Pakistan Security Brief - January 15, 2013

Supreme Court calls for PM’s arrest in 24 hours along with 16 others for graft case; PM’s aides call order unconstitutional, Stock Market crashes in reaction; Indo-Pak tensions grow as another Pakistani soldier killed in Kashmir and Indian PM makes aggressive statements; Both militaries accuse each other of promoting violence; New Visa program suspended within hours of being launched; Long March in Islamabad continues; Qadri calls on supporters to topple government; Imran Khan calls for president’s resignation; N. Waziristan elders given 24 hours to get top militant commander to cease attacks on army; Several clashes in Khyber, across northwest; blast in Quetta; Gov’t says not seeking new IMF bailout; New developments in terrorism cases.

Supreme Court Calls for Prime Minister’s Arrest

  • Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and fifteen other officials for corruption in the Rental Power Projects (RPP) case. The charges concern Ashraf’s time as Minister for Water and Power, claiming that the bidding process for private power stations was dishonest and the officials received kickbacks in the area of Rs22 billion. Raids have been conducted to arrest four former secretaries, but the Information Minister reports that the government has yet to receive anything in writing from the courts. They will wait for written arrest orders before deciding how to respond, but according to his senior adviser, Mr. Ashraf’s arrest would be “illegal and unconstitutional” and many analysts deem the move unlikely to lead to Mr. Ashraf’s removal. Mr. Ashraf’s party, the PPP, will convene a meeting of its core committee tonight in Karachi to discuss the situation. While cleric and protestor Tahir-ul-Qadri praised the Supreme Court, it is unclear whether the arrests and Qadri’s march are related or coordinated, though Mr. Ashraf’s aide Fawad Chaudhry told Reuters that there is “no doubt” that the judiciary and army are working together to bring down the government. Domestic response to the arrests was particular strong in Karachi, where protestors shut down businesses, markets, roads, and public transportations with their demonstrations. Meanwhile, those participating in Qadri’s march in Islamabad showed “mass euphoria” at the news. Amid the uncertainty facing the country, Pakistani stocks fell more than 500 points.[1]

Indo-Pak Tensions Grow

  • A Pakistani soldier was killed by Indian gunfire at a position called Kundi along the Line of Control (LoC) dividing the two countries in Kashmir in the fifth casualty this year. Pakistani sources report that the firing was unprovoked, and that two civilians were wounded earlier this week from cross-border shelling.[2]

  • During a Flag Meeting between India and Pakistan, Pakistan continued its denials that Pakistani soldiers killed any Indians, attacked any Indian posts, or engaged in unprovoked firing across the Line of Control (LoC), while reporting two of its own soldiers dead from Indian gunfire. Meanwhile, India’s prime minister accused Pakistan of restarting hostilities because of its alleged ceasefire violations and subsequent denial of them, saying that there “can’t be business as usual” in the wake of this “dastardly act”.[3]

  • State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland reported that the US is pleased that Pakistan and India are holding high-level talks about violence in Kashmir, and reiterated its stance that dialogue is the only way to resolve the issue.[4]

  • A new program agreed upon last month to allow Pakistani senior citizens to get entrance visas for India upon arrival at the border has been suspended. Indian officials cite technical difficulties as the problem, and claim that it has nothing to do with recent border violence in Kashmir. The scheme was to make it easier for Pakistanis to visit friends and relatives in India, while including restrictions such as that applicants must be traveling on foot and were not permitted to enter certain areas of India.[5]

  • Hawkish politicians, former army officers and news anchors in India are calling for retaliation for last week’s incident in which Pakistani soldiers allegedly decapitated an Indian soldier and took his head with them. An opposition leader, Sushma Swaraj, has demanded either the return of the head or ten Pakistani skulls. [6]

  • Responding to hawkish comments from the Indian Army chief, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said that it does not want to worsen already tense relations by making “irresponsible comments” like his. Instead, it is committed to the peace process and continues to be willing to hold a UN investigation into the ceasefire violations.[7]

Long March and Anti-government protests

  • Sufi cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri’s march on Islamabad entered its second day, with protesters sleeping on the streets of Islamabad, determined to stay as long as Qadri demands. An official has put the number of protesters at around 30,000, most of whom are peaceful despite minor clashes with police early Tuesday morning. Qadri addressed his followers from behind bullet-proof glass directly in front of Parliament, calling for a rooting out of corruption, dissolution of the current government, and for the military and judiciary to have input into the formation of a new election commission and transitional government to oversee new elections. Qadri praised the military and judiciary as the only functional branches of government. He declared to his followers that they had the ability to force the government out within hours, and urged them to push through barricades blocking them from the Parliament building. When a deadline Qadri gave the government to resign expired, he called upon his supporters to bring down the government, saying “the march is over and the revolution has started.”[8]

  • Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf chairman Imran Khan on Tuesday issued a seven-point agenda including calling for Zardari’s resignation, an immediate announcement by the government of a date for new elections, and a caretaker setup to be established that was free of backroom deal-making.[9]

Militancy

  • Following an improvised explosive device (IED) attack that killed 17 Pakistan Army soldiers in North Waziristan on Sunday, government administrators in North Waziristan’s political administration on Monday issued a one-day deadline to local tribal elders in which to engage local Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur and get him to stop attacks on troops in the region. The elders were told that if Bahadur failed to bring the attacks in his area of influence under control, the military would resort to using force in preventing such incidents.[10]

  • Security forces in Charsadda district arrested a Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan militant in the Sro Killay area of the district on Monday. Separately, a police post was damaged in an IED blast in a bazaar in Charsadda on Monday.[11]

  • Around a hundred Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) militants attacked three Frontier Corps (FC)checkpoints in the Shalobar area of Bara sub-district, Khyber agency on Tuesday, killing six FC soldiers. Four LI militants were also killed in the assault. Ten soldiers and two militants were injured in clashes in the Harkalin Aday area of Bara sub-district in Khyber agency on Monday.[12]   

  • LI militant commander Shah Wali was killed and three volunteers of the Akka Khel anti-Taliban militia were wounded following a clash in Bara, Khyber on Monday.[13]

  • Over 200 Levies personnel refused on Monday to resume duties in Frontier Region Peshawar following the execution of 22 kidnapped colleagues by the TTP last month.[14]

  • Two people were injured in an IED blast targeting a police vehicle on Sibi road in Quetta on Tuesday. A man was shot dead by unknown gunmen in the Nasirabad area of Quetta on Monday.[15]

  • Eight people were killed in different incidents of violence across Karachi on Monday.[16]

IMF Bailout

  • A key Pakistani minister announced on Monday that the government had not asked for a fresh IMF bailout and had no intention of doing so. Talks between IMF officials and the Pakistani government were reportedly delayed by disruptions caused by Qadri’s long march.[17]

Terrorism Proceedings

  • Chicago businessman Tahawwar Rana has been convicted of supporting terrorist organizations, including a Pakistani group that carried out attacks in Mumbai in 2008. Prosecutors are pushing for the maximum sentence, 30 years in prison.[18]

  • Saifullah Khan, a former Pakistani politician now living in the US, added his testimony to a court case against two Florida imams, father and son Hafiz and Izhar Khan, who are on trial for funding the Pakistani Taliban (TTP). Saifullah Khan spoke to the jury about atrocities he had seen the TTP commit.[19]


