Pakistan Security Brief

Malik Mumtaz Qadri appears before court in Islamabad amid widespread praise; Pakistani security agencies reportedly lack ability to properly screen personnel; U.S and Pakistani officials clash over drone deal; U.S. Special Representative Frank Ruggiero set to arrive in Pakistan; IED blast kills three in South Waziristan.


Governor’s Assassination and Fallout

  • Malik Mumtaz Qadri, the admitted assassin of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, appeared on Wednesday before a court in Islamabad to face murder and terrorism charges. Hundreds of Pakistanis gathered outside the courtroom to voice their support for Qadri, with many showing the defendant with rose petals and garlands. Two days after his death, hard-line religious organizations across Pakistan continue to offer praise for Governor Taseer’s death, while many moderate religious parties continue to refuse to condemn the attack. It has been reported by the New York Times that many of Pakistan’s top officials are moving away from the campaign to change the country’s blasphemy law, including Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who yesterday told an Urdu language newspaper that he would “shoot any blasphemer himself.” Meanwhile, other Pakistani officials publically suggested that Taseer’s murder was driven by political and not religious motive. Citing “serious lapses” in security, Babar Awan, Law Minister for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), told reporters on Wednesday that Taseer’s death was a “political murder” timed to create additional pressure on the embattled government of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.[1]

  • Although Malik Mumtaz Qadri has admitted to killing Governor Taseer, Pakistani security agencies are continuing to investigate the murder, focusing on Qadri’s associates and any indication that the murder may have been politically motivated. Pakistani police investigators are working to gather background information on the suspect as well as identify any possible affiliations he may have had with radical Islamic groups. Investigators are reportedly also focusing on the inaction of fellow members of the elite security force assigned to guard the governor at the time of his death. There are many unanswered questions as why to fellow guards did not attempt to stop Qadri or retaliate after he opened fire. One official told Dawn, “it makes no sense that personnel who were on duty did not retaliate despite carrying active firearms… the perception that the rest of the guards had some inkling about Qadri’s intention is gaining strength.”[2]

  • Pakistani security agencies lack the means to properly screen security personnel according to a report by Dawn. Senior Pakistani security officials interviewed for the article acknowledge that many agencies do not have the capabilities to properly monitor the personal lives of agents deputized to sensitive security assignments. As a result they are often unable to definitively conclude whether or not personnel harbor extremist views. Officials interviewed by Dawn also admit that at present proper internal mechanism do not exist for the routine monitoring of personnel and that many applicants are accepted into the ranks of elite security agencies without psychological examination. Separately, the Pakistani government on Wednesday announced that security officials deputized to VIPs would be forced to undergo immediate psychiatric evaluations to test for discrepancies in “tolerance and aggression” levels. However, it remains unknown whether or nor security agencies retain an adequate number of trained psychiatric evaluators to implement the plan.[3]

  • Salmann Taseer’s death has created new political problems for the administration of Pakistani President Zardari who must now find a suitable replacement for the slain governor. In Pakistan, Taseer’s death is being called “a serious blow” to President Zardari’s Pakistan’s People Party (PPP) and the party’s “aspirations in Punjab.” Pakistani political observers note that Taseer was known for his “shrewd” political skills and ability to challenge the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, which is the dominant political party in Punjab’s government coalition. Sources close to the Pakistani President report that in the coming days he will convene a meeting of top PPP officials to discuss Taseer’s replacement.[4]


US-Pakistan Relations

  • The White House said on Wednesday that the United States’ commitment to Pakistan would not waver in the face of extremist violence and the assassination of Governor Taseer. While remembering Governor Taseer as “an individual who had worked hard to promote tolerance,” Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters “we remain committed to the efforts that the Pakistani government is (taking) and must undertake to root out violent extremism and to bring greater peace and stability to that country and to that region of the world.”[5]

  • A new report suggests that the relationship between the CIA and Pakistan’s ISI is reaching a new low point. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a half-dozen senior U.S. intelligence officials told Reuters that the relationship between the two agencies has become increasingly strained over the failure of the Pakistani military to conduct a military operation in North Waziristan, the ISI’s continued support for insurgent groups operating in Afghanistan, and a leak last month that revealed the name of the CIA’s Islamabad station chief.[6]

