Pakistan Security Brief - May 7, 2012

Defense Secretary Panetta says drone strikes to continue in Pakistan; U.S. reportedly cautions Pakistan of “repercussions” over continued closure of NATO supply routes; Secretary Clinton says Pakistan has not taken necessary action against Hafiz Saeed; Pakistani Foreign Minister claims Pakistan has no information on Ayman al-Zawahiri’s location; U.S. lawmakers push to get Haqqani Network on State Department list of terrorist organizations; 9/11 mastermind’s lawyer alleges U.S. government wants to cover up the torture of his client; U.S. drone fires missiles at compound in North Waziristan; Al Qaeda releases video showing kidnapped American, Warren Weinstein; Security forces and militants engage in battle in Miram Shah; PTI to hold rally on May 27; PML-N organizes anti-government rallies; PPP to launch offensive against PML-N’s protest movement.

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

  • In an interview with PBS news on Saturday, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that U.S. drone strikes against militants in Pakistan would continue, even though Pakistan is strongly opposed to them. Panetta said that the U.S. would “defend itself under any circumstances” and do whatever was necessary to ensure that an attack such as 9/11 “never happens again.”[1]

  • According to a Pakistani official, the U.S. has reportedly cautioned Pakistan of “multiple repercussions,” if the NATO supply routes that have been closed for six months are not reopened. The possible repercussions could include the U.S. cutting off aid to Pakistan, or supporting other political parties in an effort to bring down the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). On Sunday, Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar said that the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) should review its decision on NATO supply routes. He warned that if Pakistan continues with its refusal to reopen the routes, then the country might face international sanctions.[2]

  • Speaking in India on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that the Pakistani government has not taken the necessary action against Jamaat-ud-Dawa Chief Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind behind the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, even though both India and the U.S. have “repeatedly requested” it to do so. Clinton said that the U.S. would continue to push Pakistan to take action against Saeed. She also said that the U.S. believes that al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is hiding somewhere in Pakistan, and that it is in Pakistan’s interest “to go after terrorists who are operating on their territory.”[3]

  • In response to Secretary Clinton’s statement, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said on Monday that Pakistan had no information on the presence of Zawahiri in Pakistan and, if anyone, including the U.S., had solid intelligence on Zawahiri, then that information should be shared with Pakistan, so that it can investigate the matter properly. Khar was briefing the PCNS on the issue of drone strikes and on developments regarding the parliamentary recommendations on U.S.-Pakistan relations. She said talks between the U.S. and Pakistan were still ongoing, and that the impression that they had failed was erroneous.[4]

  • Senator Dianne Feinstein, head of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Representative Mike Rogers said on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday that the Haqqani Network should be placed on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations. Both lawmakers said that after recently visiting Pakistan, they found that the “Taliban is getting stronger,” which could be partly attributed to the increased violence by the Haqqani Network. According to Defcon Hill, the U.S. has been holding talks with key Taliban leaders, but the Haqqani Network’s ties to the Taliban could derail the talks, since the U.S. has a “long-standing policy of not negotiating with terrorist organizations.”[5]

  • David Nevin, the lawyer for 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, addressed a press conference on Saturday, a day after the arraignment hearing of Mohammad and his four co-defendants at a military commission tribunal at Guantanamo Bay. Nevin said that due to the new rules implemented by the Joint Task Force Guantanamo commander in December 2011, his ability to speak to his client on certain matters had been hindered, and he could not talk to Mohammad about topics such as torture or jihad. Nevin added that the U.S. government wants to kill his client to “extinguish the last eyewitness” to Mohammad’s “torture.”[6]

Militancy

  • A U.S. drone fired missiles at a compound in the Shawal area of North Waziristan on Saturday, killing at least nine suspected militants. According to CNN, a government official said that the militants who were killed were thought to be part of the Pakistani Taliban. Pakistan’s Foreign Office issued a statement condemning the strike and said that drone strikes “violated international laws and Pakistan’s territorial integrity.”[7]

