Pakistan Security Brief
Pakistan Security Brief – September 28, 2010
U.S. Intelligence officials confirm escalation in drone operations; Pakistani government officials react to NATO air strikes in the FATA; Pakistan to chair IAEA board; President Zardari and fellow party members pledge to avoid confrontation; New UN envoy appointed to coordinate Pakistan aid.
- Intelligence officials have confirmed that the CIA has ramped up its drone operations in Pakistan’s FATA, particularly in the North Waziristan agency. There have been 21 reported drone strikes in Pakistan since September 3rd, more than any other month since Predator missions began in 2004. According to officials, the CIA has escalated drone attacks in an effort to cripple Taliban leadership and the Haqqani network known to operate in the tribal regions. Reports also indicate that the recent wave of Predator attacks may also be intended to thwart terror plots being hatched against western targets, particularly in Europe, from militant bases in the FATA. 
Pakistani Foreign Relations
In Islamabad on Tuesday, government officials strongly condemned last weekend’s NATO airstrikes inside Pakistani territory. Pakistan lodged a formal complaint with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), while a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry called the air raids “a clear violation and breach of the UN mandate under which ISAF operates.” Despite uproar from many in Pakistan’s defense and military establishment, NATO remains adamant that last weekend’s operations were carried out “in self-defense” and in accordance with well established “hot pursuit” protocols. Many in Washington have dismissed the “outrage,” recognizing that Pakistani officials must placate a domestic audience hostile to a NATO military presence in the region. 
Pakistan and the IAEA
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has selected Pakistan to chair its governing board. On Monday, Pakistan was nominated for the position by states from the Middle East and South Asia, and was awarded the post after no board member countries voiced objections. Ansar Parvez, who is the current head of Pakistan’s Atomic Energy Commission, has been selected to serve as chairman. Officials in the U.S. and India have questioned the decision to give the post to Pakistan—a county that has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty. Additionally, officials worry about Pakistan’s commitment to vigorously pursue countries currently operating outside of IAEA compliance. Critics point to November of last year, when Pakistan abstained from a vote to condemn Iran’s secret construction of an enrichment facility in Qom.
News of the IAEA selection came the same day that the Lahore High Court (LHC) ordered that security protocols to be reinstated against Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistan’s notorious nuclear proliferator. A. Q. Khan, once subject to security lockdown, now enjoys freedom of movement in Pakistan as well as immunity from international prosecution. The order would revoke Dr. Khan’s freedom of movement and place him again under house arrest. The court’s decision comes just days after Cameron Munter told members of the U.S. Senate that if he is confirmed as the next U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, he will “raise the question again of our repeated requests to have our people be able to interview Khan” 
The leadership of the Pakistan’s Peoples Party (PPP) met in Islamabad on Monday to discuss the party’s contentious relationship with Pakistan’s judiciary. The meeting was chaired by President Zardari, with senior members in attendance, including Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. At the meeting President Zardari urged members “to remain calm and not to overreact to political provocations.” It was then decided that the PPP would adopt a policy of non-confrontation with the judiciary. Monday’s meeting came the same day that the Supreme Court deliberated over whether or not President Zardari would receive immunity for corruption charges. 
The Secretary of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, announced on Monday, that Rauf Engin Soysal of Turkey will serve as the UN’s new special envoy on aid to Pakistan. Soysal was Turkey’s ambassador to Pakistan from 2007 to 2009 and is said to have a good working relationship with many senior Pakistani officials. As the UN’s special envoy on aid, Soysal will be tasked with providing and monitoring the distribution of UN aid to the millions of Pakistani’s affected by flooding. 
The Sindh provincial assembly passed an adjournment bill on Tuesday that will postpone local body elections. Sindh parliamentarians say they passed the measure so that resources could be devoted to the “rehabilitation of flood victims”. Critics claim, however, that the bill, which passed the assembly unanimously, allows for elections to be delayed “indefinitely” and for those currently in power to remain in office until new elections are scheduled.