Pakistan Security Brief - August 6, 2012

Pakistan ends suspension of northern route for transporting NATO supplies; U.S. and Pakistani officials consider joint counterterrorism operations against Haqqani Network; U.S. Senate committee fails to confirm Richard Olson for Pakistan ambassador post; U.S. drone strike in April reportedly kills Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leader; Pakistani interior minister accuses Afghan government of supporting senior Pakistani Taliban commander; Indian and Pakistani experts meet to discuss electricity trade; President Zardari to seek review of Supreme Court decision overturning Contempt of Court Bill 2012; Vehicle-based bomb kills five people in Balochistan; Three militants die of cardiac arrest while in police custody.

NATO Supply Route

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

  • U.S. and Pakistani officials are reportedly considering joint counterterrorism operations targeting Haqqani Network sanctuaries along the Afghan-Pakistan border. The proposal followed last week’s visit by Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Zahirul Islam to the U.S., during which he met with CIA Director David Patraeus, Deputy Director Michael Morell, and congressional officials to discuss Pakistan’s call for an end to U.S. drone strikes. Although no agreement was reached on changes to the U.S. drone program, Islam suggested that concessions by the U.S. on its drone program would shore up Pakistani domestic support for increased counterterrorism efforts, including a potential Pakistani offensive into North Waziristan thus far dubbed Operation Tight Screw. In recent weeks, both sides have blamed the other for failing to stamp out terrorist safe havens on both sides of the border. While unclear whether the U.S. will enact Pakistan’s full proposal, U.S. officials noted their openness to improving information-sharing on counterterrorism and engaging in joint offensives.[3]         

  • On Thursday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee failed to confirm Richard Olson’s appointment as U.S. ambassador to Pakistan. According to two Senate aides, committee members were upset that Olsen and U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan nominee James Cunningham’s nominations were rushed through the confirmation process without permitting members to submit questions for the record. Despite those reservations, the committee still confirmed Cunningham’s nomination. Olson’s nomination, however, was held up by Senator Rand Paul, who is reportedly delaying Olson’s confirmation until September in order to pressure the White House and Pakistan to seek the release of Shakil Afridi, the doctor sentenced to 33 years in jail for helping the CIA locate Osama bin Laden. Meanwhile, Olson will serve as charge d’affairs in the U.S. embassy in Islamabad.[4]

Drone Strikes

  • On Saturday, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan announced that its leader, Uthman Adil, had been killed in April when a U.S. drone fired missiles at a militant hideout in Miram Shah in North Waziristan agency, killing four suspected militants. The group reportedly delayed announcing Adil’s death until it had chosen a new leader, Adil’s former deputy Uthman Ghazi. According to a Pakistani security official, Adil’s death was a “major blow” to the group, whose fighters had fled Afghanistan for Pakistan in late 2001 following the arrival of U.S. troops and the fall of the Taliban government. The official also noted that Uzbek militants were largely concentrated in North Waziristan and had been a frequent target of U.S. drone strikes.[5]   

  • Members of Reprieve, a U.K.-based NGO that focuses on raising awareness about capital punishment and drone strikes, will join Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) members in a march from Peshawar toward Bannu and onward into Miram Shah. The march, set to take place in September, is in protest against U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal region. PTI’s information secretary (Punjab) Andleeb Abbas noted that an expected 100,000 people will march into Waziristan to “find out first-hand who is really being killed by the U.S. drone strikes.”[6]

International Relations

  • In an interview with Reuters, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik accused the Afghan government of supporting Mullah Fazlullah, the Afghanistan-based Pakistani Taliban commander responsible for the recent spate of cross-border attacks on Pakistani security forces. In response, Afghan Interior Minister Sediq Sediqqi called Malik’s comments “irresponsible” and “baseless.” Malik’s statement followed recent demands by Pakistani officials for the U.S. and Afghanistan to target Taliban safe havens on the Afghan side of the border. Meanwhile, U.S. and Afghan officials have described Pakistan’s statements as an attempt to distract from its own support of insurgent groups, like the Haqqani Network, in Afghanistan. On Saturday, the Afghan parliament dismissed Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and Interior Minister Bismillah Mohammadi for failing to “take any appropriate actions in response to cross-border shellings” of eastern Afghanistan. [7]   

  • According to the Christian Science Monitor, hardline Islamist groups in Pakistan are using recent attacks on Muslim Rohingyas in Burma to attract new recruits, raise funds, and draw attention to their agendas. Groups, including Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the front-organization for the terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jamaat-e-Islami, and Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam, have reportedly exaggerated stories of abuse against Burma’s Muslims to raise money in anticipation of upcoming elections in Pakistan.[8]        

  • Expert groups from India and Pakistan held a second meeting on Thursday to discuss proposals for trading electricity, including the construction of a line to carry electricity from an Indian grid station to its counterpart in Pakistan. The meeting followed recent efforts by both countries to improve bilateral ties, including India’s announcement last week to allow foreign investment from Pakistan.[9]     

Domestic Politics

  • On Sunday, President Asif Ali Zardari approved a plan to seek a review of the Pakistani Supreme Court’s August 3 order that overturned the Contempt of Court Bill 2012. After consulting with legal experts and leaders of political groups allied with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Friday night, President Zardari decided to forgo alternative options, which included either reenacting the now defunct contempt bill or advancing it through presidential ordinance. In addition, President Zardari will file a petition against the apex court’s July 12 order that required Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to write a letter to Swiss authorities requesting that they reopen a corruption case against President Zardari.[10]

