Pakistan Security Brief - August 8, 2012

Supreme Court issues contempt of court notice to Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf; Pakistan Peoples Party appeals Supreme Court ruling overturning Contempt of Court Bill 2012; Pakistani military official denies plans for joint U.S.-Pakistani offensive into North Waziristan; Obama Administration to release Taliban detainees to revive Afghan reconciliation; Security of NATO supply convoys in question; Indian and Pakistani commerce secretaries to meet to improve trade relations; IED detonates near Frontier Corps vehicle in Peshawar, injuring nine people.    

Contempt of Court Notice and Domestic Politics

  • On Wednesday, the Supreme Court issued a contempt of court notice to Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, requiring him to appear before the court on August 27 and explain why he had not carried out the court’s July 12 order to reopen old corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. The notice, issued under the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003 and in line with Article 204 of the Constitution, was given after Ashraf did not submit a report informing the court of his progress in complying with the order. On Wednesday, Attorney General Irfan Khan filed a petition on behalf of the government stating that Ashraf had not received guidance on the court order from his cabinet and, moreover, that the court’s orders were unlawful. The notice is usually a formality that precedes formal charges. The court’s latest move followed its previous contempt of court proceedings against Yousaf Raza Gilani, the former prime minister who was ousted on June 19 for not complying with a similar court order. Following Ashraf’s election as the new prime minister, the government passed a law granting senior public officials immunity from contempt of court proceedings; the court struck down that law last week.[1]

  • In response to the Supreme Court’s contempt notice, Prime Minister Ashraf held a meeting of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Wednesday to discuss options for addressing the current situation. Meanwhile, Haji Adeel of the Awami National Party, a member of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) coalition, said the court’s ouster of another prime minister would undermine the country’s democratic process, and suggested that the court pursue other options, such as forming a commission to write a letter to Swiss authorities reopening the old corruption cases against President Zardari. Additionally, some legal experts argue that Ashraf’s best option is to write the letter to Swiss authorities, while other experts suggest that holding general elections earlier than the proposed date in early 2013 would be beneficial to the PPP.[2]

  • The ruling PPP government filed an appeal asking the Supreme Court to review its August 3 decision to overturn the Contempt of Court Bill 2012. The bill, which grants senior public officials immunity from contempt of court proceedings, was drafted and passed by the legislature following former Prime Minister Gilani’s ouster. The appeal stated that the legislation was passed in line with legislative procedures and that parliament had the authority to legislate. A PPP spokesman on Tuesday stated that the PPP would strongly resist “all the new centers of power” confronting parliament.[3]   

  • The Peshawar High Court on Tuesday issued notices to the director-general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the regional directors of the Military Intelligence (MI), and police officials regarding ongoing missing persons’ cases. Petitioners in the cases claimed that individuals were unlawfully and illegally detained and held. The court directed the respondents to give details regarding the whereabouts of each missing person, and planned to hear all pending cases on August 16, by which time it expected respondents to release all persons that had not yet been charged.[4]  

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

NATO Supply Routes

  • Recent incidents of violence targeting NATO convoys carrying supplies into Afghanistan through Pakistan have brought the security of the supply routes into question. While militants have historically targeted convoys of container trucks carrying NATO supplies into Afghanistan with rocket fire, recent incidents indicate that militants are directly targeting drivers as a means of intimidation. On Monday, the Abdullah Azzam Brigade claimed responsibility for the killing of an Afghan driver in Khyber agency’s Jamrud area near the Torkham border crossing. Law enforcement officials and Frontier Corps (FC) personnel also appear to be running into coordination problems with local police being responsible for the settled areas and the FC maintaining control over the tribal regions.[8]   

India-Pakistan Relations

  • Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Sharat Sabharwal said that India and Pakistan’s commerce secretaries were expected to meet soon in an effort to improve trade relations. The announcement came after India’s decision last week to allow foreign investment from Pakistan. Sabharwal also noted that both countries had taken steps to liberalize their bilateral visa policy.[9] 

Militancy



[1] Declan Walsh and Salman Masood, “New Pakistani Premier Faces Contempt Notice on Corruption Inquiry,” New York Times, August 8, 2012. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/09/world/asia/raja-pervez-ashraf-faces-contempt-charges-in-pakistan.html?_r=1
Nasir Jaffry, “Pakistan court summons PM to appear over contempt,” AFP, August 8, 2012. Available at http://news.yahoo.com/pakistan-court-summons-pm-appear-over-contempt-054157516.html
“NRO: Review plea against July 12 order,” The News, August 8, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-62510-NRO:-Government-files-review-petition-against-July-12-SC-order-
[2] “PPP leadership to meet at PM House,” Dawn, August 8, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/08/08/ppp-leadership-to-meet-at-pm-house/
“Sending PM home will hurt democratic process, warns ANP,” Dawn, August 8, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/08/08/sending-pm-home-will-hurt-democratic-process-warns-anp/
“Writing letter best option: Analysts,” The News, August 8, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-62499-Writing-letter-best-option-for-PM:-Analysts
[3] “Legislation right of parliament: PPP,” Geo News, August 7, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=62404
[4] Akhtar Amin, “DG ISI, director MI, police put on notice,” The News, August 8, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-125314-DG-ISI,-director-MI,-police-put-on-notice
[5] “Army denies joint operation in Waziristan,” Dawn, August 7, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/08/08/army-denies-joint-operation-in-waziristan/
[6] Missy Ryan, “Exclusive: U.S. sweetens Taliban prisoner proposal in bid to revive peace talks,” Reuters, August 7, 2012. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/08/us-usa-afghanistan-taliban-idUSBRE87700020120808
Kamran Yousaf, “Afghan reconciliation: Pakistan may release ‘former chief of Quetta Shura,’” Express Tribune, August 8, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/419044/afghan-reconciliation-pakistan-may-release-former-chief-of-quetta-shura/
[7] “Pak-US ties based on mutual trust, respect: Bilawal,” APP, August 7, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/08/08/pak-us-ties-based-on-mutual-trust-respect-bilawal/
[8] “Nato convoys,” Dawn, August 7, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/08/08/nato-convoys/
[9] “Pakistan-India thaw: Commerce secretaries to meet soon,” Express Tribune, August 8, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/419074/pakistan-india-thaw-commerce-secretaries-to-meet-soon/
[10] Riaz Ahmad, “Bomb attack on FC vehicle injures six in Peshawar,” Express Tribune, August 8, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/419147/bomb-attack-injures-4-security-personnel-in-peshawar/
“Nine injured in Peshawar blast,” The News, August 8, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-62478-Nine-including-two-security-personnel-injured-in-Peshawar-blast-
[11] Turbat blast kills three security officials, Daily Times, August 8, 2012. Available at www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\08\08\story_8-8-2012_pg7_3
“Two killed in Quetta,” Daily Times, August 8, 2012. Available at http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\08\08\story_8-8-2012_pg7_26
[12] “2 injured in Bajaur Agency blast,” Daily Times, August 8, 2012. Available at http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\08\08\story_8-8-2012_pg7_11
[13] “Terror bid foiled in Layyah,” Daily Times, August 8, 2012. Available at http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\08\08\story_8-8-2012_pg7_27
[14] “Khi: Two dead bodies in gunnybags found,” The News, August 8, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-62466-Karachi:-Two-tortured-dead-bodies-in-gunnybags-found