Pakistan Security Brief

Government scrambles to save coalition after MQM quits; Report on Gen. Kayani sees him as one of Pakistan's "most anti-India" army chiefs; several drone strikes pepper North Waziristan; son of top Afghan Taliban leader arrested in Pakistan; new Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement comes into effect; Islamist parties strike in protest against bill looking to repeal blasphemy law

Political Crisis

  • Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is scrambling to preserve his government after a senior partner in the ruling coalition, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), quit the government and applied to join the opposition. The defection leaves the government without the simple majority it needs to rule. A successful vote of no-confidence would bring to an end the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-dominated, U.S.-allied government much earlier than its slated term end in 2013. The main opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), however, has not given clear indication as to whether it will take any such moves against the government. “We will neither sink the government nor extend them our shoulder,” said Ahsan Iqbal, a PML-N legislator. The fact that the MQM has not left the PPP-led coalition at the provincial level is seen as a sign that the government still has some “breathing space” and could negotiate a solution with the MQM and other parties.[i]

General Kayani

  • A report by the Washington Post describes the efforts that U.S. officials have undertaken to try and convince Pakistan's Army Chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, to launch a military operation into North Waziristan and to end the army's support for the Afghan Taliban. The report says multiple U.S. overtures have ended without success and that rebuff has usually been accompanied with the excuse of "too few troops" a lack of "public support" in Pakistan. According to the report, Gen. Kayani is deeply mistrustful of U.S. intentions in the region and one U.S. official describes the general as being "one of the most anti-India chiefs Pakistan has ever had."


  • Several drone strikes targeted the Pakistani tribal agency of North Waziristan over the weekend. Three separate strikes killed 18 people on Saturday. The identities of those killed could not be ascertained at the time. The strikes come one day after four people were killed in another drone strike in North Waziristan. The strike targeted two vehicles in the Ghulam Khan sub-district of the agency and reportedly killed members of the Afghan Taliban Haqqani Network.[ii]

  • A NATO oil tanker was destroyed earlier today when it was targeted by bomb near in the Jamrud area of Khyber agency on its way to the Torkham border crossing with Afghanistan. No casualties have been reported.[iii]

Haqqani’s Son Arrested

  • According to CNN, Pakistani military sources claim to have arrested Nasiruddin Haqqani, the son of Jalaluddin Haqqani, the leader of the Afghan Taliban Haqqani Network. Nasiruddin was reportedly arrested while driving from Peshawar to North Waziristan. Nasiruddin is one of the three senior members of the Haqqani Network’s leadership and, according to the United Nations, functions as an emissary and fundraiser for the network.[iv]

Regional Relations

  • The new Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement came into effect on Saturday, January 1, allowing trucks carrying goods from Afghanistan to traverse through Pakistan on their way to the Wagah border crossing where they would continue on into India. Trucks are still not allowed to carry cargo from India to Afghanistan. The trade agreement, agreed late last year, is a major update to the 1965 Transit Trade Agreement which governed all Afghanistan-Pakistan Trade till December 31.[v]

  • Afghanistan’s High Peace Council plans to meet with Pakistan’s leadership in Islamabad on Tuesday as part of its continuing bid to “find a diplomatic solution to the nearly decade-old Taliban insurgency.” The fifteen-man delegation will meet Pakistan’s president, prime minister and other senior officials. The council’s leader, Ataullah Ludin, says "We are very optimistic. It is clear that Pakistan and Afghanistan are the victims of terrorism, and both countries have their own problems. It's also clear to us that both countries need to work together to solve those problems. We are very optimistic that we will come back with good achievements." The groups has, however, made “little headway” since it was stood-up in October 2010.[vi]

  • Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey will hold joint military exercises in April, according to an announcement made on Friday by Turkish President Abdullah Gul. The exercise will take place after the fifth round of Afghan-Pakistan talks, mediated by Turkey and aimed at reducing regional tensions stoked by cross-border Taliban attacks.[vii]

Blasphemy Law Strike

  • Much of Pakistan shut down on Friday in observance of a strike called Islamist political parties protesting the submission of a bill in the parliament that seeks to repeal Pakistan’s blasphemy law. Some analysts believe the protests were political, and sought to put pressure on the government that, at the time, was trying to prevent the MQM from quitting the ruling coalition. The bill was brought forward by a member of the PPP acting in an individual capacity.[viii]


  • An AP report looks at the pros and cons of the use of lashkars, or anti-Taliban tribal militias, in Pakistan. The report profiles a lashkar in the Matani area of Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa province near the provincial capital of Peshawar. While the lashkars have been very effective at preventing a Taliban resurgence in their areas, the report surmises, they remain informal unaccountable armed bodies that risk emerging as threats in their own rights.[ix]

Three police officers were injured in Lower Dir district on Sunday when an improvised explosive device (IED) targeted their vehicle. The explosion took place in the Zakha Khel area of the district.[x]


  • Shahzain Bugti, a grandson of the prominent, late-Baloch separatist leader Akbar Bugti, was sent to jail by a Quetta court on Monday along with 26 of his colleagues. Pakistani security forces arrested Shahzain on December 22 after he entered Pakistan from Afghanistan through the Chaman border crossing while carrying a “huge quantity of illegal arms and ammunition” in his convoy.[xi]

[i] Salman Masood, “Pakistan’s Premier Fights to Save Government,” New York Times, January 3, 2011. Available at
[ii] Riaz Khan, “3 US missile attacks kill 18 in northwest Pakistan,” Associated Press, January 1, 2011, Available at
“US drone strike kills four in Pakistan,” AFP, December 31, 2010. Available at
[iii] “Bomb blast destroys Nato tanker in Khyber,” Dawn News, January 3, 2011. Available at
[iv] “Pakistani sources: Son of notorious insurgent leader is arrested,” CNN, December 24, 2010
[v] Qaiser Butt, “Afghan trade: New transit trade pact comes into effect today,” Express Tribune, January 1, 2011. Available at
[vi] “Afghan Officials to Seek Pakistan’s Help to End Conflict With Taliban,” Associated Press, January 2, 2011. Available at
[vii] Erol Israfel, “Afghanistan, Pakistan hold trust-building talks,” Associated Press, December 24, 2011. Available at
[viii] Zeeshan Haider, “Islamists lead Pakistan strike in Political Crisis,” Reuters, December 31, 2010. Available at
[ix] Chris Brummit, “Militias stem Pakistani Taliban, but at what cost?” Associated Press, December 27, 2010. Available at
[x] “Three injured in road-side blast in Lower Dir,” Dawn News, January 2, 2011. Available at
[xi] “Shahzin Bugti, supporters, sent to jail,” January 3, 2011. Available at
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