Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan’s Supreme Court announces it will charge Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani with contempt of court; Three police officers killed in Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan attack; Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar says Pakistan will do whatever Afghans want to facilitate peace; Pakistani Ambassador to U.S. Sherry Rehman meets with U.S. CENTCOM Commander General James Mattis; UNHCR for Refugees pushes for $1 billion in aid for Afghan refugees in Pakistan; U.S. State Department says leaked NATO report will have no effect on U.S.-Pakistan relations; Fifteen Frontier Corps troops killed in continued fighting in Sibi district; Professor at university in Sindh suspected of sending anthrax to prime minister; Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon advises UN Security Council to be cautious regarding Syrian crisis; Police foil terrorist attack in Peshawar; WTO approves two-year EU trade waiver for Pakistan; U.S. donates $750,000 worth of equipment to Sindh police; Unknown assailants kidnap Hindu trader in Mastung.
- On Thursday, Pakistan’s Supreme Court announced that it would charge Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani with contempt of court and will begin the trial on February 13. The court threatened to charge Gilani with contempt a month ago due to Gilani’s refusal to follow the court’s order to reopen a corruption case against President Asif Ali Zardari. If Gilani is convicted of contempt of court, he could face up to six months of jail time, as well as possible removal from the office of prime minister. According to legal experts, “Gilani could avoid being charged by appealing against Thursday's order, apologizing or promising to write to the Swiss.”
- Conflicting reports have surfaced regarding the identity of the person alleged to have sent mail containing anthrax to the prime minister’s residence in October. The prime minister’s spokesperson Akram Shaheedi stated that police identified the sender as Ms. Zulekha, an associate professor at Jamshoro University in Sindh province. Hakim Khan, a senior police officer in charge of presidential security, confirmed that the anthrax was sent from a post office on the Jamshoro University campus, but denied any knowledge of a Ms. Zulekha. At this time, the motive for the attack is still unknown.
- On Thursday, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar stated that “Pakistan is willing to do whatever the Afghans want to help facilitate an end to 10 years of war with the Taliban.” Khar met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul on Wednesday “in an attempt to repair relations and discuss Taliban reconciliation.” Khar stated that Pakistan will play its part in negotiating a peace process with the Taliban and Haqqani network once the Afghan people “decide the way forward.” 
- The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres is pushing for $1 billion in international aid to allow millions of Afghan refugees to return home. Of the known refugees, 1.7 million live in Pakistan and one million live in Iran. On Wednesday, Guterres said that it is important to recognize “that a lot of investment has been made in Afghanistan but that investment has not been concentrated in creating conditions for people to feel they can go back, for that return to be sustainable.” A new long-term strategy to address the refugee issue is scheduled to be presented at an international conference in May, but for now, U.N. officials are in Pakistan trying to work out a deal. The U.N. group is “in talks with the Pakistan government to ensure refugees [can] stay beyond 2012 and to speed up programs of voluntary repatriation.” According to Federal Minister for States and Frontier Regions Engineer Shaukatullah, Pakistan will likely grant long-term visas to 150,000 Afghan refugees.
- In Tuesday’s UN Security Council meeting on the Syrian crisis, Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon advised caution and suggested reaching a consensus, as Arab and Western states pressured the divided council to act quickly on a draft resolution calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down. “The region can ill-afford further instability,” and “the situation therefore requires collective analysis towards obtaining a solution,” said Haroon.
- On Wednesday, the World Trade Organization (WTO) approved a two-year waiver allowing “Pakistani products duty free access to European markets,” in an effort to help textile exports after the 2010 floods. This action by the WTO is unprecedented, and if ratified, is expected to boost Pakistani exports by 15 to 20 percent. The waiver needs to be ratified at the WTO’s general council meeting on February 14 and 15, and would allow Pakistan to export 75 types of goods duty free to the EU.
- Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said Thursday that parliament would “hopefully” meet next week to review the blockade of NATO supply routes. The Pakistani government closed the routes from Pakistan to Afghanistan after the November 26 NATO airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. Khar stated that she expects parliament’s decision to not be problematic, and that the supply routes will likely be reopened in the first half of February. AFP reports that when the routes are eventually reopened, Pakistan is “widely expected to tax NATO convoys carrying supplies shipped to its port in Karachi and trucked through its territory to landlocked Afghanistan.”
- Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Sherry Rehman met with U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) Commander General James Mattis in Washington DC on Wednesday to discuss the Pakistan-U.S. relationship. Rehman said that Pakistan had sacrificed more than any other country and also contributed more than any other to the success of the war on terror. Mattis acknowledged Pakistan’s contribution and cooperation with NATO/ISAF forces in Afghanistan, and both Rehman and Mattis stressed the importance of building a “mutually beneficial” relationship” that is “equitable and transparent.”
- On Wednesday, the U.S. donated equipment worth approximately $750,000 to the Sindh police. This was the second major installment of equipment given to the police by the U.S., and contained 1,000 bullet proof vests and helmets and “other equipment critical to riot-control policing.” In November, the U.S. donated equipment worth $8 million, including “voice-stress analyzers, bomb-detecting equipment, night-vision goggles, handcuffs, batons, binoculars, megaphones and vehicles.” U.S. Consul General William Martin said that the U.S. hopes “to make this relationship last for a very long time.”
- In Wednesday’s daily media briefing, U.S. State Department Spokesman Victoria Nuland said there was nothing new in the leaked NATO report summarizing the views of Taliban detainees, and it would have no impact on the U.S.’s efforts to “get back on track with Pakistan.”
- Three police officers were killed and one was injured in an ambush by Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants. The attack occurred on Wednesday night in the Shahbaz Khel area of Lakki Marwat district. The four officers were responding to an explosion when TTP militants opened fire on them. TTP spokesperson Shah Hassan Khel claimed responsibility for the attack in a phone call to the media, stating that the incident “was in reaction to a search operation where a number of TTP men had been taken into custody.” Khel warned that the attacks would continue until the TTP men are released.
- Fifteen Frontier Corps (FC) troops were killed and several others were injured as the fighting between security forces and militants that began on Tuesday continued the next day in the Marget area of Sibi district in Balochistan.
- On Wednesday, acting on a tip-off, police foiled a terrorist attack, when they seized a motorcycle wired with explosives on the Ring Road in Peshawar. The rider abandoned his motorcycle and ran away, as the bomb disposal unit defused the three kilograms of explosives attached to the motorcycle.
- Police on Wednesday prevented an attack on a congregation hall for Shia ceremonies, which had been devastated by a suicide attack several years ago, in the Gulshan-e-Iqbal area of Karachi. A private security guard and the suspected attacker, identified as Noor-ul-Hassan from North Waziristan, were both injured in the fight.