Pakistan Security Brief - March 16, 2011
Raymond Davis released following indictment; General Petraeus urges for end to militancy in Pakistan; Five militants killed in drone strike; Kidnapped volunteers found dead in Mohmand; Suspect arrested in Bhatti murder case; Imam indicted in federal court; Former religious affairs minister arrested; Christian convicted of violating blasphemy laws dies in jail; One killed in Mastung.
CIA contractor Raymond Davis, the U.S. national accused of killing two Pakistanis in January, was released Wednesday after the families of the victims agreed to accept ‘blood money’ from him. Asad Manzoor Butt, a lawyer for the families, stated that the families of the victims were taken from their homes on Tuesday night by police officials and pressured to accept the monetary compensation, though the amount is unknown. Earlier Wednesday, Davis was formally indicted with two counts of murder. He has since flown to London. Demonstrations have been planned around Islamabad and Karachi in protest against Davis’ release.[i]
In a hearing before the Senate Committee on Armed Services, General Petraeus and Senator John McCain told a senate panel that the best way to end militancy in Pakistan is to succeed in neighboring Afghanistan. Petraeus affirmed, “The way to influence Pakistan is to show that there can be a certain outcome in Afghanistan that means that there should be every effort to help their Afghan neighbors and indeed to ensure that they do that on their side of the border as well.” Under Secretary for Defense Michele Flournoy added that “What’s needed is continued investment in the strategic partnership that we have been developing with Pakistan and very candid engagement with them on these issues to influence their will to go after the full range of groups that threaten both of us.”[ii]
Five militants were killed in a U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan on Wednesday. The drone fired three missiles at a militant compound in Datta Khel, resulting in the insurgents’ deaths. There is no word yet on the identities of the targeted militants.[iii]
Three kidnapped volunteers of the Baizai Peace Committee were found dead in Mohmand on Tuesday. The men had been kidnapped by militants a week ago when militants attacked a checkpoint in the Manzari Cheena area. A spokesman for the Taliban in Mohmand has claimed responsibility for the attack.[iv]
Bhatti Assassination and Fallout
Federal Interior Secretary Qamar Zaman Chaudhry told members of the media that a man suspected of being involved in the assassination of Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti was arrested on Wednesday. His name has not yet been released to the public.[v]
New York Bomb Plot
Ferid Imam, a Canadian, was indicted in a federal court in Brooklyn on Monday. Imam is believed to have assisted three men, including Najibullah Zazi, in receiving training in Pakistan to carry out a plan to bomb the New York City subway system in 2009. Court documents state that Imam helped the three men travel from New Jersey to the Waziristan region for explosives training by members of al Qaeda. Imam’s current location is unknown, though it is believe that he escaped to Pakistan in 2007.[vi]
Former Minister Arrested
Hamid Saeed Kazmi, the former religious affairs minister, has been arrested on allegations of corruption, misuse of authority, and abetment. Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) investigations have reportedly found that Kazmi defrauded Hajj pilgrims who rented housing in Saudi Arabia through the Pakistani government.
Qamar David, a Christian convicted of violating Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, has died in a jail in Karachi under puzzling circumstances. He had been serving a life sentence for insulting the Prophet Muhammad and the Quran, when officials reported his death by heart attack. His family and lawyer have subsequently vouched for his good health and argued that police officials may have been involved in his death.[vii]
One person was killed in Mastung on Wednesday when unidentified gunmen opened fire on NATO tankers. The four vehicles carrying oil to NATO forces in Afghanistan were also set on fire in the attack.[viii]