Pakistan Security Brief
Supreme Court to probe memogate scandal; memogate protagonists to testify in Parliament; bombing kills 2 in Bajaur; operation in South Waziristan; bomb attack in Balochistan kills 13; judicial commission to visit India.
In a blow to President Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan’s Supreme Court “set up a judicial commission Friday to investigate a secret memo scandal that threatens the government.” The government’s lawyers argue that a judicial probe is unnecessary and is a parliamentary issue and therefore outside the jurisdiction of the court. The army, outraged by the memo that sought to curtail its power, has supported the Supreme Court in its probe. The government accuses its opponents in the army, the judiciary and the opposition of using the “memogate” scandal to bring down the government. Pakistan’s Parliamentary Committee on National Security on Friday summoned former Pakistani ambassador to the U.S. Hussain Haqqani, U.S. businessman Mansoor Ijaz, and Pakistani spy chief Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha to testify in front of the committee in January as part of its probe into the ongoing “memogate” scandal.
The Associated Press profiles a new U.S. soft power effort in Pakistan that attempts to work with local moderates as part of grassroots initiatives to educate people against religious extremism. The effort is the “first of its kind set up by an American embassy” say U.S. officials. Part of the program involves lectures given at local religious schools that project “counter-extremist messages” and to “push back against the militants’ extensive propaganda machine.”
A bomb attack in the Bajaur tribal area on Friday killed two people. According to government officials, the blast took place outside a market in Salarzai, Bajaur, and killed the leader of a local anti-Taliban militia as well as a passer-by. Three people were wounded in the attack. Elsewhere in the tribal areas, military forces conducted an operation in South Waziristan, destroying a militant hideout and reportedly killing several militants.
A car bomb attack in Quetta, Balochistan, killed 13 people and wounded at least 30 others on Friday. The attack took place outside the home of Naseer Mengal, a former government minister. The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was a suicide bomb attack.
A nine-member Pakistani judicial commission is slated to visit India in January 2012 in order to interview “key persons linked to the probe into [the] 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.” The commission will “take [the] statements of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate R. V. Sawant Waghule & Investigating Officer Ramesh Mahale, who have recorded a confessional statement by convicted Mumbai gunmen Ajmal Kasab.”
“Committee summons Mansoor Ijaz, Pasha, Haqqani,” Dawn, December 30, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/12/30/committee-summons-mansoor-ejaz-pasha-haqqani.html
“Several militants killed in South Waziristan operation,” Dawn, December 30, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/12/30/several-militants-killed-in-south-waziristan-operation-ispr.html