Pakistan Security Brief – January 20, 2012

Senior al Qaeda operative is killed by U.S. drone strike; Former leader of militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi to be released; Two European aid workers are kidnapped in Multan; Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani says Parliament will decide on resumption of NATO supplies; Supreme Court of Pakistan will not allow Election Commission “to hold elections on bogus voters’ lists;” Sub-inspector is gunned down in Karachi; President Obama wants U.S. and Pakistan to work together; U.S. special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan Marc Grossman says U.S. will remain open to dialogue; Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz is granted visa to Pakistan to testify in “memogate” case; Norwegian ambassador to Pakistan is summoned to Foreign Office.

Militancy

  • “A senior al Qaeda external operations planner” was killed in a U.S. drone strike on January 10 in Miram Shah, an American official said Thursday. Pakistani national Aslam Awan, also known by the “nom-de-guerre Abdullah Khorasani,” “was working on attacks against the West,” and “his death reduces al Qaeda’s thinning bench of another operative devoted to plotting the death of innocent civilians,” said the official. Awan reportedly spent several years in the UK, and according to British news reports, he moved to Manchester in 2002 on a student visa, where he joined a group of young militants. After returning to Pakistan, Awan wrote a letter to a friend in the UK that British authorities have described as a “call to arms.” In the letter, Awan encouraged his friend to join him in the struggle against American troops in Afghanistan.[1]

  • On Friday, a review board of the Lahore High Court issued orders for the release of Malik Ishaq, “former leader” of the militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. The board denied the Punjab government’s request to extend Ishaq’s detention, which is ending on January 25, for 30 more days, after the government failed to produce evidence showing Ishaq was a “threat to peace.” Ishaq had been detained under laws permitting detention for up to 90 days if the person in question was determined to be a threat to public peace.[2]

  • Two European aid workers were kidnapped in Multan, Punjab on Thursday. The aid workers, an Italian man and a Dutch man, were employees of Welthungerhilfe, a German NGO working on flood rehabilitation in Multan. No one has claimed responsibility for the abductions, and it is unclear if the aid workers were taken by criminals for ransom or by militants.[3]

  • A sub-inspector investigating cases of terrorism and sectarian killings was gunned down in Orangi Town, Karachi on Thursday. Sub-inspector Asghar Ali Tarar is reported to have played an active role in the 1990s “Karachi Operation,” an effort launched by Nawaz Sharif’s administration to crack down on violence in the city, particularly political violence linked to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). According to a list compiled by the Sindh police in October 2011 pursuant to a Supreme Court order, more than 150 policemen involved in the operation have been killed over the past two decades.[4]

  • An unknown number of people have been injured in an explosion reported to have occurred in the Lyari area of Karachi.[5]

Domestic Politics

  • On Friday, Mansoor Ijaz, Pakistani-American businessman and central player in the “memogate” scandal, claimed that the Parliamentary Commission on National Security (PCNS) has no authority to summon him to Pakistan because he is not a Pakistani national. Ijaz stated that he is “considering taking up the matter with the Supreme Court of Pakistan,” and that he alone will “decide whether he will appear in front of the [parliamentary] committee or not” on January 26. Ijaz was officially granted a one-year multiple-entry visa to Pakistan on Thursday by the Pakistan High Commission in London. His counsel reaffirmed previous statements that Ijaz is planning to appear before the memogate commission in Pakistan on January 24. Interior Minister Rehman Malik announced on Friday that “the government [is] prepared to provide fool-proof security” to Mansoor Ijaz when he arrives in Pakistan to testify. Malik also stated that Ijaz would “have to answer for his role in toppling Benazir Bhutto’s government,” and that he cannot guarantee whether or not Ijaz will be arrested when he lands in Pakistan.[6]

