Pakistan Security Brief - July 18, 2012

U.S. House of Representatives approves bill urging State Department to designate Haqqani Network FTO; Pakistani ISI Chief to meet with CIA director next week; U.S. and Pakistan close to signing formal agreement regarding reopening of NATO supply routes; White House names next U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan; Pakistani Parliamentary Committee on National Security meets to discuss reopening of NATO supply routes; Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf warns of spillover effect of Balochistan violence; Afghan President Hamid Karzai to meet with Prime Minister Ashraf in Kabul tomorrow; Bomb kills 14 people in Orakzai agency; Tribal elders in North Waziristan endorse Taliban’s ban on polio vaccinations; TTP militants fire rockets at Pakistani army checkpost in Hangu district.

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

  • On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that requests the U.S. State Department to declare within 30 days after presidential approval of the bill whether the Pakistan-based Haqqani Network meets the criteria necessary to declare the group a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). Though the U.S. Senate had already passed the bill in December 2011, the U.S. Senate must vote on the measure again with new amendments attached. By declaring the Haqqani network an FTO, the U.S. government would be able to freeze the group’s assets, forbid anyone affiliated with the network from traveling to the U.S., and prosecute any U.S. citizen assisting the group or providing material support to terrorism. The State Department has been conducting a “final formal review” of whether the Haqqani Network should be an FTO since November.[1]

  • Lt. Gen. Zaheer ul-Islam, chief of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), is scheduled to meet with CIA director David Patraeus in Washington next week. The two will reportedly discuss counterterrorism, intelligence-sharing, and U.S. drone strikes. According to a Pakistani official, Islamabad will call for an end to U.S. drone strikes and, in its place, seek U.S. assistance for a “precision strike capability” in which the U.S. “develops the target” and Pakistan destroys it. The ISI chief also plans to discuss issues regarding “the transfer of drone technology and capacity building of Pakistani forces,” according to sources.[2]     

  • The U.S. and Pakistan are close to signing a formal agreement regarding the reopening of NATO supply routes into Afghanistan, according to U.S. officials. Speaking to AP via phone on Tuesday, U.S. officials said that the two delegations had finalized the wording of a deal that will stipulate the terms for tens of thousands of containers carrying NATO supplies and equipment that will be transported out of Afghanistan through Pakistan. The deal, which does not apply to the over 9,000 containers that have been grounded in Pakistan for months, will prohibit U.S. and NATO forces from using the land routes to transport weapons into Afghanistan, but “allow them to withdraw lethal items from the country,” according to the U.S. officials.[3]

  • Speaking on Tuesday morning, U.S. Senator Rand Paul said he had the necessary number of signatures on a cloture petition to force the U.S. Senate to vote on a measure that cuts all U.S. aid to Pakistan until the country releases Shakil Afridi, the doctor who helped the CIA locate Osama bin Laden. Referencing Afridi’s upcoming appeal trial in Pakistan, Senator Paul said “if Dr. Afridi is still in jail next week, I will force this vote.” Senator Paul said he will call for a vote on the measure as early as July 20.[4]

  • The White House announced that Richard G. Olson, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, will be the next U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan after Cameron Munter steps down from the position this summer. The White House is expected to send his nomination to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for approval.[5]

  • A U.S. State Department spokesperson said the U.S. remains committed to building a “strong, mutually respectful relationship with Pakistan.” Responding to a question about U.S. assistance for Pakistan, the State Department spokesperson noted how civilian assistance programs in Pakistan continued even during the closure of NATO supply routes to Afghanistan. The State Department spokesperson’s comments came as Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf presided over a meeting of high-level officials – including the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Committee General Khalid Shamim Wyne, and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar – in Islamabad on Wednesday over the future of the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan.[6]

NATO Supply Routes

  • On Wednesday, the Pakistani Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) met in Islamabad to discuss issues surrounding the reopening of the NATO supply routes to Afghanistan. The committee also addressed the issue of recovering missing persons in Balochistan. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Chairman of the PCNS, Senator Raza Rabbani said the foreign ministry will brief the PCNS on Afghanistan and Pakistan’s relationship with NATO at the next meeting.[7]

Domestic Politics

  • On Tuesday, Prime Minister Ashraf warned that the destabilizing effects of a tribal insurgency in Balochistan could spillover into other areas if Baloch leaders do not renounce violence and move towards peaceful negotiations. Speaking at the military-run National Defence University in Islamabad, Prime Minister Ashraf promised the Pakistani government would take action to eliminate a “handful of elements” inciting violence in the region. Ashraf also commended the army and paramilitary Frontier Corps for “promoting and protecting national interests in Balochistan.”[8]

International Relations

  • Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani Prime Minister Ashraf will meet in Kabul on Thursday to discuss peace talks with the Taliban, recent cross-border attacks by the Taliban and the repatriation of Afghan refugees. According to Ashraf’s spokesman, Pakistan supports peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban; however, it did not want an “outcome that would adversely affect the country.” Meanwhile, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told the Express Tribune that “the United States and the Islamic Emirate” were the only major parties in the conflict and described the Afghan government as a “powerless regime.”[9]     

  • The Pakistan-India Working Group on Cross-Line of Control (LoC) will meet in Islamabad tomorrow to discuss confidence-building measures to “facilitate travel and trade across the LoC.” The delegations, led by Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General (South Asia) Zehra Akbari on the Pakistani side and Ministry of External Affairs Joint Secretary (PAI) YK Sinha on the Indian side, are being held pursuant to meetings between foreign secretaries in early July.[10]

