Pakistan Security Brief
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says Pakistani doctor helped in bin Laden raid; Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to visit Kabul on Wednesday; Afghanistan and Pakistan plan to undertake their own negotiations with Taliban; Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani says there will be no coup; Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz says he is willing to come to Pakistan; Supreme Court of Pakistan lifts travel ban on former ambassador to U.S. Husain Haqqani; Sunni Tehrik announces launch of its political party, Pakistan Sunni Tehrik; Leaders of religious parties come together to oppose reopening of NATO supply routes; Six militants and one peace militia member killed in military operation in Frontier Region Kohat; Suicide bomber kills militant commander Haji Akhunzada in Peshawar; Shia doctor gunned down in Karachi.
- In an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” that aired on Sunday, Defense Secretary and former CIA director Leon Panetta confirmed publicly for the first time that a doctor in Pakistan was working with the CIA to gain access to Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad before the May 2011 raid. The doctor, Shakil Afridi, had been running a fake vaccination program as a means to obtain DNA evidence from members of bin Laden’s family to verify bin Laden’s presence in the compound. Afridi was taken into custody by law enforcement after his involvement in the U.S. operation became known, but Pakistan has not yet decided whether to try him for high treason, a senior Pakistani government official said Monday. Panetta expressed anger over Afridi’s situation, saying that Afridi had been “very helpful,” and Pakistan was making a “real mistake” by punishing “somebody who was helping to go after terrorism.” Panetta also voiced his opinion that even though he did not have any “hard evidence,” he believed that “somebody somewhere” in Pakistan knew that bin Laden was hiding in the Abbottabad compound. According to Panetta, one of the reasons the U.S. government did not notify Pakistan’s government of the raid beforehand, was because Pakistani military helicopters had been spotted flying over the compound, and the U.S. was concerned that Pakistani authorities might tip off bin Laden. In response to Panetta’s interview, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said that Panetta’s interview was old and recorded at a time when the U.S. was unsure about bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan. Little insisted that the U.S. still believes that the Pakistani government was unaware of the presence of Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad.
- Afghan foreign ministry spokesman Janan Mosazai announced at a news conference that Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar will visit Kabul on Wednesday to hold talks with her Afghan counterpart Zulmai Rasoul and Afghan President Hamid Karzai. This visit will mark a new phase of cooperation between the two countries, as “both sides will discuss the fight against terrorism and Pakistan’s essential support to the peace process in Afghanistan,” said the spokesman. Afghanistan and Pakistan plan to undertake their own negotiations with the Taliban in Saudi Arabia, while U.S.-Taliban talks go on in Qatar, said government officials on Sunday. According to a senior Afghan government official, the Afghan government “will always pursue all roads toward peace in Afghanistan, including contacts with the Taliban that are not limited to the Qatar office.” A member of the Taliban’s leadership council, the Pakistan-based Quetta Shura, confirmed the story, saying that both the Pakistani and Afghan governments support the separate talks in Saudi Arabia, because “they think they have been sidelined,” and “they want some control over peace talks.”
- Pakistani investigators and lawyers said Monday that they will visit India in early February to gather more evidence for the prosecution of seven alleged terrorists connected to the 2008 Mumbai attacks. India wants Pakistan to take “decisive” action against the suspects and has accused Pakistan’s efforts so far to be a “façade,” saying it has provided Pakistan with all the evidence it needs to try the perpetrators.
- On Saturday, Iran’s official news agency, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), reported that the six Pakistanis who were killed by Iranian border guards after they crossed the border and opened fire were alleged drug traffickers. Over 2,200 pounds of opium and hashish were seized, said the IRNA.
- Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani dismissed the rumors that Pakistan’s government would be extending the tenure of Inter-Services Intelligence Chief Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, who is retiring in March. Speaking to reporters at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Saturday, Gilani stated that there will be no coup, because the military, like the administration, values democracy and wants to stabilize and strengthen the country.
- Akram Sheikh, Mansoor Ijaz’s lawyer, filed a request on Saturday, asking Pakistan’s Supreme Court to allow Ijaz to record his statement in another country. Ijaz has refused the summons of both the parliamentary and judicial commissions, asking him to come to Pakistan to testify. Geo News, however, reported that Ijaz wrote an email to Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, stating that he was willing to come to Pakistan, if the Chief Justice assured him that he would be allowed to arrive in Pakistan, testify, and then depart the same day. According to Geo, Ijaz fears that he might be detained if he comes to Pakistan, which would adversely affect both his family and his business.
- The Supreme Court of Pakistan extended the “memogate” commission’s deadline for two more months, since the key witness in the case, Mansoor Ijaz, has refused to appear before the commission to testify.
