Pakistan Security Brief – July 12, 2011

U.S. aid suspension may backfire; U.S. defends aid cuts; Pakistan threatens to pull troops off border; U.S. praises Pak-Afghan joint military commission; CIA organized fake vaccination to get bin Laden; CIA bin Laden hunter put under cover; terrorism casualties have spiked since bin Laden raid: ICRC; Abbottabad commission meets military officers; Drones kill 45 in Waziristan; UN scaling up Kurram relief effort; Gun battle in Orakzai; Taliban and criminals grow closer in Karachi as violence continues; Terror group spokesman touts economy as major issue; Pak cross-border shelling complicates Afghan fight; Pakistan condemns Karzai assassination.

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

  • The U.S.’s decision to suspend more than one-third of its military aid to Pakistan may end up being more harmful to the U.S. than to Pakistan, claims a report in the Associated Press. According to former Pakistani officials and analysts interviewed for the report, Pakistan is unlikely to succumb to U.S. pressure to step up its war against militants on its soil and withholding assistance is more likely to strengthen the voices of anti-American sentiment in Pakistani power circles. Former Pakistani ambassador to Washington Maleeha Lodhi said “If you still need the relationship, which clearly the United States does, then it really doesn't make sense to take action at this time because it leaves the United States with less, not more, influence with the Pakistani military.” Over the weekend the U.S. announced it would be suspending $800 million in military aid to Pakistan. The U.S. defended its decision to suspend aid, saying Pakistan “needed to make a greater effort in the fight against Islamists.” The U.S. has reportedly decided to embargo aid to Pakistan until it receives greater “cooperation in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency.” Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna speaking on Monday praised the U.S. move to cut military aid, saying “It is not desirable that this region had to be heavily armed by the US, which will upset the equilibrium in the region itself.”[1]

  • Speaking on Tuesday, Pakistan’s Defense Minister Chaudry Ahmad Mukhtar threatened to pull Pakistani troops off the Pak-Afghan border if the U.S. cut aid to Pakistan. Mukhtar said Pakistan would recall troops from nearly 1,100 checkpoints dotted along the border and that “(US military aid) is not for fighting the war, but is money that [Pakistan has] spent already.” Mukhtar claimed Pakistan could not afford to keep its soldiers out on the border in the mountains for extended periods of time.[2]

  • Former Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf on Monday criticized the U.S.’s decision to suspend military aid to Pakistan, saying the decision was “not in the interest of either nation and could hamper anti-terrorism efforts.” Musharraf said the move would end up “weakening the country and the army.”[3]

  • The United States is backing a decision by Pakistan and Afghanistan to form “a joint military group that will address recent incidents along their shared border,” according to an official with the State Department. Both countries have recently blamed each other for a series of cross-border militant attacks and rocket bombardments.[4]

Bin Laden Death and Fallout

  • A report in The Guardian claims that the CIA organized a “fake vaccination [program]” in Abbottabad, Pakistan in order to gather DNA data on whether bin Laden was present in the town. CIA agents reportedly recruited a senior Pakistani doctor to organize the elaborate vaccine drive. The doctor has since been arrested by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s chief spy agency. The objective of the ruse was to potentially obtain DNA from one of bin Laden’s children during the administration of hepatitis B vaccines. The report claims it is unclear whether the plan succeeded in its objective or not.[5]

  • The CIA has also reportedly put one of its analysts who was involved in the operation to find and target bin Laden “under cover” because of “new threat information indicating he might be targeted by al-Qaeda.” The step is the result of “speculation online about the analyst’s identity, and efforts to single him out in now-iconic photos showing President Obama and other national security officials gathered in the White House situation room on the night of the bin Laden raid.”[6]

  • The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) stated on Monday that casualties as a result of terrorism-related violence had spiked in the months following the death of Osama bin Laden. The outgoing head of the ICRC in Pakistan, Pascal Cuttat, reported that another result of the raid that killed bin Laden was “increased suspicion of foreigners, including aid workers.” Mr. Cuttat also reported that violence was expanding more into urban areas such as Peshawar and Karachi.

  • Several military officials on Tuesday briefed the Abbottabad Commission tasked with investigating the raid that killed bin Laden and bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad. Both the Director General of Military Operations Major General Ashfaq Nadeem and Air Marshall Mohammed Hassan answered questions posed by the commission. The group is next slated to meet on July 18.[7]

FATA

  • U.S. drone attacks on Tuesday killed at least 45 suspected militants in North and South Waziristan of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), one of the highest single death tolls in the drone program to-date. The attacks reportedly commenced Monday night when drones fired nine missiles at a compound in Shawal sub-district, North Waziristan, killing 25 insurgents, according to local intelligence officials. A strike in Bermel, South Waziristan a short while later killed a further five suspected militants. A third strike on Tuesday morning targeting a house and vehicle in Datta Khel, North Waziristan killed 15 militants.[8]

  • The United Nations is scaling up its relief efforts to help people fleeing the ongoing military operation in Kurram agency. A spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said over 84,000 people were reported to have fled the operation in recent days.[9]

  • Five militants were killed and a soldier wounded in a gun battle in Orakzai agency on Monday. The firefight was initiated when militants reportedly assaulted a military checkpost in the Dabori area. Soldiers also defused a remote-control bomb planted in the Ibrahimzai area of Orakzai.[10]

