Pakistan Security Brief - September 18, 2012

PM Ashraf to submit letter re-opening graft case; nuclear researcher claims he sold secrets on Bhutto’s orders; 2,000 protest in Peshawar, 900 protest in Lahore; 10 injured in Lahore protest; hundreds march in Karachi, one man almost killed in Hyderabad; Religious leaders call protest in Kashmir; PM asks Interpol to criminalize “sacrilegious” online material; PTA shuts down all of YouTube; FM Khar arrives in Washington today; Bomb blast near shopping centre in Karachi kills at least seven; Roadside bomb in Mastung kills two Shiite pilgrims; Rawalpindi ATC acquits suspected terrorists due to lack of evidence; Pakistan to discuss bailout with IMF on Sept. 25

Swiss Letter Case

  • After a coalition government meeting on September 17, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf appeared before the Supreme Court today to confirm that he will write a letter to Swiss authorities to re-open a graft case against President Asif Ali Zardari. The Court ruled that the letter is to be written by September 25. Previously, former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had refused the court order to re-open the case, leading to his dismissal in June on contempt of court charges. Ashraf’s agreement to write the letter represents a shift in position from the Pakistan Peoples Party which had, to this point, strongly opposed cooperating with the court on the matter, claiming that, as President, Zardari had presidential immunity from prosecution. Ashraf stated that he would construct the letter in such a way to “[uphold] the honor and sanctity of the court but also the honor of the office of the president.”[i]

Protesting “Innocence of Muslims”

  • More than 2,000 people gathered outside the U.S. mission in Peshawar on Tuesday for the third day of protests against the anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims.” Over 1,000 police officers were deployed to maintain security in the city; when protesters came too close to the mission, officers launched gas grenades and tear gas shells at them. Jamaat-i-Islami leader Shabbir Ahmed demanded that Pakistan shut down U.S. missions in the country and expel the American ambassador. Another protest attended by approximately 900 took place in Lahore on Tuesday as well.[ii]

  • Hundreds of protesters led by the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba took to the streets of Karachi on Tuesday to demonstrate in front of the U.S. Consulate in Karachi. Police threw tear gas shells at them and fired in the air to disperse the crowd. Sixteen protesters, four policemen, and one camera man were wounded during the riot; police arrested three dozen demonstrators. In Hyderabad, protests became violent when the head of a local shopkeepers association was attacked by an angry mob for allegedly complaining that the protests had forced market closures. Subsequent firing injured three people. A demonstrations was also organized in Khairpur, Sindh, by a member of the Pakistan Mulsim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Other protests took place in Mirpur, Muzaffarabad, Kotli, Bhimber, Sudanoti, Bagh Rawalkot and Islamabad.[iii]

  • On Monday, 10 protesters were injured in Lahore as they tried to march on the U.S. consulate in a rally led by the Majlis-i-Wahdat-i-Muslimeen. When protesters tried to get inside the consulate, police used batons to drive them away. Several protesters managed to scale the concrete walls around the building and set the U.S. flag on fire.[iv]

  • In Indian-administered Kashmir, roads were emptied and businesses closed on Tuesday as a result of protests against “Innocence of Muslims.” An alliance of Kashmiri religious groups called for today’s strike; they also intend to “meet envoys of Muslim countries and ask them to ban American and Israeli goods in their countries” according to Qadir Yasir, head of the religious coalition.[v] 

  • Due to the outrage provoked by the film “Innocence of Muslims” released last week, Pakistan requested on Tuesday that Interpol block all “sacrilegious materials” from the internet. In a letter to Interpol Secretary General  Ronald K. Noble, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf asked Interpol to urge all its member states to draft legislation that would ban all anti-Islamic material, calling such material harmful to the war on terror and detrimental to world peace. A Western diplomat who requested anonymity remarked that the 57-member Organization Islamic Cooperation, of which Pakistan is president, may try to use the furor over the video to re-launch a global anti-defamation campaign it spearheaded until diplomatic negotiations with President Barack Obama in 2010 helped put an end to it.[vi]

  • On September 17, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to block YouTube in its entirety across the country. He also threatened Google, Inc. that if it did not remove “Innocence of Muslims” altogether from YouTube, Pakistan would cancel Google, Inc . employees’ visas .[vii]

Nuclear Secret Sales

  • In an interview published September 15, former nuclear arms trafficker and founder of Pakistan’s nuclear program Abdul Qadeer Khan affirmed that he had been instructed to sell sensitive technology to two foreign countries by deceased Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, though he did not specify when.  The ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has denied Khan’s statements, dismissing them as "a belated and desperate attempt to wash the guilt of proliferating nuclear weapons" in the words of PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar.[viii]

U.S.-Pakistan Diplomatic Relations

  • Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar is due to arrive in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday to discuss bilateral relations with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as well as U.S. National Security Advisor Tom Donilon and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. Anticipated discussion topics include improving economic and trade cooperation, counterterror efforts along the Durand Line, peace and security work in Afghanistan and other regional issues.[ix]

