Pakistan Security Brief
U.S. official fears deterioration of U.S.-Pakistan alliance in event Pakistan-based militant attack U.S. interests in Afghanistan, Zardari calls for trade, not aid; Pakistan and India discuss trade relations at SAARC summit; Khar meets with Indian FM as India announces plans to train Afghan Army; UN committee reaffirms right to self-determination; Zardari hosts Chinese delegation as China denies motive for Pakistan-China military exercise; Security forces arrest Swat Taliban commander in Mardan; Imran Khan vows to expose political corruption; U.S. Commission reports religious intolerance in Pakistan schools; Telegraph questions lack of flood aid; Hindu community protests murder of Hindu doctors, police arrest suspects.
On Tuesday, an unnamed “senior U.S. official” declared that “another major attack on American interests in Afghanistan by Pakistan-based militant groups” would severely damage existing U.S.-Pakistan relations. Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari met with a U.S. Homeland Security delegation in Karachi on Tuesday, where he pledged to “eradicate” Haqqani Network militant safe havens from Pakistan. Zardari again called on the U.S. to end its public criticism of Pakistan, noting that such could damage bilateral relations, and appealed for U.S. trade with Pakistan in lieu of providing aid.
The foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan met on Tuesday ahead of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit hosted in the Maldives, reportedly discussing regional “trade cooperation” and Pakistan’s recent vote to grant India Most Favored Nation (MFN) status. Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are scheduled to hold bilateral discussions on Thursday.
While in the Maldives on Wednesday, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar met with her Indian counterpart SM Krishna to discuss bilateral relations. Krishna said that Pakistan-India relations were “on the right track” and noted recent improvements in India’s “trust deficit” with Pakistan. Meanwhile, India unveiled plans to provide further training to Afghan troops, “deepening its commitment to Afghanistan” ahead of a U.S. troop withdrawal from the country in 2014. Reuters speculates that such action “represents a re-ordering of regional alliances,” and may “fan Pakistani fears of encirclement.”
Last Thursday, a UN General Assembly committee approved a resolution sponsored by Pakistan, confirming the inalienable “right of peoples to self-determination,” including people in Kashmir and Palestine. The committee also reaffirmed the right of displaced persons to “return to their homes voluntarily in safety and honor.”
On Tuesday, President Zardari received a Chinese delegation in Karachi to discuss a variety of issues, including economic cooperation and regional security. Zardari “underscored the importance of [a] time-tested strategic partnership between the two countries” and asked Chinese businessmen to “undertake business ventures in Pakistan” to achieve the “full potential of bilateral trade.” Meanwhile, China’s Ministry of National Defense denied reports that Pakistan and China would hold a “joint anti-terror exercise near Islamabad” in an effort to place pressure on India.
On Wednesday, security forces arrested a wanted Swat Taliban commander, Hazrat Bilal, during a raid on a house in Mardan. Bilal had previously eluded security forces during a search operation in 2009.
In a press conference on Tuesday, former cricket star-turned politician Imran Khan suggested that political leaders, such as President Zardari, would never reveal their actual assets from fear of facing corruption charges. As Chairman of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) political party, Khan vowed to assemble a committee to expose political corruption within Pakistan and threatened to “disclose [the] true assets of…political parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).”
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) issued a report on Wednesday charging Pakistani textbooks with teaching religious intolerance and discrimination. The report indicated that many Pakistani teachers regard non-Muslims as “enemies of Islam,” which USCIRF proposes may result in an increase in “violent religious extremism in Pakistan.” The report findings also suggested “systematic negative portrayals of minorities, especially Hindus.”
In a Wednesday article, the Telegraph argued that a lack of international media attention directed at Pakistan’s flood victims and Pakistan’s history of corruption may have “relieved pressure on donor governments to act.” Similarly, Reuters reported that Western aid agencies may have to abandon flood victims in coming months due to a lack of funding from “global donors.”
The Hindu community in Shikarpur district, upper Sindh protested the Monday murder of three Hindu doctors by closing all businesses on Wednesday and imposing a strike until the murder suspects are brought to justice. Meanwhile, police arrested “11 out of 15” suspects involved in the murder.