Pakistan Security Brief
U.S. report accepts mistakes in NATO raid; Pakistan rejects NATO probe findings; U.S. hopes for supply chain to re-open; Gilani raises coup alarm bells; army seeking “legal” means to bring down govt; World Bank to give Pakistan $5.5 billion in aid.
NATO Raid and Fallout
A report resulting from a U.S. military investigation into the NATO raid that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November is set to conclude for the first time that the U.S. bears “significant responsibility” for the incident. The investigation finds that “U.S. and Afghan commandos incorrectly concluded there were no Pakistani forces in the Afghan border area where the coalition was conducting an operation on Nov. 26….That assessment cleared the way for an airstrike that devastated Pakistani positions.” The probe, whose findings also placed some responsibility on Pakistani forces for firing first, was rejected by the Pakistani military as being “short on facts.” Pentagon spokesmen, meanwhile, offered statements claiming that they believed the troubled relations between Washington and Islamabad could be healed and expressed their belief that the supply chain to Afghanistan from Pakistan, blocked since the raid, would be reopened soon.
On Thursday Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani sent alarm bells ringing when he made speeches in Islamabad alluding to attempts by Pakistan’s powerful military of conspiring to bring down the elected government. The statements were a sign of greatly increased tension between the army and the government over the ongoing memogate scandal in which the government allegedly appealed to the U.S. through backchannels to help save it from an army coup in the days following the bin Laden raid. Relations between the government and army had soured further following a Supreme Court hearing into the scandal that has pitted the government squarely against the military leadership. Referring to the army, Gilani said “Conspiracies are being hatched to pack up the elected government….They have to be answerable to this parliament….They cannot be a state within a state.” The statements are a U-turn for Gilani who just last week attempted to publicly reject notions of a clash between the army and the government.
According to a report by Reuters quoting several unnamed military officials, Pakistan’s military is “fed up” with the government of unpopular President Asif Ali Zardari and is looking to remove him from office but through “legal means” and without another military coup. One official quoted in the report said “there has to be a proper way. No action is being planned by the army. Even if we tried, it would be very unpopular and not just with the government and the opposition but most Pakistanis too.”
World Bank Aid Package
The World Bank on Thursday pledged to provide Pakistan with $5.5 billion in development aid over the next two years. According to the Bank, Pakistan’s recovery from recent devastating floods, which disrupted the Bank’s development efforts in Pakistan, remains poor.
“Pakistan rejects US probe into border deaths,” Reuters, December 22, 2011. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/us-poor-coordination-mapping-data-led-to-pakistani-deaths-in-cross-border-raid/2011/12/22/gIQAruo8AP_story.html?wprss=rss_asia-pacific
John Bennett, “Pentagon confident supply routes in Pakistan will soon be reopened,” The Hill, December 21, 2011. Available at http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/policy-and-strategy/200879-pentagon-says-supply-routes-through-pakistan-should-re-open-soon
Simon Denyer, “For ex-Pakistan ambassador to U.S., an abrupt fall from grace.” Washington Post, December 21, 2011. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/for-ex-pakistan-ambassador-to-us-an-abrupt-fall-from-grace/2011/12/20/gIQA7WhK7O_story.html