Pakistan Security Brief - June 1, 2012

U.S. military liaisons return to Pakistan; U.S. diplomatic leadership in Pakistan-Afghanistan region changes; President Zardari  calls for review of NATO operations; Lawyers for Osama bin Laden informant Shakil Afridi appeal his conviction; Security forces kill eight militants in Upper Orakzai; Clashes between TTP and anti-Taliban tribal militia leave five dead; Roadside remote-controlled bomb targets police vehicle in Nowshera district; Iran agrees to import electricity to Pakistan; China urges Pakistan to combat East Turkestan Islamic Movement militants; Parliamentary Committee on National Security considers legislation to address issue of missing persons in Balochistan.

U.S.-Pakistani Relations

  • Two American military officers returned to Pakistan this week to serve as liaisons between NATO and Pakistani forces. The two officers, initially posted at the U.S. consulate in Peshawar but now at the headquarters of the Pakistani military’s XI Corps, are there “to increase and improve communication between the two militaries along that border,” said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby. Today’s reports conflict with Thursday’s reports stating that a handful of U.S. military personnel had returned to Pakistan to serve as trainers. The Pentagon noted that Pakistan had not yet permitted the return of U.S. military trainers or reopened the NATO supply route. Nearly 125 U.S. Special Forces trainers were in Pakistan last year, advising the Pakistani Frontier Corps, until bilateral tensions following the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden led to their expulsion.[1]

  • The New York Times reported on two U.S. diplomatic leadership changes in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region. Richard G. Olsen, the current assistant ambassador in Afghanistan, will be replacing Cameron Munter as the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan. James B. Cunningham, current deputy envoy in Kabul, is a leading candidate to replace outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker.[2]  

NATO Summit

  • President Asif Ali Zardari said on Thursday, in reference to the recent NATO Summit in Chicago, that disengagement was not a democratic option. He emphasized that the November border strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers necessitated a review of NATO operations, but also noted that the Defence Committee directed Pakistani negotiators to conclude negotiations to reopen the NATO supply route.[3]   

Osama bin Laden Informant

Militancy

International Relations

  • A Pakistani delegation headed by National Transmission and Dispatch Company Limited Managing Director Rasul Khan Mahsud signed an agreement with Iranian Deputy Minister for Energy Muhammad Behzad to import 1,000 megawatts of electricity from Iran at a rate of eight cents per unit. According to the agreement, the Iranian government will provide 70 percent of the project’s funding, while the Pakistani government will be responsible for the remaining 30 percent. An official stated that the project is expected to be completed in three years.[11]

  • During his meeting with President Zardari on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi urged Pakistan to do more to combat the ethnic Uighur Islamic militants belonging to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (Etim) in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Chinese authorities have voiced concerns about Etim militants being trained in Pakistan and then crossing into China’s Xinjiang province, on the border with Pakistan, to carry out militant attacks. The Etim militants claim that they are fighting to liberate the Muslim Uighur minority in Xinjiang from Chinese occupation. Jiechi and Zardari discussed ways in which China could help Pakistan to evict the militants from Pakistan’s tribal regions.[12]

Domestic Politics

  • On Friday, Pakistani Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh released the government’s budget proposal for FY2012-2013. The budget, proposing Rs 3 trillion ($32 billion), was protested intensely by opposition groups in the National Assembly who criticized the government for alleged corruption. The budget attempts to tackle the country’s rising budget deficit, projected to hit 7 percent this year, by expanding the tax base through administrative measures. Additional elements of the budget include measures to develop stock and capital markets, to abolish illegal refunds, and to control smuggling.[13]  

  • President Zardari, on Thursday, called upon the National Assembly to create a commission to examine prospects of establishing two new provinces– Multan and Bahawalpur – in Punjab. The commission, comprised of six senators, six National Assembly members, and two members of the Punjab Assembly, will examine issues relating to economic and financial resource distribution, allocation of seats in the National Assembly and Senate, and demarcation. President Zardari also called upon the Speaker of the National Assembly to begin the process for amending the Constitution to allow for the establishment of the two new provinces.[14]

