Pakistan Security Brief - July 6, 2012

Pakistan to scan all containers on NATO supply routes; ”No new agreement signed” over reopening NATO supply routes; U.S. expected to release $1.5 billion in aid to Pakistan through Coalition Support Fund; Religious parties protest decision to reopen NATO supply lines; Pakistan not to push for end to U.S. drone strikes; Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Tokyo next week; PPP leaders meet to discuss bill providing immunity for national and provincial officials from contempt charges; Police in Kohat foil potential terrorist attack; Two members of anti-Taliban militia found dead in Lower Dir.

NATO Supply Routes

  • On Friday, Karachi customs spokesman Qamar Thalho announced that Pakistani customs officials will now scan all containers transiting along the NATO supply routes to Afghanistan. While customs officials randomly scanned containers in the past, they say they will now scan every container to ensure that lethal supplies are not being transported along the Ground Lines of Communications (GLOCs). According to Thalho, the decision was made in response to opposition from parties and religious groups that are protesting against the government’s decision to reopen the supply routes on Tuesday. NATO subcontractors are paying $6,000 compensation per vehicle to the owners of 1,500 trucks containing NATO supplies that have been stuck in Karachi since November, according to the All Pakistan Goods Carrier Association.[1]

  • Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad Richard Hoagland said that U.S. and Pakistani officials had not signed a new agreement on the reopening of NATO supply routes to Pakistan. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Hoagland said there was “no need to sign a new agreement as we have resumed out relations from the point where we had left in November last year.” While Hoagland affirmed that no agreement was planned in the future, he noted that officials are regularly discussing issues related to Shakil Afridi, the doctor who helped the CIA locate Osama bin Laden, and alleged harassment of U.S. diplomats by Pakistani security officials.[2]

  • Speaking to Reuters on Thursday, Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Sherry Rehman said Pakistan’s agreement to reopen closed NATO supply routes into Afghanistan will pave the way for talks on other issues including security cooperation, militant threats and aid. Though Ambassador Rehman noted that there is “a long road ahead,” she said the two countries had made a “good faith agreement” to continue talks on many issues. Rehman’s statements come as the U.S. is expected to release about $1.5 billion to Pakistan through the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), according to the Pakistani Foreign Office statement on Thursday. A portion of the other $1 billion in fiscal aid that the U.S. plans to send to Pakistan will be distributed through the Pentagon’s foreign military financing program.[3]

  • On Thursday, U.S. Senator John McCain praised Hillary Clinton for her diplomatic efforts in reopening the NATO supply routes in Pakistan. In a statement issued on the Senator’s official Twitter account, McCain said “Secretary Clinton did a great job negotiating the re-opening of supply routes from Pakistan to Afghanistan.”[4]

  • Religious parties staged rallies across Pakistan on Friday to protest the Pakistani government’s decision to reopen NATO supply routes. Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) staged protests in Karachi while other groups set up demonstrations in Lahore. Demonstrators called political leaders “slaves of the U.S.” and burned U.S. flags, according to The Express Tribune.[5] 

Drone Strikes

  • According to an unnamed official, Pakistani authorities are not pushing for an end to U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal regions but rather are seeking to control the gathering of human intelligence on the ground. Control of human intelligence would enable Pakistani officials to select which targets would be hit by drone strikes, a way for Pakistani military officials to limit the targeting of militants whose primary focus is beyond Pakistan. The Express Tribune reports that military and intelligence officials on both sides are reluctant to cede ground on the issue.[6] 

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

  • Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar is scheduled to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the sidelines of an international conference on Afghanistan in Tokyo on Sunday. The two government officials will likely discuss future avenues for bilateral and regional cooperation, particularly in regards to Afghanistan.[7] 

Domestic Politics

  • Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leaders met on Thursday to discuss how to gain support for proposed legislation that would provide immunity for national and provincial leaders from contempt of court charges. The meeting, presided over by President Zardari and Prime Minister Ashraf, occurred ahead of a National Assembly session that will consider a constitutional amendment that seeks to protect dual national Pakistanis from being disqualified from ministerial positions. The proposed bill would protect Prime Minister Ashraf from being charged with contempt of court should he refuse to reopen an old corruption investigation against President Asif Ali Zardari. While the bill seeking immunity for national and provincial leaders from contempt of court charges is likely to be tabled in the National Assembly today, some officials speculate that the bill may be voted on by next weekend.[8]

  • President Asif Ali Zardari directed all prisons to halt the sentencing of prisoners on death row until September 30, according to media reports. The Law Ministry sent a letter containing President Zardari’s directives to all prisons in the country.[9]

Militancy

  • Police in the Khushal Garh area of Kohat in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa foiled a potential terrorist attack after seizing a vehicle-based improvised explosive device (IED) on Thursday. The vehicle’s two passengers were subsequently arrested.[10]

  • Two members of an anti-Taliban militia, who had reportedly been kidnapped by militants last week, were found dead in the Binshahi area of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Lower Dir district on Thursday. Members of another anti-Taliban militia publicly executed a man on Thursday allegedly involved in a roadside blast that recently killed two militia members. The man was executed in the Shinkamar area of Tirah valley, Khyber agency.[11] 

