Pakistan Security Brief - May 23, 2012

Senate Armed Services Committee against Pakistan’s $5,000 fee per NATO truck; Senate Appropriations subcommittee votes to cut money for Pakistan by 58 percent; President Zardari needs to “soften Pakistan’s demands” on U.S.; Doctor who helped track down Osama bin Laden sentenced to 33 years in prison; Eleven people killed in violence following political rally in Karachi; Drone strike in North Waziristan kills four militants; Pakistan “50 percent finished” in building fourth nuclear reactor; Turkmenistan agrees to supply natural gas to India and Pakistan; Turkish Prime Minister supports Pakistan’s demand for U.S. apology.

NATO Summit and Supply Lines

  • The Senate Armed Services Committee’s leadership, on Tuesday, came out against the $5,000 fee Pakistan wants to charge per NATO truck that crosses through its territory en route to Afghanistan. Senator John McCain called the fee, which was roughly $250 per truck prior to the Salala border strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November, “extortion,” while Senator Carl Levin said, “This looks to me to be totally inappropriate.” These comments come just as the committee takes up the 2013 Defense Authorization Bill—with the possibility of adding new aid restrictions to Pakistan—and a Senate Appropriations’ subcommittee voted, on Tuesday, to cut money for Pakistan by 58 percent and threaten further reductions,  should Pakistan fail to reopen the NATO supply route. The subcommittee approved $800 million in foreign aid to Pakistan but voted to limit the Pakistani Counterinsurgency Capability Fund to $50 million.[1]

  • Following Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari’s trip to the NATO summit in Chicago, observers in Pakistan, according to the Christian Science Monitor, say Zardari will need to soften Pakistan’s demands on the US regarding the reopening of the NATO supply route. Some government officials have already moved in this direction, as Chaudry Fawad, special assistant to the Pakistani Prime Minister, called for Pakistan to move on, saying, “We have to show flexibility in our stance.” Similarly, Pakistani Communications Secretary Anwar Ahmed Khan proposed charging $1,000 per container, which he said would offset damages in road infrastructure. BBC News reported, however, that the summit may have had the opposite effect, with local news coverage on Pakistan Television painting Pakistani officials as soft, potentially pushing them to harden their stance on demanding an apology from the U.S. and a cessation of drone strikes on Pakistani territory. Meanwhile, unnamed Pakistani officials, wrote the Los Angeles Times, are concerned that the government’s negotiating strategy—seen as a political move by Zardari to “appease opposition parties and right-wing mullahs”—risks further isolating Pakistan and exacerbating its “cash-strapped environment.”[2] 

  • In reference to the NATO supply route, spokesman for Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP) Ihsanullah Ihsan called Pakistan a slave of the U.S. in a phone conversation with Geo News. Ihsan stated, “We have prepared our strategy and will give strong opposition, if Nato supply routes are reopened.”[3]     

Drone Strikes

Osama bin Laden and Fallout

Violent Protests in Karachi

  • At least 11 people have been killed and over 30 injured in the violence in Karachi that followed after gunmen opened fire at Tuesday’s political rally protesting against the proposed creation of a new province for the Mohajir ethnic community. Sindhi nationalist parties called for a province-wide strike to be observed on Wednesday in protest to the violence. In one incident, unidentified gunmen opened fire on a bus in the Quaidabad area, killing one person and injuring four others. Rangers were deployed throughout Karachi, and they conducted targeted operations in the Lines, Ranchore Lines, Ramswami and Garden areas of the city, arresting twelve suspects.[6]

Militancy

German al-Qaeda Man Jailed

  • A German court sentenced Ahmed Wali Siddiqui, a German and Afghan citizen, to 6 years in jail for membership in two terror organizations, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and al-Qaeda. Siddiqui was originally detained in Kabul by U.S. forces in July 2010; his subsequent confession that al-Qaeda was plotting to carry out attacks in France, Germany, and Britain prompted authorities in those countries to ramp us security.[12]     

Missing Army Pilot and Trainee

Nuclear Reactor

  • The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) said on Monday that Pakistan is approximately “50 percent finished” in building a fourth nuclear reactor, which “would constitute a significant increase in Pakistan's ability to make plutonium.” According to the ISIS’ analysis, which is based on satellite imagery analysis, it is estimated that Pakistan will complete the major external work on the reactor within 15 months.[14]

International Relations

  • On Wednesday, Turkmenistan agreed to supply Pakistan and India with natural gas via the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline. The agreement—penned by Turkmenistan’s state oil company Turmengaz, Pakistan’s Inter State Gas Systems, and India’s state-run GAIL—is seen as a move by Turkmen President Kurbanguly Berymukhamedov to warm ties with the West and to reduce its reliance on gas exports to Russia. Pakistan and India, on the other hand, hope the pipeline will aid their domestic energy needs. The Afghan portion of the pipeline, which will run through Herat and Kandahar provinces, remains the biggest question mark hanging over the project, as NATO’s proposed 2014 withdrawal from Afghanistan and tense India-Pakistan relations make the pipeline a “high-value target.” Additionally, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan signed a “memorandum of understanding” to cooperate in the gas sector, though contract negotiations remain ongoing.[15]