Balochistan

  • The 13-member Parliamentary Committee on National Security is considering enacting a law to resolve the issue of missing persons in Balochistan, a problem that is frequently blamed on Pakistan’s intelligence agencies. The proposed legislation would divide terror suspects into three groups – white, grey, and black – based on proven connections to terrorism. The committee is attempting to reduce the amount of time that secret agencies can interrogate suspected individuals in an effort to reduce the number of missing persons reported in areas such as Balochistan, parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and southern districts of Punjab. Should a suspect fall under the black category because of direct links to terrorism, secret agencies would have the ability to interrogate the suspect for 90 days before handing the suspect over to civilian agencies. Should a suspect fall under the white category because of lack of evidence, secret agencies would only have 15 days to conduct interrogations. Speaking to the Express Tribune, a committee member said the panel would reach a conclusion that takes both national security considerations and human rights issues into account.[15]

  • Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry issued a warning to Prime Minister Gilani on Thursday stating that if he fails to take action to address instability in Balochistan, the Constitution will require a declaration of emergency. The warning comes amidst a missing persons trial in Balochistan in which the Chief Justice said the “bodies of three people whose cases were being heard in the court have been found.” Speaking to media after the court proceedings, however, Nawab Aslam Raisani, Chief Minister of Balochistan, refuted the warning, stating that his province was a “peaceful one and that law and order in Balochistan was not that bad.”[16]           



[1] Eric Schmitt, “U.S. Liaisons are Restored to Outpost in Pakistan,” New York Times, May 31, 2012. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/01/world/asia/us-liaisons-restored-to-outpost-in-pakistan.html?_r=1
“Coordination with Pakistan improving: Pentagon,” Geo News, May 31, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=52056
[2] Eric Schmitt, “U.S. Liaisons are Restored to Outpost in Pakistan,” New York Times, May 31, 2012. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/01/world/asia/us-liaisons-restored-to-outpost-in-pakistan.html?_r=1
[3] “Disengagement not an option: Present Zardari,” APP, May 31, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=52017
[4] “Lawyers appeal Dr Shakil Afridi’s conviction,” AFP, June 1, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=52098
“Pakistan ‘CIA doctor’ appeals conviction,” AFP, June 1, 2012. Available at http://news.yahoo.com/pakistan-cia-doctor-appeals-conviction-091403648.html
[5] “Helicopter shelling kills eight militants in Orakzai,” Dawn, June 1, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/06/01/helicopter-shelling-kills-eight-militants-in-orakzai/
[6] “Five killed in Tirah clash,” The News, June 1, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-111745-Five-killed-in-Tirah-clash
[7] “Kurram Agency clash: 3 security officials injured, 6 militants killed,” Express Tribune, June 1, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/387333/kurram-agency-clash-3-security-officials-injured-6-militants-killed/
[8] “Target Killings: 4 killed, 1 injured in Karachi,” Express Tribune, June 1, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/387314/target-killings-4-killed-1-injured-in-karachi/
[9] “Roadside bomb: Police officials escape unhurt in Nowshera,” Express Tribune, June 1, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/387305/roadside-bomb-police-officials-escape-unhurt-in-nowshera/
[10] “Two schools blown up in Mohmand; number rises to 96,” The News, May 31, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-15023-Two-schools-blown-up-in-Mohmand;-number-rises-to-96
[11] “Agreement to import 1,000MW from Iran inked,” Express Tribune, June 1, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/387073/agreement-to-import-1000mw-from-iran-inked/
[12] “China urges Pakistan to expel Uighur Islamic militants,” BBC, May 31, 2012. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-18276864
[13] “Govt unveils budget in NA amid opposition uproar,” Dawn, June 1, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/06/01/federal-cabinet-meets-over-budget-proposals/
“Budget 2012-13 speech: Tax base to be increased by Rs45 billion,” Express Tribune, June 1, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/387322/budget-2012-13-speech-tax-base-to-be-increased-by-rs45-billion/
[14] Shamim Rahman, “President sends reference on new provinces,” Dawn, June 1, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/06/01/president-sends-reference-on-new-provinces/
“Creation of new provinces,” Daily Times, June 1, 2012. Available at http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\06\01\story_1-6-2012_pg7_2
[15] Zia Khan, “PCNS: Panel finalising Draft of Missing Persons Law,” Express Tribune, June 1, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/387099/pcns-panel-finalising-draft-of-missing-persons-law/
[16] “Law and Order Situation not that bad in Balochistan: Raisani,” Express Tribune, June 1, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/387315/missing-persons-cj-orders-case-against-ig-fc-balochistan/