Pakistan Security Brief
Army rejects PM’s coup fears; Supreme Court speaks out against possibility of coup; CENTCOM cancels Pakistan briefing after Pakistan rejects report findings; Top Chinese diplomat visits Pakistan; Taliban overrun Pakistan fort, kidnap soldiers.
On Friday Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani rejected statements by Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani that the army was conspiring to oust the government. A military statement said Kayani “strongly dispelled the speculation of any military takeover" and called the rumors "misleading and being used as a bogey to divert the focus from the real issues.” Kayani also made a statement saying that the “Pakistan Army has and will continue to support the democratic process in the country.” The country’s Chief Justice of the Supreme Court also made a statement to calm fears of a military coup saying “There is no question of a takeover. Gone are the days when people used to get validation for unconstitutional steps from the courts.” While the statements have calmed fears of a military coup, they have not reduced the pressure on the government in the memogate scandal, which supporters of the administration term an army conspiracy to embarrass the Zardari government. The Supreme Court has begun an inquiry into the memo which has pitted the army and the government squarely against each other.
U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) officials have canceled a presentation they were due to give to Pakistani officials on the recent NATO raid that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. The briefing was canceled following news that Pakistani military officials have strongly rejected the findings of the U.S. military’s probe into the incident. An army spokesman rejected the report’s findings that Pakistani troops fired first and claims that Pakistani soldiers fired only after coalition gunships “started engagement.” He also rejected claims that “Pakistan failed to notify NATO of the location of the two border posts that were attacked.”
Senior Chinese diplomat Dai Bingguo arrived in Pakistan on Friday for talks with the country’s relations and to mark the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Pakistan. China has “voiced support for Islamabad during months of worsening Pakistani American relations, which were shaken by the US incursion in May that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden near a Pakistani military base, and a cross-border attack by US forces that mistakenly killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last month.”
The Pakistani Taliban on Friday attacked and overran a Pakistani military fort in Tank district bordering South Waziristan agency. At least 35 militants attacked the fort, killing one soldier and kidnapping at least 15 more. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan claimed responsibility for the attack on behalf of the TTP, saying the assault was revenge for the death of a local Taliban commander.
“Pakistani army rejects US investigation into airstrikes that killed 24 of its soldiers,” AP, December 23, 2011. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia-pacific/pakistani-army-rejects-us-investigation-into-airstrikes-that-killed-24-of-its-soldiers/2011/12/22/gIQADhHiCP_story.html?wprss=rss_asia-pacific