Karachi

  • A counter-terrorism official from the Crime Investigation Department (CID) on Monday “sounded the alarm on the growing level of coordination among two dozen or so extremist groups, including the Taliban and local criminal elements in Karachi.” The city has recently seen a spike in the levels of political violence. The official told the Express Tribune, “They [Taliban groups] are becoming well-coordinated amongst themselves and amongst local criminals. Sometimes we fear their connectivity is as effective as it is in the tribal areas. It is a very grim situation.”[11]

  • Political “target killings” in Karachi continued on Monday with four people killed and six others injured. The violence continues despite the deployment of paramilitary Rangers into the city on Monday. Fighting over the past week has resulted in over 100 people dead and scores more injured.[12]

Militants Tout Economic Woes

  • A man believed to be a spokesman for Pakistani terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) tells Reuters that the most important factor for bringing peace to Pakistan is not “Jihad” or Kashmir, but the economy. Muhammad Yahya Mujahid, a spokesman for Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), a charitable front for LeT said “The first condition to bring peace in Pakistan is prosperity.” Mujahid, who denies having links to LeT, further said “Already people are being killed by price hikes. In such circumstances, we can't afford bomb blasts….You get electricity and petrol cheaper in western societies. People are looking for basics -- transport, electricity.”[13]

Pak-Afghan Relations

  • According to a report in the Christian Science Monitor, Pakistan has launched a number of cross border artillery attacks against militants sheltered in Afghanistan. The report says the attacks have killed dozens of Afghan civilians and have severely complicated the efforts of U.S. troops operating in the region. Afghan government officials allege that Pakistani forces have fired over 700 rounds into Afghanistan in recent weeks, though they are likely targeting insurgents who have been launching attacks into Pakistan.[14]

  • Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday condemned the assassination of Ahmad Wali Karzai, Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s powerful half brother. Gilani’s office reported that the Prime Minister expressed “shock and grief” at the news.[15]

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa

  • In a ceremony held in Barikot, Swat district, following the recent conclusion of a three-day de-radicalization seminar held in Swat, 70 men who had graduated from an army-run de-radicalization program were officially released from military custody. A statement released by the army said that over 400 individuals had been “reintegrated” into society as a result of the program.[16]

Balochistan

  • Four people were killed on Monday including a policeman and two drivers of NATO fuel supply trucks as a result of separate militant attacks in Quetta and Mastung.  In one incident, militants torched the fuel truck after killing its occupants.[17]

Islamabad


[1] Sebastian Abbot, “In Pakistan, many say aid ‘snum=b’ dims US sway,” Associated Press, July 11, 2011. Available at http://old.news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110712/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan_us
“Pakistan needs to step up anti-terror fight: US,” AFP, July 11, 2011. Available at http://old.news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110711/pl_afp/afghanistanunrestusmilitarypakistanaid
“India welcomes US suspending military aid to Pakistan,” AFP, July 11, 2011. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/207308/india-welcomes-us-suspending-aid-to-pakistan/
[2] Kirsten Seymour, “Strong response: Pak will pull troops from Afghan border if US cuts aid,” Express Tribune, July 12, 2011. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/207538/pakistan-threatens-to-withdraw-troops-from-pak-afghan-border/
[3] Michael Graczyk, “Pakistan’s Ex-president criticizes loss of US aid,” Associated Press, July 11, 2011. Available at http://www2.wsav.com/news/2011/jul/11/pakistans-ex-president-criticizes-loss-of-us-aid-ar-2098025/
[4] “US backs joint Afghan-Pakistan military group,” AFP, July 11, 2011. Available at http://old.news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110712/wl_sthasia_afp/usafghanistanpakistanmilitaryborder
[5] Saeed Shah, “CIA organised fake vaccination drive to get Osama bin Laden’s family DNA,” The Guardian, July 11, 2011. Available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/11/cia-fake-vaccinations-osama-bin-ladens-dna
[6] Greg Miller, “CIA puts bin Laden hunter under ‘cover,’” Washington Post, July 11, 2011. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/checkpoint-washington/post/cia-puts-bin-laden-hunter-under-cover/2011/07/11/gIQAQeoW9H_blog.html
[7] “Pakistan casualties risen since bin Laden death: ICRC,” Reuters, July 11, 2011. Available at http://old.news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110711/wl_nm/us_pakistan_violence
[8] “Military officials brief Abbottabad Commission,” Geo News, July 11, 2011. Available at http://www.geo.tv/7-11-2011/83581.htm
[9] “UN scales up aid to people fleeing fighting in Kurram,” Associated Press, July 12, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/07/12/un-scales-up-aid-to-people-fleeing-fighting-in-kurram.html
[10] Saleh Din Orakzai, “5 militants killed, soldier injured in Orakzai Agency,” The News, July 12, 2011. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=57270&Cat=7
[11] Zia Khan, “Karachi violence: Collusion growing between Taliban, local criminals,” Express Tribune, July 12, 2011. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/207849/karachi-violence-collusion-growing-between-taliban-local-criminals/
[12] “Four killed, sox injured in Karachi violence,” Geo News, July 11, 2011. Available at http://www.geo.tv/7-11-2011/83578.htm
[15] “Pakistan condemns assassination of Karzai’s brother,” AFP, July 12, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/07/12/pakistan-condemns-assassination-of-karzai%E2%80%99s-brother.html
[16] “70 de-radicalised, sent home in Swat,” The News, July 12, 2011. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=57268&Cat=7
[17] Saleem Shahid, “2 Nato tanker drivers, policeman gunned down,” Dawn, July 12, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/07/12/2-nato-tanker-drivers-policeman-gunned-down.html
[18] “15 killed in bus blast near Islamabad,” Express Tribune, July 12, 2011. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/207981/15-killed-in-bus-blast-near-islamabad/