  • At the Supreme Court hearing on Friday, the Pakistani government maintained that it had no plans of removing Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani, or the Director General of the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt. Gen. Shuja Ahmed Pasha. The chief justice asked the government to submit a written reply to the court and adjourned the hearing for two weeks. This hearing was the result of a petition filed in the Islamabad High Court requesting that the government refrain from firing either Kayani or Pasha until the court reached a final decision on the matter.[7]

  • Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, announced on Thursday that the court would not allow the Election Commission (EC) “to hold elections on bogus voters’ lists.” He claimed that doing so would violate the constitutional demand of transparency in elections, and ordered the EC to prepare verified voters lists before the election. The chief justice also noted that the new voters’ lists should be produced by February 24 and should include Pakistanis living abroad.[8]

  • Following the Supreme Court appearance of Prime Minister Raza Gilani on Thursday, the parliamentary party of the ruling coalition met at the Presidency. At the meeting, President Zardari and coalition heads expressed their satisfaction of how Gilani presented himself before the Supreme Court. Zardari also spoke on the upcoming elections, stating that as a coalition, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and its allies, “will remain united and will jointly contest the next elections” from a joint platform. The prime minister also spoke at the meeting, claiming that he has given his economic and energy teams six-months to “bring a policy to end the power and gas load-shedding.” Gilani went on to say that he wants the government to go into the elections “having overcome the energy crisis.”[9]

  • Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Gen. Kayani met informally over tea on Friday. According to Geo, the two men discussed “the recommendations of the parliamentary committee in regards to the NATO attack,” as well as the nation’s economic conditions.[10]

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

  • A statement issued by the White House on Thursday says that “President Barack Obama wants the United States and Pakistan to work together” in order to achieve “their common goals of defeating terrorism and building a stable and peaceful Pakistan.” According to the statement, President Obama conveyed this sentiment to Pakistan’s new ambassador to the U.S., Sherry Rehman, during their meeting on Wednesday. After the November 26 NATO bombing of Pakistani military posts, Pakistan ordered a parliamentary review of its relations with the United States. During her meeting with President Obama, Ambassador Rehman “dismissed suggestions that the review would have a negative impact on bilateral relations,” and insisted that it will rather “present an opportunity for both countries to reset ties on more consistent, transparent and predictable lines.”[11]

  • The Associated Press reports that “the U.S. is paying six times as much to send war supplies to troops in Afghanistan through alternate routes after Pakistan’s punitive decision in November to close border crossings to NATO convoys.” According to Pentagon figures, it is costing the U.S. $104 million per month to send supplies along the new route, as opposed to the $17 million per month it previously cost to send the supplies through Pakistan. Roughly 85 percent of fuel is now being trucked through the alternative routes, as well as 30 percent of cargo normally sent through Pakistan.[12]

  • Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani announced that parliament would decide whether or not to resume supplies to NATO forces. Gilani stated that he was “opposed to the appeasing attitude” of the former Pakistani government under Pervez Musharraf, and criticized Musharraf’s government, claiming that it “gave into U.S. demands on a single telephone call.”[13]

  • Marc Grossman, U.S. special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, stated on Friday that the U.S. would give Pakistan the time it needs to reassess and revaluate its relationship with the U.S. before meeting with its leadership. Grossman added that the U.S. will remain open to a dialogue whenever Pakistan feels that it is ready to reengage its relationship with the United States.[14]

  • On Friday, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland announced that Pervez Musharraf, former president of Pakistan, “was not asking for favors from U.S. officials to avoid arrest in Pakistan.” This statement refutes reports that the former president requested a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Musharraf stated that he plans to return to Pakistan at the end of January.[15]

International Relations

  • The Norwegian ambassador to Pakistan, Cecilie Landsverk, was summoned to the Foreign Office in Pakistan after reports emerged that Norway had “posted spies in its embassy” in Islamabad. At the meeting on Thursday, Landsverk explained that Norwegian intelligence only placed one officer in the embassy, and that the original public disclosure by Norwegian Policy Security Service (PST) Chief Janne Kristiansen was inaccurate. Ms. Kristiansen made statements at a parliamentary hearing suggesting that the E Service, the Norwegian intelligence agency, had “its representatives” in Pakistan, among other countries. Due to her miscommunication, Ms. Kristiansen resigned from her position as PST Chief on Wednesday. According to The News, “Pakistan is satisfied with the envoy’s explanation” and was reassured that there was only a single intelligence officer, primarily charged with counterterrorism duties.[16]

