Pakistan Security Brief - March 27, 2012

President Obama hopes Pakistani parliamentary review will take a “balanced approach;” Pakistani Foreign Minister says U.S. apology not good enough; Pakistan to start charging U.S. millions for use of supply routes; CIA reportedly offered to limit drone strikes in Pakistan; Joint session of Parliament continues to debate U.S.-Pakistan relations; Opposition leaders say they will support parliamentary resolution only if U.S. honors it; CNN reports that number of drone strikes in Pakistan is decreasing; Gen. John Allen says relationship between ISI and Haqqani network goes back long time; AP journalist threatened by TTP, but is told to resign when he asks for help; Killing of MQM workers sparks intense violence in Karachi; Protests against power outages continue in Lahore and Faisalabad; Prime Minister Gilani’s contempt of court hearing adjourned until April 12; More Pakistanis turning to solar energy.

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

  • According to a U.S. intelligence official, CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus offered to give Pakistan advance notice of future drone strikes in Pakistan and to apply new limits on the types of targets hit. AP reported that Gen. Petraeus met with Pakistan’s former Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (DG ISI) Ahmed Shuja Pasha in London in January. Petraeus also promised that the CIA would no longer assume that large groups of armed men were militants who warranted automatic action, known as the CIA’s “signature” strike. Pasha reportedly rejected the offers and stated that Pakistan would no longer tolerate drone strikes or operations conducted by U.S. counter-terrorist teams inside Pakistan.[1]

  • President Obama met with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on the sidelines of the nuclear summit in Seoul, South Korea on Tuesday. Obama conceded that relations between the U.S. and Pakistan had been strained, but he “welcome[d] the fact that the parliament in Pakistan is reviewing…the nature of this relationship,” and said “it's important…to get it right.” Obama also voiced his hope that the parliamentary review would take a "balanced approach that respects Pakistan's sovereignty, but also respects our [U.S.] concerns with respect to our national security and our needs to battle terrorists who have targeted us in the past".[2]

  • In an interview with CNN, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said that the November NATO airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers was such a serious incident, that an apology by the U.S. government was “not…good enough.” The attack required a complete reassessment of Pakistan’s “terms of engagement” with the U.S., said Khar.[3]

  • Pakistani officials told The Washington Examiner that Pakistan plans to start charging the U.S. “millions of dollars a year for the use of supply routes” in Pakistan. Officials said they would “stand firm” on a list of demands, including the added payments, before allowing the U.S. access to the routes. According to one of the officials, the policy will be debated in Parliament this week, and “there is no doubt that it will pass,” because “the desire to force more money from the U.S. is embraced by all political parties.”[4]

  • During Monday’s joint session of Pakistan’s Parliament, opposition leaders urged the government to ensure that the U.S. would honor the resolution demanding an end to drone strikes and an apology for November’s NATO airstrike. A Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader said that PML-N would only “think of supporting” the resolution once the government made it clear “that the resolution will be respected (by Washington).”[5]

  • The joint session of Parliament continued to debate U.S.-Pakistan relations on Tuesday. Opposition leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan criticized the government for making recommendations that promote former president Pervez Musharraf’s policies. Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazlur Rehman) (JUI-F) leader Fazlur Rehman said that his party would not approve the report, and that the recommendations were an attempt by the government to “legali[z]e the presence of Blackwater in Pakistan.” Rehman added that JUI-F “will not let [NATO] tankers into Afghanistan despite the government’s permission.”[6]

  • CNN reported that the number of CIA drone strikes in Pakistan is decreasing. In the first three months of 2012, there were 11 strikes, compared with 21 strikes in the first three months of 2011, and 28 strikes in the first three months of 2010. During the summer of 2011, the White House ordered an evaluation of the drone program, which found that the CIA drone strikes were primarily killing low-level militants. These findings prompted the government in November to implement new rules governing drone strikes. According to the new rules, the State Department would have a greater say in the decision-making process, Pakistani leaders would receive advanced notification of strikes, and the CIA would refrain from conducting strikes during visits by Pakistani officials to the U.S. According to senior U.S. counterterrorism officials, al Qaeda’s leadership “has been so thinned by the drone campaign that there are only two real leaders of the organization left: Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Yahya al-Libi.[7]

Domestic Politics

  • Prime Minister Gilani’s counsel, Aitzaz Ahsan, told Pakistan’s Supreme Court that since he had been ill, he needed more time to prepare for Gilani’s contempt of court case. The court therefore adjourned the hearing until April 12.[8]

Militancy

  • Speaking at an event at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC on Monday, General John Allen said that the relationship between Pakistan’s ISI and the Haqqani network “goes back a very long time,” but the U.S. should not “be surprised that they have a relationship.” He refused to “speculate on what specific operational support” the Haqqanis receive from the ISI, or whether the network is “an actual arm” of the ISI, but he added that the relationship is “unhelpful.”[9]