Karachi Bomb Blast

  • Two bomb blasts occurred near the Dolmen Shopping Centre in the Hyderi area of Karachi today, that have left at least seven people dead and 12 injured. The Bomb Disposal Squad claims 8-10 kgs of explosives were used to carry out the attacks. According to police officials, the blasts took place in the parking lot of the shopping centre, where one explosive was placed in a motorcycle and the other underneath a shopping cart. Police officials further stated that for one of the blasts, an improvised explosive device (IED) was used. The police chief of Karachi, Iqbal Mehmood, said he could not, “say which terrorist organization or individuals are behind this [attack] at this point of time.”[x]

Roadside Blast in Mastung

  • At least two people were killed and 12 were injured on Tuesday when a roadside bomb targeted a bus carrying Shia Muslim pilgrims in the Mastung district of Balochistan. Police officials say the bus was returning from Iran with about 40 pilgrims who had just visited a holy Shia shrine. No responsibility has yet been claimed for the attack.[xi]

Suspected Terrorists Acquitted

  • Today the Anti-Terrorism Court-II (ATC) in Rawalpindi acquitted Rehmat Gul, Noor Jehan, and Jamshed Khan, three suspected terrorists, due to lack of evidence. Two of the men had been accused of attacking the United Nations World Food Program office on October 5, 2009, killing four. They and one other man had also been accused plotting an attack on Naval Headquarters in Islamabad on December 2, 2009 where up to five people were injured and the suicide bomber carrying out the attack died.[xii]

IMF Bailout Discussion

  • Pakistani officials are due to meet IMF representatives in Dubai on September 25 to discuss Pakistan’s ability to repay the $11.3 billion bailout package it received in 2008. Pakistan has yet to repay $8 billion, though $2.9 billion of that will be repaid in FY 2012-13. The IMF has been skeptical of Pakistani Finance Minister Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh’s ability to deliver on loan commitments due to his failure to implement important reforms under loan terms, including post-program monitoring exercises and keeping careful track of the economy. The government will present a $3.2 billion deficit to the IMF, which may make honoring IMF loans plus Pakistan’s other international debt commitments very difficult, according to independent experts and analysts.[xiii]

 


[i] Declan Walsh and Salman Masood, “Pakistan Relents on Court’s Demand to Pursue Corruption Case,” New York Times, September 18, 2012. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/19/world/asia/pakistan-relents-on-courts-demand-to-pursue-corruption-case.html?_r=1.
[ii] “Fresh protests erupt over anti-Islam film in Pakistan,” AFP, September 18, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/09/18/fresh-protests-erupt-over-anti-islam-film-in-pakistan/.
[iii] “Denigrating the faith: Another protester dies as anti-film rage boils over,” Express Tribune, September 18, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/438341/denigrating-the-faith-another-protester-dies-as-anti-film-rage-boils-over/.
[iv] “Rally against sacrilege: Ten rioters injured in clash with police,” Dawn, September 18, 2012. Available at: http://dawn.com/2012/09/18/rally-against-sacrilege-ten-rioters-injured-in-clash-with-police/.
[v] “India: Anti-Muslim film protests shut Kashmir,” BBC News, September 18, 2012. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-19633226.
[vi] Zahid Gishkori, “Pakistan requests Interpol to criminalise ‘sacrilegious material,’” Express Tribune, September 18, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/438338/pakistan-requests-interpol-to-criminalise-sacrilegious-material/.
[vii] “Anti-Islam film: Desperate govt moves to quell simmering protests,” Express Tribune, September 17, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/438363/anti-islam-film-desperate-govt-moves-to-quell-simmering-protests/.
[viii] “Khan Says Pakistani Nuke Tech Sold on Bhutto’s Orders; Party Denies Claim,” Global Security Newswire, September 17, 2012. Available at: http://www.nti.org/gsn/article/k-khan-claims-he-sold-nuke-tech-former-leaders-orders-ruling-party-denies-assertion/.
[ix] “Foreign Minister Khar to arrive in Washington today,” Geo News, September 18, 2012. Available at: http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=68184.
[x] Shaheryar, Mirza. “Seven killed, 12 injured in Hyderi blasts: Express News,” AFP, September 18, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/438599/seven-killed-25-injured-in-hyderi-blasts-express-news/
[xi] “At least two killed in blast near Quetta: officials,” AFP, September 18, 2012. Available at http://dawn.com/2012/09/18/bomb-blast-kills-at-least-four-near-quetta/
[xii] Mudassir Raja, “ATC acquits 3 terrorism suspects due to lack of evidence,” Express Tribune, September 18, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/438548/atc-acquits-3-terrorism-suspects-due-to-lack-of-evidence/.
[xiii] Shahbaz Rana, “IMF, Pakistan to thrash out thorny issues in Dubai,” Express Tribune, September 18, 2012. Available at: http://tribune.com.pk/story/438296/imf-pakistan-to-thrash-out-thorny-issues-in-dubai/