  • On Friday, Interior Minister Malik provided the Senate with evidence that “foreign elements” were involved in the deteriorating law and order situation in Balochistan. According to Malik, 46 training camps currently operate in Pakistan with the purpose of training “misled youth” who are then sent to Afghanistan for advanced training, after which they are tasked with carrying out terrorist activities in Balochistan. Additionally, he claimed that 14 militant groups, including the Balochistan Liberation Army, were receiving foreign funds and weapons to aid their separatist aims. He also suggested that separatist groups received five percent of the $6 billion raised from the drug trade along the Afghan-Pakistan border.[11]    

Militancy



[1] “15 Nato trucks cross Torkham,” Dawn, August 4, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/08/05/15-nato-trucks-cross-torkham-2/
Riaz Khan, “Pakistan: Main NATO supply route reopens,” AP, August 4, 2012. Available at http://news.yahoo.com/pakistan-main-nato-supply-route-reopens-165402600.html
[2] “Gunmen kill NATO driver in Pakistan: officials,” AFP, August 6, 2012. Available at http://news.yahoo.com/gunmen-kill-nato-driver-pakistan-officials-061928483.html
“Two Nato containers set ablaze near Khuzdar,” The News, August 6, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-124917-Two-Nato-containers-set-ablaze-near-Khuzdar
[3] Siobhan Gorman, “U.S., Pakistan Enter Talks on Counterterrorism Efforts,” Wall Street Journal, August 3, 2012. Available at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443687504577567380957236746.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
[4] Josh Rogin, “Rand Paul holds up U.S. ambassador to Pakistan nominee,” Foreign Policy, August 3, 2012. Available at http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/08/03/rand_paul_holds_up_us_ambassador_ambassador_to_pakistan_nominee
[5] Declan Walsh and Ismail Khan, “Uzbek Group Says Drone Killed Leader,” New York Times, August 4, 2012. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/05/world/asia/us-drone-strike-kills-uzbek-militant-leader.html?_r=2
[6] Mohammed Rizwan, “Condemning drone strikes: Global activists to take part in PTI’s Waziristan march,” Express Tribune, August 5, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/417769/condemning-drone-strikes-global-activists-to-take-part-in-ptis-waziristan-march/
[7] Michael Georgy and Matthew Green,” Pakistan accuses Afghanistan of backing Taliban enemy,” Reuters, August 5, 2012. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/05/us-pakistan-afghanistan-fazlullah-idUSBRE87404A20120805
“Afghan parliament votes to dismiss security ministers,” AFP, August 4, 2012. Available at http://india.nydailynews.com/newsarticle/501d4b96c3d4ca7363000000/afghan-parliament-votes-to-dismiss-security-ministers
[8] Taha Siddiqui, “Pakistan’s extremists whip up frenzy over Burma’s Muslims,” Christian Science Monitor, August 3, 2012. Available at http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-South-Central/2012/0803/Pakistan-s-extremists-whip-up-frenzy-over-Burma-s-Muslims
[9] “Across the border: Indian, Pakistani experts meet on power trade,” Express Tribune, August 4, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/417281/across-the-border-indian-pakistani-experts-meet-on-power-trade/
[10] Zia Khan, “Contempt of court act: Cautious govt seeks review of apex court ruling,” Express Tribune, August 6, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/418140/contempt-of-court-act-cautious-govt-seeks-review-of-apex-court-ruling/
“Zardari summons PPP legal experts,” Dawn, August 5, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/08/05/zardari-summons-ppp-legal-experts/
[11] Sumera Khan, “Senate proceedings: ‘proof of Afghan hand in Balochistan unrest,’” Express Tribune, August 4, 2012, Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/417329/senate-proceedings-proof-of-afghan-hand-in-balochistan-unrest/
[12] “Five killed, 11 injured in Quetta blast,” The News, August 6, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-16588-Five-killed,-11-injured-in-Quetta-blast
[13] “TTP militants killed in roadside blast,” The News, August 6, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-16595-TTP-militants-killed-in-roadside-blast
“Peace body member, two militants killed in Bara,” The News, August 6, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-16605-Peace-body-member,-two-militants-killed-in-Bara
[14] “Three more militants die of heart attack in Swat,” The News, August 6, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-16604-Three-more-militants-die-of-heart-attack-in-Swat
“TTP alleges forces poisoned held militants,” The News, August 4, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-124587-TTP-alleges-forces-poisoned-held-militants
[15] “Blast in Peshawar, no casualty reported,” The News, August 6, 2012. Available at www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-124920-Blast-in-Peshawar,-no-casualty-reported
[16] “Political worker killed, 5 held in Karachi,” Daily Times, August 6, 2012. Available at http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\08\06\story_6-8-2012_pg7_21
“Three killed in Karachi firing incidents,” The News, August 6, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-62219-Three-killed-in-Karachi-firing-incidents
[17] “Gilgit bus attack kills two,” Daily Times, August 6, 2012. Available at http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\08\06\story_6-8-2012_pg1_4