  • Ashraf Khan, a Karachi-based journalist for The Associated Press (AP), claims that he was asked to quit his job after informing AP that he had been threatened by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Khan told the Express Tribune that on February 21, he received a letter signed by someone named “Abu Hamza,” on a TTP letterhead, which told him to stop working for the “infidel media” and to refrain from his “anti-Islamic” activities. Khan asked AP to help him leave Pakistan, but the news organization told him that it could not protect or relocate him, and told him to leave the company instead. In response to the Express Tribune’s questions, Khan’s boss at AP, bureau chief Chris Brumitt, said that “the security of our staffers is paramount,” and he confirmed that Khan is still an employee at AP.[10]

Protests

  • Gunmen broke into Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) worker Mansoor Mukhtar’s home in Karachi’s PIB Colony on Tuesday, killing Mukhtar and his brother. The incident sparked intense violence in the city, with eight people killed, dozens injured and several vehicles set on fire. The MQM observed a day of mourning on Tuesday, and it also staged a walkout from the National Assembly to protest the killing.[11]

  • Protests against power outages continued for a third day across different areas of Pakistan on Tuesday. In Lahore, protesters blocked Ferozepur Road, and a petrol station guard killed a protester on GT Road. In Faisalabad, power loom workers staged more than a dozen demonstrations and blocked major roads in the city. In response to the crisis, Prime Minister Gilani directed the ministries of finance, water, power and petroleum to resolve the situation within the next 24 hours.[12]

Energy

  • An AFP article reports that more Pakistanis are turning to solar energy as a means of tackling the country's energy deficit. The head of Pakistan's Alternate Energy Development Board, Arid Alludin, said that he would like to see more energy coming from renewable sources, noting that "there was a 2.4 million megawatt potential for solar energy alone in Pakistan." According to AFP, Pakistani voters say the energy crisis is a top concern, second only to the war on terror.[13]

 

 

     

 


[1] “White House offers concessions on drone attacks,” AP, March 27, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/03/27/white-house-offers-concessions-on-drone-attacks.html
[2] Matt Spetalnick, “Obama: Pakistan review must respect U.S. security needs,” Reuters, March 27, 2012. Available at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/sns-rt-us-usa-pakistanbre82q09j-20120327,0,7683825.story
[3] “Pakistan foreign minister: U.S. apology for border strike not enough,” CNN, March 26, 2012. Available at http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/26/10467/
[4] “Pakistan's demands could hamper war on terror,” Washington Examiner, March 25, 2012. Available at http://washingtonexaminer.com/news/world/2012/03/pakistans-demands-could-hamper-war-terror/403606
[5] Zia Khan, “Opposition wants govt to secure US guarantees,” Express Tribune, March 27, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/355731/opposition-wants-govt-to-secure-us-guarantees/
[6] Zahid Gishkori, “Parliament continues debate on Pak-US ties,” Express Tribune, March 27, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/355861/parliament-continues-debate-on-pak-us-ties/
[7] Peter Bergen and Jennifer Rowland, “CIA drone war in Pakistan in sharp decline,” CNN, March 27, 2012. Available at http://edition.cnn.com/2012/03/27/opinion/bergen-drone-decline/index.html?iref=allsearch
[8] “SC adjourns PM contempt case hearing over lack of evidence,” Express Tribune, March 27, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/355847/sc-adjourns-pm-contempt-case-hearing-over-lack-of-evidence/
[9] “Not be surprised about ISI links with Haqqani: General Allen,” Express Tribune, March 27, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/355675/not-be-surprised-about-isi-links-with-haqqani-general-allen/
[10] Salman Siddiqui, “AP journalist bullied by Taliban, asks for help, told to resign,” Express Tribune, March 27, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/355720/ap-journalist-bullied-by-taliban-asks-for-help-told-to-resign/
[11] Saba Imtiaz, Zahid Gishkori and Faraz Khan, “MQM day of mourning: 8 killed, over 35 vehicles torched in Karachi,” Express Tribune, March 27, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/355769/mqm-day-of-mourning-two-killed-over-25-vehicles-torched-in-karachi/
[12] Ali Usman, “Lahore loadshedding: Protestors turn violent, block Ferozepur Road,” Express Tribune, March 27, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/355812/lahore-loadshedding-protestors-turn-violent-block-ferozepur-road/
Shamsul Islam and Rameez Ahmed, “Punjab power riots: Two dead as protests rage for a third day,” Express Tribune, March 27, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/355695/punjab-power-riots-two-dead-as-protests-rage-for-a-third-day/
[13] Mansoor Gilani, "Energy-starved Pakistan eyes solar power," AFP, March 27, 2012. Available at http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iQqyeNGf_uL2m4W-XHuCkHeBfBuw?docId=CNG.e90177df7bc765b1d1b36a47bff406c5.411