  • U.S. and Pakistani officials are reportedly clashing over the details of a pledge made last year by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to provide Pakistan with its own fleet of unmanned drone aircraft, according to a report by Reuters. The article quotes unnamed senior U.S. and Pakistani military officials who acknowledge that negotiations have snagged over the price of the aircraft and the timeframe in which they are to be delivered to the Pakistani military. Negotiations over Pakistan’s drone fleet have become so strained that the officials warn that it may soon become another source of friction between the two countries.[7]

  • Frank Ruggiero, the acting U.S. Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan is expected to arrive in the region today for a two-day visit. This will be Ruggiero’s first visit to the region since taking over the post previous held by Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who passed away last month from heart failure. State Department Spokesman P.J Crowley told reporters that during his visit Ruggeiro will reaffirm the U.S. commitment "to the people of Pakistan and will continue to support Pakistan's efforts to ensure greater peace, security and stability in the region, now and in the future.”[8]


Internal Politics

  • On Thursday, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousef Gilani announced that the Pakistani government would reverse an unpopular nine percent increase in fuel prices that went into effect on January 1st. The reversal is being viewed as a major concession by the PPP-led government. Pakistan’s opposition, lead by Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), threatened earlier this support opposition action against the government if the PPP did not reverse the increase in fuel prices.[9]


Af-Pak Relations

  • A delegation of Afghan officials, including Burhanuddin Rabbani, the chief of Afghanistan’s reconciliatory High Peace Council, met with senior Pakistani officials yesterday in Islamabad to discuss rapprochement with the Taliban. During Tuesday’s meeting officials from the two countries agreed to hold a “peace jirga” in the coming months that will likely discuss how to restart negotiations with elements of the Taliban insurgency. Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit told reporters that “both parties agreed to convene a peace jirga” and that “the two countries are looking forward to closer cooperation that can favor peace and stability in the region.”[10]



  • Three people were killed on Tuesday after their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in South Waziristan. Pakistani security officials told reporters that the attack occurred in the Shakai area of the tribal agency and that all three of the dead were members of Spairkai sub-tribe of Wazir.[11]



  • A new survey released on Wednesday by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan confirms that 741 people were killed in Karachi during 2010 as a result of targeted killings. The 2010 figure was considerably higher than the 272 victims killed in target killings in 2009, according to the Human Rights Commission. The commission also found that of the 741 target killings last year, 447 of them were politically motivated.[12]

[1] Karin Brulliard, "As progressive Pakistani politician is mourned, his suspected killer is lauded," The Washington Post, January 5, 2011. Available at Carlotta Gall, “Assassination Deepens Divide in Pakistan," The New York Times, January 5, 2011. Available at “Adbul Manan and Haffez Tunio, "Salmaan Taseer's killing: 'Political' Murder," The Express Tribune, January 6, 2011. Available at
[2] Umer Nangiana, "The probe begins: Investigators focus on Qadri’s suspected associates,” The Express Tribune, January 6, 2011. Available at “Suspicions grow of foul play,” Dawn, January 5, 2011. Available at
[3] Syed Irfan Raza, “Security agencies lack means to screen personnel,” Dawn, January 6, 2011. Available at Imran Ayub, “VIPs’ security guards to undergo psychiatric test,” Dawn, January 6, 2011. Available at
[4] Amir Wasim and Shamim-ur-Rahman, "Naming new Punjab governor a test for Zardari," Dawn, January 6, 2011. Available at
[5] “White House to help Pakistan fight extremism,” Dawn, January 6, 2011. Available at
[6] Mark Hosenball, "Analysis: US and Pakistani spy agency ties suffer strains," Reuters, January 5, 2011. Available at
[7] Phil Stewart, "Exclusive- US, Pakistan stumble in private talks over drones," Reuters, January 6, 2011. Available at
[8] “US envoy due to visit Afghanistan and Pakistan: official,” AFP, January 5, 2011. Available at
[9] Augustine Anthony, "Pakistan reverse fuel price rise in nod to opposition,” Reuters, January 5, 2011. Available at
[10] “Pakistan-Afghanistan to hold peace jirga,” Dawn, January 5, 2011. Available at
[11] “Three killed in Wana IED blast,” Dawn, January 6, 2011. Available at
[12] “Karachi targeted killings claimed 748 lives last year: HRCP,” Dawn, January 6, 2011. Available at
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