Pakistan Security Brief - May 22, 2013

Chinese Premier arrives in Pakistan for two-day visit, praises Pakistan in interview; NATO equipment withdrawal through Pakistan begins; Imran Khan released from hospital; PTI protests rigging, ECP, MQM; MQM leader disbands Karachi Organizing Committee; Supreme Court orders revision of case against MQM; Roadside bomb in Karachi detonated; Balochistan advocate general freed by kidnappers; Five people arrested for stealing parts from NATO vehicles; Two paramilitary soldiers killed by IED in South Waziristan; Prayer leader shot inside mosque; India and Afghanistan discuss deepening India's help in Afghanistan's reconstruction; Musharraf released for Bhutto murder case, no bail for judges' detention case; PTI came in second in popular vote; Incoming government will continue BISP, renamed as PISP; ANP claims defeat is due to foreign elements; Drone strikes fallen since 2010, costs becoming clear; British survey shows 63 percent believe drone strikes never justified; Drones report says strikes have minimal impact on recruitment A quarter of proposed development spending to come from foreign loans; Ahmadis persecuted by extremists and government.

Sino-Pak Relations

  • Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Pakistan on Wednesday for a two-day official visit with President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister-elect Nawaz Sharif, in which Li reportedly expressed his desire for the two nations to stay “trustworthy partners” and increase trade. In particular, Li said he hoped that China and Pakistan can work together to solve Pakistan's energy crisis by carrying out joint energy projects. Upon his arrival, Li was presented with the Nishan-e-Pakistan, Pakistan's highest civil award. He reportedly heaped praise on the current relationship between the two countries, referring to it as a tree of friendship which is now “exuberant with abundant fruits”. During the visit, the leaders are expected to sign agreements on technology and space as well as energy.1

  • In an interview with Pakistani journalists the day before his visit to Pakistan, Chinese Premier Li Kequiang said his country recognizes Pakistan's positive contributions to stability and peace in South Asia and urged the rest of the world to “give Pakistan full understanding, recognition and necessary support”. He praised Pakistan-China ties and their mutually beneficial interdependence.2

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

  • Equipment from the U.S. and NATO missions in Afghanistan is starting to be withdrawn via convoys through Pakistan, the first of which reportedly reached Quetta on Tuesday evening. The convoy, carrying weapons, armored vehicles and trucks, was escorted by the Frontier Corps and Levies from the Afghan border to Quetta.3

Militancy

Indo-Afghan Relations

  • Indian President Pranab Mukherjee said on Tuesday that India would be “proud” to help Afghanistan and increase its provision of training and reconstruction aid. Speaking with visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Mukherjee listed institution-building, training and equipment as areas in which India could make a contribution in the interest of stability after U.S. troops withdraw.10

Domestic Politics

  • Imran Khan was released from hospital on Wednesday and reportedly returned to his home in Lahore where he will stay for three more days before going to Islamabad. Doctors have advised he rest, and according to the hospital's website, Khan will continue physical therapy and keep wearing his spinal brace for several weeks.11

  • On Tuesday, members of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) staged a protest in front of Lahore Press Club against election rigging and the Election Commission of Pakistan's indifference to it. They also protested the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and its alleged involvement in the murder of senior PTI leader Zahra Shahid Hussain.12

  • MQM leader Altaf Hussain reportedly disbanded the party's Karachi Organizing Committee on Tuesday night because of reports of inefficiency and “hooliganism” during a speech of his on Sunday. MQM workers allegedly roughed up members of the Coordination Committee, law-makers-elect, and journalists. Certain individuals were reportedly asked to submit a written apology within 24 hours or be expelled from the party.13

  • The Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered on Wednesday that Barrister Zafarullah Khan amend a petition he had brought to the court asking it to label Altaf Hussain and the MQM as “enemies of Pakistan” and ban Hussain from giving speeches in Pakistan. Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammed Chaudhry took issue with the petition not referencing Hussain by name and only by his party position. The hearing has been adjourned for a week.14

  • Based on a petition submitted by the PML-N's Khawaja Mohammed Asif, the Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a short order canceling appointments and transfers of officers made by the caretaker government and forbade the caretaker government from making such decisions in the future.15

  • Upon payment of approximately $20,000 in bail for the Benazir Bhutto murder case, Pervez Musharraf was released on Wednesday on orders of the court. His bail plea in the judges' detention case was denied the same day, however, and Musharraf remains under house arrest as a result.16

