Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan's Defence Committee of the Cabinet approves reopening of NATO supply route; Pakistan to "continue to press" U.S. for apology; NATO likely to pay Pakistan $365 million annually for use of supply route; President Zardari to attend NATO summit in Chicago; TTP releases video of Bannu jailbreak; Six MQM activists killed in Karachi in past 24 hours; Remote controlled bomb targets police mobile in Balochistan; Former ISI chief says he was ordered to rig 1990 parliamentary elections; Iran-Pakistan barter agreement delayed; Peshawar High Court to hear "92 missing persons cases."
NATO Supply Route
On Tuesday, Pakistan's Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) approved the reopening of the NATO supply route to Afghanistan after a nearly six-month blockade. The DCC authorized the pertinent Pakistani government departments to "conclude the ongoing negotiations" for the reopening of the route. According to Dawn, both NATO and Pakistani teams are discussing the new requirements for the route, and have already negotiated broad terms outlining route security and the cost of transporting supplies. However, a senior U.S. official reported that Pakistan and NATO were still "far apart" on the issue of payment for use of the route. U.S. officials also stated that an agreement has not yet been reached regarding the roughly one billion dollars in military aid the U.S. owes Pakistan for its assistance in the U.S. war effort. In addition, the DCC recommended that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs continue to press the U.S. for a formal apology for the November 26 airstrike, as well as for an end to drone strikes in Pakistan. This sentiment was reiterated by Pakistan's Ambassador to the U.S. Sherry Rehman who stated that Pakistan will "continue to press" the U.S. for an unconditional apology. Chairman of the DCC Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani announced a recommendation that "only non-lethal equipment" would be allowed to be transported through the NATO supply route, which echoes the recommendation from parliament. A U.S. official warned that while the supply route will likely be opened in the near future, nothing has yet been finalized and "surprises [are] always possible."
Once the NATO supply route to Afghanistan is reopened, the new terms could require NATO to pay approximately $365 million annually to Pakistan. This payment would be assessed in a "still-to-be-fixed fee," where NATO would pay Pakistan a flat rate between $1,500 and $1,800 for every supply truck that travels the route. With over 600 trucks traveling the route every day, Pakistan could receive nearly one million dollars per day from this tariff. The U.S. is expected to pay the majority of this fee, as it controls over two-thirds of the NATO force in Afghanistan, although the exact burden is still unknown. This payment would be in addition to the estimated $1.3 billion in "withheld coalition support funds" that Pakistan says the U.S. owes it for its assistance in fighting militants in the region. In exchange for these payments, the U.S. asked Pakistan to "provide security" to the privately contracted supply trucks traveling the route, as well as "much speedier clearance of customs and checkpoints." This action could curb looting and attacks on the supply trucks as no security has been provided in the past.
On Tuesday, spokesperson for Pakistan's embassy in Washington Nadeem Hotiana announced that President Asif Ali Zardari will attend the NATO summit in Chicago on May 20-21. NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu stated that "Pakistan has an important role to play" in Afghanistans future, which will be a primary topic of discussion at the summit. Diplomatic sources report that President Zardari will use the summit to announce the reopening of the NATO supply routes. Afghan President Hamid Karzai is also scheduled to attend the Chicago summit, along with "28 NATO heads of state and government" and the leaders of the 50 International Security Assistance Force member nations. Senior officials in the Obama Administration reported that Pakistan was extended an invitation to the summit because the deal to reopen the supply route "was close enough" to complete. Pakistani officials stated that the invitation was a "critical step" to securing a deal for reopening the NATO route.
On Tuesday, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) released a video of the Bannu jailbreak on April 15, in which TTP militants attacked the Central Jail in Bannu, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and freed 384 prisoners. The video began with a message by TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud, who pledged to "fight the Pakistani government to the last man and last bullet." The video showed that the guards at the jail offered little to no resistance, and that the militants used coaches to transport the freed prisoners after the attack. In related news, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Home and Tribal Affairs Department sent a request to the Pakistani government on Tuesday, asking it to direct the National Database and Registration Authority to help trace the prisoners who escaped during the jailbreak.
Four people were killed, including three activists from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), in a series of target killings in Karachi on Wednesday. Three MQM activists were also killed in different parts of the city on Tuesday, taking the death toll of MQM activists killed in the last 24 hours to six. On the same day, eight people were injured in separate incidents of violence across the city. In one incident, unidentified assailants lobbed a hand grenade at a hotel in Karachi's Quaidabad area, injuring four people. Another incident involved unknown men opening fire at a public bus in the Gulistan-e-Johar area, wounding four passengers.
Security forces targeted militant hideouts with artillery shelling in the Mamuzai area of Orakzai agency on Tuesday, killing nine militants.
Two police personnel and two prisoners were injured when a remote controlled bomb targeted a police mobile near Goth Ghulam Mohammad in Dera Murad Jamali, Balochistan on Wednesday. The Baloch Republican Army (BRA) claimed responsibility for the explosion, and its spokesman, Sarbaz Baloch, announced that BRA would continue similar attacks in Balochistan.
On Wednesday, former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt. Gen. Asad Durrani submitted a counter affidavit in response to former army chief Gen. Mirza Aslam Begs statement that the ISI used "corrupt practices" and rigged the 1990 parliamentary elections. Durrani conceded that the ISI and Military Intelligence had distributed funds among various politicians and political parties during the elections, but he argued that the then president had mandated the ISI "to carry out this task," and that Beg had been kept fully informed of the plan.
Iran-Pakistan Barter Agreement
A barter agreement between Pakistan and Iran, in which Pakistan aims to export one million tons of wheat to Iran in exchange for Irans supply of urea has been delayed, since an international price for urea has not yet been fixed. Food Security Secretary Shafqat Hussain Naghmi said on Tuesday that the trade agreement may face additional complications, since Iran described Pakistans wheat as "low quality"and disease infested.
Missing Persons Cases