Pakistan Security Brief - May 20, 2011

WikiLeaks reveals information about drone program in Pakistan; Cables on operation in South Waziristan; Cables detail “radicalization” of Pakistani airmen; National Security Adviser Durrani admits contacts with “bad guys;” Political games over release of Hafiz Saeed; Clinton issued a warning to Pakistan about the LeT terror group; U.S. and Pakistan continue to patch up relations; Punjab province cancels aid agreements; U.S. calls killing of bin Laden “justified;” Washington Post: Pakistan’s army has faced “seething anger;”  Washington Post: Taliban commanders breathing a sigh of relief; U.S. consulate vehicle assaulted in Peshawar; Hu Jintao calls Gilani an "old friend" of Beijing; Drone strike in North Waziristan kills six suspected militants; Five killed by land mine in Orakzai; One killed and nine injured in Nowshera; Pipeline attacked in Balochistan.

 

WikiLeaks’ Pakistan Papers

  • Fresh leaks of U.S. government cables by WikiLeaks, have divulged new information about the U.S. drone program in Pakistan. The cables reveal support by Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders for drone strikes in the tribal region, even as they have condemned them to the general public. In a meeting in January 2008 with U.S. CENTCOM Commander Admiral William Fallon, Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Kayani requested the U.S. “to provide ‘continuous Predator coverage of the conflict area’ in South Waziristan where the army was conducting operations against militants.” However, the cables do not clarify if Kayani had requested missile-armed drones or simple air surveillance in the region. In response to the appeal, Admiral Fallon stated that drones would not be possible due to resource shortages but offered U.S. Marines to coordinate air strikes for the Pakistani military on the ground.  General Kayani reportedly turned down the offer of U.S. soldiers on the ground due to political sensitivities. The Pakistan Army has issued a statement denying that Kayani had asked for more drone strikes in Pakistan. In addition, a cable sent from the U.S. Embassy Islamabad on March 24 details a meeting between U.S. Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen and General Kayani, where Mullen “[approved] a third Restricted Operating Zone for US aircraft over the FATA.” [i]
  • A cable sent on October 2, 2009 reports on discussions between the U.S. Peshawar Consulate’s Principal Officer Candace Putnam and a high-ranking FATA Secretariat officer about a military operation in South Waziristan. When the FATA officer was asked if he thought the army had enough troops to participate in the operation, he responded that “the Army thought they had the capability and that the US could assist with continued strikes.” The officer also urged the U.S. to do follow-up strikes after the initial attacks.[ii]
  • A separate WikiLeaks cable quotes Deputy Chief of Air Staff for Operations, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Khalid Chaudhry as stating that Pakistani airmen “were being radicalized and were sabotaging Pakistani F-16s deployed for security operations along the Afghan border.” In 2006, Chaudry argued that the airmen were being radicalized by extremist Islamic clerics and that the military has had trouble trying to get them to trim their beards. In addition, he said that he had received monthly reports of acts of petty sabotage, “which he interpreted as an effort by Islamists amongst the enlisted ranks to prevent PAF aircraft from being deployed in support of security operations.”[iii]
  • A U.S. diplomatic cable sent in October 2008 reveals that Pakistani national security adviser Mahmud Ali Durrani admitted to his Indian counterpart M.K. Narayanan that Pakistan had “contacts with ‘bad guys’ and ‘one of them’ could have carried out the 2008 bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul that left almost sixty people dead. However, Durrani argued that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency did not play a role in the bombing. A separate cable shows that after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, U.S. officials urged ISI chief Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha to visit India to “demonstrate [Pakistan’s] seriousness in cooperating with New Delhi in the investigations.” However, officials of the Pakistani military made it clear that it was opposed to the idea. Following the Mumbai attacks, the U.S. Mission in Islamabad additionally asked Washington to provide $2 billion in aid over a five-year period beginning in April 2011 in order to enable the Pakistani military to address its “’growing conventional disadvantage vis-à-vis India,’ in order to secure its cooperation in the ‘war on terror.’” [iv] 
  • WikiLeaks cables report that the Chief Minister of Pakistan's Punjab province and the federal Interior Minister played a “political game of pass-the-buck” over the issue of releasing Hafiz Saeed, the founder of the Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT), from house arrest in June 2009. Saeed had been placed under house arrest but six months later the Lahore High Court reversed the order. However, ahead of the 2009 Sharm el Shaik meeting between the prime ministers of Pakistan and India, the Pakistan federal government and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government in Punjab both petitioned the Supreme Court against Saeed’s release. A day before the Sharm el Shaik meeting, the Punjab government withdrew the appeal. The provincial government blamed the federal administration for not providing any evidence or support in the case against Saeed, a claim the federal government denies. The Punjab government reinstated its appeal in the Supreme Court, though the court dismissed both appeals on grounds of insufficient evidence. Meanwhile, in a separate diplomatic cable, Lahore Consulate Principal Officer Bryan Hunt reported that members of the PML-N party had told U.S. diplomats that the future of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was up for negotiation, even as PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif was refusing to back down from demands for Chaudry's restoration.[v]
  • In 2009, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a warning to Pakistan about the LeT terror group planning more attacks within India. The cable read, "Embassy is instructed to underscore to senior Pakistani government officials the critical importance of Pakistani cooperation in preventing Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) attacks on India. There are credible reports of advanced LeT planning for attacks against India. An attack at this time - especially from Pakistani territory - would undermine progress for regional cooperation, divert resources from the military campaign in the West, and could hinder the USG's ability to provide Pakistan with military and economic assistance without restrictive conditions."[vi]
 

