Pakistan Security Brief – March 22, 2012

Secretary Clinton says U.S. wants an “honest, constructive mutually beneficial relationship with Pakistan;” U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan welcomes engagement with Pakistani leaders; U.S. Congressman asks Radio Free Asia to broadcast in Balochistan; U.S. State Department warns countries over importing Iranian crude oil; Pakistani government seeks legal advice on U.S. sanctions on Iran; WikiLeaks reveals details of meeting between Stratfor researcher and former ISI chief; India offers to export natural gas to Pakistan; PM Gilani’s attorney in contempt case presents argument before Supreme Court; Pakistani intelligence agencies raid madrassa linked with Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan; Car bomb in Kashmir injures 20; President Zardari orders crackdown on extortion mafias targeting traders; Five improvised explosive devices damage the Hub-Jamshoro Circuit in Jamshoro district; U.S. lobbyist claims Pervez Musharraf was involved in Benazir Bhutto assassination; 943 honor killings in Pakistan last year; Hussain Haqqani submits reply to “memogate” commission.

 

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

  • On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that the U.S. is “committed to an ‘honest, constructive, mutually beneficial relationship with Pakistan.’” Secretary Clinton also said that the U.S. has “made it clear” that it respects “the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan,” and called parliament’s review of the country’s relationship with the U.S. a “significant” development. Clinton stated that the U.S. is “ready to work with the Pakistani government and people,” as the two nation’s have “shared interests and the same enemies.”[1]

  • Speaking at the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter said that the U.S. will “respect [the] Pakistan[i] Parliament’s decision on the future of its relations with the U.S.” He noted that the U.S. government welcomes engagement with Pakistani leaders once parliament concludes its deliberations. Munter also stated that “Pakistan has to solve its problems itself and [the U.S.] can only facilitate the process.”[2]

  • U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who recently introduced legislation regarding Balochistan and chaired the February hearing on human rights abuses in the province, released a press release announcing that he “asked Radio Free Asia (RFA) to report on and broadcast in Balochistan to better equip them with the current news.” In the press release, Congressman Rohrabacher asserts that “the increased exposure to accurate and objective news” would benefit both the U.S. and Balochistan. He also reiterated the sentiment of the resolution he introduced in Congress: that the Pakistani government is “repressing the Baloch people,” and that the “Balochi nation has a right to self-determination.”[3]

U.S. Sanctions

  • A U.S. State Department official announced on Wednesday that “12 countries that buy Iranian oil could be subject to U.S. sanctions unless they significantly cut purchases.” The official said that Pakistan is one of the countries that are “potentially subject to sanctions,” along with China, India, and nine others. The State Department noted that countries that have already reduced their crude oil purchases from Iran, including Japan and 10 EU nations, could be granted exemptions to the sanctions, and given “a six-month reprieve from the threat of being cut off from the U.S. financial system.”[4]

  • According to the Express Tribune, the Pakistani government “has decided to hire the services of international legal experts to seek opinion[s] on [the] effects of prospective U.S. sanctions” regarding the Iran-Pakistan natural gas pipeline project. This decision was made at a meeting led by Prime Minister Gilani and attended by high-level government officials. One of the officials at the meeting reported that “the government wanted to explore the possible effects of sanctions if it refused to bow to the pressure exerted by Washington.”[5]

International Relations

  • WikiLeaks has revealed the details of a meeting in April 2011 between a researcher with the private intelligence firm Stratfor and Lieutenant-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, who recently stepped down as director general of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate. According to the researcher, Pasha said that Pakistan “do[es] not wish to see the Talibs dominate Afghanistan,” and in fact “want[s] to see a broad-based government that can end the civil war in that country, which has had a disastrous fallout for us [Pakistanis].” However, Pasha believed that the Taliban “will be a key player in a post-NATO Afghanistan,” which “is necessary for true peace to take place.” With regard to the militancy situation in Pakistan’s tribal regions, Pasha stated that the military wanted to move into North Waziristan, but “the only way to mount an offensive in NW is through South Waziristan,” which the military is “trying to stabilize with the building of roads and resettlement of locals.”[6] 

  • India has offered to export natural gas to Pakistan to help the country alleviate its gas crisis. India’s largest state-owned natural gas company GAIL has commissioned a natural gas pipeline from the west coast of India to Bhatinda in Punjab, a mere 25 km away from the Pakistani border. According to the company, extending the pipeline to Lahore could be done “in no time.” If the Indian Ministry of External Affairs approves the proposal, GAIL plans to extend a formal proposal to Pakistan.[7]

Domestic Politics

  • Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, representing Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in the contempt case, presented his argument before the Supreme Court on Thursday, maintaining that the constitution prohibits the “bench issuing the contempt notice to hear the case.” Justices Gulzar, Usmani, and Mulk defended the court’s authority to hear the case. Ashan “expressed his dissatisfaction over the contempt proceedings and termed the process ‘a fit example of a mistrial.’” The court has adjourned the case until Monday.[8]

