Pakistan Security Brief – May 18, 2012

Congress votes to block $650 million in payments to Pakistan unless NATO supply route reopened; Hussain Haqqani says Pakistan’s advantage in NATO negotiations will not last; Fifteen killed in multiple incidents in Karachi; Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb brings Pakistani terrorists to Timbuktu to train new recruits; PML-N Chief says he does not recognize Gilani as prime minister; India-Pakistan border security tightens after Lashkar-e-Taiba threatens attack; President Zardari leaves for Chicago to attend NATO summit.

 

NATO Summit and Supply Route

  • The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Thursday to block up to $650 million in payments to Pakistan unless Islamabad granted U.S. coalition forces access to the supply route. The vote, an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, withholds funds for Pakistan from the Coalition Support Fund. Conditions for release of funds include the transit of NATO supplies across Pakistan and the retrograde of coalition forces equipment out of Afghanistan. On Thursday, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani ordered Pakistani officials to finalize an agreement “as quickly as possible” so that the route may be reopened. Talks between U.S. and Pakistani officials are ongoing, with U.S. National Security Advisor Tom Donilon stating that it is unclear whether a deal will be reached prior to the NATO summit or whether President Obama and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari will meet separately during the summit.[1]

  • Former Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Hussain Haqqani stated that any advantage that Pakistan gains from reopening the NATO supply route “is not going to last forever.” Haqqani also called Pakistan to “crack down” on extremists in Pakistan, as extremists have killed more Pakistanis than Americans. Haqqani said that Pakistan just wants to blame its neighbors and enemies for the country’s problems, but does not “want to take account of what’s wrong at home.” The former ambassador also stated that a “small group” of “ideologically motivated” people should “not be allowed to dominate the discourse within Pakistan,” and claimed that Pakistan should rather discuss its relationship with the U.S. “honestly and openly within its society.”[2]

  • Activists belonging to Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl staged protests outside the Tehsil Municipal Administration office in Battagram, with former Member of the National Assembly Qari Mohammed Yousaf calling for a severing of ties with the U.S.  and stating “we cannot give it logistic support to kill our Muslim brothers in Afghanistan.”[3]

  • While the majority of Pakistanis do not support the move to reopen the NATO supply route, Pakistan’s trucking industry is “upbeat about the reinstatement,” as it has seen a decline in business since the route was closed.[4]

  • President Zardari left Pakistan on Thursday to attend the NATO summit held in Chicago on May 20-21. However, Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani decided not to attend the summit this weekend. The Express Tribune reported that Gen. Kayani’s absence at the event may be a move by the military to distance itself from the reopening of the NATO supply route.[5]

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

  • The U.S. House of Representatives voted against a bill that would have required the government to pay $50 million to the family of every American citizen that was killed by the actions of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate, or by any organization supported by the ISI. In addition, the bill would have withheld $50 million in U.S. aid to Pakistan for every American victim of the ISI. The bill, titled the Pakistan Terrorism Accountability Act 2012 and introduced by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), was voted down by a substantial majority of 335 members of the House.[6]

Militancy

  • More than 15 people were killed in various parts of Karachi on Friday. In one incident, gunmen broke into a house in Landhi’s Mansehra Colony and opened fire, killing two people and wounding three. Another incident occurred in Baldia Ittehad Town, when unidentified assailants opened fire on police vehicles, killing two police officers. The police conducted raids in different areas of the city, and they arrested six suspects from Baldia Town, Orangi Town and Mawach Goth.[7]

  • Express News reported Friday that the Interior Ministry’s Crisis Management Cell sent a letter to the Sindh government, disclosing that the Punjabi Taliban was planning to attack Karachi’s Central Jail and other vital locations to release their imprisoned members and also abduct foreigners and other important people. According to the letter, the Punjabi Taliban’s mastermind, Alam, and his accomplices had already reached Karachi to carry out the attacks.[8]