Bin Laden Raid and Response

  • U.S. and Pakistani officials have continued to attempt to patch up relations following the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. While Marc Grossman, the Obama administration’s special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, met with President Asif Ali Zardari, Michael Morell, deputy director of the CIA, met with ISI head Lieutenant General Pasha. A Pakistani official said “there had been ‘forward momentum’ in the Morell-Pasha meeting, and a U.S. official called it ‘productive.’” However, Punjab province has cancelled six aid agreements with the U.S. in protest over the bin Laden raid, according to Rana Sanaullah, its law minister. Sanaullah said “We have cancelled six MOUs (memorandums of understanding) with the United States in the fields of health, education and solid waste management. We have told their concerned departments about our decision. This is our protest against the Abbottabad incident.” A spokesperson for the PML-N said Punjab had expected to receive $232.55 million for welfare projects over the next three years from the U.S. [vii]
  • State Department lawyer Harold Koh has called the killing of Osama bin Laden “justified” under U.S. and international law out of self defense. His defense comes amid legal scholars’ pressure on the Obama administration to argue its legal justification for the operation. Meanwhile, a senior U.S. official has reported that no one will receive the $25 million reward for the capture of bin Laden. The official defended that his death was the result of “electronic intelligence and not human informants.” In addition, CIA chief Leon Panetta has warned CIA employees not to leak secrets about the raid that killed bin Laden, as it could jeopardize future operations. Panetta said, “The intense public and media interest in the operation that killed Osama bin Laden has led to an unprecedented amount of very sensitive — in fact, classified — information making its way into the press.”[viii]
  • The Washington Post reports that Pakistan’s army has faced “seething anger” from members of its military. Though the army officers “have said little publicly about the U.S. operation…interviews with officers suggest that there is a raucous and broad internal debate — one that is unlikely to undermine the institution, military analysts said, but that bodes poorly for U.S. hopes of an expanded Pakistani effort against Islamist militants.” In response to the discontent, General Kayani has made appearance at five garrisons over the last week to answer questions from officers about the raid. [ix]
  • The Washington Post reports that “while the Taliban greeted Osama bin Laden’s death as a call to arms — a killing that would incite ‘waves of jihad’….Privately, many Taliban commanders are probably breathing a sigh of relief.” The media outlet argues that bin Laden’s death may free up the Taliban to distance itself from al Qaeda, though the Taliban also has the option to “take inspiration from bin Laden’s killing and double down on a fight that appears closer to a conclusion.” Col. Joseph Felter, the former head of General Petraeus’s counterinsurgency advisory team in Kabul, said that the Taliban possess a differing agenda from al Qaeda and are more concerned with actions within their own district or province, while al Qaeda has offered a sense of connection to the broader jihadi movement.[x]
 

U.S. Consulate Vehicle Attacked

 

Sino-Pakistani Relations

 

FATA

 

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa

  • One person was killed and nine others were injured in separate bomb attacks in the Akora Khattak and Jalozai areas of Nowshera. In the first attack, a police vehicle hit an improvised explosive device, killing an elder and injuring two policemen. In the second attack, unidentified militants threw grenades at an administrative office within an IDP camp in Jalozai.[xv]
 

Balochistan

 


[i] Hasan Zaidi, “Army chief wanted more drone support,” Dawn, May 20, 2011. Available at
[ii] “Government official urged follow-up drone strikes,” Dawn, May 20, 2011. Available at
[iii]WikiLeaks: Pakistani airmen sabotaging F-16s,” NDTV, May 20, 2011. Available at
[iv] Suresh Nambath, “‘We have some contacts with bad guys and perhaps one of them did it'” The Hindu, May 19, 2011. Available at http://www.thehindu.com/news/article2032463.ece
[v] Nirupama Subramanian, “It was Shahbaz vs. Malik in court, while Hafiz Saeed walked free,” The Hindu, May 19, 2011. Available at http://www.thehindu.com/news/article2032443.ece
[vi] “WikiLeaks: Hillary Clinton told Pak to prevent LeT attack on India,” NDTV, May 20, 2011. Available at
[vii] Sebastaian Abbot, “US envoy: Not all Afghan factions in peace talks,” Associated Press, May 19, 2011. Available at http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110519/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan
[viii] Ariane de Vogue, “Obama Administration Offers Legal Justification for Capture or Killing of Osama Bin Laden,” ABC News, May 19, 2011. Available at http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2011/05/obama-administration-offers-legal-justification-for-capture-or-killing-of-osama-bin-laden.html
[ix] Karin Brulliard, “Anger simmers in Pakistani army over bin Laden raid,” Washington Post, May 19, 2011. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/in-pakistans-army-anger-simmers/2011/05/18/AFU8yB7G_print.html
[x] Joshua Partlow, “A new test for Taliban and al-Qaeda ties,” Washington Post, May 19, 2011. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia-pacific/a-new-test-for-taliban-al-qaeda-ties/2011/05/16/AFD5cP7G_print.html
[xi] “TTP target US consulate vehicle in Peshawar,” Express Tribune, May 20, 2011. Available at
[xii] Jane Perlez, “China Gives Pakistan 50 Fighter Jets,” New York Times, May 19, 2011. Available at
[xiii] “US drone strike kills six in North Waziristan: officials,” AFP, May 20, 2011. Available at
[xiv] “5 killed as vehicle hits mines in Orakzai,” The News, May 20, 2011. Available at
[xv] Manzoor Ali, “Twin assaults: Nowshera bombings leave one dead, 9 injured,” Express Tribune, May 20, 2011. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/172362/twin-assaults-nowshera-bombings-leave-one-dead-9-injured/
[xvi] “Terrorists blow up gas pipeline in Dera Bugti,” Daily Times, May 20, 2011. Available at http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\05\20\story_20-5-2011_pg7_8