  • On Wednesday, Prime Minister Gilani announced that Senator Aitzaz Ahsan, his attorney in the contempt of court proceedings, was nominated as a member of “a prestigious parliamentary panel designated to appoint judges of superior courts.” According to the Express Tribune, Ahsan “will replace Nayyar Bukhari, who has been recently appointed as Chairman [of the] Senate.”[9]

  • On Wednesday, former Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Hussain Haqqani submitted a written reply to the “memogate” commission in response to its questions regarding the documents submitted to the commission by Mansoor Ijaz, Pakistani-American businessman and key witness in the case. In the reply, Haqqani “rejected” the evidence presented by Ijaz, including hand-written notes and email exchanges in connection with the “preparation of the memo.” Haqqani admitted to making telephone calls to Ijaz from May 9, 2011 to May 12, 2011, but “denied that the delivery of the memo to former U.S. Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen was discussed in any of their calls.” Haqqani also admitted to exchanging 83 emails with Ijaz over the last 10 years, but stated that their purpose was to discuss fundraising efforts for Ijaz’s NGO, the Rebuilding Afghanistan Foundation.[10]

Militancy

  • Late Monday night, Pakistani intelligence agencies raided a madrassa linked with the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) in Jatoi, Punjab, arresting three suspected terrorists and recovering 10 bags of explosives. The raid was reportedly targeting the madrassa’s owner, former SSP vice-president Yahya Abbasi, who is suspected of being involved in recent terrorist and sectarian attacks in Punjab. Intelligence agencies are still searching for Abbasi, who was not present during the raid and remains at large.[11]

  • On Thursday, a car bomb exploded in Indian-controlled Kashmir, killing the driver and wounding at least 20 others. Authorities believe that a suspected militant was transporting the bomb, when it accidentally exploded in Bijbehara town, 28 miles south of Srinagar. No group has claimed responsibility for the blast.[12]

  • During a meeting on Thursday, the Sindh Home Minister Manzoor Wassan briefed President Asif Ali Zardari on the law and order situation in the Sindh province. The president ordered a crackdown against extortion mafias targeting traders. Zardari reportedly directed Wassan to hold a meeting with local traders on a monthly basis and keep him apprised of developments.[13] 

  • Blasts from five improvised explosive devices (IEDs) damaged the Hub-Jamshoro Circuit of the National Transmission and Dispatch Company near Liaquat University of Medical and Health Science in Sindh’s Jamshoro district on Thursday.[14] 

  • Villagers found three bodies, bearing gunshot wounds, in the Zakha Khel area of Landi Kotal, Khyber agency on Wednesday. According to a police official, a local militia, Tauheed-e-Islam, had killed the men “for allegedly spying for the banned extremist group Lashkar-e-Islam and planting [IEDs] in the area.”[15] 

  • On Tuesday, security forces arrested eight suspected militants during a search operation in the Kandao Khel area of Landi Kotal, Khyber agency. They also defused two bombs planted at the Landi Kotal helipad.[16] 

  • Unknown gunmen killed two policemen at an outpost in Quetta’s Jinnah Town on Wednesday.[17]

Benazir Assassination

  • On Wednesday, long-time U.S. lobbyist for deceased Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto Mark Siegel wrote in the New York Daily News that former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf was “aware and involved in the [Benazir] Bhutto assassination plot.” According to the article, Pakistan’s Joint Investigation Team, formed to investigate Bhutto’s murder, concluded that Musharraf “knew of the plotting of the assassination, was aware of the timing, and personally ordered the destruction of evidence.” Siegel reported that “Musharraf had threatened [Bhutto] with dire consequences if she returned to Pakistan to lead her Pakistan Peoples Party in the upcoming elections, where she was the major threat to defeat him.” Three weeks later, Bhutto returned to Pakistan where an attempt was made on her life in Karachi. Two months after that, on December 27, 2007, she was killed in a successful assassination attempt in Rawalpindi.[18]

Human Rights

  • On Thursday, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said that in 2011, “at least 943 women were killed in the name of honor, of which 93 were minors.” Approximately “595 of the women…were accused of having ‘illicit’ relations,” and “219 [were accused] of marrying without permission.” According to the commission, the majority of the women were killed by their brothers and husbands. Human rights activists say that Pakistan’s “government needs to do more to prosecute murders in cases largely dismissed by police as private, family affairs.”[19]

Osama bin Laden

  • The Islamabad High Court issued an order that bin Laden’s brother-in-law, Zakaria Al Sadah, “be allowed to meet his sister,” one of three of bin Laden’s widows who has been held by the ISI since the Abbottabad raid on May 2. Justice Riaz Ahmed Khan said that Sadah “will be able to file a request for contempt of court” if he is not granted permission to see his sister, and directed the Interior Secretary, ISI, and president to reply to the court within 15 days.[20]