  • Al Qaeda’s media wing, as-Sahab, posted a video on jihadist forums on Sunday, showing Warren Weinstein, an American international development expert who was kidnapped on August 13, 2011. In a message addressed to President Obama, Weinstein said that his life was in Obama’s hands, saying that “if you [Obama] accept the demands, I [Weinstein] live; if you don’t accept the demands, then I die.” Weinstein appealed to Obama to “act quickly” in meeting the “demands of the mujahideen,” so that Weinstein could rejoin his family.[8]

  • Militants attacked a military convoy in Miram Shah, North Waziristan on Sunday, resulting in an intense gun battle, in which nine soldiers were killed. After more than two hours of fighting, security forces called in air support, and helicopter gunships proceeded to open fire on militant hideouts. During the fighting, a shell landed on a mosque, killing three civilians and wounding 15. The militants suffered “heavy casualties,” but the exact number could not be confirmed. On Monday, officials said that two soldiers captured by militants during the attack had been beheaded, and a curfew was imposed in Miram Shah and the surrounding areas as a result of the violence.[9]

  • On Sunday, the Badaber police arrested Haleem Shah, “an important commander and financial supporter” of Lashkar-e-Islam (LI), on the outskirts of Badaber, Peshawar district. According to a Badaber police official, Shah is known for committing target killings against LI opponents.[10]

Domestic Politics

  • Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani stated on Sunday that even if the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Chief Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan formed an alliance, the PPP would be prepared to face them in the upcoming elections. Gilani said that the opposition parties had the right to bring a resolution against him, but they could not remove him from office in any legal or constitutional manner.[11]

  • At a rally in Islamabad on Sunday, PTI Chairman Imran Khan addressed nearly 5,000 supporters and announced that the PTI will hold a rally at Rawalpindi’s Liaqat Bagh on May 27 and stage a “tsunami march,” if Prime Minister Gilani does not resign from office.[12]  

  • The PML-N organized anti-government rallies protesting against Prime Minister Gilani in multiple cities on Sunday. According to Express News, the rally in Gujranwala became unruly and violent, while the rally in Karachi was poorly organized and became chaotic.[13]

  • On Sunday, the PPP’s Sindh Council decided that it would launch an offensive against the PML-N’s protest movement by holding a public rally near the Sindh-Punjab border on May 12. The Sindh Chief Minister said that hundreds of thousands of people would gather in support of the PPP, and after that, the PPP would counter the PML-N’s propaganda by holding rallies across the country.[14] 

  • In response to criticism from the PPP and the media for recalling police forces from Lyari, Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Sunday that the recall was a “tactical repositioning” and that the police in Lyari had not failed.[15]

Balochistan

  • During Friday’s Supreme Court hearing on the enforced disappearances of several people in Balochistan, the police told the court that it had registered cases against a Frontier Corps major and colonel for their alleged involvement in two “missing persons” cases. The court was also informed that three missing persons had been returned to their homes on Thursday.[16]

International Relations

 

 

 


