Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan Security Brief – March 25, 2010
Airstrikes in Orakzai kill 61; more details emerge about Mullah Omar’s replacement for Baradar; Qureshi says Pakistan to receive aid payment from US; Holbrooke says he does not see a US role in India-Pakistan talks; Gilani says delegation will address Saddiqi issue.
The Pakistani military reports that 61 suspected militants have been killed in a series of airstrikes in the Mamuzai area of Orakzai Agency. Officials said that fighter jets targeted a seminary where a group of Taliban leaders were meeting that afternoon, killing around four dozen. Two other airstrikes on a mosque and a school this morning reportedly killed another 13 suspected militants.
More information has surfaced about Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir, Mullah Omar’s recently announced replacement for Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who was captured in Karachi back in January. Zakir commanded the Taliban’s forces in southern Afghanistan but was pulled back into Pakistan due to concerns that he might be killed or captured. Mullah Omar also apparently issued Zakir’s appointment without convening the Quetta Shura, suggesting that the leadership council is fearful about meeting in large numbers.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday indicated that the US had promised Pakistan an aid payment of nearly $2 billion and had put his country on the “fast track” for receiving military equipment. “Today, I am a happy man, a satisfied man,” said Qureshi, adding that he expected his country to receive the aid by the end of June of this year. However, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has only vaguely referred to such a payment and has offered no details as to what the aid package might include.
Despite Pakistan’s call for the US to mediate talks between India and Pakistan, Special Representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke stated on Wednesday that he does not see the US playing a role in talks between the two countries unless bilaterally called upon to do so. Holbrooke has refused to comment on the Kashmir issue.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has said that the Pakistani delegation in Washington would bring up the issue of Aafia Siddiqui, the female Pakistani scientist recently convicted in New York on charges of attempting to kill US soldiers while she was being held in Afghanistan. Siddiqi’s guilty verdict has been a source of public outrage and protest in Pakistan. Gilani also added that issues of Pakistan’s current energy crisis would be another top priority that would be addressed and that he would brief the country further after the US-Pakistan dialogue comes to a close.