  • In a round-up report on election outcomes, The Express Tribune reported on Wednesday that while the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) won both in terms of popular vote and parliamentary seats, the PTI came in second in the popular vote while taking the third-most parliamentary seats, after the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). Independent candidates were the fourth largest force by both measures. The PML-N won over 14 million votes whereas the PTI took nearly half that tally, with around 7.5 million votes. Due to Pakistan's first past the post voting system, however, the PTI only received around a quarter the number of seats the PML-N won.17

  • The Election Commission of Pakistan released a final figure of 55 percent voter turnout on May 11, which translates to over 46.2 million people.18

  • According to a statement by PML-N leader Ashan Iqbal, the incoming government will continue the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP), a cash subsidy system targeted towards supplementing the incomes of qualifying poor families, but plans to rename it the Pakistan Income Support Program (PISP).19

  • According to Awami National Party (ANP) leader Afrasiab Khattak, “foreign elements” were involved in “snatching” his party's mandate by interfering with the ANP's campaigning. He also alleged rigging, but said he would accept the results so as not to derail the democratic transition.20

Drone Strikes

  • U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan have fallen dramatically since peaking in 2010, according to a New York Times report. Reasons reportedly include diplomatic strains, bad weather, and a shrinking list of targets. According to the report, the U.S. is also starting to recognize the costs of the program, notably civilian casualties and the role in motivating terrorists the program allegedly provides, as it reportedly did in the case of the 2010 attempted Times Square attack.21

  • The International Crisis Group found in a recent study that while U.S. drone strikes may “disrupt” militant networks, they cannot eliminate them completely. The study argues that the extension of Pakistani laws and constitutional protections are more likely to end the insurgency in northwest Pakistan. It also claims that, contrary to arguments that strikes inspire more militants than they kill, drones have “minimal” effects on militant recruitment.22

  • A recent survey done in Pakistan's tribal areas by the British Foreign Office, meant to assess the effectiveness of drone strikes, showed that the number of respondents who thought drone strikes are “never justified” rose by four percentage points from 2010 to 63 percent in 2011.23

Economy

  • As much as a quarter of proposed spending for Pakistan's government in the coming fiscal year is dependent upon foreign creditors, according to a report in The Express Tribune. Foreign loans will be central to the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP), which will be finalized soon before being sent to the National Assembly for approval. The incoming government's relationship with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has yet to be determined, but senior PML-N leader Sartaj Aziz, likely to become economy and foreign affairs advisor to Nawaz Sharif, said that the government will not open negotiations with the IMF for at least three to four months.24

Minorities

  • The latest report on religious freedom by the U.S. State Department highlights the persecution of the minority Ahmadi sect in Pakistan, members of which consider themselves Muslim but are not considered so by mainstream sects or the government of Pakistan. Ahmadis have found themselves the victims of rising persecution by both extremist groups and the government, including assaults on mosques and homes.25

 
 