  • On Tuesday, Prime Minister Ashraf said that Pakistan appreciated EU support for Pakistan’s inclusion in the EU’s Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Plus in 2014 and noted the importance of the bilateral relationship between Pakistan and the EU. Speaking at a meeting with a six-member EU Parliament Mission at the Prime Minister’s house, Ashraf also praised the EU delegations for their support in fighting terrorism and extremism in the region. Jean Lambert, the head of the EU delegation, expressed satisfaction over the Pakistani government’s efforts to strengthen its judiciary and reiterated that the EU will continue to develop stronger ties with Pakistan.[11]

Militancy

  • On Wednesday, a remote-controlled bomb exploded in the Shia village of Sepoy in Orakzai agency, killing 14 people. The bomb struck a van traveling from Orakzai to Kohat, immediately killing eight passengers while another six people died after being taken to a nearby hospital. In a phone call to Reuters, Mohammed Afridi, spokesman for the Darra Adam Khel faction of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed responsibility for the bombing, stating, “We targeted them because they were [Shias], and they are enemies of Islam.”[12]

  • On Wednesday, tribal elders in North Waziristan agency’s Miram Shah endorsed a Taliban ban on polio vaccination. The announcement, made at a gathering of 200 tribal elders and Islamic scholars, followed Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur’s declared ban on vaccinations on June 15. Prior to the announcement, Pakistani officials had been in negotiations with area tribesmen in an effort to circumvent the Taliban’s ban.[13]     

  • Suspected TTP militants fired rockets on a Pakistan Army check post in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Hangu district on Tuesday. Security forces responded with retaliatory fire, killing five suspected militants and wounded several others.[14]  

  • On Tuesday, incidents of violence across Karachi left six people dead. Two political activists belonging to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) died following separate acts of “target killing” in Qaimkhani Colony and New Karachi. Four others were killed in the Bhutto Morr, Faqir Colony, Orangi Town, and Baldia Town areas. On Wednesday, four people, two MQM members and two Awami National Party (ANP) members, were injured after unknown attackers threw a grenade at a cement depot in the FB Area. [15]

  • Unidentified assailants fired three rockets at a Levies station in Balochistan’s Kalat district on Tuesday. The station was damaged, but no casualties were reported.[16]         


[1] Julian Pecquet, “House votes to request that State Department designate Pakistan-based Haqqani network as terrorists,” The Hill, July 17, 2012. Available at http://thehill.com/blogs/global-affairs/terrorism/238545-house-votes-to-request-that-state-department-designate-pakistan-based-haqqani-network-as-terrorists
Huma Imtiaz, “US House approves Haqqani network bill,” Express Tribune, July 18, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/409869/us-congress-approves-haqqani-network-bill/
[2] “ISI chief to discuss drones with US,” AFP, July 18, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=59389
Asad Kharal, “ISI-CIA meeting: Spymasters plan US rendezvous,” Express Tribune, July 18, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/409798/isi-cia-meeting-spymasters-plan-us-rendezvous/
[3] “US, Pakistan close to signing deal to regulate NATO troop supplies to and from Afghanistan,” AP, July 17, 2012. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/us-pakistan-close-to-signing-deal-to-regulate-nato-troop-supplies-to-and-from-afghanistan/2012/07/17/gJQAi7gPrW_story.html
[4] Ramsey Cox, “Sen. Paul says he has support to force vote on measure to block Pakistan aid,” The Hill, July 17, 2012. Available at http://thehill.com/video/senate/238363-sen-paul-says-he-has-numbers-to-force-vote-on-measure-to-block-pakistan-aid
[5] Huma Imtiaz, “US officially nominates Richard Olson as Pakistan ambassador,” Express Tribune, July 18, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/409855/us-officially-appoints-richard-olson-as-pakistan-ambassador/
[6] “US committed to strong, mutually respectful ties with Pakistan: Spokesperson,” Express Tribune, July 18, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/409785/us-committed-to-strong-mutually-respectful-ties-with-pakistan-spokesperson/
“Pak-US ties discussed in high level meeting,” Dawn, July 18, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/07/18/high-level-meeting-held-in-islamabad/
[7] “Nato supply routes, ‘missing persons’ discussed in PCNS meeting,” Dawn, July 18, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/07/18/nato-supply-routes-missing-persons-discussed-in-pcns-meeting/
[8] Zia Khan, “No insurgency: PM warns of ripple effect in Balochistan,” Express Tribune, July 18, 2012. Available at nt.siteintelgroup.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=featured&Itemid=101
[9] “Pakistani PM to discuss peace talks on Afghan trip,” AP, July 18, 2012. Available at http://news.yahoo.com/pakistani-pm-discuss-peace-talks-afghan-trip-093418118.html
Tahir Khan, “Kabul meeting: ‘Pakistan’s help needed in peace process,’” Express Tribune, July 18, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/409765/kabul-meeting-pakistans-help-needed-in-peace-process/
[10] “Pak-India working group meets tomorrow,” Daily Times, July 18, 2012. Available at http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\07\18\story_18-7-2012_pg7_8
[11] “Pakistan attaches great importance to ties with EU: PM,” Daily Times, July 18, 2012. Available at http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\07\18\story_18-7-2012_pg7_13
[13] “North Waziristan tribes endorse Taliban ban on polio vaccination,” AFP, July 18, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/409956/north-waziristan-tribes-endorse-taliban-ban-on-polio-vaccinations/
[14] “5 terrorists killed in Hangu,” Daily Times, July 18, 2012. Available at http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\07\18\story_18-7-2012_pg7_12
[15] “Eight, including three political party activists, gunned down in Karachi,” Daily Times, July 18, 2012. Available at http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\07\18\story_18-7-2012_pg7_6
“Four injured in Karachi grenade attack,” Express Tribune, July 18, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/409954/four-injured-in-karachi-grenade-attack/
[16] “Rockets fired at Levies station,” Daily Times, July 18, 2012. Available at http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\07\18\story_18-7-2012_pg7_11