  • Eight people died following incidents of violence across Karachi on Thursday. Three civilians, including a political activist, were shot dead in the Landhi, New Karachi, and Garden areas. Meanwhile, in Machchar Colony, an incident of “target killing” left four people dead and two others injured. Additionally, a man was killed by unidentified gunmen in North Karachi. Police arrested three suspects with alleged links to a Lyari gang.[12]  

  • In separate incidents on Thursday, armed men gunned down two civilians in the Pakhtunabad and Faizabad areas of Quetta. Meanwhile, in Balochistan’s Hub area and Barkhan district, three people disappeared following two incidents of kidnapping. On Wednesday, police arrested three suspected target killers in Quetta’s Jinnah Town for their alleged involvement in the killings of “seven important religious” figures and other “personalities” in the area.[13]  

  • On Thursday, President Zardari ordered the adviser on interior to conduct an official inquiry into the burning alive of a man in Bahawalpur district. A mob beat and burnt to death a man being held in police custody for allegedly burning a copy of the Quran in public on Wednesday.[14]

International Relations

  • On Thursday, Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf issued a message to Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao congratulating China on the successful launch of the Shenzhou-IX spacecraft and its subsequent docking with the Tiangong-I space lab module. In the message, Prime Minister Ashraf also thanked China for the country’s assistance in helping Pakistan launch the PAKSAT-IR satellite and reiterated Pakistan’s desire for future cooperation with China in the field of space technology.[15]

  • Speaking at a meeting with the outgoing ambassadors of Turkmenistan, Oman, and Belgium on Thursday, President Zardari emphasized Pakistan’s “strong resolve” to promote regional peace and stability. President Zardari reiterated Pakistan’s desire for stronger bilateral relations with Turkmenistan, lauded Oman’s Sultan for his visionary leadership, and expressed hope that the Five-Year Engagement Plan and Strategic Dialogue with EU would enhance bilateral cooperation with Belgium.[16]   


[1] “Pakistan to scan all NATO containers,” AFP, July 6, 2012. Available at http://news.yahoo.com/pakistan-scan-nato-containers-112025552.html
[2] Peer Muhammad, “No new agreement signed on NATO supply route: US diplomat,” Express Tribune. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/404507/no-new-agreement-signed-on-nato-supply-route-us-diplomat/
[3] “Long road ahead in US-Pakistan ties after NATO deal: Sherry Rehman,” Express Tribune, July 6, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/404257/long-road-ahead-in-us-pakistan-ties-after-nato-deal-sherry-rehman/
Kamran Yousef, “US expected to partly clear war on terror bills,” Express Tribune, July 6, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/404367/us-expected-to-partly-clear-war-on-terror-bills/
Tony Capaccio, “Pentagon Freeing $1.1 billion Withheld from Pakistan,” Bloomberg, July 5, 2012. Available at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-05/pentagon-freeing-1-1-billion-withheld-from-pakistan.html
[4] Carlo Munoz, “McCain praises Clinton for handling of Pakistan supply routes,” The Hill, July 5, 2012. Available at http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/policy-and-strategy/236345-mccain-praises-clinton-for-handling-of-pakistan-supply-routes-
[5] “NATO supply resumption: Religious parties protest across Pakistan,” Express Tribune, July 6, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/404520/nato-supply-resumption-religious-parties-protest-across-pakistan/
[6] Zia Khan, “Pakistan not pushing for end to US drone strikes,” Express Tribune, July 6, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/404368/pakistan-not-pushing-for-end-to-us-drone-strikes/
[7] Muhammad Saleh Zaafir, “Hina scheduled to meet Hillary in Tokyo on Sunday,” The News, July 6, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-15846-Hina-scheduled-to-meet-Hillary-in-Tokyo-on-Sunday
[8] Zia Khan, “PPP leaders meet ahead of crucial NA session today,” Express Tribune, July 6, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/404372/ppp-leaders-meet-ahead-of-crucial-na-session-today/
[9] “President stops death sentencing till Sept 30,” Daily Times, July 6, 2012. Available at http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\07\06\story_6-7-2012_pg7_6
[10] “Explosives seized in Kohat, two held,” The News, July 6, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-118904-Explosives-seized-in-Kohat,-two-held
[11] “2 kidnapped lashkar men found dead in Lower Dir,” The News, July 6, 2012. available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-118852-2-kidnapped-lashkar-men-found-dead-in-Lower-Dir
“Lashkar publicly executes man in Tirah,” The News, July 6, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-118849-Lashkar-publicly-executes-man-in-Tirah
[12] “MQM-H activist among eight killed in Karachi violence,” Daily Times, July 6, 2012. Available at http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\07\06\story_6-7-2012_pg7_2
[13] “2 killed in Quetta, 3 kidnapped,” Daily Times, July 6, 2012. Available at http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\07\06\story_6-7-2012_pg7_7
“Killers of clerics held in Quetta,” Dawn, July 5, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/07/06/killers-of-clerics-held-in-quetta/
[14] “President Zardari orders probe into burning alive of man,” The News, July 6, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-118913-President-Zardari-orders-probe-into-burning-alive-of-man
[15] “PM Ashraf pushes for greater space cooperation with China,” The News, July 6, 2012. http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-15854-PM-pushes-for-greater-space-cooperation-with-China
[16] “Zardari reiterates Pakistan’s resolve to promote regional peace,” The News, July 6, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-15848-Zardari-reiterates-Pakistan''s-resolve-to-promote-regional-peace