1Nick Macfie, “China's Li offers to help end Pakistan energy crisis,” Reuters, May 22, 2013. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/22/us-pakistan-china-idUSBRE94L06G20130522
“Chinese PM awarded Nishan-e-Pakistan on arrival in Islamabad,” The Express Tribune, May 22, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/552781/chinese-pm-lands-in-pakistan/
Sebastian Abbott, “Chinese premier visits Pakistan, praises ties,” Yahoo! News, May 22, 2013. Available at http://news.yahoo.com/chinese-premier-visits-pakistan-praises-ties-102423145.html
“Chinese Premier in Pakistan, praises ties,” Dawn, May 22, 2013. Available at http://beta.dawn.com/news/1012968/chinas-li-offers-to-help-end-pakistans-energy-crisis
2Myra Imran, “China asks world to support Pakistan,” The News, May 22, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-23013-China-asks-world-to-support-Pakistan
3Syed Ali Shah, “Nato troops start equipment withdrawal from Afghanistan,” Dawn, May 21, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/21/nato-troops-start-equipment-withdrawal-from-afghanistan/
4“Chinese escape Karachi bomb ahead of Premier Li's arrival in Pakistan,” Reuters, May 21, 2013. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/21/us-pakistan-bomb-idUSBRE94K0LT20130521
5Syed Ali Shah, “Kidnapped AG Balochistan recovered after nearly two months,” Dawn, May 22, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/22/kidnapped-ag-balochistan-recovered-after-nearly-two-months/
Zafar Baloch, “Balochistan kidnappings: Salahuddin Mengal recovered,” The Express Tribune, May 22, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/552565/balochistan-kidnappings-salahuddin-mengal-recovered/
Saleem Shahid, “Kidnapper free ex-law official,” Dawn, May 21, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/22/kidnappers-free-ex-law-official/
6Mohammed Hussain Khan, “Police nab gang involved in stealing Nato vehicle parts,” Dawn, May 21, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/21/police-nab-gang-involved-in-stealing-nato-vehicle-parts/
7“Two soldiers killed in SWA IED blast,” The News, May 22, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-23028-Two-soldiers-killed-in-SWA-IED-blast
8“Prayer leader shot dead,” The News, May 22, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-178897-Prayer-leader-shot-dead
9“Search launched in Matani, Sherkera for militants,” The News, May 22, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-178898-Search-launched-in-Matani,-Sherkera-for-militants
10“India offers to expand assistance for Afghan reconstruction efforts,” The Washington Post, May 21, 2013. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/afghan-president-expected-to-seek-military-aid-during-visit-to-india/2013/05/21/767c22c4-c225-11e2-9642-a56177f1cdf7_story.html
11“Imran Khan discharged from hospital,” Dawn, May 22, 2013. Available at http://beta.dawn.com/news/1012851/imran-khan-discharged-from-hospital
“Imran Khan discharged from hospital,” The Express Tribune, May 22, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/552758/imran-khan-discharged-from-hospital/
12“PTI leaders lead rally against 'rigging',” Dawn, May 21, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/22/pti-leaders-lead-rally-against-rigging/
13“Altaf disbands MQM's Karachi organising committee,” Dawn, May 22, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/22/altaf-disbands-mqms-karachi-organising-committee/
Rabia Ali, “Reorganisation: Altaf dissolves MQM's Karachi Tanzeemi Committee,” The Express Tribune, May 22, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/552702/reorganisation-altaf-dissolves-mqms-karachi-tanzeemi-committee/
14“Altaf Hussain speech: SC orders petitioner to name 'MQM chief' in application,” The Express Tribune, May 22, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/552807/altaf-hussain-speech-sc-orders-petitioner-to-name-mqm-chief-in-application/
15“Short order: SC cancels transfers and appointments made by caretaker setup,” The Express Tribune, May 22, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/552788/sc-cancels-all-transfers-and-appointments-made-by-caretaker-setup/
16“Benazir murder case: Court orders release of Musharraf,” The Express Tribune, May 22, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/552784/judges-detention-case-court-rejects-musharrafs-bail-plea/
17Azam Khan, “Voting positions: PTI won more popular votes than PPP,” Dawn, May 22, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/552650/voting-positions-pti-won-more-popular-votes-than-ppp/
18“Pakistan elections 2013 total voter turnout: 55%,” The Express Tribune, May 21, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/552368/pakistan-elections-2013-total-voter-turnout-55/
19“PML-N to continue BISP, rename it as PISP: spokesman,” The News, May 22, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-178914-PML-N-to-continue-BISP,-rename-it-as-PISP:-spokesman
20“Afrasiab blames foreign elements for ANP defeat,” The News, May 22, 2013. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-7-179054-Afrasiab-blames-foreign-elements-for-ANP-defeat
21Scott Shane, “Debate Aside, Number of Drone Strikes Drops Sharply,” The New York Times, May 21, 2013. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/22/us/debate-aside-drone-strikes-drop-sharply.html?emc=tnt&tntemail0=y&_r=1&
22“Study: Drone Strikes Unlikely To Destroy Islamist Networks,” Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, May 21, 2013. Available at http://www.rferl.org/content/drones-islamist-networks-new-study/24993202.html
“'Minimal' drone effects on Pakistan militant recruits: ICG,” Dawn, May 22, 2013. Available at http://dawn.com/2013/05/21/minimal-drone-effects-on-pakistan-militant-recruits-icg/
23“Drone strike survey,” The Express Tribune, May 21, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/552412/drone-strike-survey/
24Shahbaz Rana, “Development programmes: A fourth of govt spending hinges on foreign support,” The Express Tribune, May 22, 2013. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/552484/development-programmes-a-fourth-of-govt-spending-hinges-on-foreign-support/
25Daud Khattak and Frud Bezhan, “Pakistan's Ahmadis Face Rising Persecution,” Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, May 21, 2013. Available at http://www.rferl.org/content/pakistan-ahmadis-persecution-violence/24992861.html