Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan Security Brief – May 21, 2010
Musharraf announces his return to Pakistan, politics; US embassy issues warning that catering service in Pakistan could have terrorist links; Prime Minister Gilani chastises Defense Minister Mukhtar's comments regarding Chief of Army Staff Gen. Kayani’s term; two US "spies" executed in North Waziristan; clashes in Upper Orakzai kill 24 militants, 2 soldiers; protests held in Pakistan over Facebook page encouraging drawing of the prophet Mohammad; deadline expires for Swat families to hand over militants; politicians try to calm the public as the death toll in Karachi violence rises; attorney general in Chile seeks to jail Pakistani citizen during the course of the investigation into the explosives charges filed against him.
US embassy issues warning
The US embassy in Islamabad has issued a warning via e-mail to US citizens living in Pakistan that a high-class catering firm in the country is suspected of having linked to terrorist groups. The Hanif Rajput Catering Service, a company often used by foreign embassies, was discovered to be owned by Salman Ashraf, who was one of at least two people arrested in Pakistan in connection with Faisal Shahzad, the suspected in the attempted car bombing in New York City.
Musharraf to return
Former President Pervez Musharraf announced in an interview on Thursday that he will be returning to Pakistan with the goal of re-entering politics. Although he has not said which office he intends to run for, Musharraf said that he plans to be back before the next set of elections. Musharraf also addressed his family’s concern about returning to Pakistan and said that he has not settled on a specific date for his return, acknowledging that “there are security issues which one needs to take into consideration.”
Gilani regarding Kayani
On Thursday, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani expressed displeasure at Defense Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar’s remarks that Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s term would not be extended. Gilani called Mukhtar’s statement “uncalled for” and said that a decision on the matter of Kayani’s extension has not yet been determined.
Two men accused of being US spies were executed in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan on Thursday. An intelligence official stated that a group of Taliban militants paraded the two men around before strapping explosives to the victims’ bodies and setting them off.
The controversy continues over the “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” page on Facebook as Pakistanis staged a number of demonstrations throughout the country on Friday. The protestors burned US flags, shouting slogans such as “death to Facebook” and “death to America” and declaring the US as the “root cause of all mischief.” At the same time, the Pakistani government acknowledged the “suffering” caused by its recent bans on websites such as Facebook and YouTube, among many others, but said it would only consider unblocking the sites if the page which started the controversy is removed.
On Thursday, the deadline expired for around 170 families in Swat to hand over a number of militants wanted by the authorities which were designated in a list given to the families by the local peace committee. Security forces are now prepared to expel the families from the region in accordance with the ultimatum and move them to camps in neighboring Malakand region. However, the families have reportedly asked security forces to allow them one more week to hand over the militants.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik and other politicians tried to ease public tensions after another eight people were killed in Karachi on Thursday, bringing the death toll to at least 25 in the city’s latest wave of violence which authorities have described as ethnic and political killings. The capital city police chief stated that more than 600 people have been arrested so far, around 200 of which are believed to have probable links to the targeted killings. Additionally, the Sindh Rangers have been granted authority to operate in the city for a period of 30 days. A large number of members and activists of the Awami National Party (ANP) also held a protest on Thursday calling for the chief justice to take action against those responsible for the recent attacks.
Pakistani arrested in Chile
The attorney general’s office in Santiago, Chile has issued an appeal requesting that Muhammad Saif-ur Rehman Khan be placed in preventative custody while authorities investigate the explosives charges filed against him.