Pakistan Security Brief - May 29, 2012

U.S. has launched three drone strikes in North Waziristan since Saturday; President Obama personally oversees U.S. drone program; “Frustrations” between U.S. and Pakistan growing; Secretary Panetta says U.S. will not be price “gouged” by Pakistan; Family of Osama bin Laden informant, Shakil Afridi, says he is innocent; New ISI chief postpones visit to U.S.; Panetta calls Afridi’s sentencing “disturbing;” Pakistani officials describe Afridi as corrupt womanizer; Several militants killed in security operation in Orakzai agency; Three Shias killed in sectarian attack in Kurram agency; Police detain tribesmen for condemning women to death in Kohistan; Pakistan’s energy crisis greater threat than ongoing insurgency; India and Pakistan fail to reach agreement on liberal visa policy.

Drone Strikes

  • A drone fired two missiles at a bakery in Miram Shah, North Waziristan on Saturday, killing four suspected militants. Officials alleged that the militants were foreigners, but they had no other information on the militants. On Monday, two separate drone strikes killed at least eight militants in North Waziristan’s Mir Ali area. The first drone launched four missiles at a house under construction in the Esokhel sub-division of Mir Ali, and killed about six militants, including five foreigners. The second strike targeted a vehicle in Khushali, 3 miles west of Mir Ali Bazaar, killing two militants. The U.S. has launched three drone strikes in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region since Saturday, a significant uptick following a relative lull in the number or strikes in the weeks prior to the NATO summit in Chicago during May 20-21.[1]

  • On Tuesday, the New York Times published an article on President Obama’s personal role in overseeing the U.S. counterterrorism program and approving the “kill list” for drone strikes against al Qaeda militants in countries such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. According to Obama’s national security adviser, the president “is determined that he will make these decisions about how far and wide these operations will go.” The Times reported that every week or so, more than 100 members of the government’s national security program meet via video teleconference, to study terrorist suspects’ biographies and suggest to the president who should be the next target, and then President Obama goes through and personally approves each name on the list.[2]

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

  • On Sunday, the New York Times reported that “frustrations” between the U.S. and Pakistan are growing, since the two countries failed to “mend ties” during the NATO summit in Chicago. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with President Asif Ali Zardari during the summit, but according to the Times, the meeting did not ease any of the tension between the two countries and ended without any clear commitments on either side.[3]

  • Secretary of Defense Panetta said on Sunday that the U.S. will not be “gouged” by Pakistan on the price it charges for deliveries of U.S. military supplies to Afghanistan. Panetta stated that the U.S. wants a “fair price,” and not the thousands of dollars per supply truck that Pakistan is demanding.[4]

Osama bin Laden Informant

  • The family of Dr. Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor sentenced to 33 years in prison for helping the CIA track down Osama bin Laden, said Monday that Afridi is innocent and that his trial was a “sham.” Afridi’s older brother and two lawyers representing Afridi announced at a news conference in Peshawar that they will appeal the verdict.[5]

  • The Washington Post reported that Lt. Gen. Zaheer ul-Islam, the new spy chief of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, postponed his first visit to the U.S., following the harsh criticism of the 33-year prison sentence imposed on Afridi. The new spy chief was supposed to meet this week with CIA Director David Petraeus in Washington, DC, but he cancelled the trip because of “pressing commitments” in Pakistan, the Pakistani military stated on Monday.[6]

  • In an interview on Sunday, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta called Afridi’s sentencing “disturbing” and “difficult to understand.” Panetta voiced the hope that Pakistan would ultimately understand that the “doctor was not working against Pakistan,” but was “working against al Qaeda.”[7]

  • Reuters reported that in interviews over the weekend, several current and former Pakistani officials described Afridi, as a “hard-drinking womanizer who had faced accusations of sexual assault, harassment and stealing” and had an “obsession” with “making easy money.” According to a 2002 Pakistan health department document, Afridi was also labeled “corrupt,” “unreliable,” and “unfit for government service.” On Monday, U.S. officials called the accusations “character assassination.”[8]

Militancy

Law Enforcement

  • On Monday, police detained eight tribesmen from a remote village in Kohistan district, who had condemned to death four women and two men who had been caught on video singing and dancing together at a wedding party. Hazara Division Commissioner Khalid Khan Umerzai told the Express Tribune that the detained tribesmen had provided a “written guarantee that the women would not be harmed.” The commissioner claimed that the women were safe at their parents’ homes, while the condemned men had fled their village.[13]

Siachen

  • On Tuesday, Pakistan declared 140 soldiers and civilians dead; seven weeks after an avalanche buried a military camp in Gayari near the Siachen Glacier in northern Kashmir. Search and rescue teams recovered the first three bodies from the avalanche site over the weekend.[14]

Protest

  • The Washington Post reported on Sunday on Pakistan’s worsening energy crisis. Hundreds of businessmen recently marched in a mock funeral procession in Peshawar to protest, and in other areas of the country, shopkeepers have “threatened mass suicide to protest 18 to 20 hours of power blackouts every day.” The report describes Pakistan’s energy crisis as possibly being more of a threat to Pakistan’s stability than its ongoing insurgency.[15]

Indo-Pakistani Relations

  • Pakistan and India failed to reach an agreement on a more liberal visa policy after a two-day meeting in Islamabad between senior home ministry bureaucrats from Pakistan and India. According to the Wall Street Journal, the signing ceremony was called off after Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik “felt snubbed” by Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s refusal to fly to Islamabad to sign the visa liberalization pacts.[16]