  • Acting on a tip-off, police foiled a terrorist plot and recovered 3 kg of explosive materials attached to a railway track in the Dasht area of Mastung district, Balochistan.[9]

  • Unknown gunmen set fire to two buses in the Samnabad and Township areas of Lahore on Friday. According to witnesses, the gunmen opened fire on the buses, forcing them to stop, and then told the passengers to get off, or the buses would be torched with the passengers inside. The police suspected that the gunmen were members of Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT), the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami. Members of IJT have been protesting the murder of one of their members during a clash between two student wings earlier this week. On Friday, IJT members clashed with the police while demonstrating in front of Punjab University on Mall Road. Police dispersed the protesters using tear gas and arrested approximately a dozen students.[10]

Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb

  • According to Magharebia, AFRICOM’s Maghreb-centered news site, it is believed that al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) brought “terrorist elements from Pakistan” to Timbuktu in Northern Mali in order to train new AQIM recruits. Timbuktu mayor Hallé Ousman confirmed that Pakistani jihadists entered Timbuktu recently with the purpose of training new al Qaeda recruits, and warned that “the situation has become very dangerous.” An analyst stated that because of the heavy losses suffered by terrorists in Afghanistan due to the War on Terror, Northern Mali has become the “next alternative.”[11]

Domestic Politics

  • Speaking at a press conference in Kasur, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Chief Nawaz Sharif said that he does not consider Yousuf Raza Gilani as Pakistan’s Prime Minister, but he did not comment on whether the PML-N would accept the next budget proposed by Gilani.[12]

  • The “memogate” commission completed its proceedings in Islamabad High Court on Friday and added the forensic reports of key witness Mansoor Ijaz’s Blackberry to the documents that will be sent to the Supreme Court for review. The counsel for Pakistan’s former ambassador to the U.S. Hussain Haqqani boycotted the proceedings and said that he would present his objections to the proceedings and the commission’s report in front of the Supreme Court.[13]

  • On Thursday, the Parliamentary Committee on National Security decided to propose “landslide amendments in laws” governing Pakistan’s efforts to address the issue of enforced disappearances throughout the country, particularly in Balochistan. A 13-member bipartisan, bicameral panel decided to forward two sets of recommendations, legislative and administrative, to the Pakistani government, which are aimed at finding out how to trace the thousands of people who have gone missing. The recommendations call for tougher laws that will bring Pakistan’s intelligence agencies under civilian control, and they also direct provincial governments to take certain measures to address the widespread dissent in Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The committee’s recommendations will likely be finalized on May 28.[14]

India-Pakistan Relations

  • On Thursday, the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) enhanced security at the Integrated Check Post (ICP) at the India-Pakistan border, following a threat issued by Pakistani militant organization Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Pakistani Taliban to blow up the ICP on the Pakistani side. BSF Inspector General Aditya Mishra said that there was nothing to worry about because the threat had nothing to do with India, and he said that BSF patrolling has been enhanced to prevent the “infiltration and smuggling of narcotics, arms and fake currency” from Pakistan.[15]

  • On Thursday, Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said that during the upcoming secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan, he would raise the issue of Jamaat-ud-Dawa leader Hafiz Saeed, whom he reiterated was the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. Mathai stated that the general matter of “criminals taking a refuge in Pakistan” would be part of the talks as well.[16]   

  • Indian Railways is considering a proposal to lease 50 locomotives to Pakistan and to provide facilities to train Pakistani railway men to operate Indian locomotives. The proposal, a response to Pakistan’ shortage of locomotives, comes on the heels of the Indian energy sector’s provision of electricity to Pakistan in light of the country’s current energy crisis. According to Pakistan Today, the potential lease is part of Indian efforts to expand bilateral trade ties.[17]             



