Pakistan Security Brief – February 28, 2012

Leaked Stratfor emails allege Pakistani military officials may have known about bin Laden’s hiding place; 16 Shias killed in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa; President Zardari signs 20th Constitutional amendment into law; Prime Minister Gilani holds meetings with Army Chief Gen. Kayani and President Zardari; Balochistan chapter of PTI splits into three factions; Pakistan’s Supreme Court adjourns Prime Minister Gilani’s contempt case until March 7; U.S. payments to Pakistan for Coalition Support Fund expected to resume soon; Pakistan’s debt reaches $130 billion.

 

Osama bin Laden

  • On Monday, WikiLeaks published emails asserting that up to 12 mid to senior level officials in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate and Army may have known about bin Laden’s hiding place in Abbottabad prior to the raid by U.S. Special Forces in May.  The emails were written by employees of Stratfor, a private U.S. security firm that was hacked by the Anonymous network in December. Stratfor employees were reportedly shown documents recovered from bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad from which they reportedly were able to make the assertions. This information was leaked just as authorities in Abbottabad completed the demolition of the compound bin Laden had been hiding in. Residents of the city are calling for a girls’ college to be built on the site of the compound, in an effort to “disseminate the message of peace and non-violence across the area.”[1]

Militancy

  • Sixteen Shias were killed and seven injured in Harban Nala in Kohistan district, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on Tuesday by ten gunmen affiliated with Jundullah, a local anti-Shia terrorist group. The gunmen, dressed in military uniforms, stopped a convoy of four buses traveling from Rawalpindi to Gilgit and ordered “selected passengers” to get off the buses. Jundullah commander and spokesperson Ahmed Marwat told reporters that those killed in the attack “were [Shia] infidels and our mujahedeen shot them dead one by one after bringing them down from a bus.”[2]

  • Unidentified gunmen on motorcycles shot and killed a Chinese woman and a Pakistani man accompanying her on Tuesday in Peshawar’s Kohati Bazaar. Police officials said they have not yet determined the motive of the shooting.[3]

Domestic Politics

  • On Tuesday, President Zardari signed the 20th Constitutional amendment into law, making it a part of Pakistan’ Constitution. The bill, which provides for an “independent Election Commission” and a “neutral interim government” to oversee the polls, will ensure “free and fair elections,” said Zardari. According to Dawn, the amendment also validates the “election of 28 law-makers through by-polls during the past two years whose membership was suspended by the Supreme Court,” because the elections were not held in accordance with the 18th amendment.[4]

  • Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani met with Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and President Zardari in two separate meetings on Tuesday. Gilani and Kayani discussed developments in Afghanistan, the Balochistan issue, and security operations against militants in the tribal region, reported Dawn. After his meeting with Kayani, Gilani met with Zardari and briefed him on the same issues, including his meeting with the army chief.[5]

  • After landing in Quetta on Monday, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf Secretary General Dr. Arif Alvi had to take cover when a group of angry party activists outside the airport attacked Balochistan chapter president Qasim Suri. The Balochistan chapter of PTI has split into three factions: one led by Qasim Suri; the second led by Shakil Doda; and the third known as “Seniors Group.” Alvi had come to Quetta to review plans for PTI’s public meeting on April 16 and to chair a seminar on labor, which he had to cancel after the volatile situation at the airport. The News reported that there is much anger and resentment within PTI, as many members are opposed to the incorporation of politicians from other political parties.[6]

  • Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Tuesday adjourned Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s contempt of court case until March 7. During Tuesday’s hearing, Gilani’s counsel requested that the court summon the law and defense secretaries and former law minister Babar Awan as witnesses.  Awan has refused to come before the court, however, stating that the rules bar him “from appearing as a witness before a court where he has already argued the same case as a lawyer.”[7]

U.S.-Pakistan Relations and Economy

  • According to a senior finance ministry official in Pakistan, the U.S. has decided to “disburse withheld bills under the Coalition Support Fund for services provided by Pakistan to coalition forces in Afghanistan.” Finance Secretary Abdul Wajid Rana stated that U.S. payments are expected to resume “very soon,” after being stopped earlier this year due to political tension and the closure of NATO supply routes. According to Dawn, the estimated payments were initially expected to be $1.3 billion for the current fiscal year, but a recent International Monetary Fund report estimates they will actually be closer to $400 million.[8]

  • At the National Assembly Standing Committee meeting on Monday, Secretary of Economic Affairs Dr. Waqar Masood told the committee that Pakistan’s “domestic borrowings had exceeded the foreign debt, and the country’s total debt had reached up to $130 billion.” Dawn reported that this debt is the result of “the absence of credit lines from the international lenders during the last two to three years.”[9]                         



[1] Muhammad, Sadaqat, “Residents want girls college built on ruins of OBL compound,” The Express Tribune, February 28, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/342810/residents-want-girls-college-built-on-ruins-of-obl-compound/
“Wikileaks: Pakistan army officials ‘knew of Bin Laden house,’” BBC, February 28, 2012. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-17188120
McElroy, Damien, “Stratfor: Osama bin Laden ‘was in routine contact with Pakistan’s spy agency,’” The Telegraph, February 27, 2012. Available at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/al-qaeda/9109457/Stratfor-Osama-bin-Laden-was-in-routine-contact-with-Pakistans-spy-agency.html
[2] Ahmed, Aqeel, “Gunmen shoot dead 16 Shiites from bus in Pakistan,” Seattle PI, February 28, 2012. Available at http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/Gunmen-shoot-dead-16-Shiites-on-road-in-Pakistan-3365918.php
“Sectarian violence: Jundallah claims responsibility for Kohistan bus attack,” The Express Tribune, February 28, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/342909/18-dead-in-bus-ambush-on-karakoram-highway-police/
Ali, Zulfiqar, “Gunmen attack bus convoy in Pakistan, kill 16 Shiite Muslims,” Los Angeles Times, February 28, 2012. Available at http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/world_now/2012/02/gunmen-kill-16-in-bus-convoy-in-northern-pakistan.html
[3] “Chinese woman, local man shot dead in Peshawar: police,” AFP, February 28, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/02/28/two-foreigners-shot-dead-in-peshawar-police.html
[4] “Zardari signs 20th Constitutional Amendment bill,” Dawn, February 28, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/02/28/zardari-signs-20th-constitutional-amendment-bill.html
[5] “Gilani meets Kayani, Zardari on national security,” Dawn, February 28, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/02/28/gilani-meets-kayani-zardari-on-national-security.html
[6] Mumtaz Alvi, “PTI splits into three factions in Balochistan,” The News International, February 28, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=95023&Cat=2
[7] “SC adjourns the PM’s contempt of court hearing till March 7,” Dawn, February 28, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/02/28/sc-adjourns-the-pms-contempt-of-court-hearing-till-march-7.html
[8] Kiani, Khaleeq, “Pakistan eyes $1.3bn from US,” Dawn, February 28, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/02/28/pakistan-eyes-1-3bn-from-us.html
[9] “Pakistan’s total debt reaches $130bn,” Dawn, February 28, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/02/28/pakistans-total-debt-reaches-130bn.html