Pakistan Security Brief - June 21, 2012

Arrest warrant issued for new prime ministerial candidate; Media claims Raja Pervaiz Ashraf replaces Makhdoom Shahabuddin as leading PPP prime ministerial candidate; PPP lawmakers call Gilani’s disqualification a ‘continuation of conspiracies’; Pakistani officials say captured al Qaeda leader arrested while attempting to flee Pakistan; Pakistani Ministry of Defence says government has no secret agreement with U.S. on drone strikes; Pakistan’s Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs demand U.S. apology over Salala border incident; Embassy of Pakistan denies rumors that Dr. Afia Saddiqui died in prison; Pakistani jets kill 13 militants in Khyber agency; Bomb kills three in Peshawar; Pakistani authorities to negotiate with militants who banned anti-polio campaigns in North Waziristan.

Prime Minister’s Disqualification and New Candidates

  • An Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) magistrate in Rawalpindi, on Thursday, issued an arrest warrant without bail for Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) prime ministerial candidate Makhdoom Shahabuddin. The arrest warrant was issued for his alleged involvement in a scandal regarding the illegal import of the stimulant ephedrine that occurred when he was health minister in 2010. ANF Commander Brigadier Faheem and Investigating Officer (IO) Abid Zulfiqar, at the hearing at the magistrate’s court, presented a report claiming they had evidence and witness testimonies linking Shahabuddin to the approval of a “2,500 kilogram ephedrine quota allotment to Berlex Lab International and 6,500 kilograms to Danas Pharma,” a statement verified by former director general (DG) of Health Dr. Rasheed Jumma. The ANF Magistrate also issued an arrest warrant for Ali Musa Gilani, the son of former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, for his alleged connection to the scandal.[1]

  • Makhdoom Shahabuddin, the leading PPP prime ministerial candidate, submitted nomination papers to Pakistan’s Secretary of the National Assembly on Thursday. According to Geo News, however, the PPP dropped Shahabuddin’s name following the issuance of the warrant for his arrest and made Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, who submitted nomination papers as a covering PPP candidate, the party’s leading candidate. If the candidates’ nomination papers are found to be in order by Speaker of the National Assembly Fehmida Mirza, they will be eligible to contest the election for the office of prime minister. The majority candidate in Friday’s election will become Prime Minister-elect until taking the official oath of the office, after which he will seek a vote of confidence from Parliament. Senior PPP party leader Qamar Zaman Kaira, Mehtab Abbasi of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), and Maulana Fazlur Rehman of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazul (JUI-F) also submitted nomination papers.[2]

  • Speaking at a Sindh Assembly session and to the media afterwards, PPP lawmakers termed Prime Minister Gilani’s disqualification a “continuation of conspiracies” against the party and deemed Gilani a hero for stepping down to protect the sanctity of the constitution. Provincial minister of information Sharjeel Inam Memon, a PPP member, said “we have accepted the court’s verdict in the larger interest of democracy.” Farheen Mughal, another PPP member, accused Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudry, who handed down Prime Minister Gilani’s sentence on Tuesday, of using the case to divert attention away from the corruption charges currently being pursued against his son, Arsalan Iftikhar Chaurdy.[3]

Capture of al Qaeda Leader

  • New details regarding Wednesday’s capture of al Qaeda leader Naamen Meziche reveal that Meziche was arrested while attempting to flee Pakistan and reportedly go to Somalia. According to Pakistani officials, Meziche is a close associate of senior al Qaeda leader Younis al Mauritani, whose 2011 arrest and subsequent interrogation led Pakistani security forces to Meziche. According to AP, Meziche will be deported to France unless found to have broken any Pakistani laws.[4]     

Drone Strikes

  • On Wednesday, the Pakistani Ministry of Defence submitted an affidavit to the Peshawar High Court stating that the government had made no secret deals with the U.S. permitting drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas. The affidavit, in response to petitions filed by the PML-N and seven other groups, argued that the drone strikes were in violation of Pakistani sovereignty and that the government was prepared to pursue the matter in the International Court of Justice.[5]   