  • Kuwait Petroleum Corp (KPC) and Pakistan State Oil (PSO) have finalized a price for gasoil contracts for the July-December term. The contract, set at $2.80 a barrel, represents a 10 percent increase over the January-June term contract. For over three decades, KPC has been a key supplier of gasoil to Pakistan and meets 75-85 percent of the country’s requirements.[16]

  • During the second day of his visit, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threw his support behind Pakistan’s demand for an apology from the U.S. for the Salala border strikes. Erdogan, who heads a NATO member-state, remained silent on other U.S.-Pakistani issues, including the reopening of the NATO supply route. Pakistan and Turkey also signed nine agreements promoting cooperation, including one on bilateral investment; five on energy, education, and communication; and two on a “joint ministerial commission and cooperation on archives.”[17]          



[1] John Rogin, “Levin and McCain: Don’t ay Pakistan exorbitant trucking fees,” Foreign Policy, May 22, 2012. Available at http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/05/22/levin_and_mccain_don_t_pay_pakistan_exorbitant_trucking_fees
Shahbaz Rana, “Charging for transit: $1,000 fee per NATO contained,” Express Tribune, May 23, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/382844/charging-for-transit-1000-fee-per-nato-container-proposed/
Donna Cassata, “Panel votes to cut aid for Pakistan, Egypt,” AP, May 22, 2012. Available at http://militarytimes.com/news/2012/05/ap-senate-panel-votes-cut-aid-pakistan-egypt-052212/
 “US senate sub-committee votes to tie Pakistan aid to supply routes,” Reuters, May 23, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/382879/us-senators-slash-funds-for-afghanistan-by-28-per-cent-pakistan-by-58-per-cent/
Sajid Iqbal, “Pakistan’s ‘tough line’ after Chicago,” BBC News, May 22, 2012. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-18163810
Alex Rodriquez, “Pakistanis fear becoming isolated,” Los Angeles Times, May 22, 2012. Available at http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-us-pakistan-distrust-20120522,0,6269684.story
[3] “Suspension a drama: TTP,” The News, May 23, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-14808-Suspension-a-drama:-TTP
[4] “U.S. Drone Kills 4 in Pakistan,” AP, May 23, 2012. Available at http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2115521,00.html?xid=rss-mostpopular
[5] “Bin Laden informant: Dr Shakil Afridi sentenced to 33 years,” Express Tribune, May 23, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/382955/bin-laden-informant-dr-shakil-afridi-sentenced-to-33-years/
“Pakistan Convicts Doctor Who Helped Find Bin Laden,” AP, May 23, 2012. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2012/05/23/world/asia/ap-as-pakistan.html?_r=1&ref=world
[6] S. Raza Hassan, “Karachi again slides into chaos; 11 lives lost,” Dawn, May 22, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/05/23/karachi-again-slides-into-chaos-11-lives-lost/
“Sindh wide strike on nationalists’ call,” Dawn, May 23, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/05/23/sindh-wide-strike-on-nationalists-call/
[7] “Fighter jets bomb militant hideouts in Orakzai; 12 killed,” Dawn, May 23, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/05/23/fighter-jets-bomb-militant-hideouts-in-orakzai-12-killed/
[8] “10 militants arrested in Mardan operation,” Dawn, May 22, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/05/23/10-militants-arrested-in-mardan-operation/
[9] Hafeez Tunio, “JSMM’s Muzaffar Bhutto found dead after going missing for over a year,” Express Tribune, May 23, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/382707/jsmms-muzaffar-bhutto-found-dead-after-going-missing-for-over-a-year/
[10] "Houses of militants demolished in Bajaur," The News, May 23, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-14817-Houses-of-militants-demolished-in-Bajaur
[11] “‘Targeted Killing’: Chief warden of jail killed,” Express Tribune, May 23, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/382536/targeted-killing-chief-warden-of-jail-killed/
[12] “German court jails Qaeda man for 6 years,” AFP, May 23, 2012. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-50420-German-court-jails-Al-Qaeda-member-for-six-years
[13] “Debris of missing Army Aviation helicopter found,” Express Tribune, May 23, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/382942/army-aviation-helicopter-goes-missing-near-wazirabad/
[14] “Pakistan Presses Ahead on Plutonium Reactor,” GSN, May 22, 2012. Available at http://www.nti.org/gsn/article/pakistan-presses-ahead-plutonium-reactor/
[15] “Turkmenistan signs deal for gas pipeline to Pakistan, India,” Reuters, May 23, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/05/23/turkmenistan-signs-deal-on-trans-afghan-gas-pipeline/
“Turkmen deal boosts Afghan pipeline project,” AP, May 23, 2012. Available at http://www.kansascity.com/2012/05/23/3623305/turkmen-deal-boosts-afghan-pipeline.html
“TAPI pipeline: Turkmenistan signs first contracts with India, Pakistan,” AFP, May 23, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/382952/tapi-pipeline-turkmenistan-signs-first-contracts-with-india-pakistan/
[16] “Kuwait, Pakistan finalize gasoil contract price,” Reuters, May 23, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/05/23/kuwait-pakistan-finalise-gasoil-contract-price/.
[17] Kamran Yousaf, “NATO air strike: Turkey backs Pakistan’s demand for US apology,” Express Tribune, May 23, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/382836/nato-air-strike-turkey-backs-pakistans-demand-for-us-apology/