  • Foreign Minister of Pakistan Hina Rabbani Khar met with British Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Mark Sedwill and British High Commissioner for Pakistan Adam Thomson on Thursday and discussed bilateral ties between the two countries along with the regional situation, particularly in regard to Afghanistan.[17]



[1] Scott Shane, “Drone Strike Kills Qaeda Operative in Pakistan, U.S. Says,” New York Times, January 19, 2012. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/20/world/asia/us-says-qaeda-operative-killed-in-drone-strike.html?_r=1
“Senior al Qaeda operative 'killed by US drone strike," Telegraph, January 20, 2012. Available at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/al-qaeda/9026758/Senior-al-Qaeda-operative-killed-by-US-drone-strike.html
[3] Salman Masood, “Two European Aid Workers Are Kidnapped in Pakistan,” New York Times, January 20, 2012. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/21/world/asia/two-european-aid-workers-are-kidnapped-in-pakistan.html
[4] S. Raza Hassan, “Another policeman linked to Karachi operation shot dead,” Dawn, January 20, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/01/20/another-policeman-linked-to-karachi-operation-shot-dead.html
[5]  “Karachi: Blast in Lyari; scores injured,” Geo, January 20, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/NewsDetail.aspx?ID=31640
[6] “I’m not Pakistani, I cannot be summoned: Mansoor Ijaz,” The Express Tribune, January 20, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/324570/im-not-pakistani-i-cannot-be-summoned-mansoor-ijaz/ “Mansoor Ijaz issued visa to Pakistan,” Dawn, January 19, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/01/19/mansoor-ijaz-issued-visa-to-pakistan.html “Govt prepared to provide security to Ijaz: Malik,” Dawn, January 20, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/01/20/govt-prepared-to-provide-security-to-ijaz-malik.html
[7] “Govt not planning on sacking Kayani, Pasha: AG,” The Express Tribune, January 20, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/324552/govt-not-planning-to-sack-kayani-pasha-ag/
[8] Shoaib A. Raja, “SC stays by-polls on bogus voters’ lists,” The News International, January 20, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=11866&Cat=13
[9] Asim Yasin, “President, PM chair ruling coalition’s meeting,” The News International, January 20, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=11868&Cat=13
[10] “President Zardari meets Army Chief Kayani,” Geo, January 20, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=31732
[11] Anwar Iqbal, “Obama wants US, Pakistan to work together,” Dawn, January 20, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/01/20/obama-wants-us-pakistan-to-work-together.html
[12] “Pakistan’s closure of supply routes costs US 6 times more for new route,” Associated Press, January 19, 2012. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/apnewsbreak-pakistans-closure-of-supply-routes-costs-us-6-times-more-for-new-route/2012/01/19/gIQAzTUTBQ_story.html
[13] “Parliament to decide on Nato supplies resumption: PM,” Dawn, January 20, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/01/20/parliament-to-decide-issue-of-nato-supplies-resumption-pm.html
[14] “Will wait for Pak to reassess ties: US,” Geo, January 20, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=31724
[15] “Musharraf not seeking help to avoid arrest: US,” Dawn, January 20, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/01/20/musharraf-not-seeking-help-to-avoid-arrest-us.html
[16] Mariana Baabar, “FO satisfied with envoy’s explanation,” The News International, January 20, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=11877&Cat=13 “Norway spy chief Kristiansen quits in secrecy gaffe,” BBC News, January 19, 2012. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-16626447
[17]  “British diplomat calls on foreign minister,” Geo, January 19, 2012. Available athttp://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=31626