Pakistan Security Brief
U.S. Defense Secretary says U.S. reaching limits of patience with Pakistan; Transit agreements with Central Asia aid U.S. with NATO supply route talks; Kerry-Lugar Law commits $1 billion to Pakistan; President Zardari meets with Afghan and Uzbek leaders at summit in Beijing; Pakistan and China sign agreements to expand economic cooperation; Bangladesh joins TAPI pipeline project; IED in Quetta kills twelve; Firing incidents in Karachi leave three dead; Militant groups clash in Tirah valley; Pakistani defense budget expands funding for Army and Air Force, lowers Navy’s; Supreme Court disqualifies dual citizens from holding legislative office.
During a press conference in Kabul on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta commented on the U.S.’s ongoing tensions with Pakistan, saying “It is difficult to achieve peace in Afghanistan as long as there is safe haven for terrorists in Pakistan” and noting “we are reaching the limits of our patience.” He also commented on the Haqqani Network, which he said was using Pakistan’s border regions as a safe haven, and said, “We have every responsibility to defend ourselves . . . and we have to put pressure on Pakistan to take them on as well.” Members of Congress, including Senator Lindsay Graham and Representative Dana Rohrabacher, agreed with Panetta’s remarks, identifying Pakistan as “part of the theater of war” that warranted the use of drone strikes. The comments came in the midst of a trip in which Panetta called for deeper defense cooperation with India as well as closer U.S. and Indian ties with Pakistan.
On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defended the U.S.’s use of drone strikes to kill suspected militants, stating “We will always maintain out right to use force against groups such as al Qaeda that have attacked us and still threaten us with imminent attack.”
According to an AP report, Monday’s transit agreements between NATO and three Central Asian countries give the U.S. additional leverage in its ongoing discussions with Pakistan to reopen supply lines closed since November. The agreements with Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan, permitting NATO to transport equipment and supplies out of Afghanistan through a northern passage, aid coalition forces as they plan the withdrawal of combat troops by 2014. The Central Asian route, however, may cost the U.S. as much as six times what it would pay to use Pakistan’s supply route. U.S. negotiations with Pakistan remain at a standstill, as the U.S. seeks a $500 fee per truck, an increase from last year’s $250 fee but still less than Pakistan’s demand for $5,000 per truck.
On Wednesday, USAID’s Development Assistance Coordinator Richard Albright announced that the U.S. would commit $1 billion to Pakistan for this year under the Kerry-Lugar Law. Of the funds, 85 percent will be allocated for “economic growth and social sector development” and the remaining 15 percent for “improving efficiency” and the “training of civil law-enforcing agencies.” Albright did not comment on ongoing congressional debate to cut funding to Pakistan but said the $1 billion aid package was an “another example of US support for Pakistan’s development priorities.”
President Asif Ali Zardari, speaking at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Beijing on Thursday, said regional peace depended upon peace in Afghanistan. He also noted Pakistan’s proud involvement with the SCO and said Pakistan would help promote regional trade and cooperation. In a separate meeting with Afghani President Hamid Karzai, Zardari committed Pakistan to helping Afghanistan’s socioeconomic development, strengthening its National Security Forces, and participating in the June 14 Kabul ministerial conference. At the summit, Zardari and Tajik President Emomali Rahmon also met, agreeing to improve regional infrastructure so as to promote mutual trade and economic activities.
On Wednesday, Pakistan and China signed three memoranda of understanding (MOUs) to deepen economic cooperation between the countries. Under one MOU, Chinese companies will provide technical expertise to channel 200 million gallons of water per day from the Ghazi Barotha water reservoir in Tarbela to Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Two additional MOUs call for the establishment of a Special Economic Zone in Sindh as well as the de-silting of canals and barrages in Sindh.
Express News reported on Thursday that Bangladesh has joined the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline project. Bangladesh’s participation came following negotiations with India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, and would benefit India, which would receive a transit fee to permit gas exports to Bangladesh. The pipeline is also part of a U.S. effort to drive Pakistan away from an Iranian-Pakistani gas pipeline project.
Senior Pakistani security officials on Wednesday commented on the serious threats posed by al Qaeda-linked militants in Pakistan, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Islamabad, and Rawalpindi , after Monday’s drone strike that killed Abu Yahya al Libi. The officials further noted that security in military and government installations across the country had been increased, following new intelligence reports concerning likely terrorist acts.
An improvised explosive (IED) device went off in Quetta’s Satellite Town on Wednesday, killing 12 and injuring over 40 persons. The bomb—planted on a bicycle stationed near a Sunni seminary—went off on Sariab Link Road. According to AFP, the bomb killed at least 8, including children, and injured nearly 20 people. A police official confirmed the death toll and that the device had been detonated by remote-control.
On Wednesday, a grenade targeting the Risala police station in Karachi killed four people, including three policemen. Lyari gangsters were said to be behind the attack. On Thursday, firing incidents across Karachi killed three men, with incidents taking place in the Liaqatabad area, Orangi Town, and the Aram Bagh area. Targeted operations by Sindh Rangers in Old City and Lyari led to the capture of four suspects and the recovery of firearms and ammunition.
On Wednesday, clashes between the Kukikhel anti-Taliban militia and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Tirah valley resulted in the deaths of five militants in Sra Vella and one in Rujgaal, with another three persons injured.
Pakistani Taliban commander Maulvi Faqir Mohammad denied reports that he planned to form his own organization and reiterated his loyalty to the TTP.
Osama bin Laden Informant
The FATA Lawyers Forum—which had filed an appeal challenging the 33-year jail sentence against Shakil Afridi, the doctor who aided the CIA in locating Osama bin Laden—dissolved its cabinet on Wednesday over disagreement on aiding Afridi. Eight members of the cabinet resigned in protest against the appeal, calling Afridi a U.S. spy who acted against Pakistani interests.
Details of Pakistan’s FY 2012-2013 defense budget revealed that the Army would be allocated $2.8 billion, the Air Force $1.2 billion, and the Navy $562 million, representing increases for the Army and Air Force and a slight decrease for the Navy from last year’s levels. Due to the country’s economic constraints, however, the budget did not include funding for short-term modernization programs or additional procurement.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that all dual citizens serving in federal and provincial legislatures were disqualified from holding office. The ruling targeted legislators who failed to properly renounce their non-Pakistani citizenship prior to filing their nomination papers. The court’s order followed Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s suspension as a member of parliament. The News reported that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was considering a constitutional amendment to permit dual-nationality, though the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said it opposed the measure.
The Peshawar High Court issued notices to the Director General of Military Intelligence, police officers, and tribal authorities concerning four missing persons cases. The notices called for the officials to appear before the court, having promised to inform the court when missing persons were released or transferred.