[1] Pakistan’s top court orders premier’s arrest as cleric rallies thousands against government,” The Washington Post, January 15, 2013. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/protesters-in-pakistan-capital-rallying-for-political-reforms-push-through-barricades/2013/01/14/7cca1062-5ea9-11e2-8acb-ab5cb77e95c8_story.html
Declan Walsh, “Pakistani Supreme Court Orders Arrest of Prime Minister,” The New York Times, January 15, 2013. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/16/world/asia/pakistan-high-court-orders-arrest-of-prime-minister.html?partner=rss&emc=rss
“RPP case: Police raids to nab former secretaries,” Geo, January 15, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=83905
“PPP core committee meeting tonight,” Geo, January 15, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=83896
“SC orders arrest of PM Ashraf in RPP case,” Dawn, January 15, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/15/sc-orders-arrest-of-pm-ashraf-reports/
“Pakistani stocks plummet amid political turmoil,” Dawn, January 15, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/15/kse-100-index-plunges-by-more-than-450-points/
“Army, judiciary conspiring against govt: PM’s aide,” Dawn, January 15, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/15/army-judiciary-conspiring-against-govt-pms-aide/
“Govt not informed of PM’s arrest orders: Kaira,” Dawn, January 15, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/15/pakistan-govt-not-informed-of-any-arrest-order-against-pm-kaira/
“Raja Pervez Ashraf: Pakistan Supreme Court orders arrest of PM,” BBC, January 15, 2013. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-21022855
“Protests erupt in Karachi amid PM arrest orders by SC,” Dawn, January 15, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/15/protests-erupt-in-karachi-amid-pm-arrest-orders-by-sc/
[2] “Indian firing kills Pakistani soldier in Kashmir: ISPR,” Dawn, January 15, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/16/indian-firing-kills-pakistani-soldier-in-kashmir-ispr/
[3] “Pakistan rejects Indian allegations during Flag Meeting: ISPR,” The News, January 15, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-20278-Pakistan-rejects-Indian-allegations-during-Flag-Meeting:-ISPR
Heather Timmons, “Indian Leader Accuses Pakistan of Restarting Hostilities in Kashmir,” The New York Times, January 15, 2013. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/16/world/asia/indian-leader-accuses-pakistan-of-restarting-hostilities-in-disputed-region.html?partner=rss&emc=rss
[4] “US continues to encourage Pakistan-India talks to address LoC tensions,” The News, January 15, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-20279-US-continues-to-encourage-Pakistan-India-talks-to-address-LoC-tensions
“Pak-India dialogue should continue: US State Department,” Geo, January 15, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=83813
[5] “India suspends new visa scheme for Pakistanis,” Dawn, January 15, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/15/india-suspends-new-visa-scheme-for-pakistanis/
“Pakistan, India to start visa-on-arrival facility from Jan 15,” Dawn, January 15, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/14/pakistan-india-to-start-visa-on-arrival-facility-from-jan-15/
[6] Jawed Naqvi, “Calls for revenge get louder in India,” Dawn, January 14, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/15/calls-for-revenge-get-louder-in-india/
[7] “Pakistan does not want to vitiate tense situation along LoC: FO,” Dawn, January 15, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/15/pakistan-does-not-want-to-vitiate-tense-situation-along-loc-fo/
[8] Pakistan’s top court orders premier’s arrest as cleric rallies thousands against government,” The Washington Post, January 15, 2013. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/protesters-in-pakistan-capital-rallying-for-political-reforms-push-through-barricades/2013/01/14/7cca1062-5ea9-11e2-8acb-ab5cb77e95c8_story.html
Mubasher Bukhari, “Pakistan cleric tells followers: bring down government now,” Reuters, January 14, 2013. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/14/us-pakistan-protest-idUSBRE90D0V620130114
[9] “7-point agenda: Imran Khan demands Zardari’s resignation,” Express Tribune, January 15, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/494290/7-point-agenda-imran-khan-demands-zardaris-resignation/
[10] “NWA Taliban, Jurga given one day to stop attacks,” The News, January 15, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-154429-NWA-Taliban,-Jirga-given-one-day-to-stop-attacks
[11] “Suspected militant arrested in Charsadda,” The News, January 15, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-154444-Suspected-militant-arrested-in-Charsadda
“Police post damaged in Charsadda blast,” The News, January 15, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-154439-Police-post-damaged-in-Charsadda-blast
[12] “Khyber clashes kill six security forces: officials,” Geo TV, January 15, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=83881
“10 soldiers, two militants injured in Bara,” The News, January 15, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-154436-10-soldiers,-two-militants-injured-in-Bara
[13] “Bara Skirmish: Militant killed, peace volunteers injured,” Express Tribune, January 15, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/494077/bara-skirmish-militant-killed-peace-volunteers-injured/
[14] “Peshawar: 200 Levies soldiers refuse to perform duties,” Geo TV, January 15, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=83781
[15] “Two injured in Quetta blast,” Geo TV, January 15, 2013. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=83855
“Man shot dead in Nasirabad,” The News, January 15, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-154418-Man-shot-dead-in-Nasirabad
[16] “Karachi violence claims eight more lives,” Dawn, January 14, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/01/15/karachi-violence-claims-eight-more-lives-2/
[17] “Long march hits Pak-IMF talks,” The News, January 15, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-154415-Long-march-hits-Pak-IMF-talks
[18] “Prosecutors ask for 30 years in Mumbai case,” AP, January 14, 2013. Available at http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_MUMBAI_ATTACKS_SENTENCING?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT
[19] “Pakistani violence detailed in case of Florida imams charged with Taliban financial support,” The Washington Post, January 14, 2013. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/pakistani-violence-detailed-in-case-of-florida-imams-charged-with-taliban-financial-support/2013/01/14/4b79c494-5e8b-11e2-8acb-ab5cb77e95c8_story.html