Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan Security Brief – December 1, 2010
Pakistan rejects global concerns over the security of its nuclear program; Pakistan approved U.S. drone strikes, deployment of special forces teams in tribal areas; suspect arrested in Karachi claims Wali-ur Rehman is now the TTP’s top leader; Spanish authorities arrest suspects linked to 2008 Mumbai attacks.
On Wednesday, Pakistani government officials spoke out to dismiss the concerns voiced by several countries via leaked U.S. diplomatic cables over the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program. Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the U.K., Wajid Shamsul Hasan, rejected the assertions, saying that his country’s nuclear weapons are secured under a “foolproof control and command system.” An official from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) also made the assurance that his country’s nuclear arsenal is “safe and secure” while pointing out it was U.S. aircraft that “have had accidents and lost nuclear bombs at sea.”
According to WikiLeaks-released documents, Pakistan’s political leaders have reportedly given their approval for drone strikes against militant targets in the country’s tribal areas. In one of the leaked cables U.S. ambassador Anne Patterson wrote that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said that he didn’t care if the U.S. continued drone operations in the tribal regions “as long as they get the right people,” saying that he would “protest in the National Assembly and then ignore it.” (For daily updates on key issues and events related to North Waziristan CLICK HERE)
Leaked U.S. diplomatic cables reveal that Pakistan has allowed small teams of U.S. special forces soldiers to embed with Pakistani military forces in order to assist in hunting down Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters and to coordinate drone strikes targeting militant hideouts in the country’s tribal regions. In September and October of 2009 Pakistan permitted the deployment of a total of 16 U.S. soldiers to North and South Waziristan in order to provide “intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance” support as well as “general operational advice” for Pakistani forces. The U.S. cables describe the move as a “sea change” in the military’s thinking and a sign of growing trust between the two countries.
Despite concerns from U.S. diplomats, the State Department appears to have deemed it wiser not to publicly comment on the alleged extrajudicial killings carried out by the Pakistani military during the 2009 Swat operation in favor of allowing Pakistan to sort out the matter on its own initiative. U.S. ambassador Anne Patterson wrote in 2009 that there was “a growing body of evidence…lending credence to allegations of human rights abuses by Pakistan security forces” which she said were a product of the “culture of revenge” prevalent among Pakistani army units. Since that time Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has launched an investigation into the accusations.
A series of State Department memos reveal that the constant praise and support for Pakistan’s top military leaders, including both former army chief and President Pervez Musharraf as well as current Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, crediting the Pakistani military with being the single greatest stabilizing factor in the country. The leaked documents depict the U.S. agenda of providing support for President Musharraf during his military rule of Pakistan by “seeking to boost his military defensive capabilities.”
In a cable from March 2009, U.S. ambassador Anne Patterson indicated that Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani might, “however reluctantly,” pressure President Zardari into resigning. Patterson also wrote that General Kayani might support Asfandyar Wali Khan, leader of the Awami National Party (ANP), for the presidency, saying that as much Kayani disliked Zardari he had even more mistrust for Zardari’s arch-rival Nawaz Sharif. In a separate cable chronicling a conversation between U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, Gates said that he found it “astonishing” that Zardari was still in power.
- The leader of the group of four suspects tied to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) that were arrested in Karachi on Tuesday claims that infighting within the TTP leadership has been resolved and that Wali-ur Rehman has been selected as the organization’s top commander. The suspect, named Amanuddin, also claimed that his group was dispatched to “unleash mayhem” in Karachi on Rehman’s orders. According to Amanuddin, Hakimullah Mehsud is now acting as Rehman’s deputy while Qari Hussain continues to be the organization’s top trainer of suicide bombers and has also been charged with maintaining ties with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ).
- Police and security forces killed five militants in separate clashes in different areas of Swat on Tuesday. Security forces killed two militants while conducting a search operation in the Nazarabad area of Matta sub-district while three more militants were killed during a clash with police in the Pir Baba area.
- On Wednesday, India reportedly denied an entry visa for Pakistan’s former President Pervez Musharraf on the grounds that he was responsible for a conflict that erupted between the two countries during the time of his rule. A spokesman from India’s home ministry did not give an official reason as to why Musharraf’s visa was denied but said that the decision could still be reversed. Several independent organizations had invited Musharraf to India so that the former president could attend seminars and gain media exposure.
- Police arrested 22 suspects during a search operation in Faisalabad on Tuesday as part of increased security measures ahead of the month of Muharram. The search operation covered several hotels across the city, where police checked identities of hotel guests and took into custody those who could not provide proper identification. The Punjab government expects nearly approximately 1,600 processions to take place during the first ten days of Muharram, around 410 of which have been categorized as “extremely sensitive.”
- On Wednesday, media sources in Spain reported that police in Barcelona have arrested at least seven Pakistani nationals with suspected ties to those responsible for the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai. The report indicates that anti-terrorism officers arrested the suspects during a series of raids in and around Barcelona on Tuesday evening. The suspects were reportedly involved in falsifying passports and other documents for organizations linked to al-Qaeda, including Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Pakistani militant group blamed for carrying out the Mumbai attacks.
- Two Frontier Corps soldiers were killed in a bicycle bomb blast and an exchange of gunfire in Balochistan on Wednesday. One soldier was killed and seven others wounded when a bicycle bomb detonated alongside their patrol vehicle in Kalat district. Another soldier was also killed during a shootout in the Kuch area when security forces raided a house where militants were taking refuge, killing all five militants hiding in the building and recovering the arms and ammunition in their possession.
- A top Pakistani official has said that nearly $60 million dollars of government funds for flood relief remain unspent amid infighting between federal and provincial authorities. A spokesman for Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani stated that the government has “prepared a national strategy for rehabilitation and reconstruction” but said that the details are still being finalized. An estimated 6.8 million people are expected to need emergency shelter at the onset of winter.