Pakistan Security Brief - February 27, 2012

Top-secret U.S. cable highlights problems of Taliban havens in Pakistan; Investigation says drones kill few civilians; Pakistani forces demolish bin Laden compound; drone crashes in North Waziristan; bomb blast kills at least five at rally in northwest; 16 militants killed in clashes with security forces in the tribal areas; Pakistani invites Kashmiri independence leader to visit; India planning massive wargame on Pakistani border.

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

  • A top-secret cable written by the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker last month warns officials in Washington that Taliban havens across the border in Pakistan are “placing the success of the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan in jeopardy.” According to the Washington Post, the cable could be used by senior military officials to strengthen the case for more aggressive action against the Haqqani Network inside Pakistan and for preserving a “larger American force in Afghanistan than many in the Obama administration are advocating.”[1]

  • Pakistani authorities on Sunday completed demolition of the Abbottabad hideout where Osama bin Laden was found and killed by U.S. Navy SEALs on May 2. The compound, which had “acquired a painful symbolism for Pakistan’s powerful military,” was cordoned off by troops who kept spectators at bay while heavy machinery razed the structure.[2]

Drone Strikes

  • An investigation conducted by the Associated Press examines the claim that U.S. drone strikes inside Pakistan kill large number of civilians and concludes that drones are “killing far fewer civilians than many in the country are led to believe.” The report details an on-the-ground investigation looking at “10 of the deadliest attacks” from the last 18 months in which an AP reporter spoke to about 80 villagers living near the sites of the attacks. According to report, the overwhelming majority of those killed in the strikes were militants. Barring one apparently errant strike, villagers maintain that “nearly 90 percent of the people killed [are] militants.”[3]

  • Pakistani intelligence officials reported that a U.S. drone aircraft crashed in North Waziristan on Saturday. The drone went down near the village of Machi Khel. Taliban militants loyal to Hafiz Gul Bahadur claim to have shot the drone down and said they would display pictures of the wreckage to prove their claim. U.S. officials deny the drone was shot down.[4]

Militancy

  • A bomb blast at a political rally killed five people and injured 27 more in Nowshera district on Monday. The blast took place just after a rally held by the Awami National Party had ended fifty meters from the rally site. According to investigators, the bomb was planted on a motorcycle and detonated by remote control.[5]

  • At least 16 militants and two security officials were killed clashes in different parts of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on Monday. In Siplatoi, South Waziristan, 10 militants and two soldiers died during a search operation. Elsewhere, in Bara, Khyber agency, six militants were killed when troops “pounded militant hideouts, launching a full-scale aerial operation in Bara.” A number of militant logistical centers were destroyed in the strikes.[6]

Indo-Pak Relations

  • Pakistan’s foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, invited Syed Ali Geelani, a prominent politician and leader of the All Parties Hurriyet Conference (APHC) in Indian-administered Kashmir, to visit Pakistan. Geelani has called for the “inclusion of Kashmiri leadership” in peace talks between India and Pakistan and Pakistani officials have made assurances that they would “continue to support Kashmir’s struggle for securing their inalienable right to self-determination.”[7]

  • India is planning to conduct one of its largest wargames on its border with Pakistan, an Indian official announced on Monday. The exercises, set to involve over 20,000 troops and 200 tanks, will take place in the Indian state of Rajasthan. They are set to begin next month and conclude in May.[8]



[1] Greg Jaffe and Greg Miller, “Secret U.S. cable warned about Pakistani havens,” Washington Post, February 24, 2012. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/secret-us-cable-warned-of-pakistani-havens/2012/02/24/gIQAgMnYYR_story.html
[2] Declan Walsh, “Pakistan Razing House Where Bin Laden Lived,” New York Times, February 25, 2012. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/26/world/asia/pakistan-razing-house-where-bin-laden-lived.html
[3] Sebastian Abbot, “AP IMPACT: New light on drone war’s death toll,” AP, February 25, 2012. Available at http://www.kansascity.com/2012/02/25/3450990/ap-impact-new-light-on-drone-wars.html
[4] “Taliban militants say they shot down U.S. drone,” Reuters, February 25, 2012. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/25/us-pakistan-us-drone-idUSTRE81O0G520120225
[5] “Blast at ANP rally in Nowshera kills five, injures 27,” Express Tribune, February 27, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/342433/three-dead-in-blast-at-anp-rally-in-nowshera/
[6] Iftikhar Firdous, “In restive badlands: 16 militants, 2 security men killed in FATA,” Express Tribune, February 27, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/342248/in-restive-badlands-16-militants-2-security-men-killed-in-fata/
[7] “Syed Ali Geelani: Khar invites Hurriyet leader to visit Pakistan,” Express Tribune, February 27, 2012., Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/342289/syed-ali-geelani-khar-invites-hurriyet-leader-to-visit-pakistan/
[8] India plans wargames near Pakistan border,” AFP, February 27, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/02/27/india-plans-wargames-near-pakistan-border.html