Pakistan Security Brief - February 24, 2012

Associated Press reports on “Pakistan’s ‘missing;’” U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher calls Pakistan “hard-core, two-faced enemies” of U.S.; U.S. congressional delegation visits Pakistan; U.S. Secretary of State meets with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister; Hundreds of Pakistanis protest Qur’an burning; Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry condemns Qur’an burning; Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani urges Afghan Taliban to participate in peace talks; Suicide bombers attack police station in Peshawar; Pakistani government offers amnesty to exiled Baloch leaders; Iran requests barter deal with Pakistan; Pakistan State Oil seeks jet fuel imports; Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz continues giving testimony in “memogate.”

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

  • In an interview today, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who introduced a congressional resolution calling for self-determination in Balochistan on February 17, said “the purpose of the resolution was to create a much-needed dialogue about Pakistan and Balochistan, and that’s what it’s done.” According to Rohrabacher, the issue of human rights abuses in Balochistan has been ignored so “as to not upset the Pakistanis because they are fragile friends,” but “they’re not fragile friends,” in fact “they are hard-core, two-faced enemies of the United States.” His motivation for writing this resolution, Rohrabacher said, was the discovery that Pakistan had been “giving safe haven” to Osama bin Laden, “the monster that slaughtered 3,000 Americans,” for eight years, while taking “billions in U.S. foreign aid.” For Rohrabacher, “the most important thing now is not to permit Pakistan to think they can do anything they want.”[1]

  • Five members of the U.S. House of Representatives including, Chairman of the House Rules Committee Rep. David Dreier and Rep. James P. Moran, are visiting Islamabad on Thursday and Friday for meetings with top officials. The congress members said “they plan to offer their wisdom to Pakistani legislators about ways to strengthen democracy.” They met with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday and expressed their opposition to Rep. Rohrabacher’s Balochistan resolution and promised support for Pakistan’s “security and territorial integrity.” “Obviously,” Dreier said, “the point needs to be made that a statement made by an individual member of Congress is not necessarily reflective of U.S. policy.”[2]

  • U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar in London on Thursday. The relationship between the two countries “takes constant care and work” and will continue to have “ups and downs,” said Clinton, but the relationship “is simply too important” for the U.S. to turn its back on. Clinton added that the U.S. is “ready to get back into business with Pakistan,” and she outlined certain steps the U.S. would like to see once Pakistan’s parliamentary review is complete, such as visits by top U.S. diplomats and aid workers and a resumption of trilateral talks with Afghanistan.[3]

  • On Friday, hundreds of Pakistani activists went out on to the streets of major cities such as Peshawar, Islamabad and Karachi to protest the burning of the Qur’an by U.S. forces in Afghanistan. In Karachi, protesters from Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), a front for the blacklisted terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba which has connections to al Qaeda, shouted that “there is just one remedy for America – jihad and only jihad.” The head of JuD called President Obama’s apology for the incident a “farce” and said “Muslims don’t accept” it.[4]

  • During a press briefing in Islamabad on Friday, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit, “on behalf of the government and the people of Pakistan” strongly condemned the burning of the Qur’an by U.S. forces in Afghanistan, calling it “utterly irresponsible and reprehensible.”[5]

  • Pakistan’s largest fuel retailer Pakistan State Oil is “seeking jet fuel imports” for the first time since it suspended imports following the NATO border attack in November 2011, reported The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).  According to WSJ, it was “a sign that supplies to [NATO] forces in Afghanistan may resume in coming months.”[6]

International Relations

  • In a public appeal on Friday, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani urged Taliban leaders and “all other Afghan groups, including Hizb-e-Islami, to participate in an intra-Afghan process for national reconciliation and peace.”[7]

  • Senior Pakistani officials said on Friday that Iran has requested a barter deal with Pakistan, in which Iran will export iron ore and fertilizer to Pakistan in exchange for wheat and rice imports. According to an official at Pakistan’s Commerce Ministry, “some things need to be worked out” before the deal can be finalized, because sanctions on Iran make “such trades more difficult than usual.”[8]

Militancy

  • Suicide bombers, armed with assault rifles and grenades, attacked a police station in Peshawar on Friday, killing four policemen and wounding six others. Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan told The Associated Press (AP) that an affiliated group, the Abdullah Azzam Brigade, was responsible for the attack. Abu Zarar, a man claiming to be the brigade’s spokesman, also told the AP that the brigade carried out the attack, saying it was in retaliation for the death of their commander, Badar Mansoor, in a February 9 U.S. drone strike.[9]

  • An improvised explosive device (IED) exploded while a militant was attempting to plant it along Peshawar’s Ring Road on Friday. The man was injured and several vehicles were damaged as a result of the blast.[10]

  • The Crime Investigation Department (CID) claimed on Friday that it arrested five suspects involved in sectarian killings in Karachi during an operation in Korangi’s Abdullah Town area. According to CID, the suspects were members of Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, and they confessed to involvement in eight “target killings.”[11]

Domestic Politics

  • The Associated Press (AP) reported on Friday about “Pakistan’s ‘missing’ – people seized by security forces for months or years,” on the presumption of suspected terrorist activities, who are never brought to trial and are “allegedly killed or tortured in custody.” According to AP, Pakistan’s “spy network,” the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Agency, which “works closely with the CIA” and “operates largely outside of the law,” “is suspected to be behind most of the seizures.” In the past, the ISI has responded to inquiries about the seizures by refusing to discuss them, denying them, or insisting the missing were suspected militants. In an “unprecedented” turn of events, Pakistan’s Supreme Court has brought a “landmark case” against the ISI this month, involving “11 suspected militants who were captured in connection with a 2007 suicide bombing against ISI” and a “rocket attack…against an air force base.” Even though an anti-terrorism court ordered the suspects to be freed in 2010, they were detained once again. Four of the suspects allegedly “died in custody from ill treatment or neglect,” and the ISI produced the other seven on February 13 on the court’s orders. The seven ailing suspects “complained of harsh treatment during their detention,” and the court has ordered the ISI to explain the reason for their detention on March 1.[12]

