Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan’s army rejects U.S. report on NATO attack; Key witness in “memogate” Mansoor Ijaz refuses to come to Pakistan; U.S. drone strike on Monday kills four militants; Pakistan official says U.S. drones “can never return;” Haqqani’s wife flees to U.S.; U.S. says civilian aid to Pakistan continues; Inter-Services Intelligence Chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha meets secretly with former president Pervez Musharraf in Dubai; Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) releases video showing execution of Pakistani soldiers; Kenyan aid worker is missing in southern Pakistan; Imran Khan urges U.S. to stop drone attacks; Pakistani ex-generals say Musharraf should be allowed to return home; U.S.-Pakistan intelligence cooperation continues; TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud is “well and safe;” Major pipeline in Quetta is blown up for fourth time; Indian officials say Pakistani investigators cannot interview surviving gunman of Mumbai attack; Supreme Court of Pakistan “wages campaign of judicial activism.”
- On Monday, Pakistan’s military rejected a U.S. report’s findings that both American and Pakistani forces were to blame for the November 26 NATO cross-border air attack in which 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed. The military stated that “the fundamental cause of the incident” “was the failure of U.S./ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) to share its near-border operation with Pakistan at any level,” and “affixing partial responsibility of the incident on Pakistan is therefore unjustified and unacceptable.”
- A Reuters article highlights the high degree of covert cooperation between the U.S. and Pakistan in the conduct of drone operations. According to a Pakistani security source, the recent U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas were “joint operations” coordinated by both countries. The source said he runs a network of “spotters” mainly in North and South Waziristan who monitor suspected militants and create “a pattern of their movements and associations.” They also run “joint monitoring operations” with the U.S. and UK, and then they create joint “priority of targets lists,” said the source. Once a target is “identified” and “marked,” the source’s network coordinates with U.S. drone operators. The source claims the “working relationship” between the two countries is “more productive” than the political one. The U.S. refuses to discuss the drone program and, therefore, the source’s claims cannot be verified.
- A senior Pakistani official told Fox News that U.S. military trainers will be able to return to Pakistan “as early as April or May,” but that CIA drones “can never return.” The Pakistani parliament is in the process of completing its review of bilateral ties with the U.S., and on January 30, politicians are expected to deliver “a list of conditions for cooperation to resume.” According to the official, “the stipulations will include no covert CIA or military operations on the ground in Pakistan, and no unauthorized incursions into its airspace.” Military trainers, including special operations forces, will be allowed back in, said the official, and the Torkham and Chaman border crossings into Afghanistan will be reopened for NATO supply convoys.
- In response to a question about U.S. aid to Pakistan, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Friday that “civilian assistance to Pakistan continues and has not been interrupted since the tragic November 26 incident.” She added that the U.S. considers bilateral civilian assistance very important and believes “it can help Pakistan become a more prosperous, stable, and democratic state, which serves the national interests of both the United States and Pakistan.” The U.S. is a major aid provider to Pakistan, and in 2011 alone, it gave Pakistan $855 million, not including emergency humanitarian aid.
- In an interview with CNN on Sunday, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan urged the U.S. to stop drone strikes in Pakistan. He argued that each missile that kills a terrorist also kills many innocent people, and this “‘collateral damage’ creates more Jihadis than it kills.” Khan also urged the U.S. to stop all military activities in the region if it wanted to have effective peace talks with the Taliban, since “one cannot talk and be at war at the same time.”
- Pakistani-American businessman and key witness in the “memogate” case Mansoor Ijaz has refused to come to Pakistan to testify in front of the judicial commission because he is concerned about his safety, said his lawyer Akram Sheikh. According to Sheikh, Ijaz is worried about the security arrangements made in Pakistan for his arrival, and thus he has asked the court if he can record his statements in London or Zurich. On Sunday, Prime Minister Reza Yousuf Gilani stated that Ijaz would be given the “required security,” but he would not be provided army security, which, Gilani said, he was not entitled to and would cost “billions of rupees.” Government officials in Islamabad said Monday that they were willing to safeguard Ijaz's security, but Sheikh told reporters that “it seems like a well-orchestrated trap to hold Mr. Ijaz indefinitely in Pakistan after his deposition before the commission." Hussein Haqqani's lawyer, Zahid Bokhari, filed a petition with the commission asking it to turn down Ijaz's request to record his statement.
- Pakistan’s former ambassador to the U.S., and the person alleged to be behind the unsigned memo in the “memogate” scandal Hussain Haqqani spoke with the Wall Street Journal on Sunday. The interview took place in the prime minister’s official residence in Islamabad, where Haqqani has been living for weeks under virtual house arrest for fear that he may be killed if he ventures outside. Haqqani returned to Pakistan in November to clear his name, but upon his arrival, the military seized his passport, and the Supreme Court banned him from leaving the country. Although Haqqani has continually denied the allegation and has resigned as ambassador to facilitate the investigation, the Supreme Court has taken up the case which could see Haqqani charged with treason, a charge that could carry the death penalty. According to the article, the media has already branded him as a traitor and “American agent.” Haqqani says he represented Pakistan to the best of his ability at a time when U.S.-Pakistani relations were very tense, and that he only wanted “to contribute to the process of reform and the idea of civilian supremacy in Pakistan.” His primary concern, said Haqqani, is that all those “who stand up for a different vision for Pakistan" might be fated to end up like Salman Taseer, the Pakistani governor who was assassinated last year by his own bodyguard for criticizing the country’s blasphemy laws.
