Pakistan Security Brief - May 31, 2012

U.S. military trainers return to Pakistan; Pentagon official to visit Pakistan to negotiate NATO supply route reopening; Lashkar-e-Islam denies ties to Osama bin Laden informant Shakil Afridi; Pakistan conducts successful cruise missile test; TTP releases video about success of Shariah law in Orakzai; Incidents of “target killings” continue in Karachi; Jamaat-e-Islami proposes “grand alliance” against President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani.

U.S.-Pakistani Relations

  • Despite persisting tensions in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, Reuters reported on Thursday that a handful of U.S. military trainers had returned to Pakistan to aid counterinsurgency operations. The trainers, all U.S. special operations soldiers, were sent to a site near Peshawar to instruct Pakistan’s Frontier Corps. A Pakistani Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) spokesman cited the report as “incorrect.” A U.S. official called the return of U.S. military personnel to Pakistan “an important sign that at least in some areas we’re getting a healthy sense of normalcy.” In the past, U.S military personnel numbered between 200 and 300 persons. The number of U.S. trainers, however, was reduced following the Navy SEAL raid on Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound. Later, all U.S. trainers were expelled after the Salala border strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.[1]   

  • U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Peter Levoy is scheduled to return to Pakistan next week to resume negotiations aimed at reopening NATO supply lines into Afghanistan. Levoy’s previous meetings with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, on April 26, ended abruptly when Khar demanded an apology for the Salala border strike. This time, the Pakistani embassy in Washington will play a lead role in negotiations, with current talks focusing on the U.S. helping to rebuild Pakistani highways damaged by NATO convoys in return for a reduced fee per truck.[2]    

Osama bin Laden Informant

Nuclear Missile Test

  • On Thursday, Pakistan conducted a successful test flight of the Hatf-VIII (Ra’ad), a “cruise missile with stealth capabilities.” According to a statement issued by the ISPR, the Ra’ad is a “low altitude, terrain-hugging missile with high maneuverability” that “can deliver nuclear and conventional warheads with pin point accuracy” at a “range of over 350 km (217 mi).” According to the ISPR, a new feature of Thursday’s test was the use of the National Command Authority’s fully automated Strategic Command and Control Support System, which is capable of monitoring missile flight paths in real time.[4]

Militancy

  • Umar Studio, a media unit of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), released a video interview with Hafiz Saeed Khan, the TTP official for Orakzai agency. The video was posted on jihadist forums on April 16, 2012, and has a production date of September 2011. In the interview, Khan spoke about the successful implementation of Shariah law in Orakzai and the benefits that it brought to the people in the region. Khan also said that Pakistan’s “apostate” government and army are despised by the people of Orakzai because they are “un-Islamic” and because the army’s military operations in the area bring death and destruction.[5]

  • At least eight people were killed in separate attacks across Karachi on Wednesday. Police found the bullet-riddled bodies of two young men who had gone missing on Tuesday night near Timber Market. Slips of paper recovered from the crime scene stated that the men had been killed for opposing the formation of the new Mohajir province. In a separate incident, gunmen on motorcycles killed two Shia men outside their factory in the Hariana Colony of Orangi Town. Police conducted raids in parts of Orangi Town following the shooting incident and arrested over half a dozen suspects belonging to the outlawed militant group, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan. A Muttahida Qaumi Movement activist was gunned down by armed men on a motorcycle outside his home in Shah Faisal Colony. The body of a young man was found in the Lyari River, and police said that the victim had been tortured and shot dead.[6]

  • Several incidents of “target killings” in Karachi continued on Thursday.  A paramilitary Rangers sub-inspector was killed when unidentified assailants opened fire near Korangi. One person was killed and another severely injured after unknown gunmen opened fire on them in the Napier area. In another incident, one person was gunned down on Mauripur Road in the Kalri area. Unidentified assailants entered a house in Zamaan Town and killed the owner.[7]

Domestic Politics

International Relations

 


[1] Missy Ryan and Mark Hosenball, “U.S. military trainers trickle back into Pakistan,” Reuters, May 31, 2012. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/31/us-usa-pakistan-trainers-idUSBRE84T1IJ20120531
Kamran Yousaf, “Pakistan denies reports of US military trainers’ return,” Express Tribune, May 31, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/386795/pakistan-denies-reports-of-us-forces-return/
[2] Anwar Iqbal, “Top Pentagon official returning to lead talks with Pakistan,” Dawn, May 30, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/05/31/top-pentagon-official-returning-to-lead-talks-with-pakistan/
[3] “Militant deny links with Dr Shakil Afridi,” AFP, May 31, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/386800/militants-deny-links-with-dr-shakil-afridi/
Mark Toner, “Daily Press Briefing,” State Department, May 30, 2012. Available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2012/05/191420.htm#PAKISTAN2
[4] “Pakistan test fires Hatf VIII Ra'ad,” Express Tribune, May 31, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/386792/pakistan-test-fires-hatf-viii-raad/
[5] “Umar Studio Releases Video Interview with TTP's Orakzai Agency Official,” SITE Intelligence Group, May 30, 2012. Available at http://ent.siteintelgroup.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10152:umar-studio-releases-video-interview-with-ttps-orakzai-agency-official&catid=9&Itemid=880
[6] S. Raza Hassan, “Eight shot dead: Sectarian, political killings continue,” Dawn, May 30, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/05/31/eight-shot-dead-sectarian-political-killings-continue/
[7] “Target killing: 5 killed, 1 injured Karachi,” Express Tribune, May 31, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/386797/target-killing-5-killed-1-injured-karachi/
[8]“JI for grand alliance to oust ‘corrupt’ government,” Dawn, May 30, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/05/31/ji-for-grand-alliance-to-oust-corrupt-government/
Iftikhar A. Khan, “EC can’t act against PM before SC verdict: member,” Dawn, May 30, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/05/31/ec-cant-act-against-pm-before-sc-verdict-member/
[9] “Pakistan, Russia vow to enhance bilateral cooperation,” APP, May 30, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/05/30/pakistan-russia-vow-to-enhance-bilateral-cooperation/
Sumera Khan, “Russian President to visit Pakistan: Aide,” Express Tribune, May 31, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/386704/russian-president-to-visit-pakistan-aide/