Pakistan Security Brief – May 15, 2012

Pakistan's Defence Committee of the Cabinet to discuss ending six-month blockade on NATO supply route; Foreign Minister says "Pakistan has made a point" and is ready to move on; NATO invites Pakistan to Chicago summit; PTI to organize rally if NATO supply line reopened; PTI and JI set conditions for cooperating with PML-N; Car bomb kills two FC soldiers and injures 34 people; Two Hazara men gunned down in Quetta; LI militants ambush security force convoy in Bara; Close associate of TTP chief Hakumullah Mehsud arrested; Lawsuits filed against Pakistani government on behalf of drone victims.

 

NATO Supply Route

  • On Tuesday, Pakistan’s Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) comprised of the prime minister, intelligence chief, and army chief, among others, will meet to discuss ending the six-month blockade on the NATO supply route to Afghanistan. This blockade was initiated after the November 26 NATO airstrike, which killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani recognized the strain the supply route blockade has put on all NATO countries, not only the U.S., by stating that, “It’s not a matter of one, but 43 countries.” Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar stated on Monday that “Pakistan has made a point” by closing the route in response to the incident, but suggested that the country is ready to move on and put its relationship with the U.S. into a “positive zone.” Similarly, Pakistani Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira stated that the country wanted to “move beyond” the November airstrike, indicating that a final decision would be made over the next several days. U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland announced that the U.S. has been engaged in talks over the supply route with Pakistani officials, and while “considerable progress” has been made, “they are still working.”[1]

  • NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen formally extended Pakistan an invitation to the Chicago summit on May 20-21 following Foreign Minister Khar’s public comments recommending that the NATO supply route be reopened. According to a presidential spokesperson, “the invitation was unconditional and not linked to the reopening of ground lines of communication for NATO or to any other issues.” He also added that Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari will wait until after Tuesday’s DCC meeting to decide whether or not he will accept the invitation.[2]

  • On Monday, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi claimed that the PTI would “organize a rally in Rawalpindi on May 27” if the Pakistani government decides to reopen the NATO supply route. According to Qureshi, the rally would “kick off a nation-wide protest against the rulers,” which could include an all-parties conference aimed at taking “a stand against the government.”[3]

Domestic Politics

  • After Prime Minister Gilani was convicted of contempt of court, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) announced it would attempt to “build pressure on the government” by rallying other parties against the Pakistan Peoples Party-dominated leadership. PTI Chairman Imran Khan stated that his party would consider the offer only if the PML-N was to resign it’s positions in both the national and provincial assemblies Jamaat-e-Islami’s (JI) conditions for cooperation echoed those of the PTI, but added that the PML-N must first agree to “get rid of” President Zardari. JI Secretary General Liaquat Baloch reiterated that condition by stating that “free and fair elections are not possible” while Zardari is in office.[4]

Militancy

  • More details have emerged about the car bomb that targeted a Frontier Corps (FC) convoy in Quetta on Monday. Four people were killed, including two FC soldiers, and 34 people, including women and children, were injured. A man alleging to be a member of the banned Baloch Republican Army called a private television station and claimed responsibility for the blast. [5]

  • Two Hazara men were killed and one passerby was injured when unidentified gunmen on motorcycles opened fire on them in the Joint Road area of Quetta on Tuesday.[6]

  • Express News reported on Tuesday that the police in Rawalpindi arrested two suspects and seized a vehicle filled with weapons after receiving a tip-off that a huge supply of arms was being smuggled from Rawalpindi to Peshawar for use in possible terrorist activities.[7]

  • Eight militants were killed and two soldiers were injured in a gun battle lasting several hours after Lashkar-e-Islam militants ambushed a security force convoy at Qambarabad Chowk in Bara, Khyber agency on Monday.[8]

  • A close associate of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Hakimullah Mehsud was arrested along with six other extremists in Peshawar. Mehsud’s associate, known as “Hakeem,” was the TTP’s sub-commander in the Peshawar region and was responsible for several high-profile kidnappings. In a similar raid in Abbottabad, police arrested three TTP members suspected of being involved in kidnappings for ransom.[9]

