Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan Security Brief-October 21, 2010
President Obama meets with Pakistani delegation in Washington; Haqqani brothers mediate Taliban safe haven in Kurram; Top TTP commander killed in roadside bomb; Mullah Baradar facilitating reconciliation talks; Death toll continues to rise in Karachi.
US Pakistan Relations
President Obama met yesterday with Pakistani officials who are here in Washington for three days of “strategic dialogue” intended to mend strained relations between the U.S. and Pakistan. President Obama sat for 45 minutes with Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, and other senior members of the Pakistani delegation. During the meeting, President Obama told the delegation that although he would not be stopping in Pakistan when he travels to India next month, he plans to make a separate trip to Pakistan sometime in 2011. 
Two sons of Jalaluddin Haqqani, Khalil and Ibrahim, are reportedly spearheading mediation efforts between the Taliban and members of the Turi tribe in Kurram tribal agency. Although the exact details are still unknown, the broad framework of the negotiation would provide members of the Turi tribe immunity from Taliban attacks in exchange for safe haven in the agency. The Turis, who are the main tribe in Kurram, have been actively fighting Taliban elements operating in the agency since 2007. The location of Kurram agency, some 56 miles east of Kabul, means that any safe haven agreement will likely have serious implications for the Afghan insurgency. 
A roadside bomb killed Hakim Khan, a top Taliban commander, and five of his men in the Kurram agency on Wednesday. Hakim Khan and his men were traveling through the town of Marindy when a remotely denoted bomb destroyed their vehicle. According to officials, Khan was closely associated with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and was responsible for attacks on Pakistani troops in the area. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but officials believe that the attack may be indicative of further infighting within the Pakistani Taliban movement. 
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the number two figure in the Quetta Shura and the former overall military commander of the Taliban, has reportedly been released from custody by Pakistani officials. According to a report by the Telegraph, Baradar has been facilitating dialogue between senior Taliban commanders based in Pakistan and Afghanistan and has even traveled to such meetings under NATO escort. Baradar’s release is being viewed as an attempt to marginalize Mullah Omar, and other “hard-liners”, as Kabul continues to work toward meaningful reconciliation with elements of the Taliban. 
As Taliban reconciliation efforts continue to gain steam, it is becoming increasingly clear that Pakistani officials are being offered a very limited role in the process. According to a Los Angeles Times interview with a senior Pakistani official, Pakistan is being kept “out of loop” by Afghan officials working toward dialogue with the Taliban. To that end, the report alleges that Mullah Omar has been purposely excluded from reconciliation efforts because of his close allegiance to some in the Pakistani security establishment. Experts warn that such efforts to sideline the Pakistanis, who hold considerable sway with members of the Taliban, may doom any peace talks and even exacerbate tensions between the Pakistan and the United States. 
The government temporarily avoided a major showdown with the country’s judiciary, after the Supreme Court asked members of Parliament yesterday to reconsider adopting Article 175-A, a move which would strip the Chief Justice of his ability to appoint judges and is viewed by many as an effort by Parliament to limit the independence of the judiciary. The Court’s decision was viewed as a deferral of a potential confrontation between the judiciary and the parliament over who has the right to appoint judges. 
At least 11 people were killed in the last 24 hours in the ongoing violence that has marred Karachi since the weekend. Schools were closed and businesses shuttered, as armed gangs clashed openly and engaged in target killings in various districts of the city. President Zardari has called on the Prime Minister and senior members of the Interior Ministry to control the chaos, while security forces in the city worked yesterday to maintain a fragile curfew. Reports indicate that some paramilitary troops have begun to police certain “sensitive areas” of the city while other units have been placed on standby in case the situation further deteriorates. A meeting is scheduled for later today between members of the rival Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Awami National Party (ANP). As many as 72 people have been killed in Karachi since Saturday.