Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan Security Brief: December 7, 2010
WikiLeaks cables show that the US must battle for “leverage” in Pakistani affairs; Drone strike kills five militants in North Waziristan; TTP chief in Mohmand claims responsibility for deadly blast; TTP operatives captured in Karachi terror sweep; Balochistan’s Chief Minister escapes assassination attempt.
Diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks show that the United States must constantly “struggle” for influence and leverage in Pakistani affairs. While some cables appear to show Pakistani leaders as American “puppets,” the Washington Post observes that in actuality the cables reveal the “limits of U.S. leverage over a prickly partner that rarely does the United States' bidding.” The article claims that taken in their entirety, the WikiLeaks documents demonstrate the decade long struggle of American officials to motivate their Pakistani counterparts to act on issues ranging from domestic militant financing, India-centric military policy, and even the official “tolerance” of “militants who attack U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.” In closed door sessions Pakistani officials appear Pro-American and adamant to follow American directives but, as the Post article reveals, these same Pakistani officials adopt very different dispositions when appearing before the Pakistani public. These officials reportedly hide behind fears of stirring “anti-American public opinion,” with public opinion often dictating “whether and how Pakistani officials assent to cooperation…and whether and how U.S. officials publicize U.S. efforts.”
A diplomatic cable written by former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson and released by WikiLeaks, chronicles top-level discussions about the extradition of Mullah Barader, the number two figure in the Quetta Shura Taliban who was captured by Pakistani forces in February. During a “Feb 24 tripartite meeting in Islamabad” FBI Director Robert Mueller, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Afghan interior Minister Atmar Hanif reportedly discussed Barader’s transfer to Afghan security forces. However, the cable reveals that the discussion produced “no agreement from either side” after Malik and Hanif squabbled over the presence of Baloch separatist leaders hiding in Afghanistan. In the cable, Ambassador Patterson speculates that the Pakistanis might be using Barader as a “pawn” and that it was unlikely that the ISI would turn over the Taliban figure because of “the “truths” Barader could tell about ISI, not to mention a host of other Pakistani notables.”
While much attention has been given to the impact of WikiLeaks on the relationship between the United States and Pakistan, Time Magazine explores how diplomatic cables show a growing rift between Pakistan and its long-standing Arab ally in the Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia. Diplomatic cables show that Saudi Arabian officials are very skeptical of Pakistan’s civilian government, with Saudi King Abdullah describing Pakistani President Zardari in a January 2009 conversation with U.S officials as “the ‘rotten head’ that was infecting the whole body”. According to a 2008 cable, Pakistani officials complained to the U.S. that after Zardari was elected in 2008, Pakistan witnessed “a sharp reduction in Saudi financial assistance” because the Saudi’s reportedly viewed Zardari as Shia and therefore sympathetic to Iran. Time reports that animosity toward Zardari has shifted Saudi support from Pakistan’s civilian government to the country’s military and its top officer, General Ashfaq Kayani. A May 2009 cable underscores this rift in relations, with a Saudi Minster telling U.S. Special Envoy Holbrooke, that the Pakistani military is country’s “winning horse.”
Five militants were killed in a U.S. drone strike on Monday in North Waziristan. According to reports, drone aircraft fired four Hellfire missiles at a vehicle and a building in Khushali village of Mir Ali sub-district. Local intelligence and security officials are working to establish the identities of those killed in yesterday’s drone strike in order to determine if any high value targets were among the dead. For a detailed map and more information about militant activity in North Waziristan, please click HERE.
The chief of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) Mohmand chapter, Omar Khalid, has claimed responsibility for yesterday’s dual suicide bombing that killed 50 members of an anti-Taliban Lashkar (tribal militia). In an interview with AFP, the TTP chief warned that “those who will work against us and make lashkars or peace committees will be targeted.” Meanwhile, the chief spokesman for the Pakistani military, Major General Athar Abbas, attempted to deflect attention away from Pakistan’s security establishment by claiming that the violence in Mohmand was the result of TTP operatives orchestrating attacks from inside Afghanistan. Speaking to Al-Jazeera, Abbas affirmed, “Mohmand area is part of our tribal areas ... [but] this part of the agency remains unstable because the terrorists have crossed over to Afghanistan and they are operating from there.”
The Washington Post examines the efficacy of anti-Taliban tribal lashkars (armies) in Pakistan and examines whether or not these lashkars would benefit NATO’s mission in neighboring Afghanistan. According to the report, lashkars inside Pakistan often lack the formal support of the Pakistani security establishment and are often forced to tackle Taliban forces with insufficient military and financial resources. As a result, these local armies frequently become “enticing targets” for Taliban militants seeking retribution. While an unnamed U.S. military official in the article insists that any similar program in Afghanistan would feature lashkars that are “paid, monitored and registered by the government and backed up by Afghan security forces,” many human rights observers, like Amnesty International, fear that the Lashkar-system inherently exists in “a disturbing gray area.” According to these observers, local lashkars are not given proper law enforcement training, yet they are often ‘encouraged to kill and capture suspected militants.”
Four militants, one of them a Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan commander, were arrested on Tuesday in Karachi. The TTP commander has been identified as Sadeeq Mehsud. According to reports, the arrests occurred after Karachi police conducted an extensive search for suspected terrorists in the Manghopir area of the city. Security forces report that the TTP militants were planning to carry out attacks during Muharram and that at the time of their capture, the suspected terrorists were in possession of weapons and explosives.
Ten people were injured after a suicide bomber denoted his explosives on Tuesday in an attempted assassination of the Nawab Aslam Raisani, the Chief Minister of Balochistan. According to reports, the suicide bomber denoted his explosives as the Chief Minister’s convoy made its way through Balochistan’s capital city of Quetta. Chief Minister Raisani escaped the blast unhurt and was able to attend an Assembly meeting after the attack. Investigative teams are working to establish who was behind today’s plot.
U.S. officials are reportedly urging Islamabad to ratify the “Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement” that will allow Afghan exporters direct access to Indian markets. The United States hopes that successful ratification of the accord will open new opportunities for regional economies and “bridge the gulf of mistrust” between the South Asian countries.