Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff to meet U.S. Generals to discuss November NATO incident; Pakistani opposition leaders resistant to recommendations on U.S.-Pakistan relations; Rep. Dana Rohrabacher alleges that Pakistan has “radical Islam[ist]” government; Two major U.S. oil companies interested in TAPI pipeline; German embassy employee found dead in Islamabad; Unidentified assailants blow up gas pipeline in Peshawar; German-Afghan man on trial for being part of al Qaeda claims innocence; Indian Prime Minister meets with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani; Leaked letter describes weaknesses in Indian military; Delegation of Pakistani defense and security officials meet with French counterparts; Pakistan’s Supreme Court to hear Hussain Haqqani’s petition to record his statement via video link; Yemen urges Pakistan to release Osama bin Laden’s widow and children.
- The Pakistani military announced that Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani will meet with CENTCOM Commander General James Mattis and U.S. Commander in Afghanistan General John Allen in Islamabad on Wednesday to discuss the November 26 incident in which NATO forces killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. According to a senior Pakistani military official, the meeting will also “look at border security and coordination measures and how to improve them.”
- Pakistani opposition leaders were resistant to the Parliamentary Committee on National Security’s (PCNS) recommendations on U.S.-Pakistan relations during Tuesday’s proceedings of the joint session of Parliament. Opposition Leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan pointed to a clause that called for bringing to justice those responsible for the November cross-border attack, and said that since the U.S. has refused to even admit that it was at fault in this instance, there would be no use in passing such recommendations. Chief of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Maulana Fazlur Rehman warned that if the government passed any resolution unilaterally, the JUI-F would not let it be implemented. Rehman added that making the reopening of NATO supply routes conditional on a U.S. apology was the “easy way out,” because the U.S. “would do whatever it takes to serve its purpose.” Senator Rabbani attempted to alleviate the opposition’s concerns by reminding them that the government would not have closed the NATO supply routes and had the Shamsi airbase vacated “if it wanted to satisfy the [U.S.]”
- According to a senior advisor to the Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy in the U.S., two “major [U.S.] oil companies are interested” in the Turkmenistan Afghanistan Pakistan India (TAPI) pipeline. The proposed pipeline is expected to transport natural gas from Turkmenistan’s gas fields through Afghanistan into Pakistan and then finally to India. The governments of the four countries are planning to finalize the TAPI pipeline deal by July 31, 2012.
- Three U.S. Congressmen, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, Rep. Louie Gohmert and Rep. Steve King, sought “self-determination” for the “oppressed” people of Balochistan at a news conference held at the National Press Club on Tuesday. Rohrabacher alleged that Pakistan has a “radical Islam[ist]” government that has been “providing weapons and resources to radical Muslim elements” who use them against the U.S. He added that Pakistan is not a friend of the U.S., but is “really our enemy.”
- The Express Tribune reported on Wednesday that police recovered the bodies of a German embassy employee and one other unidentified person from Rawal Dam in Islamabad. The employee, Fayaz Ali, had been reported missing by his family on March 22. According to investigators, the dead bodies were four to five days old, but investigators have still not determined if the two men were murdered.
- Unidentified assailants blew up a gas pipeline on the Ring Road in Peshawar on Wednesday morning. No casualties were reported from the explosion.
- A German-Afghan man on trial in a German state court for providing funds to al Qaeda claimed on Tuesday that the funds were not intended for terrorism. Ahmad Wali Siddiqui had previously told the court that he lived in an apartment in Pakistan near the Afghan border that was provided by al Qaeda, but he was not an al Qaeda member. On Tuesday, Siddiqui testified that he transferred money from Hamburg to an al Qaeda contact in Pakistan in 2010, but he said that he never saw the money again and that it was intended for his own expenses.
- A policeman was killed and another was injured when unknown gunmen opened fire on the home of a Shariat Court judge in the Mumtazabad area of Multan on Wednesday.
- Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh briefly met with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani during the nuclear summit in Seoul on Tuesday. According to the Indian Foreign Secretary, Singh and Gilani had a “very good meeting,” and Singh said he “plans to visit Pakistan” and “wants to make some concrete developments in the India-Pakistan relationship.” Speaking to an Indian news agency after the meeting, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar emphasized that both countries recognized “the need to go beyond the stage of dealing with the ‘trust deficit’ and move towards a ‘result-oriented dialogue.’” Khar said that it was fortunate that both Pakistani and Indian leaders were “committed to taking the bilateral relationship forward through dialogue,” but she added that “the people of both countries need to have the confidence that this dialogue will help Pakistan and India resolve their issues.” Read the rest of this entry »
Interior Minister Rehman Malik says eight suicide bombers are likely in Islamabad; Security is enhanced in Islamabad and Rawalpindi after terror threats; Kidnapped American aid worker is “alive and in good health;” Seven foreigners kidnapped in Pakistan in past six months; Haqqani Network publishes guidelines for militants; Six Frontier Corps soldiers killed by Baloch rebels; Troops kill 20 militants in Kurram Agency; Head of Landi Kotal chapter of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) shot dead; Pakistan offers harsh response to NATO report; Pakistan denies obstructing UN Conference on Disarmament; Thousands of supply trucks crowding Karachi port due to closed NATO supply routes; Pakistan’s Foreign Office says U.S. sanctions do not cover Pak-Iran gas pipeline; Pakistan ranked 151 of 179 countries in 2011 World Press Freedom Index; Lawyers observe a strike over killing of three Shia lawyers; Pakistani prime minister’s former media coordinator sentenced to three years in prison for fraud; Parliamentary Committee on National Security summons Mansoor Ijaz on February 10.
- Over the last four days, four threats have “been received from the Tehrik-e-Taliban [Pakistan (TTP)]– two for Rawalpindi and Islamabad and two for the rest of the country.” On Thursday, Interior Minister Rehman Malik revealed intelligence reports that “eight suicide bombers have entered the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.” According to The News, a “high-level meeting” was held in the Ministry of Interior to address the terrorist threats. Chaired by Malik, the meeting “reviewed law and order and security situation of the federal capital.” The leadership decided to enhance the security of all officials and sensitive federal buildings, as well as to develop a “fresh plan of deployment” for the Ranger units.
- According to McClatchy Newspapers, Warren Weinstein, the 70-year-old American aid contractor who was kidnapped in Pakistan on August 13, is “alive and in good health.” Weinstein is being held in North Waziristan by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Pakistani al Qaeda affiliate. In an interview last week, a ranking Pakistani militant said that Weinstein “is being provided all available medical treatment, including regular checkups by a doctor and the medicines prescribed for him before he was plucked.” According to a security analyst in Islamabad with Pakistani militant contacts, “Weinstein’s captors had no plans to harm him,” but will “use him as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the Pakistani authorities.”
- In the past six months, seven foreigners have been kidnapped in Pakistan, “highlighting the security threat in the country and hampering aid efforts.” According to The Associated Press, “Islamist militants, separatist rebels or regular criminals are suspected in the abductions, with motives ranging from ransom, publicity or concessions from the U.S. or Pakistani governments such as prisoner releases or a halt to army operations.” Aine Fay, chairman of the Pakistan Humanitarian Forum representing 42 international aid groups operating in Pakistan, expressed her concern for those that have been kidnapped, as well as the “ability of the NGOs to carry out the work.” Read the rest of this entry »