Pakistan Security Brief - June 5, 2012

U.S. drone strike reportedly kills al Qaeda’s second-in-command; Pakistani Foreign Ministry condemns drone strikes; NATO Secretary General concludes agreements with Central Asian countries to bypass Pakistani supply routes; U.S. Senator calls for suspension of all aid to Pakistan in retribution for Afridi sentencing; U.S. Defense Secretary Urges stronger India role in Afghanistan; Twenty militants killed near Salala; MQM activists targeted in Karachi killings; Pakistan successfully tests cruise missile; Iran offers to finance Iran-Pakistai pipeline project; EU foreign minister meets with Pakistani officials to discuss NATO supply routes.

Drone Strikes and Death of Top Al Qaeda Leader

NATO Supply Route

  • In an interview at the U.S.- Islamic World Forum that was published on Monday, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said the U.S. must apologize for the November air attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers if negotiations over reopening NATO supply routes along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border are to continue. The Foreign Minister said Pakistani lawmakers approved the demand calling for a U.S. apology, which Khar describes as “something which should have been forthcoming the day this incident happened.”  U.S. and allied troops have been forced to utilize more expensive northern routes through Russia and Central Asia since Pakistan closed the NATO supply routes six months ago.[3]

  • NATO on Monday concluded agreements with Central Asian countries allowing allied forces to transport vehicles and other military equipment out of Afghanistan through the Northern Distribution Network, completely bypassing Pakistan. The deal indicates that preparations are being made for a possible scenario where Pakistan does not reopen southern supply lines at all. The agreements – with Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan— will decrease NATO’s reliance on transporting supplies through Central Asia’s Salang Pass, where deteriorating conditions have lengthened what should be short one-day journeys into up to ten days. Speaking to reporters about the agreements, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said “these agreements will give us a range of new options and the robust and flexible transport network we need.” Russia, where NATO already has an agreement in place to transport military supplies through the Northern Distribution Network, has proposed allowing NATO forces to further bypass Pakistan by utilizing a logistics facility in Ulyanovsk, Russia to transport troops and cargo leaving Afghanistan.[4]

U.S.-Pakistani Relations

  • Pakistani police intercepted a vehicle carrying three U.S. diplomats at what reports describe as being a routine checkpoint in Peshawar. After the U.S. diplomats refused to allow the vehicle to be searched, the police officers conducted the inspection anyways, discovering several rifles, pistols, and ammunition concealed within the vehicle.  Officers arrested three Pakistani nationals also in the vehicle and held the U.S. diplomats for brief questioning. According to a U.S. embassy official, “these officials were returning from a visit to Malakand University where they were preparing for an English education event for underprivileged children.”[5]

  • On Tuesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta met with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and national security advisor Shiv Shankar Menon to urge a stronger role for India in Afghanistan. While India has thus far largely restricted its involvement in Afghanistan to economic development and reconstruction, tensions with Pakistan have led U.S. officials to encourage India to have a greater role in Afghanistan, specifically through helping to train the Afghan army and police. Though Pakistan may view an increased role of India in Afghanistan as a threat, Senior defense officials travelling with Panetta emphasized the cooperative role the historical adversaries could have in helping to stabilize Afghanistan.[6]

  • U.S. Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, introduced a bill calling for the suspension of all aid to Pakistan unless Pakistan overturns the 33-year prison sentence of Shakil Afridi, the doctor who helped the CIA locate Osama bin Laden. The bill, introduced to the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, would require Pakistan to overturn the ruling of the tribal court that sentenced Afridi before aid would be resumed. The bill also contains a provision that states Dr. Afridi should be granted U.S. citizenship for his efforts in leading the U.S. to the location of Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound.[7]

Militancy

Pakistani Military

International Relations

  • Iran is offering $250 million to Pakistani government for the financing of the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project that could supply 750 million cubic feet of gas per day to a country struggling with an energy shortage. Iran has offered to provide Pakistan with oil on a 90-day deferred payment basis to supplement the financing proposal. While Pakistan has pitched investment proposals to both China and Russia for financing the proposed $500 million IP gas pipeline, U.S. pressure forced investors in the two countries to withdraw from negotiations. The U.S. has also pressured Pakistan by warning of sanctions should the project commence. A Pakistani official associated with the project expressed caution, noting that “Iran is ready to provide oil on a three-month deferred payment facility but it should be forward looking, otherwise the disparity between rupee and dollar could hurt us.” Pakistani and Iranian officials plan to finalize the modalities of the project during future talks in Islamabad.[15]     

  • EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton arrived to Islamabad on Monday for the beginning of a “strategic dialogue” that will strengthen “collaboration [between the two countries] in many areas, including judicial reform, strengthening the democratic institutions, promoting regional stability, and tackling extremism and terrorism,” according to a statement posted on the EU’s website. Ashton is expected to meet with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, and Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General Waheed Arshad to discuss issues most likely related to Pakistan’s repeated suspension of NATO supply routes.[16]     

 

[1] Declan Walsh and Eric Schmitt, “Qaeda Deputy Targeted in Drone Strike in Pakistan,” New York Times, June 4, 2012. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/05/world/asia/drone-strike-kills-14-in-pakistan.html?_r=1&ref=world
Jibran Ahmad and Saud Mehsud, “Top al Qaeda strategist may have been killed in Pakistan,” Reuters, June 5, 2012. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/05/us-pakistan-libi-idUSBRE85407220120605
[2] “Drone Attacks,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pakistan, June 5, 2012. Available at http://mofa.gov.pk/mfa/pages/article.aspx?id=1199&type=1
“Pakistan conveys ‘serious concern’ over US drone strikes,” Reuters, June 5, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/389132/pakistan-conveys-serious-concern-over-us-drone-strikes/    
[3] “US apology needed to open Nato supply routes: Khar,” AFP, June 5, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/389022/us-apology-needed-to-open-pakistan-supply-routes-khar/
[4] Slobodan Lekic, “NATO strikes transport deals to skirt Pakistan,” AP, June 4, 2012. Available at http://militarytimes.com/news/2012/06/ap-nato-strikes-transport-deals-bypass-pakistan-060412/
[5] “Pakistani police question U.S. diplomats on weapons,” Reuters, June 5, 2012. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/04/us-pakistan-usa-diplomats-idUSBRE8530UD20120604
[6] “In India, Defense Secretary Panetta to urge leaders to take larger role in Afghan War,” Washington Post, June 5, 2012. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/in-india-defense-secretary-panetta-to-urge-leaders-to-take-larger-role-in-afghan-war/2012/06/05/gJQA7I9HFV_story.html
[7] “US Senator introduces legislation seeking cut to Pakistan aid,” Express Tribune, June 5, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/389125/us-senator-introduces-legislation-seeking-cut-to-pakistan-aid/
[8] “Militants attack Salala checkpost,” Dawn, June 4, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/06/05/militants-attack-salala-checkpost/
[9] “Four dead in incidents of violence in Karachi,” Dawn, June 5, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/06/05/four-dead-in-incidents-of-violence-in-karachi/
“Four Killed in on-going Karachi violence,” Geo Pakistan, June 5, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=52749
[10] “Target killings: Four MQM men among 10 killed,” Express Tribune, June 5, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/388756/target-killings-four-mqm-men-among-10-killed/
[11] Shehzad Baloch, “Panjgur blast kills one, injures 7,” Express Tribune, June 4, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/388652/panjgur-blast-kills-one-injures-7/
[12] “Couple, man killed by LI for ‘illicit relations’,” The News, June 5, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-112498-Couple,-man-killed-by-LI-for-illicit-relations
[13] Salman Masood, “Pakistan Says It Tested Nuclear-Capable Missile,” New York Times, June 5, 2012. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/06/world/asia/pakistan-says-it-tested-nuclear-capable-missile.html
[14] “Maj Gen Bajwa takes charge as new DG ISPR,” PPI, June 5, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/388573/maj-gen-bajwa-takes-charge-as-new-dg-ispr/
[15] Zafar Bhutta, “All-out help: Iran offers to finance entire gas pipeline,” Express Tribune, June 5, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/388791/all-out-help-iran-offers-to-finance-entire-gas-pipeline/
[16] Kamran Yousef, “Pakistan, EU to launch ’strategic dialogue’ today,” Express Tribune, June 5, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/388928/pakistan-eu-to-launch-strategic-dialogue-today/