Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan Security Brief – July 28, 2010
Airliner crashes outside Islamabad, killing all 152 passengers; President Obama says WikiLeaks documents reveal nothing new; former ISI chief says leaked documents part of White House plot; British Prime Minister says Pakistan cannot “look two ways” in Afghanistan; TTP targets Awami National Party; Prime Minister Qureshi says Pakistan wants “meaningful” talks with India.
Airliner Crashes in Islamabad
An airliner carrying 152 passengers crashed in the Margalla Hills outside Islamabad on Wednesday, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said. “There are no survivors. We believe all are dead. We are recovering the remains of the dead bodies from the wreckage,” Imtiaz Elahi, chairman of Islamabad's Capital Development Authority told Reuters. According to a U.S. Embassy spokespersons, two U.S. nationals were among the victims. The Airbus 321, belonging to Airblue, crashed amid heavy rain and poor visibility into a heavily wooded area while flying from Karachi. This is the worst aviation disaster in Pakistan’s history.
President Barack Obama on Tuesday said he was concerned about the disclosures made about the war in Afghanistan, but noted that there is little information in the leaked documents that was not already known. “While I’m concerned about the disclosure of sensitive information from the battlefield that could potentially jeopardize individuals or operations, the fact is, these documents don’t reveal any issues that haven’t already informed our public debate on Afghanistan,” Obama told reporters after a meeting with congressional leaders. Obama said the reports “point to the same challenges that led me to conduct an extensive review of our policy last fall.”
In an interview on Tuesday, Gen. Hamid Gul, a former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief from 1987 to 1989, dismissed allegations of his collusion with the Taliban as “fiction” and said the release of the WikiLeak’s documents is the start of a “White House plot.” President Obama "is a very good chess player… I don't want to carry the historic blame of having orchestrated the defeat of America, their humiliation in Afghanistan,” said Gul.
Commenting on the nature of the leaked U.S. intelligence reports, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the U.S., Hussain Haqqani, said the “outdated perspectives” found in the documents were “first takes, written in the fog of war, based on unprocessed intelligence.” Haqqani added that the allegations made in the documents stand in stark contrast to improved relations and increased cooperation between Islamabad and Washington. In a report published in The News on Tuesday, Haqqani stressed that “over the past nine years more Pakistanis than NATO troops have lost their lives fighting the Taliban…our mosques and hotels savagely attacked, scores of billion dollars of foreign investment frozen, and tens of billions of dollars of funding for education and health diverted to the battlefield against the extremists.”
On Monday, White House spokesperson, Robert Gibbs, said that the U.S. Pakistan have made strides in strengthening military and civilian ties. "We have made progress in moving this relationship forward…What the Pakistanis have found is that the extremists that once enjoyed complete safe haven in parts of their country now threaten their country," Gibbs noted. Experts in Islamabad say that despite the leaked U.S. documents detailing collusion between Pakistan’s ISI and the Afghan Taliban, the U.S. and Afghanistan have “little choice” but to work with Pakistan.
British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday said that Pakistan must not “look two ways” in Afghanistan by publicly supporting efforts to stabilize the country while secretly allowing the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to fund the insurgency. “It's unacceptable for anything to happen within Pakistan that's about supporting terrorism elsewhere,” Cameron told BBC radio during a recent visit to India. The Prime Minister added that Pakistan has made “big progress” in fighting militant groups, “but we need to see that progress continue.”
TTP Targets Awami National Party
The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) said on Tuesday that it will continue to target the Awami National Party (ANP), as it is “not only on the enemy of the Taliban, but of Islam as well.” Speaking to reporters over the phone about recent attacks on the ANP, TTP spokesperson, Azam Tariq, said Pashtuns could not coexist with the ANP in the region. Tariq added that the Taliban would continue jihad against the party until it was destroyed.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Mehmood Qureshi, said on Tuesday that Pakistan is prepared to engage in “result-oriented and meaningful” talks with India. Speaking to reporters at a local airport, Qureshi said that Pakistan was sincere in wanting to move forward with the dialogue process, but faced resistance from elements in the Indian government. The minister added that various issues, including the future of Kashmir and water allocation, needed to be resolved through negotiations. Meanwhile, an Indian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, commenting on the leaked U.S. intelligence documents, said on Tuesday that “sponsorship of terrorism, as an instrument of policy, is wholly condemnable and must cease forthwith.”
Kayani’s Extension “Controversial”
Former Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen. Aslam Baig said in an interview with Geo News that Gen. Kayani’s three-year extension was not in the best interest of democracy in Pakistan as it has made him a “controversial” figure. Gen. Baig expressed these views along with a Senior Minister of Khyber-Pakhtunkwa, a former Chief of the ISI, and a senior government defense analyst while speaking on a Pakistani television talk-show. Gen. Baig said that the current security situation in Pakistan requires a joint command. The senior defense analyst, Talat Masood, warned that this extension resembles the policies of former Gen. Musharraf’s era.
The Information Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mian Hussain, said on Tuesday that the recent assassination of his 27-year old son and subsequent attack on mourners would only strengthen their resolve to rid the region of terrorists. “We are in high spirits. Such incidents cannot make us backtrack on our stance on terrorism. It gives us strength against the enemies of humanity. Victory will be ours and terrorists will bite the dust,” Rashid said.