Pakistan Security Brief - February 29, 2012

Pakistan’s Supreme Court resumes case against ISI for election rigging; Pakistan Army rejects allegations in Stratfor’s leaked email; U.S. says its forces need Pakistan Ground Line of Communication; U.S. authorities refuse to cooperate with Abbottabad Commission; Egyptian authorities claim they arrested senior al Qaeda member; Killing of 16 Shias sparks protests in Pakistan; Iran offers 80,000 barrels of oil per day to Pakistan; Indian authorities say they arrested LeT militants in New Delhi.

Domestic Politics

  • After a 13-year pause, Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Wednesday resumed a case on alleged election rigging by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate. The ISI is accused of paying $6.5 million to an opposition group to influence the outcome of the 1990 election and oust then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto from office. The court delayed Wednesday’s proceedings, when it discovered that statements recorded in 1998 by three important witnesses, including former ISI chief Asad Durrani, were missing. The court ordered officials to find the missing documents and bring Durrani to the next hearing on March 8. In a separate case involving the ISI, a public service organization, Al-Jihad Trust’s chairman Habibul Wahabul Khairi filed a petition in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, requesting that the court abolish the political wing of the ISI by declaring it in violation of the constitution.[1]

  • General William Fraser of the U.S. military’s Transportation Command told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday that “despite increased support from European, Central Asian and Baltic countries to open the Northern Distribution Network to Afghanistan, the U.S and allied forces need the Pakistan Ground Line of Communication (GLOC), as the drawdown in Afghanistan ramps up.”[2]

Osama bin Laden

  • The Pakistan Army strongly rejected allegations contained in a leaked email written by employees of the private intelligence firm Stratfor asserting that several 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. Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Athar Abbas told The Express Tribune on Tuesday that the claim is “rubbish and tantamount to kite flying; much farther from the truth.”[3]

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

Militancy

  • Egyptian authorities said on Wednesday that they had arrested Saif al-Adel, a senior member of al Qaeda who briefly served as bin Laden’s security chief, and who is on the FBI’s most-wanted list for the 1998 bombings of several U.S. embassies in eastern Africa. However, it is doubtful whether Egyptian-born Mohammed Ibrahim Makkawi , who was detained at Cairo International Airport after traveling on an Emirates flight from Pakistan via Dubai, is actually Adel. An expert on Islamist movements, University of Exeter professor Omar Ashour said that while both Makkawi and Adel served as officers in the Egyptian army, they are two different people. Nizar Ghorab, a lawyer who represents clients from jihadist groups, also denied that Makkawi and Adel are the same person. According to Ghorab, Makkawi was dishonorably discharged from the Egyptian military in the 1980s for joining jihadist fighters, and he was connected to al Qaeda for a very short time, but he severed those connections years ago. During his interrogation, Makkawi denied being Adel and said he left al Qaeda because of “bad planning on the organization’s part,” stated security officials in Cairo. There is also dispute as to whether Makkawi actually came from Pakistan, since a senior Pakistani security official said that his departure from Pakistan had not been confirmed.[5]

  • Tuesday’s killing of 16 Shias travelling by bus from Rawalpindi to Gilgit in Kohistan district has sparked protests all over Pakistan. Hundreds of students from Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) and activists of the Imamia Students Organisation and Wahadat-ul-Muslimeen brought traffic to a halt on the Islamabad Expressway for over three hours on Tuesday, while private transporters running buses from Rawalpindi to Gilgit suspended services until adequate security measures are put into place.[6]

  • Three people, including two women and a child were killed and five others were injured on Wednesday when a roadside bomb detonated near their vehicle on the outskirts of Bara, Khyber agency.[7]

  • Unidentified assailants blew up a primary school in Dallazak village in Charsadda district on Wednesday, causing extensive damage to parts of the school.[8]

  • The Bomb Disposal Squad defused a bomb hidden in a sack filled with narcotics in Tatara Park in Hayatabad, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on Tuesday.[9]

International Relations

  • According to a spokesman for Pakistan’s Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, Iran has made an “initial offer of 80,000 barrels (per day)” of oil to Pakistan on a “deferred payment” plan. The spokesman added that “a delegation from the ministry will visit Iran in the middle of March to follow up on this offer.”[10]

  • Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram said Wednesday that police had arrested two suspected militants allegedly belonging to Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) at New Delhi’s main railway station. The suspects were found with materials for making explosives, and according to Chidambaram, “they were planning to detonate a bomb or more than one bomb in a crowded locality.”[11]

 

 



[1] Salman Masood and Declan Walsh, “Pakistani Court Resurrects Election Tampering Investigation,” New York Times, February 29, 2012. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/01/world/asia/pakistan-court-resurrects-election-tampering-investigation.html?_r=1
“Distribution of funds by ISI among politicians,” Daily Times, February 29, 2012. Available at http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012%5C02%5C29%5Cstory_29-2-2012_pg1_3
[2] Brian Everstine, “TRANSCOM boss: Pakistan cargo lines must reopen,” Military Times, February 28, 2012. Available at http://militarytimes.com/news/2012/02/airforce-transcom-pakistan-cargolines-022812w/
[3] Kamran Yousaf, “WikiLeaks: Army rubbishes report of contacts between ISI, Bin Laden,” The Express Tribune, February 29, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/343178/wikileaks-army-rubbishes-report-of-contacts-between-isi-bin-laden/
[4] Tariq Iqbal Chaudhry, “Washington declines to cooperate with Abbottabad Commission,” The News International, February 29, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=12818&Cat=13
[5] Leila Fadel, “Egyptian authorities say they’ve arrested senior al-Qaeda official,” The Washington Post, February 29, 2012. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/top-al-qaeda-official-arrested-in-cairo-egyptian-authorities-say/2012/02/29/gIQAnagvhR_story.html
[6] “Protests rage over Kohistan killings,” Agencies, February 29, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/02/29/protests-rage-over-kohistan-killings.html
Umer Nangiana, “Bus massacre: G-B students, Shia organisations protest Kohistan killings,” The Express Tribune, February 29, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/343116/bus-massacre-g-b-students-shia-organisations-protest-kohistan-killings/
[7] “Bomb kills women, child in Khyber agency,” Agencies, February 29, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/02/29/bomb-kills-women-child-in-khyber-agency.html              
[8] “Government school blown up in Shabqadar: Police,” The Express Tribune, February 29, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/343413/government-school-blown-up-in-shabqadar-police/
[9] “Bomb defused at Public Park in Hayatabad,” The News International, February 29, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=95264&Cat=2
[10] “Iran Offers Pakistan 80,000 Barrels Per Day of Oil: Official,” Reuters, February 29, 2012. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2012/02/29/world/middleeast/29reuters-iran-pakistan-oil.html
[11] “LeT militants arrested in foiled New Delhi attack: Chidambaram,” AFP, February 29, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/02/29/new-delhi-attack-plot-foiled-chidambaram.html