Pakistan Security Brief - January 9, 2012

Dead bodies of ten Frontier Constabulary paramilitary troops recovered; Local Taliban commander killed in shootout; Musharraf plans to return to Pakistan and run in general election, says Pakistan should establish ties with Israel; Zardari says he is not stepping down; CIA to resume drone attacks; U.S. in talks with Pakistan to allow Taliban to hold office in Qatar; PPP in talks with “all political parties” on issue of early elections; Six militants killed in shootout between two rival tribes; Judicial commission for “memogate” summons Mansoor Ijaz; PPP committed to creation of new Seraiki province; Kuwait and Saudi Arabia refuse to extend Pakistan’s credit term for oil payments.

 

Militancy

  • According to a report in the Express Tribune, the Obama administration has sought Pakistan’s consent over the Taliban office, and has given the “green light” for the Haqqani network to take part in the reconciliation process. According to the report, the U.S. military now wants to “avoid confronting the Haqqanis” directly, since the group has a “‘pivotal role’ in any future political dispensation of Afghanistan.”[1]

  • The dead bodies of ten Frontier Constabulary (FC) paramilitary troops that have been missing since December were recovered in Dabori, upper Orakzai on Monday. According to security officials, on December 21, 2011, militants attacked a checkpost in the middle of the night, killing thirteen soldiers and kidnapping ten. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the killings. TTP spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, said the recovery of the dead bodies was part of an exchange in which security forces gave the TTP the bodies of five of their fighters who died on December 21. According to Ehsan, “the soldiers were killed in retaliation for the Jan. 1 raid in Khyber Agency that led to the death of Taliban commander Qari Kamran.” The TTP is also demanding the release of three women who were taken on January 1, saying they are from Taliban families and should be returned home.[2] 

  • A local Taliban commander was killed and his associate arrested during a shootout in Karachi on Saturday, say Pakistani police officials. Two police officers were also wounded in the gunfight. The leader, Yaseen Shah, opened fire on police officers, when they intercepted his car and demanded that he stop. The chief of Karachi’s criminal investigations division, Fayyaz Khan says that Shah was responsible for many assassinations in the city.[3]

  • At least six militants were killed and twelve injured during an exchange of gunfire between two rival tribes in the Landi Kotal, Khyber on Friday. Lashkar-i-Islam and the Zakha Khel tribal militia fought for control of a key base in Bazaar Zakha Khel. The six killed were from Lashkar-i-Islam, while the injured were evenly divided between the two tribes. The two tribes have clashed for several days over control of important hilltops in the area.[4]

  • Pakistani police have made arrests in the case of Khalil Dale, a Muslim convert and British national, who was kidnapped on January 5th, in Balochistan, where he was working for the International Committee of the Red Cross. Police officials say they have identified the group responsible for the kidnapping and made some arrests, but they cannot disclose any more information because of security concerns.[5]

  • Naval officer Mohammad Israrul Haq was court martialed and sentenced to fifteen years in prison for planning a series of attacks on important naval installations, the National Defense University (NDU) and for taking hostages. In 2009, militants attacked the general headquarters in Rawalpindi, taking military officers hostage. Even though this attack had already occurred, and both the government and the military had knowledge that similar attacks had been planned, authorities took no action and failed to prevent the attack on Mehran base on May 23, 2011.[6]

  • Militants fired three rocket-propelled grenades at an army camp in Miram Shah, North Waziristan. No one was killed in the attack. In a separate incident in Miram Shah, militants set off explosives at a boys school, causing damage to part of the building.[7]

  • On Friday an explosive device targeting the head of a peace committee, Malik Mohammad Ali Haleemzai, went off near his home in the Sangar Khwar area of Mohmand Agency. Nobody was injured in the attack.[8]

 

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

  • According to American and Pakistani officials, insurgents are taking advantage of a nearly two-month lull in American drone strikes in Pakistan. Al Qaeda and several Pakistani militant factions have been regrouping, increasing their attacks against Pakistani security forces and threatening to intensify strikes against coalition forces in Afghanistan. Relations between the U.S. and Pakistan suffered a significant blow in November, when an American airstrike killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers in two border outposts. The CIA has reportedly stopped drone strikes since mid-November while Pakistan completes a review of its alliance with the U.S., in order to avoid further straining relations. The current pause in drone operations is the longest since July of 2008. According to news reports, both the U.S. and Pakistan have reportedly almost agreed on a new set of terms governing drone operations, which means the CIA is likely to resume drone strikes soon; however, the drones are now expected to be flying from American bases in Afghanistan rather than bases inside Pakistan. Pakistani officials reportedly also want to enforce two new conditions on the strikes: first, the drone strikes must be less frequent than they were in previous years, and second, the drones must target areas under a “box formation” approach. This would mean that the drones would be operating within a smaller radius, and would not be allowed to strike in areas they had previously been able to.[9]

