Pakistan Security Brief
Prime Minister Reza Yousuf Gilani appears before Supreme Court in Pakistan; Pakistan expects to re-open NATO supply routes in Afghanistan; Suicide bombing in Nowshera kills four; Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar says Pakistan’s ties with U.S. are “on hold;” Peace talks between Pakistan and Taliban insurgents reportedly making “little progress;” Pakistani Ambassador to U.S. Sherry Rehman presents her credentials to President Obama; Former president Pervez Musharraf delays his return to Pakistan; Music video surfaces featuring Pakistani-American businessman and central character in “memogate” scandal Mansoor Ijaz.
- Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani appeared before the Supreme Court on Thursday to defend himself against charges of being in contempt of court. He is facing charges from the court for refusing to follow its orders in writing a letter to Swiss authorities requesting that the corruption case against President Asif Ali Zardari be reopened. The prime minister’s attorney stated on behalf of Gilani that the prime minister does “not have the capacity to write the letter” and has “every intention of implementing the order as and when the Constitution permits.” Gilani reiterated that President Zardari has immunity from prosecution, and that he has no authority on which to write a letter to the Swiss courts. Gilani also noted that he would “never think of ridiculing or defaming the court.” The court has adjourned Prime Minister Gilani’s hearing to February 1, at which time his attorney will argue the case for Zardari’s immunity before the bench.
- On Thursday, former president and chief of the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) Pervez Musharraf announced he was delaying his return to Pakistan. Musharraf was scheduled to return between January 27 and 30, but has since decided that now might not be the “right time.” This decision reportedly came at the advisement of APML party leaders and friends who fear the country’s political instability could affect the treatment Musharraf receives from his opponents in government. On January 25 and 26, the APML central executive committee, including Musharraf, will meet in Dubai to make a final decision regarding Musharraf’s return. Rehman Malik, Interior Minister of Pakistan, claims that as a “proclaimed offender in the Benazir Bhutto murder case,” Musharraf would be arrested on his return to Pakistan. Malik also stated that the government has started the process of issuing a “red warrant” as a means of bringing Musharraf back to Pakistan via Interpol.
- A 2004 music video has surfaced that features Mansoor Ijaz, Pakistani-American businessman and central player in the “memogate” scandal, acting as a commentator for a naked female wrestling match. Opponents of Ijaz claim that this video damages his credibility as a witness in the memogate case. According to the Associated Press, one version of this video has been online since 2007, but its recent attention can be attributed to a blogger who recognized Ijaz as the announcer in the video on Tuesday. Ijaz admitted that the video is real, but claims that it surfaced through the help of Husain Haqqani, former Pakistani ambassador to the U.S. and accused memogate conspirator, in an effort to discredit him.
- Pakistan expects to re-open NATO supply routes in Afghanistan, but with the imposition of tariffs, said a senior security official on Thursday. The routes were closed after NATO forces launched a cross-border air attack on November 26, 2011, killing twenty-four Pakistani soldiers. According to the official, the tariffs will be implemented to express anger over the attack and to raise funds for the country’s fight against the Taliban. No date has been given yet for re-opening the supply routes.
- In an interview with Reuters on Thursday, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said that Pakistan’s ties with the U.S. are “on hold” while the re-evaluation of bilateral relations is underway, and re-engagement cannot begin until the review is complete. Khar advised the U.S. to be patient, saying that to “‘push’ is never wise,” and that “another incursion by NATO or the U.S. would be harmful” and would make it more difficult for Pakistan to be an “effective partner.” She stressed the importance of the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan, and said this was an opportunity to “strengthen the partnership” and make it “much more effective.”
- As the parliamentary review of its relations with the U.S. nears its end, Pakistan is “looking forward to re-engaging with the U.S. on issues of mutual interest and importance,” said Foreign Office Spokesman Abdul Basit in a weekly media briefing on Thursday.
- Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Sherry Rehman presented her credentials to President Obama on Wednesday. In an interview with Dawn, Rehman commented on Pakistan’s parliamentary review of its relations with the U.S., saying it presented “an opportunity for both countries to reset ties on more consistent, transparent and predictable lines.” The U.S. and Pakistan have joint goals in the region, said Rehman, and she hopes the two countries can resume their ties “on the basis of mutual trust, interests and respect.” Rehman also said that her meeting with Secretary Clinton went well, and they “both agree that a strong Pak-U.S. relationship can be both productive and viable.”
- According to Reuters, the “peace talks between Pakistan and al Qaeda-linked Taliban insurgents have made little progress.” A senior security official reported that the insurgents “flatly rejected” a demand that they work out a deal through tribal elders. This group, viewed as the main internal security threat to Pakistan, said that laying down their weapons and approaching authorities in the proposed manner would be “humiliating.”
- Four people, including at least two security officials, were injured, when a suicide bomber detonated himself at a check post in the Akora Khattak area of Nowshera on Thursday. The bomber was identified as militant commander Jannat Gul, a relative of Qari Kamran’s, a chief militant who was killed in Khyber Agency in December 2011, said a senior official.
- Militants attacked a Peace Committee in the Akakhel area of Khyber Agency on Thursday, and the committee retaliated with heavy gunfire, killing three militants.