Pakistan Security Brief – February 10, 2012

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Pakistan’s Supreme Court rejects Prime Minister Gilani’s appeal; Supreme Court gives Inter-Services Intelligence until February 13 to present missing detainees; “Memogate” commission says Mansoor Ijaz may record statement from London; Interior Minister Malik says Pakistan is ready to begin talks with Baloch separatists; Police disperse protest rally in Karachi; Pakistan “strongly rejects” findings of U.S. Congressional hearing on Balochistan; Malik says NATO is not sending supplies through Pakistani airspace; PTI Chairman Imran Khan says his party will “shoot down” U.S. drones if it gains power; Pakistani security forces kill 11 militants in Kurram agency; Indian government releases five Pakistani prisoners; President Zardari suggests increasing bilateral trade with Sri-Lanka; Pakistani government allegedly arrests suspected assassins of former Afghan president.

Domestic Politics

  • The Supreme Court’s “memogate” commission decided on Friday that Pakistani-American businessman and key witness Mansoor Ijaz, who has refused to come to Pakistan, may record his statement at the Pakistani High Commission in London. The commission’s secretary will go to London to collect evidence from Ijaz. On the same day, a parallel inquiry being run by the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) decided not to record Ijaz’s statement outside of Parliament. According to the PCNS’s chairman, going abroad for such purposes “is contrary to the parliamentary traditions and norms.”[3]
  • On Friday, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik announced that “the government is ready to hold [talks] with Baloch separatists.” Malik also claimed that a “third force is trying to destabilize the situation in Balochistan,” and that unnamed elements may be conspiring to separate Balochistan from Pakistan.[4]
  • The Balochistan government announced on Friday that out of the 148 people reported missing in the province, 59 had been found alive and 16 found dead.[5]
  • Police dispersed a protest rally in the Saddar area of Karachi on Friday using batons, teargas shells, and water cannons. Led by Pasban Voice Against Injustice activists, the rally was in protest to the detention of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani citizen sentenced by U.S. courts to life in prison for assault with intent to murder. The rally intended to march toward the U.S. Consulate. Dr. Siddiqui’s sister was among the rally leaders arrested by police.[6]

U.S.-Pakistan Relations

  • According to a spokesperson for the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the U.S. Sherry Rehman said that the Pakistani government “strongly rejects” the findings of Wednesday’s Congressional hearing on Balochistan. The government considers the hearing an “ill-advised and ill-considered” move that “will have serious repercussions for Pakistan-US relations.” Rehman also said that the hearing showed a “blatant disregard for the history of the issue and manipulated selective facts.” In Pakistan’s Senate, Senator Raza Rabbani condemned the Congressional hearing, claiming that the U.S. Congress has “no jurisdiction to call a hearing on any issue happening in Pakistan,” and that “such interference was intolerable.”[7]
  • On Friday, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik refuted U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter’s statement that NATO supplies are being sent through Pakistani airspace. Malik told the Senate that NATO supplies “have not been restored” and that “no airport or airbase” in Pakistan was being used to ship supplies to NATO troops in Afghanistan. However, the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) senators were not satisfied with Malik’s response and subsequently “staged a walkout from the house.”[8]
  • At a rally in Swabi, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Friday, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan announced that if his party comes to power after the upcoming elections, “PTI will not let the U.S. attack Pakistan via drone strikes” and will shoot down U.S. drones. Khan said the current government should be embarrassed for allowing U.S. drone strikes to continue to violate Pakistan’s sovereignty.[9]

Militancy

  • In an ongoing military operation in Kurram agency, Pakistani security forces fired artillery shells at three suspected militant hideouts in the Mamuzai area on Friday, killing 11 militants and injuring 19 others.[10]
  • After PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s rally in the town of Swabi, unidentified assailants threw two hand grenades at a police van and then opened fire on the crowd, injuring seven people, including four policemen. Khan had already left the rally when the attack occurred.[11]