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

  • Pakistan’s Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, on Wednesday, concluded at the end of a two-day session that the U.S. will not find its goals in the region fulfilled by “demanding one-sided steps from Pakistan.” Referencing the Salala border incident that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November, Chairman of the committee Haji Adeel said that the U.S. should “respect parliamentary resolutions and apologize for the Salala attack, besides taking concrete steps for putting the bilateral relationship on the right track.” Pakistani government officials have repeatedly said negotiations over numerous issues would be revived once the U.S. apologizes for the Salala border incident. Though U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discussed the possibility of an apology with a Pakistani diplomat in London recently, Secretary Clinton allegedly backed down after the diplomat insisted the apology be timed in a way that maximizes political gains for the Pakistani government.[6]

  • The disqualification of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and subsequent dissolution of the cabinet delayed the signing of a technical agreement between the U.S. and Pakistan over the reopening of NATO supply routes to Afghanistan, according to diplomatic sources. U.S. embassy spokesman Robert Raines said “an agreement was ready” as a result of technical level talks and that “the U.S. is desiring for early resolution of the issue.” Diplomatic sources noted that final touches would be added to the agreement as soon as a new cabinet is established.[7]

Dr. Afia Saddiqui

  • A statement issued by the Embassy of Pakistan on Thursday denied rumors that Dr. Afia Siddiqui, the Pakistani neuroscientist who was sentenced to 86 years in prison in 2010, had died at the Federal Medical Center (FMC) Carswell prison in Fort Worth, Texas. Speaking to the Express Tribune about the rumors, Dr. Maria Douglas, a spokesperson for FMC Carswell, added that “no medical emergency has risen.”After being discovered in Afghanistan five years after she went missing, a New York court charged Dr. Siddiqui for attempting to fire on a U.S. soldier during an interrogation and for allegedly working for al Qaeda. The Embassy’s statement noted that embassy officials were in regular contact with FMC prison authorities and that Dr. Siddiqui contacted her family via phone as recently June 19, 2012.[8]  

Militancy


“Ephedrine case: Non-bailable arrest warrant issued for Shahabuddin,” Express Tribune, June 21, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/397046/ephedrine-case-non-bailable-arrest-warrant-issued-for-shahabuddin/
[2] “Shahabuddin, Raja file nominations,” Geo Pakistan, June 21, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=55330
“PPP selects Raja Pervaiz Ashraf as leading PM candidate,” Geo News, June 21, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=55357
[3] Razzak Abro, “PPP terms PM’s disqualification ‘continuation of conspiracies’,” Daily Times, June 21, 2012. Available at http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\06\21\story_21-6-2012_pg12_3
[5] Akhtar Amin, “No secret agreement signed with US on drone strikes, PHC told,” The News, June 21, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-115721-No-secret-agreement-signed-with-US-on-drone-strikes,-PHC-told
[6] Sumera Khan, “Senators urge U.S. to apologise for Salala attack,” Express Tribune, June 21, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/396810/repairing-damaged-ties-senators-urge-us-to-apologise-for-salala-attack/
Kimberly Dozier, “America, Pakistan and never having to say sorry,” AP, June 20, 2012. Available at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/jun/20/america-pakistan-and-never-having-say-sorry/
[7] Imdad Hussain, “PM’s disqualification delays signing of NATO supply deal,” Daily Times, June 21, 2012. Available at http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\06\21\story_21-6-2012_pg7_3
[8] Huma Imtiaz, “Dr Aafia still alive: US prison spokesperson,” Express Tribune, June 20, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/396625/dr-aafia-still-alive-us-prison-spokesperson/
[9] “Officials claim 13 militants killed in Khyber Agency,” The News, June 21, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-115722-Officials-claim-13-militants-killed-in-Khyber-Agency
[10] “Bomb blast leaves 15 injured in Quetta,” Dawn, June 21, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/06/21/bomb-blast-leaves-15-injured-in-quetta/
[11] ‘Five more killed in Karachi violence,” The News, June 20, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-55294-Three-gunned-down-in-Karachi-violence
Katharine Houreld, “Politics mix with violent crime in Pakistan’s Karachi,” Reuters, June 21, 2012. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/21/us-pakistan-karachi-violence-idUSBRE85K0AQ20120621
[12] “Two cops injured in Lower Dir blast,” The News, June 21, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-115723-Two-cops-injured-in-Lower-Dir-blast
[13] “Three killed, 21 injured in Peshawar blast,” Geo Pakistan, June 21, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=55376
[14] “Pakistani officials to talk with militants on anti-polio campaign,” Dawn, June 20, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/06/20/pakistani-officials-to-talk-with-militants-on-anti-polio-ban/