Pakistan Security Brief - February 17, 2011

Hearing for Davis delayed; Post: Cuts in aid to Pakistan considered; Panetta: U.S.-Pakistan relationship complicated; LeT expanding horizons beyond the region; Six militants killed in Orakzai; Two explosions hit railroad tracks in Karachi; Tax waived on stranded Afghan trucks; Bomb attack foiled in Rawalpindi.

 

U.S.-Pakistani Relations

  • Senator Kerry, on his visit to Pakistan on Wednesday, declared that a resolution is near in the case of Raymond Davis, the U.S. national accused of murdering two Pakistani men in January. However, the Lahore High Court has delayed Davis' hearing’ until March 14, after the Foreign Ministry asked to be given three weeks to reply to questions about whether Davis possesses diplomatic immunity. Davis' lawyer has additionally submitted a legal petition, challenging the court's jurisdiction in the case. A judge will hear arguments for that complaint on February 25.[i]

  • The Washington Post has reviewed the heightened tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan in the case of Raymond Davis, which has prompted some members of Congress to consider cuts in aid to Pakistan. The Post reports that senior U.S. officials have warned Pakistani leaders that the refusal to free Davis makes them appear ungrateful for U.S. aid. According to a spokesman for the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Howard P. McKeon, leaders in Pakistan were told last week that some House members may attempt to cut nearly $3 billion in aid for Pakistan during this week's debate on spending for the remainder of fiscal 2011. In response, the Post reports that some in Pakistan feel that “Threats of aid cuts, combined with what is viewed as insufficient American remorse over the deaths of three Pakistanis in the incident, demonstrate that U.S. vows for a long-term partnership are disingenuous.”[ii]

  • The Times of India has quoted CIA director Leon Panetta as saying that the relationship between the United States and Pakistan is complicated, and hampered by conflicting opinions on various issues. At a Congressional hearing of the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Panetta was quoted as saying, “I have to tell you that it (US-Pakistan relations) is very complicated and it does involve oftentimes conflicting viewpoints of how we deal with issues. On the one hand, obviously we are involved in targeting the leadership of al Qaeda there in Fata. And we do get the cooperation of Pakistanis in that effort.” Panetta goes on to say, however, that issues of Pakistan’s national interest have complicated the relationship and created tension.[iii]

  • The Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Michael Leiter, told a Senate intelligence hearing on Wednesday that the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba has the capability to stage attacks in Europe and the United States. Leiter said that there have been signals that the LeT is “expanding its horizons beyond the region.”[iv]

 

FATA

  • Six militants were killed in Orakzai Agency in Chapri Feroze Khel after security forces shelled the area. Two hideouts were additionally destroyed in the operation. On Tuesday, Orakzai Agency Political Agent Riaz Mahsud also declared that 20,000 internally displaced families have returned to their homes in the central and lower tehsils of Orakzai Agency. He furthermore said that affected families would be eligible for six months of food assistance by the government.[v]

 

Explosions in Sindh

  • Two explosions damaged a railroad track in Karachi on Thursday, injuring one person in the blast. The track was immediately repaired following the explosion. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.[vi]

  • The Pakistan government has waived a tax on Afghan trucks stranded at the port in Karachi, Sindh. The government had previously asked Afghan traders to pay 0.8 percent levy on each of the 4,000 stranded trucks. Afghan traders responded by warning of a possible boycott of Pakistani goods. However, Pakistani government officials on Wednesday announced that the tax would be removed.[vii]

 

Attack Foiled in Rawalpindi

  • A bomb attack was foiled on Thursday at Mareer Chowk in Rawalpindi. Explosive material attached to sewage lines of a military supply facility was defused after security forces discovered suspicious packages nearby. Anonymous sources said that government offices close to the site may have been the intended target.[viii] 

 



[ii] Karin Brulliard and Karen DeYoung, “Stakes rise, aid cuts mulled in case of American accused of killing Pakistanis,” Washington Post, February 16, 2011. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/16/AR2011021606363_2.html?sid=ST2011021701949
[iii] “Pak-US relations ‘very complicated’, says CIA chief,” Dawn, February 17, 2011. Available at
[iv] LeT could hit US, Europe, says Washington,” Dawn, February 17, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/02/17/let-could-hit-us-europe-says-washington.html
[v] “Shelling kills six militants in Orakzai,” Dawn, February 17, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/02/17/shelling-kills-six-militants-in-orakzai.html
[vi] “Blasts hit railway track in Karachi; one injured.” Dawn, February 17, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/02/17/blasts-hit-railway-track-in-karachi-one-injured.html
[vii] Abdul Qadir Siddiqui, “Pakistan waives off tax on Afghan trucks,” Pajhwok, February 17, 2011. Available at http://www.pajhwok.com/en/2011/02/16/pakistan-waives-tax-afghan-trucks
[viii] “Bomb attack foiled in Rawalpindi,” Express Tribune, February 17, 2011. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/119773/bomb-attack-foiled-in-rawalpindi/

 [RNJ1] Also include leiter story posted to CTP map