  • Pakistan’s Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Thursday that “all cases will be withdrawn against Baloch leaders if they return back to their homeland.” The amnesty offer applies to Baloch leaders and dissidents living abroad, such as leader of the Balochistan Republican Party (BRP) Brahamdagh Bugti, who “went underground” when his grandfather was killed in a 2006 operation by the Pakistani military. Pakistan wants “a political solution of the Balochistan issue,” said Malik, and Baloch leaders such as Bugti “should take part in the political and development process.” According to interior ministry officials, Pakistan has asked Swiss authorities for assistance in persuading Bugti to return to Pakistan.[13]

  • Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz went to the Pakistani High Commission in London on Friday to continue giving his testimony in the “memogate” case via video link. During Friday’s testimony, Ijaz gave the judicial commission a portion of his telephone bill, containing the record of his contact with Pakistan’s former ambassador to the U.S. Hussain Haqqani. Ijaz argued that he could not show the commission the entire telephone bill, because its contents were classified, and so the commission ordered its secretary to obtain the bill from the telephone company and then send it to Islamabad. The commission had to remind Ijaz to “behave in accordance with court norms,” after he said that Haqqani’s counsel was speaking “nonsense,” and the two proceeded to argue. The commission directed Ijaz to resume his testimony via video link on March 1.[14]

  • President Asif Ali Zardari summoned Pakistan’s Ambassador to the U.S. Sherry Rehman on “immediate notice” to brief Zardari and senior leadership about the memogate case, according to anonymous sources. Zardari was expected to meet with Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in Karachi on Friday.[15]

  • Prime Minister Gilani’s cousin and Pakistani diplomat Syed Jalil Abbas Jilani is expected to take over as the new Foreign Secretary of Pakistan on March 3. The current foreign secretary, Salman Bashir, will move to a new position as Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India.[16]

 

 

 

   

 



[1] Josh Rogin, “Rohrabacher: The Pakistanis are 'hard-core, two-faced enemies,'” Foreign Policy, February 23, 2012. Available at http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/02/23/rohrabacher_the_pakistanis_are_hard_core_two_faced_enemies
[2] Richard Leiby, “U.S. delegation to Pakistan walks into uproar over congressman’s resolution,” The Washington Post, February 23, 2012. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/us-delegation-to-pakistan-walks-into-uproar-over-congressmans-resolution/2012/02/23/gIQAQ2XdVR_story.html
[3] Karen DeYoung, “Clinton: U.S. ready to reset relations with Pakistan,” The Washington Post, February 23, 2012. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/clinton-us-ready-to-reset-relations-with-pakistan/2012/02/23/gIQAboCNVR_story.html
“Pakistan too vital to be shunned, says Clinton,” Dawn, February 24, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/02/24/pakistan-too-vital-to-be-shunned-says-clinton.html
[4] “Anti-US Quran protests spread to Pakistan,” Dawn, February 24, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/02/24/anti-us-quran-protests-spread-to-pakistan.html
[5] “Pakistan condemns Quran burning in Afghanistan,” AFP, February 24, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/341197/pakistan-condemns-quran-burning-in-afghanistan/
[6] Gurdeep Singh, “Pakistan's PSO Seeks Jet Fuel; First Time Since November,” Dow Jones Newswires, February 23, 2012. Available at http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20120223-722494.html
[7] “Gilani urges Taliban to take part in peace talks with Afghan government,” AFP, February 24, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/341199/gilani-urges-taliban-to-enter-peace-talks-with-afghan-government/
[8] “Iran, Pakistan ‘in talks on wheat barter deal,’” Reuters, February 24, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/02/24/iran-and-pakistan-in-talks-on-1-mln-t-wheat-barter-deal-pakistan-official.html
[9] “Suicide attack on Peshawar police station kills four,” AP, February 24, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/02/24/gunmen-attack-peshawar-police-station.html
[10] “One injured in Peshawar’s Ring Road blast: Police,” Geo, February 24, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=36798
[11] “Five suspects of Karachi sectarian killings arrested,” Dawn, February 24, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/02/24/five-suspects-of-karachi-sectarian-killings-arrested.html
[12] Asif Shahzad and Chris Brummitt, “Pakistani father appeals to spy agencies: 'Let me see my son before I die,'” AP, February 24, 2012. Available at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/sns-bc-as--pakistan-themissing,0,1961997.story
[13] “Desperate times: Govt rolls out amnesty offer for Baloch dissidents,” The Express Tribune, February 24, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/341094/desperate-times-govt-rolls-out-amnesty-offer-for-baloch-dissidents/
[14] “Mansoor Ijaz continues testimony via video link,” Geo, February 24, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=36808
“Produce certified copy of phone bills, Ijaz told,” Zee News, February 24, 2012. Available at http://zeenews.india.com/news/south-asia/produce-certified-copy-of-phone-bills-ijaz-told_760409.html
[15] “Memogate: President Zardari summons Sherry Rehman,” The Express Tribune, February 24, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/341212/memogate-president-zardari-summons-sherry-rehman/
[16] Muhammad Saleh Zaafir, “Jalil Abbas to be new foreign secretary,” The News International, February 24, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=12702&Cat=13