Pakistan Security Brief - February 9, 2011

U.S. diplomat under house arrest; Davis facing possible espionage charges; U.S. Congressmen threaten to cut off aid; Resignation of Cabinet; New governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province appointed; LeJ asks for ransom for General Tariq Majid’s son-in-law; Thall-Parachinar Road reopens; Thirteen vehicles destroyed in Peshawar; One killed by bomb in Charsadda; Stern action to be taken in Balochistan; Explosion in Gujranwala.

 

U.S.-Pakistani Relations

  • The New York Times has reported that the U.S. diplomat charged with murder, Raymond Davis, is currently being held at a police training center in Lahore, under house arrest. The article also mentions the possessions confiscated from Davis upon arrest, including a Glock handgun, a flashlight that attached to a headband, a pocket telescope, and a digital camera containing pictures of ”sensitive areas and defense installations.” The Express Tribune has quoted an anonymous source that said the camera contained “Photos of the strategic Balahisar Fort, the headquarters of the paramilitary Frontier Corps in Peshawar, and Pakistan Army bunkers on the Eastern border with India.” The prosecution branch of the Punjab police has consequently written an official letter to the investigation branch to push for espionage charges against Davis.[i]

  • On Tuesday, U.S. Congressmen threatened to cut off aid to Pakistan over the Davis case. Following a stern warning that high-level dialogue may be suspended or downgraded if Davis was not freed, Representative John Kline alleged that, "It's entirely possible that a member of Congress would come down and offer an amendment to cut funding for Pakistan based on their detaining Davis. My guess is there would be a lot of support for such an amendment, frankly, because of the outrage of detaining an American with diplomatic immunity."[ii]

 

Internal Politics

  • Pakistan’s cabinet has resigned amidst Prime Minister Gilani’s plans to reduce the number of ministers by more than one third. Prime Minister Gilani is set to appoint a smaller cabinet in order to meet demands by the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N). The move will decrease the number of ministers and deputy ministers from sixty to less than forty. A government spokesperson said the prime minister plans to declare a new cabinet in the next few days.[iii]

  • On Tuesday, President Zardari appointed a new governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, replacing Owais Ahmad Ghani with a Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) ally, Syed Masood Kausar. A spokesperson for President Zardari said that Kausar's selection was an administrative decision intended to improve governance in the province. The decision follows the provincial government expressing its apprehension over a proposed plan of the federal government to shift funds for the rehabilitation of terrorism affected people to flood victims. A provincial minister, Iftikhar Hussain, raised reservations that strides made by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government in combating militancy would be affected.[iv]

 

FATA

  • Days after Sunni and Shiite communities in Kurram Agency agreed to end their four-year long conflict, the main road leading from Kurram to Peshawar has been reopened. On Tuesday, a convoy of vehicles from both tribes traveled on Thall-Parachinar Road in order to make public the accord.[v]

  • A Fata Disaster Management Authority (FDMA) officer verified that over 50,000 people have fled Mohmand Agency since operations against the Taliban have commenced. Agency Protection Officer, Iftikhar Aziz, said that 3,749 families have registered at IDP camps near the Afghan border. Many have also taken refuge with relatives in Peshawar and other areas bordering Mohmand.[vi]

 

Attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

  • Thirteen vehicles were destroyed in an explosion on Tuesday afternoon in Karkhano Market in Peshawar. Four tankers carrying supplies to NATO forces in Afghanistan were also gutted in the ensuing fire. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.[vii]

  • An explosion killed one in Charsadda on Wednesday. Five others were wounded by the bomb, which was planted in a donkey cart.[viii]

 

High Profile Kidnapping

  • A videotape of the kidnapped son-in-law of the former Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC), General Tariq Majid, reveals that he is in the custody of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) militants. A message released by Amir Aftab Malik states that his kidnappers are asking for ransom money as well as the release of 153 militants being held in Pakistani prisons, including Malik Mohammad Ishaq, the founder of the LeJ.[ix]

 

Cracking Down in Balochistan

  • On Tuesday, the Balochistan government announced its decision to take harsh action against militancy in the province. A meeting of ministers and security officers, which was held to review the security situation in the province, concluded that stern action against terrorism and those challenging the government would be taken.[x]

 

Blasts in Gurjanwala:

  • A bomb blast in Gujranwala, Punjab has injured three police officers and destroyed multiple police buildings on Wednesday. Police chief Ghulam Mehmood Dogar stated that three bombs were planted on Tuesday night at a police station, an administrative center of a senior police official, and local police barracks. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.[xi]

 

 

 


[i] Jane Perlez, “Mystery Over Detained American Angers Pakistan,” New York Times, February 9, 2011. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/09/world/asia/09pakistan.html?_r=2&partner=rss&emc=rss
[ii] “US aid to Pak linked to Davis’ release,” The News, February 9, 2011. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/NewsDetail.aspx?ID=10842
[iii] “Pakistan cabinet quits for revamp amid economic crisis,” BBC, February 9, 2011. Available at
[iv] “Zardari appoints ally to key Pakistan province,” AFP, February 8, 2011. Available at http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110208/wl_sthasia_afp/pakistanunrestpolitics
[v] “Officials: NW Pakistan rival tribes to end fight,” Associated Press, February 9, 2011. Available at http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110209/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan_tribal_peace
[vi] “‘Over 50,000 people flee Mohmand operation,’” The News, February 9, 2011. Available at http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=30248&Cat=2&dt=2/9/2011
[vii] “Bomb destroys 13 vehicles, including NATO tankers,” Daily Times, February 9, 2011. Available at http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\02\09\story_9-2-2011_pg7_6
[viii] “Bomb blast kills one in Charsadda, Dawn, February 9, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/02/09/bomb-blast-kills-one-in-charsadda.html
[ix] Amir Mir, “Video of Gen Tariq’s abducted son-in-law emerges,” The News, February 9, 2011. Available at http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=3889&Cat=13&dt=2/9/2011
[x] “Stern action to be taken against terrorists in Balochistan,” The News, February 9, 2011. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=30244&Cat=2&dt=2/9/2011