Pakistan Security Brief - May 2, 2012

Pentagon report assesses U.S. war in Afghanistan; Abbottabad Commission to finalize report on May 21; Express Tribune reports on increased anti-U.S. sentiments in Pakistan; Pakistanis still angry over U.S. raid on one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death; Islamabad High Court calls petition for prime minister’s removal “premature;” PML-N devises strategy for countrywide protest; Lashkar-e-Islam militants attack check post in Khyber agency; TTP says it will continue attacks such as Bannu jailbreak; Explosions target several ATMs across Sindh province; Poll by Pew Research Center finds that majority of Pakistanis have negative views of al Qaeda.

U.S. War in Afghanistan

  • A new Pentagon report assessing the U.S. war in Afghanistan said that thousands of tons of military equipment for the Afghan army and police is “stranded” in Pakistan, due to Pakistan’s refusal to reopen NATO ground supply routes, which have been closed since November 2011. The report stated that the Afghan army will face “increasing shortages of equipment, particularly of vehicles,” unless Pakistan reopens the supply routes. According to the report, the closure of the routes is “a strategic concern” that “will also significantly” restrict the U.S. military’s ability to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by 2014. The Pentagon report said that the insurgent safe havens in Pakistan for groups such as the Haqqani Network in North Waziristan continue to make the security situation in Afghanistan “volatile.” The reported added that even though al Qaeda’s numbers have decreased, it is increasingly relying on experienced leaders inside the Haqqani Network.[1]

Osama bin Laden

  • A spokesperson for the Abbottabad Commission, which is investigating the May 2, 2011 U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden, said that the commission’s report will be finalized on May 21 and will be submitted to Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry by the end of May. The commission has also stated that no particular “institution or individual has been held responsible in the report.”[2]

  • An intelligence official told the Express Tribune that the U.S. raid that killed bin Laden did not have a significant impact on terrorism within Pakistan, but it increased anti-U.S. sentiments amongst the population, particularly with regard to right-wing groups.[3]

  • USA Today reported that on the one-year anniversary of bin Laden’s death, there is still anger among Pakistanis over the secret U.S. raid, and some even doubt that bin Laden was actually killed. According to USA Today, many Pakistanis believe the raid was an “improper invasion of Pakistani sovereignty,” and that Pakistani authorities should have been notified. A faculty member from Punjab University said that most Pakistanis did not support bin Laden, and while the way in which he was killed did not make him a “hero,” it did increase Pakistanis’ dislike for and anger towards the U.S.[4]

  • Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar said that Pakistan’s government and armed forces had a huge role in killing bin Laden, and they used a mobile chip to locate him. According to Mukhtar, Pakistan had an agreement with the U.S. in which Pakistan would turn over to the U.S. any material it found in Arabic or English, while the U.S. would give any Urdu material to Pakistan.[5]

 Domestic Politics

  • On Wednesday, the Islamabad High Court stated that the petition seeking Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s removal from office following his contempt verdict was “premature” and might prove unnecessary once the “detailed verdict” is released.[6]

  • The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has devised its strategy for a countrywide protest campaign calling for Gilani to step down as prime minister. According to Senator Pervez Rashid, the PML-N will hold rallies across Punjab beginning May 4, and then it will move on to holding rallies in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and finally in Sindh. According to the PML-N, the party will force stakeholders, including the army, to put pressure on President Asif Ali Zardari to remove Gilani from office.[7]

  • Pakistan’s political parties praised Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s statement from Monday, in which he said that the Pakistan Army supports democracy within the country. A senior minister from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) called Kayani’s statement a “positive move,” and said that telling state institutions to stay within the bounds of the constitution and avoid confrontation with each other is the same message that the PPP has been spreading for years. A PML-N spokesman said that Kayani’s speech “shows that the military has decided to detach itself from politics,” which is “the right message.”[8]

Militancy

  • Asim Mehsud, a spokesperson for the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), said on Tuesday that the TTP “will continue to carry out attacks such as the one in Bannu,” in which 384 prisoners were broken out of the Central Jail on April 15. Mehsud denied the reports stating that TTP had held talks with the government for the release of the prisoners and had made plans to hand over the escaped prisoners to the government.[9]

