Pakistan Security Brief – August 17, 2011

Panetta says U.S. has no choice but to work with Pakistan; U.S. considering large dam project in Kashmir; investigators fear kidnapped American may be dead; China denies getting access to U.S. chopper; TTP leader arrested in Karachi; violence flares again in Karachi; Illegal gun amnesty launched in Pakistan; militants die in FATA blasts; anti-Taliban tribal elder killed in Bajaur; PPP, MQM near deal on power-sharing; Saleem Shahzad commission questions ISI, IB.

 

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

  • In an address at the National Defense University in Washington, DC, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta stated that “Washington has no choice but to maintain relations with Islamabad.” Panetta called the U.S.-Pakistan relationship “very complicated.” Among the factors that complicate the relationship, Secretary Panetta mentioned Pakistan’s links to the Haqqani Network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, its refusal to issue visas and its nuclear program. Secretary Panetta said, however, that keeping relations open was important “because we’re fighting a war [and] al Qaeda there, and they [Pakistanis] do give us…some cooperation in that effort….They do represent an important force in that region. Because they do happen to be a nuclear power that has nuclear weapons and we have to be concerned about what happens with those nuclear weapons.”[1]

  • According to a report by McClatchy Newspapers, the U.S. is considering funding a large dam project in Pakistan-administered Kashmir to the tune of $12 billion. The project would be the largest U.S. civilian aid project in the country “in decades.” The project reportedly faces objections from neighboring India due to its location in Kashmir, territory that India also claims. It is also likely to face opposition in Congress from members critical of Pakistan’s performance as an ally in the war in Afghanistan and against al Qaeda. [2]

  • Investigators in Lahore say they “fear the worst” for American aid worker Warren Weinstein who was kidnapped from his home three days ago. The 70-year-old Mr. Weinstein reportedly received a serious head injury when he resisted capture and investigators say that the injury may have caused his death, since no claims have been made by Weinstein’s kidnappers and they would be unlikely to risk getting him medical treatment. Several Pakistani intelligence agencies as well as the FBI are currently involved in the investigation.[3]

China Denies Chopper Access

  • The Chinese government has issued a strong denial of accusations that Pakistan allowed it access to examine a secret U.S. stealth helicopter that crashed inside Pakistan during the raid to kill Osama bin Laden. The Chinese Defense Ministry issued a statement calling the allegations “baseless and preposterous.” Pakistani officials have also denied the charge. The story was first reported by the Financial Times which reported that U.S. intelligence officials believe Pakistan allowed Chinese military engineers to examine and sample the helicopter’s wreckage.[4]

Karachi

  • A suspected Taliban commander was arrested in Karachi on Tuesday by the city’s Crime Investigation Department (CID). Fazal Saeed was a member of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and was close to the group’s late-leader Baitullah Mehsud. The suspect was also believed to have been fundraising for the TTP in Karachi.[5]

  • Seven more people died in violence in Karachi overnight in various parts of the city. Residents of Lyari staged a protest outside the Sindh Chief Minister’s house against the killing and called for the arrest of those involved in the murders.[6]

FATA

  • Three blasts in the Tirah valley of Khyber agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) killed twelve suspected militants and reportedly injured several others. Security officials say the militants were travelling in a three vehicle convoy which was hit by a planted “remote controlled bomb.” All three vehicles were destroyed in the blast.[7]

  • According to a Pakistani official, militants crossing over into Pakistan from Afghanistan on Tuesday killed a tribal elder and his son, both of whom were part of an anti-Taliban militia in Bajaur agency. The elder was reportedly part of a militia that had burnt the homes of Taliban members in Bajaur two months ago.[8]

National Gun Amnesty

  • Interior Minister Rehman Malik has announced a revival of a 20-year-old law granting amnesty to anyone who turns in an illegal weapon as part of a “phased campaign to ‘de-weaponise’ the country.” He also announced that Pakistan’s central ID database, NADRA, would begin a process of computerizing weapons licenses.[9]

Politics

  • The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Muttahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM) have reportedly come to a power-sharing agreement by which they will make amendments to a local government system in Sindh province set up in 2001. Following the conclusion of a formal deal, the MQM is expected to rejoin the PPP-led ruling coalition.[10]

Saleem Shahzad Commission

  • A judicial commission investigating the death of Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad questioned several members of Pakistan’s main spy agencies, the ISI and IB, for several hours on Tuesday. Officers at the level of brigadier and deputy inspector  general were among those questioned. Shahzad under died mysterious circumstances shortly after writing an exposé detailing al Qaeda infiltration of the Pakistan navy. Pakistani intelligence agencies are suspected of being responsible for his killing.[11]



[1] Huma Imtiaz, “No alternative to ties with Pakistan: Panetta,” Express Tribune, August 16, 2011. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/233010/elements-of-pakistan-government-had-links-with-the-haqqani-network-panetta/
[2] Saeed Shah, “US considers funding Pakistan dam project, angering India,” McClatchy, August 16, 2011, Available at http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/08/16/2361801/us-considers-funding-pakistani.html
[3] Asad Kharal, “No headway: Investigators fear the worst for abducted American,” Express Tribune, August 16, 2011. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/232841/health-concerns-over-us-worker-abducted-in-pakistan/
[4] “China denies Pakistan gaive it access to US helicopter used in Osama bin Laden raid,” Telegraph, August 17, 2011. Available at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/8705736/China-denies-Pakistan-gave-it-access-to-US-helicopter-used-in-Osama-bin-Laden-raid.html
[5] “Suspected Taliban commander arrested in Karachi: CID,” Express Tribune, August 16, 2011. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/232779/suspected-taliban-commander-arrested-in-karachi-cid/
[6] “Lyari residents protest at CM house against killing of five,” Express Tribune, August 17, 2011. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/233374/overnight-shootings-kill-7-across-karachi/
[7] “Twelve killed in Triple blasts in Khyber, several injured,” Dawn, August 16, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/08/16/twelve-killed-in-triple-blasts-in-khyber-several-injured.html
[8] Anwarullah Khan, “Official: Militants kill Pakistani tribesman, son,” AP, August 17, 2011. Available at http://news.yahoo.com/official-militants-kill-pakistani-tribesman-son-103412854.html
[9] Iftikhar A. Khan, “Phased campaign for recovery of illicit arms,” Dawn, August 17, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/08/17/phased-campaign-for-recovery-of-illicit-arms.html
[10] Irfan Ghauri, “ower-sharing deal: PPP, MQM agree to amend LG system,” Express Tribune, August 17, 2011. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/233323/power-sharing-deal-ppp-mqm-agree-to-amend-lg-system/
[11] Rana Tanveer, “Saleem Shahzad murder case: Inquiry commission questions intelligence officers,” Express Tribune, August 17, 2011. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/232807/saleem-shahzads-murder-isi-brigadier-and-dig-ib-questioned-by-commission/