Pakistan Security Brief
TTP calls for ceasefire, Pakistani Army denies talks with TTP, Malik acknowledges informal talks; Militant leader threatens civilian engineers in North Waziristan; Haqqani and Ijaz present conflicting stories on memo, Mullen did not deem memo credible, petition calling for treason filed against Haqqani; Munter claims separate meetings with Khan and Pasha, distances U.S. from memo-gate; Afghan delegation to investigate Rabbani murder; Explosion kills five in Dera Bugti; Police officer killed in school blast; Qureshi and Sharif to meet; PTA delays text ban; Pakistani federal agencies have defaulted on energy bills.
According to senior commanders, the Pakistani Taliban announced a ceasefire on Monday in hopes of encouraging the formalization of nascent peace talks with the Pakistani government. On Tuesday, a statement by the ISPR, the Pakistan Army’s media wing, “strongly and categorically” rejected foreign media coverage on Monday which suggested that the Pakistani government was holding talks with Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). A Pakistan Army spokesman said, “The army is not undertaking any kind of negotiations with TTP or its affiliated militant groups.” In a conflicting statement, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that peace talks have been offered to the TTP, but cannot move forward until the militants stop engaging in terrorist acts. Malik acknowledged that the initial talks were extremely informal.
Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a militant leader based in North Waziristan, has threatened to kill local tribesmen cooperating with the Pakistan Army. Bahadur said he would allow the military to continue the construction of a new road in North Waziristan so long as the peace deal between them held, but warned that any civilians working on or assisting military construction projects in his territory would be killed as spies.
Ambassador Hussain Haqqani and Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz, the whistleblower of the memo scandal who has alleged Haqqani’s involvement in the affair, continue to advance conflicting stories as Haqqani is scheduled to appear before Pakistan civilian and military leadership on Tuesday. In an informal meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari on Sunday, Haqqani maintained that he had no part in Ijaz’s delivery of the secret memo to U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen. Meanwhile, Ijaz continues to claim that both Haqqani and Zardari were the architects of the memo ‘plot.’ The Express Tribune anticipates that President Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani are likely to throw their support behind Haqqani when he faces questioning from Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha on Tuesday. On Monday, former Mullen spokesman John Kirby announced that Mullen knew the emissary that delivered him the memo but did not take it seriously as there was no indication it was sent from President Zardari. On Tuesday, Muhammad Iftikhar Hussain Rajpoot, a Pakistani citizen, filed a petition with the Lahore High Court (LHC) requesting that Haqqani be placed on the Exist Control List (ECL) and charged with high treason.
On Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter clarified that he had met ISI spy chief General Pasha and Imran Khan separately. Munter’s announcement came in response to an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement denying allegations made in The Sunday Times which claimed that Munter had been introduced to Khan in Pasha’s presence, indicating Pakistani intelligence and military support of Khan. Munter also distanced himself from the ongoing memo scandal and indicated it was a Pakistani issue.
An Afghan presidential spokesman announced that a delegation will be sent to Pakistan to investigate the murder of Afghan peace envoy and former president, Burhanuddin Rabbani. According to the spokesman, despite initial opposition, Pakistan has agreed to accept the delegation following pressure from Afghanistan and Turkey during the Istanbul Conference earlier this month.
A remote-controlled bomb killed five and injured nine others in Dera Bugti on Tuesday. The bomb targeted a convoy of engineers and security officers on Kachhi Canal, killing three security officers and two tribesmen.
An imporvised explosvie device (IED) explosion outside a girls high school killed one police officer and injured eight others in Mardan on Tuesday. The explosion targeted police called to the scene to diffuse a separate bomb placed near the school.
Former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi will meet with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday. Qureshi, a powerful political figure in Multan, recently resigned from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and is expected to join either the PML-N or Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI). According to a political figure in Multan, Sharif will formally invite Qureshi to join the PML-N during their meeting. Express Tribune speculates that the meeting may also focus on the development of a political strategy to defeat Prime Minister Gilani in his home constituency in the next round of elections.
On Tuesday, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) announced that it has delayed its implementation of a ban on “obscene” words from text messages. The PTA’s reversal comes after the ban was met with widespread criticism. A PTA committee will be convened to reduce the current list of “obscene” words numbering over 1,000 to a "final list of objectionable words" numbering around "a dozen".
On Monday, the Pakistani government informed the National Assembly that numerous federal agencies had defaulted on their energy bills further exacerbating the nation’s energy crisis. The list of defaulters includes Pakistan Railways, the Supreme Court, the ISI, the Rangers, and the Federal Investigation Agency.