International Relations

  • On Friday, two Afghan government officials reported that Pakistan arrested two people in connection with the September 20, 2011 assassination of former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani. According to the Afghan officials, the two individuals were arrested last week in Quetta. In response to this report, a Frontier Corps spokesperson and the police chief in Quetta both claimed that they had no knowledge of the arrest. Rabbani, an Afghan peace-broker to the Taliban, was killed at his home in Kabul by “a suicide bomber posing as a peace emissary from the Taliban. Elements of the Afghan government held Pakistan responsible for Rabbani’s death after an Afghan investigation determined that the assassin had been a Pakistani citizen.[12]
  • The Indian government released five Pakistani prisoners arrested for mistakenly crossing the border and handed them over to officials from the Pakistan Rangers at the Wagah border on Friday.[13]
  • During a meeting between Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and President Zardari in Islamabad on Friday, Zardari suggested increasing bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and Pakistan from $375 million to $2 billion in the next three years.[14]

[1] Salman Masood, “Pakistan Supreme Court Rejects Prime Minister’s Appeal,” The New York Times, February 10, 2012. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/11/world/asia/pakistan-prime-minister-gilani-appeal-is-rejected-by-supreme-court.html?_r=1

[2] Declan Walsh, “Court Challenges Put Unusual Spotlight on Pakistani Spy Agency,” The New York Times, February 6, 2012. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/07/world/asia/isi-in-pakistan-faces-court-cases.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

“Missing persons case: SC adjourns hearing till Feb 13,” Geo, February 10, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=34750

[3] “Memogate: Ijaz to record statement via video link,” AFP, February 10, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/334420/memogate-govt-writes-letter-requesting-blackberry-data-from-manufacturer/

“PCNS not to record Ijaz’s statement abroad,” APP, February 10, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/02/10/pcns-not-to-record-ijazs-statement-abroad.html

[4] “Govt offers olive branch to Baloch separatists,” Dawn, February 10, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/02/10/2459281.html

[5] “‘Fifty-nine missing persons recovered in Balochistan,’” Dawn, February 10, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/02/10/%E2%80%98fifty-nine-missing-persons-recovered-in-balochistan%E2%80%99.html

[6] “Police disperses rally for Dr Aafia in Karachi,” Dawn, February 10, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/02/10/police-disperses-rally-for-dr-aafia-in-karachi.html

[7] “US congressional hearing on Balochistan ‘ill-advised’ move: Sherry Rehman,” The Express Tribune, February 10, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/334449/us-congressional-hearing-on-balochistan-ill-advised-move-sherry-rehman/

“US interference on Balochistan issue condemnable: Legislators,” The Express Tribune, February 10, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/02/09/us-interference-on-balochistan-issue-condemnable-legislators.html

[8] Zahid Gishkori, “NATO supplies: Malik refutes Munter’s statement,” The Express Tribune, February 10, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/334451/nato-supplies-malik-refutes-munters-statement/

[9] “PTI will shoot down US drones if it comes to power: Imran,” PPI, February 10, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/02/10/pti-will-shoot-down-us-drones-if-it-comes-to-power-imran.html

[10]11 militants killed in Kurram: Officials,” Reuters, February 10, 2012. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/334433/11-militants-killed-in-north-waziristan-officials/

[11] “Grenades injure seven at Imran Khan rally in Swabi,” AFP, February 10, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/02/10/police-vehicle-attacked-after-pti-swabi-rally.html

[12] “Two held in death of Afghan peace broker: officials,” Associated Press, February 10, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/02/10/two-held-in-death-of-afghan-peace-broker-officials.html

[13] “India releases five Pakistani prisoners,” Geo, February 10, 2012. Available at http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=34815

[14] “Zardari calls for expanding Pakistan-Sri Lanka bilateral trade,” APP, February 10, 2012. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2012/02/10/zardari-calls-for-expanding-pakistan-sri-lanka-bilateral-trade.html

Read more:

http://www.criticalthreats.org/pakistan-security-brief/pakistan-security-brief-february-10-2012

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