  • Dozens of Lashkar-e-Islam militants armed with heavy weapons attacked the Manzoor Shaheed check post in the Sarband area of Khyber agency on Tuesday night. The Sarband police and the Frontier Constabulary contingents opened fire in retaliation and managed to fend off the surprise attack for one hour, at which point the militants retreated. There were no casualties reported.[10]

  • Explosions targeted several ATMs belonging to government-run banks in various cities across Sindh province on Wednesday. The police found pamphlets belonging to a separatist organization called the Sindhu Desh Liberation Army at the blast sites in Hyderabad. Many people were injured, but no deaths were reported.[11]

  • A Frontier Corps (FC) official was killed and another was injured, when a remote-controlled bomb targeting an FC convoy patrolling in the area exploded in Kalat, Balochistan.[12]

Al Qaeda

 

 


[1] “Equipment for Afghan army is stranded in Pakistan, Pentagon says,” Los Angeles Times, May 1, 2012. Available at http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/world_now/2012/05/military-equipment-afghan-army-police-pakistan.html
Huma Imtiaz, “NATO supply routes closure causing massive equipment backlog: US DoD,” Express Tribune, May 1, 2012. http://tribune.com.pk/story/372645/nato-supply-routes-closure-causing-massive-equipment-backlog-us-dod/
[2] Zahid Gishkori, “Abbottabad Commission: ‘No institution, individual held responsible,’” Express Tribune, May 2, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/373019/abbottabad-commission-no-institution-individual-held-responsible/
[3] Asad Kharal, “After bin Laden’s death: Anti-Americanism rises, but support for al Qaeda declines,” Express Tribune, May 2, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/372858/after-bin-ladens-death-anti-americanism-rises-but-support-for-al-qaeda-declines/
[4] Aisha Chowdhry, “Anger, doubts in Pakistan a year after OBL raid,” USA Today, May 1, 2012. Available at http://militarytimes.com/news/2012/05/gannett-anger-in-pakistan-year-after-osama-bin-laden-raid-050112/
[5] “Government, army played huge role in Bin Laden killing: Defence minister,” Express Tribune, May 2, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/373032/government-army-played-huge-role-in-bin-laden-killing-defence-minister/
[6] “Post conviction: Court declares petition for Gilani's removal 'premature,'” Express Tribune, May 2, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/372954/post-conviction-court-declares-petition-for-gilanis-removal-premature/
[7] Abdul Manan, “PM contempt: PML-N announces schedule for protest campaign,” Express Tribune, May 2, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/372990/pm-contempt-pml-n-devises-strategy-for-protest-movement/
[8] Zia Khan, “PPP, PML-N interpret Kayani remarks to own advantage,” Express Tribune, May 2, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/372873/eye-of-the-beholder-ppp-pml-n-interpret-kayani-remarks-to-own-advantage/
[9] Nasruminallah, “We will continue to carry out attacks such as Bannu: TTP,” Express Tribune, May 1, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/372749/we-will-continue-to-carry-out-attacks-such-as-the-one-in-bannu-ttp-spokesperson/
[10] Riaz Ahmad, “Police, FC fend off surprise militant attack,” Express Tribune, May 2, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/372977/police-fc-fend-off-surprise-militant-attack/
[11] “Blasts in various cities of Sindh,” Dawn, May 2, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/05/02/blasts-target-atms-in-various-cities-of-sindh/
[12] Shehzad Baloch, “FC convoy targeted: 1 killed, 1 injured in Kalat blast,” Express Tribune, May 2, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/373020/fc-convoy-targeted-1-killed-1-injured-in-kalat-blast/
[13] Asad Kharal, “After bin Laden’s death: Anti-Americanism rises, but support for al Qaeda declines,” Express Tribune, May 2, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/372858/after-bin-ladens-death-anti-americanism-rises-but-support-for-al-qaeda-declines/