[1] “US House approves amendment linking CSF to Nato supplies,” Reuters, May 18, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/05/18/us-house-approves-amendment-linking-csf-to-nato-supplies/
“US Congress links Coalition Support Fund to NATO supply,” Geo News, May 18, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=49689
“US, Pakistan to reach ‘conclusion’ on supply route,” AP, May 17, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/05/18/us-pakistan-to-reach-conclusion-on-supply-route/
Kamran Yousaf and Peer Muhammad, “All set for Chicago; PM orders finalising NATO deal,” Express Tribune, May 18, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/380661/all-set-for-chicago-pm-orders-finalising-nato-deal/
[2] “Advantage from Nato supply route will not last forever: Husain Haqqani,” Express Tribune, May 18, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/380702/advantage-from-nato-supply-route-will-not-last-forever-husain-haqqani/
[3] “‘Reopening’ of Nato supply line protested,” The News, May 18, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-108895-Reopening-of-Nato-supply-line-protested
[4] “Pakistan anger as NATO routes set to reopen,” Al Jazeera, May 18, 2012. Available at http://www.aljazeera.com/video/asia/2012/05/20125185515401758.html
[5] “President Zardari leaves for Chicago to attend NATO summit,” Geo News, May 17, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=49664
Kamran Yousaf and Peer Muhammad, “All set for Chicago; PM orders finalising NATO deal,” Express Tribune, May 18, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/380661/all-set-for-chicago-pm-orders-finalising-nato-deal/
[6] “Congress vetoes US bill against Pakistan aid,” Express Tribune, May 18, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/380741/congress-vetoes-us-bill-against-pakistan-aid/
[7] “Karachi violence: Over 15 killed in last 24 hours,” Express Tribune, May 18, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/380745/11-killed-in-karachi-violence/
[8] “Interior Ministry letter reveals Punjabi Taliban plot to attack Karachi,” Express Tribune, May 18, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/380777/interior-ministry-letter-reveals-punjabi-taliban-plot-to-attack-karachi/
[9] “3kg Explosives Found: Bid to blow up rail track foiled,” Express Tribune, May 18, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/380619/3kg-explosives-found-bid-to-blow-up-rail-track-foiled/
[10] “Gunmen torch 2 buses in Lahore, IJT suspected,” Express Tribune, May 18, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/380785/gunmen-torch-2-buses-in-lahore-ijt-suspected/
[11] Jemal Oumar, “Al-Qaeda in northern Mali training recruits,” Magharebia, May 15, 2012. Available at http://www.magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2012/05/15/feature-02
[12] Ferya Ilyas, “Don't consider Gilani as prime minister: Nawaz,” Express Tribune, May 18, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/380806/dont-consider-gilani-as-prime-minister-nawaz/
[13] “Memogate commission completes proceedings,” Express Tribune, May 18, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/380781/memogate-commission-completes-proceedings/
[14] Zia Khan, “Enforced disappearances: PCNS to propose ‘landslide amendments’ in security laws,” Express Tribune, May 18, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/380648/enforced-disappearances-pcns-to-propose-landslide-amendments-in-security-laws/
[15] “After Pakistan issues LeT alert, India beefs up security at border posts,” Express Tribune, May 18, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/380597/after-pakistan-issues-let-alert-india-beefs-up-security-at-border-posts/
[16] “India to take up Hafiz Saeed issue during talks,” Geo News, May 17, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=49571
[17] “India may lease out 50 locomotives to Pakistan,” Pakistan Tribune, May 18, 2012. Available at http://paktribune.com/business/news/India-may-lease-out-50-locomotives-to-Pakistan-9839.html
“India may rent out 50 locomotives to Pakistan,” Pakistan Today, May 17, 2012. Available at http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2012/05/18/news/national/india-may-rent-out-50-locomotives-to-pakistan-2/
Iqbal Mirza, “Pakistan-India trade may cross $10 billion mark,” Business Recorder, May 17, 2012. Available at http://www.brecorder.com/business-a-economy/189/1190286/