Drone Lawsuits

  • Shahzad Akbar, a Pakistani lawyer from the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, filed two lawsuits against the Pakistani government in the Peshawar High Court last week on behalf of relatives and victims of a U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan on March 17, 2011. The lawsuits call on the government to “categorize the strikes as war crimes and seek prosecutions” and to appeal to the UN Security Council, the UN Human Rights Council and the International Court of Justice to have the strikes stopped. According to Akbar, aside from treating the drone strikes as war crimes, Pakistan has several alternatives, including cutting off diplomatic relations with the U.S., seeking reparations for the victims, or as a last resort, “shooting down the drones.”[10]

Ephedrine Case

  • On Tuesday, Pakistan’s Supreme Court rejected the request of Ali Musa Gilani, the son of Prime Minister Gilani, to replace the officer in charge of the ephedrine import case. Gilani has denied any involvement in the drug import scandal, and in a 12-page statement submitted to the Supreme Court, he expressed a lack of trust in the officer in charge, Anti-Narcotics Force Director-General Brigadier Fahim, and asked to have Fahim replaced.[11]



[1] “Pakistan Mulls Reopening Border Route For NATO,” Associated Press, May 14, 2012. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/15/world/asia/pakistan-considers-reopening-afghan-border-to-nato-supplies.html?_r=3
“Pakistan signals end to blockade of Nato supplies,” AFP, May 15, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/05/15/pakistan-signals-end-to-blockade-of-nato-supplies/
Kamran Yousaf and Sumera Khan, “Confrontation over?: All set to unblock NATO supply routes,” Express Tribune, May 15, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/378978/confrontation-over-all-set-to-unblock-nato-supply-routes/
[2] “Nato invites Pakistan to Chicago summit,” Dawn, May 15, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/05/15/nato-invites-zardari-to-chicago-summit/
“NATO invites Pakistan to Chicago summit,” AFP, May 15, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/379107/chicago-summit-nato-to-invite-pakistan/
[3] “Govt must not restore NATO supply routes,” Express Tribune, May 15, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/378828/govt-must-not-restore-nato-supply-routes/
[4] Irfan Ghauri, “Cold shoulder: Jamaat-e-Islami snubs PML-N alliance offer,” Express Tribune, May 15, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/378982/cold-shoulder-jamaat-e-islami-snubs-pml-n-alliance-offer/
[5] Shehzad Baloch, “Tribal insurgency: FC convoy attacked with car bomb in Quetta,” Express Tribune, May 15, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/378980/tribal-insurgency-fc-convoy-attacked-with-car-bomb-in-quetta/
[6] “2 Hazaras killed, 1 injured in Quetta attack,” Express Tribune, May 15, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/379069/2-hazaras-killed-1-injured-in-targeted-attack/
[7] “Two suspects arrested, weapons seized in Rawalpindi,” Express Tribune, May 15, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/379087/two-suspects-arrested-weapons-seized-in-rawalpindi/
[8] “20 militants, peace volunteer killed in Fata clashes,” Dawn, May 14, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/05/15/20-militants-peace-volunteer-killed-in-fata-clashes-2/
[9] “Hakimullah Mehsud’s close associate arrested in Peshawar,” Dawn, May 14, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/05/14/hakimullah-mehsuds-close-associate-arrested-in-peshawar/
[10] Michele Langevine Leiby, “2 Pakistani lawsuits pressure government to deal with CIA drone strikes,” Washington Post, May 14, 2012. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/2-pakistani-lawsuits-pressure-government-to-deal-with-cia-drone-strikes/2012/05/14/gIQA9JrLPU_story.html
[11] “Ephedrine case: Supreme Court rejects Ali Musa Gilani's plea,” Express Tribune, May 15, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/379078/ephedrine-case-sc-rejects-gilanis-appeal-strictly-directs-secretary-narcotics-not-to-intervene/