  • During the two-day talks on oil and liquefied natural gas between Pakistani and Indian delegations in Islamabad that began on Monday, India offered to build a pipeline from its territory to the Wagah border. India would export oil to Pakistan to meet Pakistan’s energy needs, as long as India could purchase large quantities over the long run.[17]  

Economy

Sea-based Nuclear Deterrent

  • Days after the Pakistan Navy apparently acknowledged the existence of a “sea-based nuclear deterrent,” the navy has provided few details, and Defense News reported that analysts are skeptical of Pakistan’s nuclear claims. According to a New Delhi analyst and a former Australian defense attaché to Islamabad, it is “unlikely” that Pakistan has the capability or finances to develop a sea-based nuclear missile.[19]

 

 

       



[1] Rasool Dawar, “Pakistan: US missile attack kills 4 in northwest,” AP, May 26, 2012. Available at http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/US-missile-attack-kills-3-in-northwest-Pakistan-3587059.php
“North Waziristan Agency: Eight militants killed in drone attacks,” Express Tribune, May 28, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/385172/drone-strike-kills-five-militants-in-pakistan-officials/
[2] Jo Becker and Scott Shane, “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will,” New York Times, May 29, 2012. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/29/world/obamas-leadership-in-war-on-al-qaeda.html?pagewanted=1&hp
[3] Steven Lee Myers and Eric Schmitt, “Frustrations Grow as U.S. and Pakistan Fail to Mend Ties,” New York Times, May 27, 2012. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/28/world/asia/frustrations-as-us-and-pakistan-fail-to-mend-ties.html?pagewanted=1&ref=asia
[4] “US will not be price ‘gouged’ by Pakistan, says Panetta,” AFP, May 28, 2012. Available at http://www.khaleejtimes.com/displayarticle.asp?xfile=data/international/2012/May/international_May832.xml&section=international&col
[5] “Family of Pakistani doctor who helped US find bin Laden blasts trial, says will appeal,” AP, May 28, 2012. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/officials-us-missiles-kill-5-militants-in-northwest-pakistan-in-fourth-hit-in-less-than-week/2012/05/28/gJQAJPsdvU_story.html
[6] Richard Leiby, “Pakistan spy chief puts off Washington visit amid rift over doctor’s treason conviction,” Washington Post, May 28, 2012. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/brother-of-pakistani-doctor-convicted-of-treason-calls-for-us-help/2012/05/28/gJQAtd3VwU_story.html
[7] Jake Tapper, “Sunday Sound: Heard on ‘This Week,’” ABC News, May 27, 2012. Available at http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/05/sunday-sound-heard-on-this-week-2/
[8] Michael Georgy, “Exclusive: Pakistan doctor in bin Laden case called corrupt, womanizer,” Reuters, May 28, 2012. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/29/us-pakistan-binladen-doctor-idUSBRE84S01D20120529
[9] “Military operation: Four militants killed in Orakzai Agency,” Express Tribune, May 28, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/385134/military-operation-four-militants-killed-in-orakzai-agency/
“Fifteen killed in attack on militant hideouts in Orakzai, Khyber,” Dawn, May 28, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/05/29/militant-hideouts-bombarded-in-orakzai-agency/
[10] “Sectarian attack: 3 killed, 6 injured in Parachinar,” Express Tribune, May 28, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/385267/bus-attack-3-died-6-injured-in-parachinar/
[11] Mohammed Tawfeeq, “Pilgrims wounded in Iraq bombing,” CNN, May 27, 2012. Available at http://edition.cnn.com/2012/05/27/world/meast/iraq-violence/index.html
[12] “Remote-controlled: Bomb targeting police kills three in Quetta,” Express Tribune, May 28, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/385169/remote-controlled-bomb-targeting-police-kills-three-in-quetta/
[13] Muhammad Sadaqat, “Jirga decision: Authorities move to save ‘condemned’ Kohistani women,” Express Tribune, May 29, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/385619/jirga-decision-authorities-move-to-save-condemned-kohistani-women/
[14] “Pakistan declares Siachen avalanche buried dead,” BBC, May 29, 2012. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-18246239
[15] Richard Leiby, “Pakistan’s power crisis may eclipse terrorist threat,” Washington Post, May 27, 2012. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/pakistans-power-crisis-may-eclipse-terrorist-threat/2012/05/27/gJQAPhOSuU_story.html=
[16] Tom Wright, “Even Small Gains Elude Pakistan, India,” Wall Street Journal, May 26, 2012. Available at http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2012/05/26/even-small-gains-elude-pakistan-india/
[17] Zafar Bhutta, “Bridging the divide: India offers to lay pipeline for oil export to Pakistan,” Express Tribune, May 29, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/385450/bridging-the-divide-india-offers-to-lay-pipeline-for-oil-export-to-pakistan/
[18] Tom Wright, “Pakistan Bank Sees Financial Challenges,” Wall Street Journal, May 29, 2012. Available at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303395604577431923200270322.html
[19] Usman Ansari, “Experts Wary of Pakistan Nuke Claims,” Defense News, May 26, 2012. Available at http://www.defensenews.com/article/20120526/DEFREG03/305260001/-1/7daysarchives/Experts-Wary-Pakistan-Nuke-Claims