Pakistan Security Brief - January 13, 2012
Pakistani lawmakers draft resolution expressing confidence in country’s leadership; Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz threatens to oppose move for vote of confidence; Prime Minister Gilani places “panicky” call to Britain’s High Commissioner; Army Chief General Kayani meets with military’s corps commanders; Petition is filed in Lahore High Court challenging dismissal of Defense Secretary; Mansoor Ijaz claims he will tell “unaltered truth” in “memogate” case; Ijaz’s private email to former national security advisor reveals three people behind memogate; PM Gilani plans meeting with Pakistan’s defense cabinet committee; Over one hundred militants attack security checkpost; Gunship helicopters launch assault in Orakzai Agency; Commission “unable to identify culprits” in journalist Saleem Shahzad’s murder; Danish navy vessel rescues nine Pakistani sailors off coast of Somalia.
- On Friday, Pakistani lawmakers drafted a resolution expressing confidence in the country’s leadership that will be put to a vote in Parliament on Monday. The resolution is designed to boost the civilian government as tensions with the military continue to fester. A successful vote will make it difficult for the government’s detractors, as any efforts to then bring down the government will be seen as contravening the will of parliament and the Pakistani public. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PLM-N) threatened to oppose the move for a vote of confidence. Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, opposition Leader in the National Assembly announced that PLM-N “would block any resolution of the government in the assembly that would fuel confrontation with the other state institutions.”
- Two officials, one Pakistani and one British, reported that Prime Minister Gilani placed a “panicky” call to Britain’s High Commissioner in Pakistan this week, asking for Britain’s support and expressing concern about a military takeover. While both the Pakistani and British governments deny the reports, the two officials say that the Prime Minister and the British diplomat discussed Gilani’s fear that the Pakistani army was preparing to launch a coup. In addition to this reported conversation, Gilani requested, via British High Commissioner to Pakistan Adam Thomson, the support of Britain in the current civil-military conflict in Pakistan.
- Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani met with the military’s corps commanders on Thursday. The military and its media wing have been silent on what exactly happened at the meeting, but sources claim that Gen. Kayani briefed his commanders on the escalating tensions with the government, and they discussed the “various options available to the army” in dealing with the crisis. They also made the decision to stand behind the Supreme Court as a means of tackling the government. The Supreme Court has threatened to remove the Prime Minister from office if he fails to comply with a court order regarding the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). An anonymous source within the army said that the military “will certainly consider assisting the judiciary if help was sought to implement the court’s decision.”
- After a one-day trip to Dubai, President Zardari returned to Pakistan on Friday, where tension between the civilian government and the military is quickly escalating into a crisis. Zardari drew criticism for leaving the country at such a critical time, and his departure triggered rumors of an impending military coup.
- On Thursday, advocate Muhammad Azhar Siddique filed a petition in the Lahore High Court that challenges the firing of Defence Secretary Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Naeem Khalid Lodhi, stating that he “was removed without being given any show cause notice and an opportunity to defend himself.” Siddique’s petition suggested that Gilani and the government removed Lodhi “to create hurdles for implementation of Supreme Court orders.” In opposition to the petition, a spokesman for the prime minister stated that Lodhi, as a contract employee, “could be sacked without being provided a reason.” 
- Rallies took place in Balochistan on Thursday in support of the democratic government system in Pakistan. Organized by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Peoples Student Federation (PSF), the rallies were a movement of support behind President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani.
- Mansoor Ijaz, Pakistani-American businessman and key player in the “memogate” scandal, claims that he will tell the “unaltered truth” when he testifies before the courts in Pakistan next week. Ijaz states that his story may bring charges of treason against President Zardari and Husain Haqqani, the former Pakistani ambassador to the United States. According to the Guardian, Ijaz claims he will bring “records of phone calls and text message exchanges with Haqqani to prove his case.” Forensic experts working on the case state that Haqqani’s email records “will be conclusive evidence for the commission to find out the truth.” While Ijaz claims that he will be in Pakistan next week, The Express Tribune reports that according to its sources, “he is not likely to appear before the commission any time soon,” as the Foreign Office has yet to receive a request for a visa from him, “but [he] will simultaneously insist he is coming, to keep the pressure on the government.”
- According to Foreign Policy, an email sent on May 9th from Mansoor Ijaz to former National Security Advisor James L. Jones, reveals that three people, rather than one, collaborated in writing the unsigned note to Adm. Mike Mullen. The email shows that there were two other men involved besides Haqqani. Ijaz identified the two men as Jehangir Karamat, a former army chief and Pakistani ambassador to the U.S., and Mahmud Ali Durrani, former National Security Advisor to Prime Minister Gilani. 