  • Pakistan’s Director General of Foreign Affairs on America, Deputy Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority and senior air-traffic controllers from Islamabad, Lahore, Chaklala and Chirat appeared before the Abbottabad Commission on Wednesday. The officials briefed the commission on the technical aspects of air-traffic monitoring and of the radar system on the ground.[21]              



[1] Shaun Tandon, “Clinton sees shared interest with Pakistan,” AFP, March 21, 2012. Available at http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iSeUVerX-wPQlRc-hCL22lv0ZV4Q?docId=CNG.c692df26fbf0de5fed67a26eba0263c6.171
Huma Imtiaz, “US committed to relation with Pakistan despite ups and downs: Clinton,” Express Tribune, March 21, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/353187/us-committed-to-relation-with-pakistan-despite-ups-and-downs-clinton/
[2] Riaz Ahmad and Mahwish Qayyum, “US will respect Pakistan parliament’s decision, Munter,” Express Tribune, March 22, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/353422/us-will-respect-pakistan-parliaments-decision-munter/
[3] Huma Imtiaz, “Rohrabacher asks Radio Free Asia to broadcast in Balochistan,” Express Tribune, March 22, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/353541/rohrabacher-asks-radio-free-asia-to-broadcast-in-balochistan/
[4] “Pakistan included in list of Iranian oil buying countries that could face US sanctions,” Reuters, March 22, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/353556/pakistan-included-in-list-of-iranian-oil-buying-countries-that-could-face-us-sanctions/
[5] Zafar Bhutta, “Gas pipeline: Pakistan hiring experts to study Iran sanctions,” Express Tribune, March 22, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/353448/gas-pipeline-pakistan-hiring-experts-to-study-iran-sanctions/
[6] Rob Crilly, “Pakistan 'does not want Taliban to seize control of Afghanistan,'” Telegraph, March 21, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/03/22/india-offers-to-supply-natural-gas-to-pakistan.html
[7] “India offers to supply natural gas to Pakistan,” Dawn, March 22, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/03/22/india-offers-to-supply-natural-gas-to-pakistan.html
[8] “PM Contempt: Bench cannot hear case, says Aitzaz,” Express Tribune, March 22, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/353549/pm-contempt-bench-cannot-hear-the-case-says-aitzaz/
Azam Khan and Sumera Kahn, “Contempt case: To buy time, Gilani’s counsel argues on timing,” Express Tribune, March 22, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/353434/contempt-case-to-buy-time-gilanis-counsel-argues-on-timing/
[9] Sumera Khan, “Judges’ appointments: PM nominates Aitzaz for prestigious panel,” Express Tribune, March 22, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/353401/judges-appointments-pm-nominates-aitzaz-for-prestigious-panel/
[10] Obaid Abbasi, “Memogate probe: In denial of memo, Haqqani admits contact with Ijaz,” Express Tribune, March 22, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/353348/memogate-probe-in-denial-of-memo-haqqani-admits-contacts-with-ijaz/
[11] “Counter-Terrorism: SSP-linked madrassa raided by agencies,” Express Tribune, March 22, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/353428/counter-terrorism-ssp-linked-madrassa-raided-by-agencies/
[12] “Police say car blast kills one, wounds 20 in Kashmir,” AP, March 22, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/03/22/police-say-car-blast-kills-one-wounds-20-in-kashmir.html
[13] “Zardari orders immediate crackdown on extortionists,” Dawn, March 22, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/03/22/meeting-held-in-presidency-to-tackle-exhortion.html
[14] Z Ali, “Terrorists target electricity pylons in Hyderabad, Larkana,” The Express Tribune, March 22, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/353581/terrorists-target-electricity-pylons-in-hyderabad-larkana/
[15] Abuzar Afridi, “Khyber Agency: Three bodies found – killed by tribal militia,” Express Tribune, March 22, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/353423/khyber-agency-three-bodies-found--killed-by-tribal-militia/
[16] Abuzar Afridi, “Khyber Agency: Three bodies found – killed by tribal militia,” Express Tribune, March 22, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/353423/khyber-agency-three-bodies-found--killed-by-tribal-militia/
[17] “Quetta: Two cops shot dead,” The News, March 21, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-40930-Quetta:-Two-cops-shot-dead
[18] Mark Siegel, “Face the truth, Musharraf,” New York Daily News, March 21, 2012. Available at http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/face-truth-musharraf-article-1.1047729
“Siegel says Musharraf knew about Benazir’s murder plot: Report,” Express Tribune, March 22, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/353548/siegel-says-musharraf-knew-about-benazirs-murder-plot-report/
[19] “Nearly 1,000 Pakistan women 'killed for honour,'” AFP, March 22, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/353572/nearly-1000-pakistan-women-killed-for-honour/
[20] “Court says Bin Laden’s brother-in-law can meet sister,” Express Tribune, March 22, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/353568/court-says-bin-ladens-brother-in-law-can-meet-sister/
[21] “Abbottabad Commission quizzes senior officials,” Geo, March 21, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=40983