- On Sunday, more than 100 former top Pakistani military officers formed a group called “Pakistan First,” asking for former president Pervez Musharraf to be allowed to return to Pakistan and run in the elections. They wrote a letter stating that Musharraf “should be provided with a level playing field in the political arena and also provided protocol and security as befits any ex-president of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.”
- Sources told Dawn on Monday that the chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha secretly met with former president Pervez Musharraf in Dubai. Pasha urged Musharraf not to return to Pakistan “as the situation is not conducive for his return,” claimed sources. On Monday, the Pakistani Senate also passed a resolution demanding Musharraf’s arrest upon his return. After meeting with Pasha, Musharraf reportedly called a meeting of his party on January 25 to reexamine his decision to go to Pakistan.
- Farahnaz Ispahani, the wife of Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States Hussain Haqqani, has said that she “fled to the U.S. for fear that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) might kidnap her and subsequently force Haqqani to sign a confession in order to implicate President Zardari in the memo scandal.”
- According to a report in the New York Times, Pakistan’s Supreme Court “is waging a campaign of judicial activism that has pitted it against an elected civilian government.” Since 2009, the court has issued numerous rulings that have brought it into areas generally under the government’s purview, but in the past few weeks, the court “has taken interventionism to a new level.” It now finds itself as the third player in an ongoing confrontation between the military and the civilian government.
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants released a video on Saturday showing the execution of 15 Pakistani soldiers, whose bodies were found earlier this month and who were kidnapped on December 23, 2011 in northwestern Pakistan. The video shows the 15 soldiers blindfolded and handcuffed to each other sitting on a hillside, flanked by their Taliban captors armed with AK-47s. The militants in the video claim they are killing the soldiers to avenge their comrades who “were besieged and mercilessly martyred,” and they warn Pakistan’s government that “if the killing of [their] friends is not stopped,” “this will be the fate of all infidel armies.”
According to security officials, a U.S. drone strike on Monday killed four militants in Degan, a village 25 kilometers from Miramshah in North Waziristan . The militants who were killed when missiles hit their vehicle have not yet been identified, but they are believed to be from Turkmenistan.
Despite reports that the top militant commander of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Hakimullah Mehsud had been killed last week in a drone strike, independent sources speaking to Dawn claim that Mehsud is “well and safe” and hiding somewhere in North Waziristan.” According to the sources, Mehsud has taken numerous measures to “ensure his safety and secrecy,” such as stopping the use of all electronic communication.
- According to police officials, a Kenyan aid worker for Care International and his Pakistani driver are missing and thought to have been abducted. Their car was found abandoned in Noshero Feroz, a town in southern Pakistan on Sunday.
According to Dawn, an intense Frontier Corps (FC) action against Laskar-i-Islam (LI) militants in Khyber Agency’s Bara plains has forced many locals from the Shaluber tribe to become “newly displaced tribal people.” Shahzad Khan, a Shaluber tribesman and a former paramilitary trooper, left the FC
,after LI threatened to slit his throat. On Saturday, he told Dawn, he also had to leave his home in the Shaluber area, because his family was no longer safe in the armed conflict going on between government troops and the LI. Khan and his family, like many other internally displaced people from the area, have found themselves in the Jalozai IDP camp.
Abdul Saboor, a civilian detained by the Pakistani military on charges of attacking the army’s General Headquarters (GHQ) and an Inter-Services Intelligence camp, died under mysterious circumstances on Friday. He is the “fourth civilian detained in the case to have died in mysterious circumstances over the past six months.” Saboor, along with his two younger brothers, was picked up by intelligence agencies on November 25, 2007. Advocate Tariq Asad had filed a petition with the Supreme Court on behalf of Saboor’s mother, asking the court to return her sons to her. In the petition, Asad pointed out that the three detainees who had died previously had suffered acute renal failure due to slow poisoning, and that “military authorities had kept them in illegal confinement.”
- Police in Kot Addu, Punjab have arrested four people connected to the kidnapping of two foreign aid workers last week. The aid workers who are still missing are being held for ransom, said the provincial police chief.
- On Sunday, the gas supply to several areas in Sindh was suspended after a main pipeline in Quetta was blown up for the fourth time. According to a spokesman for the banned Baloch Republican Army (BRA), the BRA is responsible for all four attacks.
- Unknown assailants opened fire on a police van, killing an assistant sub-inspector in the Zarghonabad area of Quetta, Balochistan on Sunday.
- During a raid on a house in Bannu district, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on Sunday, police arrested suspected terrorist Asghar Mumluk and seized a large quantity of illegal weapons.
- Two militants were killed, when the bomb they were planting under a bridge accidentally went off in the ZakaKhel area of Khyber Agency on Sunday.
- Indian officials said Monday that a Pakistani commission investigating the 2008 Mumbai terror attack will be visiting India in early February, but will not be allowed to interview the only surviving gunman, Ajmal Kasab. Kasab has been sentenced to death in India for his role in the attack that killed 166 people. In an interview with India’s NDTV last week, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that Pakistani officials would like to speak with Kasab directly to verify his confession. India has accused Pakistani intelligence of being involved in planning the attack, and has complained that Pakistan is not doing enough to bring the perpetrators to justice. Pakistan denies the accusation and points out that seven suspects in the Mumbai attack have been prosecuted.