- On Monday, Pakistan's Supreme Court lifted the travel ban imposed on Pakistan’s former ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani. Haqqani said he intends to join his family in the U.S., but he will be required to return to Pakistan should the court summon him for any reason. Haqqani is expected to leave Pakistan early on Tuesday, and he is scheduled to meet with top American officials once he arrives in the U.S.
- The Sunni Tehrik, a well known religious organization, announced on Sunday that it was becoming a political party, which will be called Pakistan Sunni Tehrik (PST). Addressing a conference in Nishtar Park, the head of the Tehrik, Maulana Sarwat Ejaz Qadri, stated that PST would launch its political campaign on March 23 with a rally in Lahore. “Our journey will be for martyrdom for the glory of Islam and survival of Pakistan,” said Qadri.
- Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl) held its first-ever large-scale rally in Karachi on Friday. According to the JUI-F central information secretary Maulana Muhammad Amjad Khan, the rally was “a public referendum against the U.S. and other secular forces in Pakistan.”
- Leaders of many religious parties from across the country attended the Difa-e-Pakistan conference in Multan on Sunday. They vehemently opposed the reinstatement of the NATO supply routes, saying it “would be a step against Pakistan,” and threatening to besiege parliament and “block the route themselves.” Difa-e-Pakistan Council Chairman Maulana Sami-ul-Haq stated that they would not allow the government to negotiate with India and the U.S., “the greatest enemies of Pakistan.”
- During a military operation in the Jowaki area of Frontier Region (FR) Kohat on Sunday, six militants and one member of a peace militia were killed. Security forces took control of Duaboki, Guluno Tangay and Babu kalay and confiscated a huge cache of weapons during the search operation in the area. FR Kohat is part of Orakzai agency and is considered part of an important route connecting Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province with its southern districts. 
- There were two incidents in FR Tank, on the border of South Waziristan on Sunday. In the first incident, security forces were attempting to diffuse a remote-controlled bomb when it exploded, killing a security official and damaging a passenger van. The second incident involved a search operation, in which a soldier was killed and another was critically injured when a landmine accidentally exploded on Sunday.
- On Monday, a suicide bomber killed militant commander Haji Akhunzada and three other people in Peshawar. Akhunzada was an important leader within Ansarul Islam, a militant group based in Khyber Agency, who had moved to Peshawar after escaping two previous failed assassination attempts, said police officials. Officials suspect that Lashkar-i-Islam, a rival militant group in Khyber, is responsible for the killings, since the two groups “have a history of killing each other’s fighters.”
- A policeman and a militant were killed during a clash between heavily armed militants and security forces in Dera Ismail Khan district. The remaining militants reportedly took cover at a local College and exchanged heavy fire with the police. Security forces cordoned-off the area around the school and conducted a thorough search, but the militants managed to escape.
- Security forces at a checkpoint in the Alam Goder area of, Khyber agency opened fire on a vehicle that refused to stop for inspection, killing the driver and injuring eight passengers on Sunday.
- Security agencies claimed they arrested two militants during a search operation in Nowshera district on Sunday. Umer Afridi (a.k.a. Ameer Saib) and Jalal Khan (a.k.a. Bahader Khan) of Khyber agency were arrested in Jalozai camp while trying to register as internally displaced persons. Both men were wanted by the police in “different high profile militancy cases,” and they were carrying “important secret documents,” said police sources.
- On Saturday, a remote controlled bomb planted at an army officer’s house exploded in Mir Qadeem Colony in Kohat district. No one was injured in the explosion.
- A security man was injured, when unknown militants attacked a checkpost in Bara, Khyber agency on Saturday.
- Several armed militants attacked a checkpost in the Nala-Malikdinkhel area of Bara, Khyber agency on Saturday evening, wounding a Frontier Corps member and damaging the post. Security forces returned fire, but the militants managed to escape.
- Militants used dynamite to destroy the house of tribal elder Mian Khan in Bara, Khyber agency. The house was empty, since Mian Khan and his family had vacated it a while ago after receiving numerous threats from militants.
- Security forces defused two bombs planted by unidentified militants near a populated area in Landi Kotal, Khyber agency.
- Two Sunni Tehrik (ST) workers were killed by unknown gunmen in the Garden Area of Karachi on Sunday, the same day as ST’s public meeting at Nishtar Park. The killings sparked other shooting incidents in the area, which resulted in four other people being injured.
- Unknown assailants gunned down a Shia doctor and trustee of a congregation hall for Shia ceremonies in front of his house in Karachi on Saturday. Police officials said that the killing could be part of ongoing sectarian murders in the city.