Pakistan Security Brief - November 17, 2011
Drone strike kills seven militants in North Waziristan; Haqqani offers his resignation, senior Pakistani leaders meet; IDPs in Khyber agency start movement against military operation; Militants and security forces clash in FATA; Security officials arrest 17 TTP militants; Firefight between militants and police in Karachi kills seven; KP government ready for peace talks with militants; PML-N wavers on resignations; Finance Minister faces cabinet members’ rebukes; Pakistan concludes talks with IMF in Dubai.
A U.S. drone strike killed seven militants in the Razmak area of North Waziristan on Thursday, according to Pakistani intelligence officials.
On Wednesday, Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S., offered his resignation a week after being recalled by President Asif Ali Zardari. Haqqani’s recall came following media reports that President Zardari had sent a note to former U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen requesting U.S. assistance in preventing a military coup in the wake of the U.S. operation that killed Osama bin Laden. A Pakistan Army investigation revealed that Haqqani was the diplomatic backchannel through which the note reached Mullen. Last week, Mullen denied receiving the note but Mullen's former spokesman Captain John Kirby confirmed the note's existence on Wednesday. Kirby said, “He (Mullen) did not find [the letter] at all credible and took no note of it then or later.” President Zardari, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani met on Wednesday following reports that Haqqani was not immediately returning Pakistan.
On Wednesday, the internally displaced persons (IDPs) of Bara sub-district in Khyber agency declared the beginning of a movement called Tehrik-e-Mutasireen Khyber agency “against the ongoing military operation in [Khyber] agency and for [the] provision of basic facilities” to those affected by the operations.
Militants and security forces clashed in Orakzai and central Kurram agency on Wednesday, killing 17 militants and injuring three soldiers. Later, security forces killed six militants during a search operation in Darra Adam Khel.
Security forces arrested three Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commanders in Lahore, as well as 14 alleged TTP militants throughout cities in Punjab province, on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, two police officers were killed during an exchange of gunfire between militants and security forces and an explosion in Defence area, Karachi. The firefight also resulted in the death of four militants, including a woman, while another militant detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and engulfing the militants’ vehicle in flames. Police officials reported that the militants may have been planning a larger attack when they were discovered by police, as the vehicle contained a small cache of weapons and explosives, and claimed that evidence found at the scene suggested that the militants may have been involved in the June assault on Pakistan’s Mehran naval base.
On Wednesday, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti announced that the provincial government was prepared to conduct peace talks with militants who laid down their arms. Earlier, Hoti expressed hope that the sacrifices made by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Awami National Party (ANP) would lead to a regional restoration of peace.
On Thursday, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif said that the decision to move forward with large scale party resignations from national and provincial assemblies had not yet been reached. Sharif’s comments came in response to an earlier statement by Khwaja Mohammad Asif suggesting the PML-N leadership was debating withdrawing from the National Assembly and planned to make a decision within two months. Sharif also announced plans to meet with former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on November 22nd. Since leaving the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Qureshi has been courted by both the PML-N and the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) due to his influence in Multan.
Finance Minister Dr. Hafeez Shaikh came under severe criticism at a federal cabinet meeting on Wednesday for his mishandling of the Pakistani power crisis. On October 12, Prime Minister Gilani had directed the Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCOE) headed by Shaikh to submit a plan for dealing with the energy crisis within 15 days. Gilani and other senior cabinet members were outraged to learn that the CCOE had not met once over the past month. Also on Wednesday, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter announced that the U.S. was willing to work with Pakistan on hydroelectric projects to overcome the energy crisis.
On Tuesday, Pakistani delegates concluded the first round of “technical-level” discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Dubai. The next round of dialogue will be “policy-level,” which Pakistan’s Finance Ministry hopes will reconcile a “difference in opinion” regarding Pakistan’s projected “total external inflows” and budget deficit.