[1] “Despite Pakistani condemnation, US to continue drone strikes: Panetta,” Express Tribune, May 5, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/374543/despite-pakistani-condemnation-us-steadfast-on-drone-programme-panetta/
[2] Kamran Yousaf, “Nato supply routes: Washington warns of ‘repercussions,’” Express Tribune, May 7, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/375139/nato-supply-routes-washington-warns-of-repercussions/
“Pakistan to face sanctions if NATO routes stay closed: Defence Minister,” Express Tribune, May 6, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/374856/pakistan-to-face-sanctions-if-nato-routes-stay-closed-defence-minister/
[3] Andrew Quinn, “Pakistan dragging its feet on Mumbai mastermind: Clinton,” Reuters, May 7, 2012. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/07/us-pakistan-us-militants-idUSBRE84604U20120507
[4] “Khar challenges US claim of Zawahiri’s presence in Pakistan,” Agencies, May 7, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/05/07/khar-challenges-us-claim-of-zawahiris-presence-in-pakistan/
Zahid Gishkori, “'US should provide information on Zawahiri's presence in Pakistan,'” Express Tribune, May 7, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/375235/drone-strikes-in-pakistan-khar-briefs-pcns/
[5] Carlo Munoz, “Top lawmakers demand terrorist tag for Taliban-allied Haqqani network,” Defcon Hill, May 6, 2012. Available at http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/policy-and-strategy/225633-top-lawmakers-demand-terrorist-tag-for-taliban-allied-haqqani-network
[6] Huma Imtiaz, “US government wants to kill Khalid Shaikh Mohammad: Lawyer,” Express Tribune, May 6, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/374860/us-government-wants-to-kill-khalid-shaikh-mohammad-lawyer/
[7] “U.S. drone strike kills nine in Pakistan, officials say,” Reuters, May 4, 2012. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/05/us-pakistan-drone-idUSBRE84402T20120505
Reza Sayah, “Pakistani officials: Suspected U.S. drone strike kills 9 militants,” CNN, May 4, 2012. Available at http://articles.cnn.com/2012-05-04/asia/world_asia_pakistan-drone-strike_1_drone-strike-drone-program-drone-attacks?_s=PM:ASIA
“US drone attacks violate Pakistan’s territorial integrity: FO,” Agencies, May 5, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/05/05/us-drone-attacks-violate-pakistans-territorial-integrity-fo/
[8] “Al-Qaeda Releases Video of American Captive Warren Weinstein,” SITE Intelligence Group, May 6, 2012. Available at http://ent.siteintelgroup.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10046:al-qaeda-releases-video-of-american-captive-warren-weinstein&catid=9&Itemid=880
[9] “Convoy ambushed: Nine soldiers killed in North Waziristan clash,” Express Tribune, May 7, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/375093/convoy-ambushed-nine-soldiers-killed-in-north-waziristan-clash-2/
“Militants behead two soldiers: Officials,” AFP, May 7, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/375240/militants-behead-two-soldiers-officials/
“Curfew is imposed in Miranshah area of NW Pakistan,” BBC, May 7, 2012. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-17981319
[10] Riaz Ahmad, “Lashkar-e-Islam commander arrested in Badaber,” Express Tribune, May 7, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/375228/lashkar-e-islam-commander-arrested-in-badaber/
[11] “Even if PTI, PML-N join forces, PPP is ready for them: Gilani,” Express Tribune, May 6, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/374922/even-if-pti-pml-n-join-forces-ppp-is-ready-for-them-gilani/
[12] Zahid Gishkori, “Islamabad rally: Imran warns of ‘tsunami march’ on May 27,” May 7, 2012. Express Tribune, Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/375136/islamabad-rally-imran-warns-of-tsunami-march-on-may-27/
[13] “PML-N holds (dis)organised 'anti-government' rallies,” Express Tribune, May 6, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/374838/pml-n-holds-disorganised-anti-government-rallies/
[14] “Tit for tat: PPP accepts PML-N challenge, unveils rally plan for May 12,” Express Tribune, May 7, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/375012/tit-for-tat-ppp-accepts-pml-n-challenge-unveils-rally-plan-for-may-12/
[15] Zeeshan Mujahid, “It was a tactical retreat, says Rehman Malik on Lyari,” Express Tribune, May 7, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/375020/it-was-a-tactical-retreat-says-rehman-malik-on-lyari/
[16] Shehzad Baloch, “‘Missing’ persons: On SC orders, police book FC officials,” Express Tribune, May 5, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/374379/missing-persons-on-sc-orders-police-book-fc-officials/
[17] “'Well-being of Indians, Pakistanis depends on normalisation of relations,'” Express Tribune, May 7, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/375237/well-being-of-indians-pakistanis-depends-on-normalisation-of-relations/