Pakistan Security Brief - June 18, 2010
Pakistan Security Brief – June 18, 2010
Pakistan brokering peace deal between Haqqanis and Karzai government; Punjab government gives nearly $1 million in funding to facilities owned by group blacklisted for terror links; Punjab Governor Salman Taseer says Punjabi Taliban are a reality; Afghanistan expected to hand back 14 captured Frontier Corps soldiers; US Special Representative Holbrooke arrives in Islamabad for two-day visit; Shahzad indicted by federal grand jury on charges of terrorism, found to have received $12,000 from Pakistani Taliban; US officials meet with “bin Laden hunter” Gary Brooks Faulkner, Pakistani authorities expected to release him soon; Pakistani Defense Secretary says delays in funding for military forces could threaten operations against extremist groups; General Tariq Majid says Pakistan compelled to maintain nuclear arsenal, world must accept it as a nuclear power; India hands over dossier on Mumbai attacks; policeman shot to death in Balochistan; doctor, ranger gunned down in separate shooting incidents in Karachi.
Pakistan mediating peace deal
- Pakistan has begun efforts to broker a peace deal between the Haqqani network and the government of Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan. Although it is still early in the mediation process, a Pakistani security official said that “the initial signs are encouraging because the leadership of the militant group appears to be willing” to talk. Islamabad’s decision to facilitate a peace agreement is believed to be an alternative response to US pressure for a military operation against the Haqqanis in North Waziristan.
The Punjab provincial government has given nearly $1 million in funding for schools, a mosque, and health facilities in Lahore belonging to Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a charity which is also considered to be the front for Lashkar-e-Taiba. Jamaat-ud-Dawa was also blacklisted by the UN in December 2008 for having suspected ties to terrorist groups. A spokesman for Punjab’s chief minister denied that the government showed any sympathies towards the group and defended the funding by saying that the facilities were now under government control, adding that closing the facilities would have been “detrimental” to the public and “might have given a boost to Hafiz Saeed”, the leader of Jamaat-ud-Dawa. A Jamaat-ud-Dawa spokesman denied that his organization had received any funding from the Punjab government and confirmed that “the government has already taken control of these institutions.”
In an interview with BBC Urdu today, Punjab Governor Salman Taseer stated that the Punjabi Taliban are a reality within the province but the government of Punjab is not yet ready to acknowledge their presence. During the interview Taseer also responded to a question about his active role when compared with other provincial governors by saying that he “wants to strengthen the government and not do a shameful job like pervious governors.”
Afghan security forces are expected to hand over 14 captured Frontier Corps soldiers to Pakistani authorities in Jalalabad today. The soldiers were seized when they accidentally crossed over the Afghan border following a militant attack on a security checkpost in Mohmand Agency on Monday. Pakistani security officials have said that 39 soldiers are still missing after the assault.
Richard Holbrooke, US Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, has arrived in Islamabad for a two-day visit in which he will hold meetings with several top Pakistani officials, including President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. A wide range of bilateral issues are due to be discussed and Pakistan is expected to give advice to the US on how to achieve stability in Afghanistan and the region as a whole.
Times Square bombing trial
- On Thursday, Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-born American behind the May 1 attempted car bombing in New York’s Times Square, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of terrorism. US Attorney Preet Bharara said that the 10-count indictment charges Shahzad with “conspiring with the Pakistani Taliban to wreak death and destruction in Times Square.” Additionally, the indictment also found that the Pakistani Taliban provided Shahzad with $12,000 in funding between separate payments of $5,000 in Massachusetts in February and an additional $7,000 in New York in April.
Bin Laden hunter
- Three US embassy officials were confirmed to have met with Gary Brooks Faulkner in Islamabad on Thursday. Faulkner was detained in northwest Pakistan on Monday while on a self-proclaimed mission to hunt down Osama Bin Laden. Today, a Pakistani official indicated that Faulkner “will be released if nothing substantive is found against him after the interrogation”.
- In an address to the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly on Thursday, Defense Secretary Lt. Gen. Syed Athar Ali warned that delays in funding for military forces operating in the tribal areas could threaten Pakistan’s ongoing war efforts against Islamic militants. Ali also claimed that he informed US Defense Secretary Robert Gates that “in the absence of necessary support” from the Coalition Support Fund “we won’t be able to maintain high level of cooperation.” Auditor General Tanvir Ali Agha responded to Ali’s statements by telling him that Pakistan would not be able to meet the budgetary needs of every government organ and that “you people have to readjust your priorities according to the funding available.”
General Tariq Majid, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, said on Thursday that “it is Pakistan’s compulsion, not a matter of choice” for the country to maintain its nuclear arsenal, adding that the world needs to accept Pakistan as a nuclear power. Majid cited the “blatant pursuit of military preponderance in our neighborhood” as justification for possessing nuclear capabilities. He further added that security of its nuclear weapons is a “non-issue” and that Pakistan was “shouldering our responsibility with utmost vigilance and confidence” by putting in place a “very robust regime that includes multilayered mechanisms and processes to secure our strategic assets” and providing “maximum transparency” in its practices.
India has handed over a dossier to Pakistan on information pertaining to the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai. Although the dossier has been described as “huge in volume”, a spokesman for Pakistan’s foreign ministry said that India’s actions were merely a “response” to dossiers previously handed over by Pakistan.
A police officer was been gunned down in the Mastung district of Balochistan on Thursday. The officer was in his vehicle outside the police station when unknown gunmen riding motorcycles opened fire, killing him on the spot.
A doctor has been shot and killed in Karachi, making him the fifth victim in a new trend of violence targeting doctors in the city over the past few weeks. Dr. Zahid Hussain was killed by unknown gunmen riding motorcycles as he was leaving his clinic in Landhi. Also in Karachi, a member of the Sindh Rangers was gunned down in the Shoe Market area on Thursday.