP outraged at minorities’ exodus,” The News, August 10, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-62859-HRCP-outraged-at-minorities''-continuous-exodus
[6] Kamran Yousaf, “Thawing relations: Pakistan-India spymasters meet on the cards?” Express Tribune, August 13, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/421354/thawing-relations-pakistan-india-spymasters-meet-on-the-cards/
[7] Shahbaz Rana, “Presidential guarantee: Pakistan takes exception to IMF’s stipulation,” Express Tribune, August 12, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/421026/presidential-guarantee-pakistan-takes-exception-to-imfs-stipulation/
[8] “Pakistan to go-ahead with Iranian ventures,” APP, August 12, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/420992/pakistan-to-go-ahead-with-iranian-ventures/
[9] “Taliban to hold talks with no political party,” The News, August 11, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-125967-Taliban-to-hold-talks-with-no-political-party
[10] “Security forces kill 10 militants in Orakzai,” Dawn, August, 12, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/08/12/security-forces-killed-10-militants-in-orakzai/
“13 militants killed in strikes on hideouts,” Dawn, August 10, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/08/11/13-militants-killed-in-strikes-on-hideouts/
[11] “Rocket attacks, firing in Kalat, Panjgor,” The News, August 13, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-63139-Rocket-attacks,-firing-in-Kalat,-Panjgor
[12] “Two injured in Jamrud Nato container attack,” The News, August 12, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-126152-Two-injured-in-Jamrud-Nato-container-attack
[13] “Three military personnel martyred in NWA,” The News, August 12, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-63082-Three-military-personnel-martyred-in-NWA-landmine-blast--
[14] “One killed, two hurt in Dera Bugti landmine blast,” The News, August 13, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-126291-One-killed,-two-hurt-in-Dera-Bugti-landmine-blast
[15] “3 shops damaged in Orakzai blast,” The News, August 12, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-126124-3-shops-damaged-in-Orakzai-blast
[16] “TTP commander held in Darra,” The News, August 13, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-126296-TTP-commander-held-in-Darra
[17] “One killed, two hurt in Jinnah Hospital,” Geo News, August 11, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=62983
“Karachi: ST activist, MQM worker, cop shot dead,” Geo News, August 13, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=63153