- Prime Minister Gilani is organizing a meeting with Pakistan’s defence cabinet committee which will be held on Saturday. This meeting will discuss how the government will respond to the “findings of a U.S. investigation into an airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.” The U.S. investigation found that its forces “acted in self-defense” on the November 26th incident. Pakistan’s government and military leadership dispute these findings, and a formal response to the U.S. report will be discussed during Saturday’s meeting.
- On Thursday, over one hundred militants attacked a security check post in Sarband area on the outskirts of Peshawar, killing two policemen and wounding 11 others. The attack began late at night when heavily armed militants surrounded the post and fired rocket propelled grenades. Three militants were also killed in the battle that lasted more than four hours, while the rest managed to escape. According to Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Operations Tahir Ayub, the attack was in response to an operation by security forces in Bara-Badhaber on January 12, in which paramilitary forces destroyed three militant hideouts.
- Security forces using gunship helicopters launched an assault in several areas of Orakzai Agency on Thursday, killing at least 15 militants, injuring several others and destroying five militant hideouts.
- Militants launched a rocket attack against a military convoy in the Sara Rogha area of South Waziristan Agency on Thursday, killing four soldiers from the Pakistan army’s Bomb Disposal Squad.
- On Thursday, a mortar shell explosion at a home in the Bara Aka Khel area in Khyber Agency resulted in the deaths of five family members, including four children and a woman.
- A retired lieutenant commander in the Pakistan Navy and current head of security for a private hospital, Asghar Ali Dogar, died on Thursday after being shot in Karachi’s Korangi area on Wednesday night.
- Nine people were injured in an explosion outside a music center in Charsadda’s Tehsil Bazaar on Thursday.
- A displaced resident of the Swat valley has petitioned the Supreme Court to reclaim ancestral farmland and gardens that he was displaced from when security forces launched operation “Rah-i-Rast” in Swat in 2009. In a report denying that the military had occupied the land, the District Officer for Revenue challenged the man’s claim to the land on the basis that he and his son were “terrorists.” Abdul Ghaffar Khan insisted that he is a “patriotic and peace-loving citizen,” who spent his life serving his community: as an in-charge of a checkpost, as the chief of Jamaat-i-Islami’s local chapter, and as a member and later the chairman of a union council. A four-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has ordered the Defense Secretary on Thursday to produce evidence verifying the military authorities’ claims.
Saleem Shahzad Inquiry
- A judicial commission investigating the murder of Pakistani journalist Saleem Shahzad submitted its report on Friday, stating that it “has been unable to identify the culprits.” Shahzad disappeared on May 29, 2011, two days after he wrote an article linking “rogue elements of the navy” with al Qaeda and a recent attack on a naval base. His body, displaying signs of torture, was found south of Islamabad on May 31. Shahzad told Human Rights Watch that intelligence agents had threatened him, but the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate denied any involvement in his murder, calling his allegations “baseless.” According to the commission’s report, Shahzad’s work “probably did, and certainly could have drawn the ire of various “belligerents” in the war on terror which included the Pakistani state and non-state actors such as the Taliban and al Qaeda, and foreign actors,” and “any of these could have had a motive to commit the crime.” In the future, agencies such as the ISI, “should be made more law-abiding” through appropriate legislation and “should be made more accountable” for their internal affairs, said the commission. The commission advised the Islamabad and Punjab Police to continue investigating the case.
- A Danish Navy vessel rescued nine Pakistani and five Iranian sailors off the coast of Somalia on Thursday. The rescued crew had been captured by 25 suspected pirates between November 7 and 10, and had been held hostage since that time. The Danish Navy vessel was engaged in anti-piracy operations under NATO authority. It captured the hijacked Iranian ship after “applying warning shots and tear gas.” Dawn reports that no injuries were sustained during the rescue operation.
- At the UAE Pakistan Assistance Programme (PAP) on Thursday, Essa Abdullah Al Basha Al Nuaimi, the UAE ambassador to Pakistan, claimed that “his country would continue to provide assistance to its brethren in [Pakistan] to fulfill their needs.” This assistance will specifically come in the form of development projects, such as one in the area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, an area ravaged by extremists that is in need of repair and rehabilitation.
- On Thursday, Philippe Thiebaud, newly appointed French ambassador to Pakistan, spoke with Rehman Malik, Pakistan’s Interior Minister. The two men discussed “matters of mutual interest,” specifically “strengthening the intelligence sharing mechanism to combat terrorism related activities.”