  • According to U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland, the State Department will be watching closely to ensure that any judicial process concerning former U.S. ambassador Husain Haqqani in the ongoing “memogate” scandal is “fair” and “transparent.” When asked by journalists why the State Department had chosen to speak up now, Ms. Nuland responded, “The situation is obviously evolving in Pakistan, so we want to see it evolve in a manner that meets the highest international legal standard.”[10] 

  • According to an annual report on drone attacks in Pakistan compiled by the Conflict Monitoring Center (CMC), an “independent research center,” drone attacks have not been very effective against militant leaders. The report states that the U.S. carried out 75 drone attacks inside Pakistan and killed 609 people during 2011, but only eight high-value targets were killed, while the rest were “civilians.”[11]

 

Domestic Politics

  • The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has reportedly started talks with “all political parties” on the issue of an early general election. According to a senior PPP leader, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Jamaat-i-Islami are pushing for elections as soon as possible, while the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf (PTI), a new political party, also wants early elections, but not before September or October. The Awami National Party (ANP), which rules Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and the Pakistan Muslim League-Qaid-e-Azam (PML-Q), a coalition partner, want elections to be held after the PPP-led government’s five-year term ends in March 2013. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) reportedly has no preference for either early or late elections. The PPP would like to hold the elections in September or October, but must secure the consensus of all political parties for that to occur.[12]

  • During a political rally held by the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) in Karachi on Sunday, former president Pervez Musharraf addressed APML supporters via telephone from Dubai. He stated his intent to return to Pakistan sometime between January 27th and 30th. Musharraf said he plans to face charges against him that he failed to “provide adequate security to former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto before her assassination in 2007”. In a press conference on Monday, Sindh Interior Minister Manzoor Wassan said that former president Pervez Musharraf “would be arrested and sent to jail as soon as he lands at Karachi Airport.” Wassan added that, after his arrest, Musharraf would be handed over to the Balochistan government. According to Saudi and Pakistani sources, Musharraf will go to Saudi Arabia before returning to Pakistan to garner support for his political comeback. It is not clear what type of support Musharraf will seek, but some reports claim that he will attempt to gain a Saudi guarantee that he will not be detained upon his return to Pakistan. Musharraf has also recently voiced his opinion that Pakistan should consider establishing ties with Israel. [13]

  • The judicial commission investigating the memogate case has ordered U.S. businessman Mansoor Ijaz, one of the central characters in the case, to appear before the commission on January 16. The commission said that Ijaz will be immune from being prosecuted in Pakistan; however, Pakistan’s attorney-general told the commission that the government could not guarantee Ijaz’s immunity. Ijaz’s lawyer said that Ijaz had agreed to the January 16th summons, but his arrival would be based on the condition that the Blackberry conversation between Ijaz and former ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani, be made available to investigating authorities. Ijaz has already issued a legal notice to the phone company for the conversation but, according to the company, Haqqani’s consent is required and has not yet been given. Earlier in the day, Haqqani told the commission that he “had no role in creating, drafting and/or delivering the memorandum to the (US) Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen”. Haqqani claimed that he had been falsely accused in the media and by Mr. Ijaz. The commission’s proceedings were adjourned until January 16th. [14]

  • Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said that “any official action by a government functionary without the prior approval of the government was unconstitutional and illegal”. Gilani made his comments in reference to the responses given by the Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and the Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha to the Supreme Court regarding the “memogate” case, alleging that their replies did not have the required approval by a “competent authority.” [15]

  • In response to speculation that the military is trying to force him out, Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari says that no one has asked for his resignation and leaving office is not an option that he is considering. Zardari is facing his biggest political crisis over the “memogate” scandal, which involves an unsigned memo sent to the Pentagon asking for U.S. help in preventing a military coup in Pakistan. [16]

  • Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Sunday that the government was committed to the creation of a new Seraiki province. Gilani dismissed opposition criticism that the PPP’s move to back the creation of a new province in southern Punjab was an election stunt. [17]

 

Energy

 
 
 


[1] Kamran Yousaf, “Afghan endgame: US ready for Haqqani talks,” January 9, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/318742/afghan-endgame-us-ready-for-haqqani-talks/
[2] “Bodies of 10 FC soldiers recovered from Orakzai,” Dawn, January 9, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/01/09/ten-fc-personnel-found-dead-in-orakzai.html
Nazar Ul Islam, “Bodies of 10 Soldiers Found,” AFP, January 9, 2012. Available at http://newsweekpakistan.com/scope/744
[4] “Six militants killed in Landi Kotal clash,” Dawn, January 7, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/01/07/six-militants-killed-in-landi-kotal-clash-2.html
[5] Eleanor Wasan Khan and Nazar Ul Islam, “British nurse seized in Quetta: Pakistan police make arrests,” Telegraph, January 6, 2012. Available at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/8997918/British-nurse-seized-in-Quetta-Pakistan-police-make-arrests.html  
[6] Malik Asad, “Mehran base left unprotected despite warning,” Dawn, January 8, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/01/09/mehran-base-left-unprotected-despite-forewarning.html
[7] “Militants attack army camp, school in north Waziristan,” Reuters, January 7, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/01/07/militants-attack-army-camp-school-in-north-waziristan.html
[8] “Six militants killed in Landi Kotal clash,” Dawn, January 7, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/01/07/six-militants-killed-in-landi-kotal-clash-2.html
[9] Eric Schmitt, “Lull in Strikes by U.S. Drones Aids Militants in Pakistan,” NY Times, January 7, 2012. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/world/asia/lull-in-us-drone-strikes-aids-pakistan-militants.html?pagewanted=1
Zia Khan, “CIA likely to resume drone strikes,” Express Tribune, January 9, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/318690/cia-likely-to-resume-drone-strikes/
[10] Anwar Iqbal, “U.S. says it’s watching Haqqani case,” Dawn, January 7, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/01/07/us-says-its-watching-haqqani-case.html
[11] “Drone attacks remain ineffective against militant leaders: report,” Daily Times, January 9, 2012. Available at
[12] Khawar Gumman, “PPP initiates talks with parties on early elections,” Dawn, January 8, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/01/08/ppp-initiates-talks-with-parties-on-early-elections.html
[13] “I will return between 27-30 January: Musharraf,” Dawn, January 8, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/01/08/i-will-return-between-27-30-january-musharraf.html
“Musharraf to be arrested upon arrival: Wassan,” Dawn, January 9, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/01/09/musharraf-to-be-arrested-upon-arrival-wassan.html
“Musharraf  plans trip to Saudi to rally support: sources,” Reuters, January 8, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/01/08/musharraf-plans-trip-to-saudi-to-rally-support-sources.html
Qasim Nauman, “Pakistan ties with Israel? Why not, asks Musharraf,” Reuters, January 7, 2012. Available at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-pakistan-israel-musharraftre80607z-20120107,0,1534817.story
14“Memo commission summons Ijaz on Jan 16,” Dawn, January 9, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/01/09/memo-commission-directs-authorities-to-issue-visa-to-ijaz.html
15 “Army, ISI chief statements to SC not approved by govt: PM,” APP, January 9, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/01/09/army-isi-chief-statements-to-sc-not-approved-by-govt-pm.html
[16] Qasim Nauman, “Pakistan’s Zardari says not leaving office,” Reuters, January 7, 2012. Available at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-pakistan-presidenttre8060gm-20120107,0,1207275.story
[17] Shakeel Ahmed, “Gilani says Seraiki province to emerge soon,” Dawn, January 9, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/01/09/gilani-says-seraiki-province-to-emerge-soon.html
[18] Zafar Bhutta, “‘Brotherly countries’ turn down Pakistan’s request,” Express Tribune, January 9, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/318703/oil-on-deferred-payment-brotherly-countries-turn-down-pakistans-request/
[19] “CNG stations closed for second day in Balochistan,” Dawn, January 8, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/01/08/cng-stations-closed-for-second-day-in-balochistan.html
“No gas for parts of Balochistan for the last three days,” Daily Times, January 9, 2012. Available at http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\01\09\story_9-1-2012_pg7_12