- The Pakistani army has stepped in to play an active mediator role between the government and the PTI and PAT protestors, meeting separately with Prime Minister Sharif, Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri — the sides now differ as to who requested that intervention, however, and there are few signs of breakthrough today. A police investigation report into the June clashes in Lahore between police and Qadri supporters was filed on Thursday that included the prime minister and Punjab chief minister, but Qadri rejected it as insufficient, and none of the senior leaders implicated are subject to immediate arrest. UN Special Representative Jan Kubis met with Pres. Karzai to convey the message that the presidential runoff audit will not be concluded in time for the September 2 inauguration, but may be done by September 10. Abdullah campaign spokesmen suggested that a “new framework” was needed for talks between the two candidates, and indicated that they would not accept the results of the ongoing audit. The vice chancellor of Peshawar’s Islamia University, who was kidnapped by the TTP in 2010, has been freed. The head of the Nuristan provincial peace council was killed by unidentified gunmen in Kabul on Thursday.
Pakistan — Security
- Vice Chancellor Recovered: Ajmal Khan, the vice chancellor of Islamia University in Peshawar who was kidnapped by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan in September 2010, was freed on Thursday. A military statement indicated he had been released in connection to the ongoing military operation in North Waziristan’s Shawal area, but there have been no details on how his freeing took place. [ET] [AFP]
- Balochistan Journalists Killed: Unidentified gunmen attacked the offices of the Online News agency in Quetta on Thursday evening, killing bureau chief Irshad Mastoi and reporter Ghullam Rasool, as well as Muhammad Younas, an accountant. No claim of responsibility has been reported. [Dawn]
- Lashkar-e-Taiba Leader Sanctioned: The U.S. Treasury Department has sanctioned the Asma Money Changers group of Lahore, identifying it as an affiliate of Lashkar-e-Taiba and its owner, Muhammad Iqbal, as a member of the governing board of LeT’s Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation charitable wing.
Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- Army Steps in as Broker Between Government and Protestors: On Thursday, Prime Minister Sharif met with Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif for the second time in three days, for talks on the current political crisis. Afterwards, a spokesman for the prime minister said that the two leaders had “agreed to take necessary measures for resumption of the stalled process of negotiations” between the government and the PTI and PAT protestors. Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri met separately with General Sharif later that evening, with each later indicating that the military had requested they delay ultimatums to the government and resume negotiations for at least another 24 hours. There are no reports of direct or indirect negotiations between the two sides thus far today, however. Khan told supporters that the army had pledged to ensure “a transparent and fair investigation” of election rigging allegations, but reiterated his demands for the prime minister to step down. Qadri suggested that the army would “work out a formula, a total reform package”. A number of political opposition leaders criticized the turn to the military as mediator – among them, PTI president Javed Hashmi, who described it as a “shameful time for all politicians who, despite having the time, could not resolve the crisis on their own”. Prime Minister Sharif and General Sharif are due to meet again today. Speaking in the National Assembly on Friday, Prime Minister Sharif said that the decision to request army intervention “was taken on a request by the protesting parties,” who had rejected all other mediators. He suggested that Qadri and Khan requested the meeting with the chief of army staff, who “sought my permission and I allowed him” to do so. Both Qadri and Khan later rejected that account. [AJE] [BBC] [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn]
- FIR Registered Over Lahore Clashes: On Thursday, the government relented, and police carried out the registration of a First Information Report against 21 people, including Prime Minister Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, in connection to the June clash between Lahore police and Pakistan Awami Tehreek activists. None of the senior officials named are currently subject to arrest. Tahirul Qadri rejected the FIR, saying that it should have been filed under the Anti Terrorism Act rather than the basic penal code of Pakistan. [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn]
Pakistan — Remainders
- Pervaiz Khattak Dismisses Dissident Threat to KP Government [Dawn] [ET]
- Three Security Personnel Injured in Attack on Convoy in Balochistan [Dawn]
- Tax Filing Deadline Extended as Government Struggles to Set Up Online Portal [ET]
- PIA Cleared to Resume EU Cargo Shipments [ET]
- Hubco Puts Coal-Conversion Plan on Hold [ET]
- Commentary: The Pretender to Pakistan’s Throne – “For now, the most Khan is likely to achieve in challenging Sharif is further strengthening the military’s already strong hold on key decisions guiding the country’s future.” [Mosharraf Zaidi, South Asia Channel]
Afghanistan — Security
- Nuristan High Peace Council Chief Killed: Haji Abdul Halim, the leader of the Nuristan provincial peace council and a former Hezb-e-Islami commander, was killed by unidentified gunmen in Kabul on Thursday evening while returning from evening prayers. One suspect has reportedly been arrested.
- Detainee Releases: In TOLO interviews, several northern officials, including the Baghlan police chief and Faryab governor Mohammadullah Batash, join the increasing public criticism from security officials over the Karzai government’s push to release Taliban fighters from detention, saying many current commanders are former detainees.
Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- Audit Process Will Not Finish By Sept 2: UN Special Representative Jan Kubis met with Pres. Karzai on Thursday; a statement afterwards indicated that Kubis had conveyed the message that the ongoing presidential runoff audit would not be completed in time for Karzai’s set Sept 2 date for the inauguration of the next president. The UN said that “a rigorous and credible audit required time, but could be completed around 10 September“. Karzai’s reaction to the message has not yet been reported, although a presidential spokesman said earlier that he was “packed up already” and ready to leave. An Abdullah campaign spokesman said Thursday that “continuing the audit is illogical; we will not accept the result as the process does not have any credibility to us,” and that “further political discussions must be on the basis of a new framework”. The Independent Election Commission has entered data from 13,000 audit checklists and are due to meet on Friday for a third round of decisions on ballot box results invalidation. [WAPO] [AFP] [TOLO]
Afghanistan — Remainders
- Over 900 Killed in Continued Helmand Fighting [TOLO]
- Commentary: Afghanistan’s Troubled Economy – “The new Business Tendency Survey Report, released by the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) in August, points to a clear worsening of the situation: business conditions have deteriorated rapidly, orders are contracting, firms are closing shop, and layoffs are becoming more widespread.” [Shehzad Qazi and Erika Schaefer, South Asia Channel]
- Commentary: Will the ‘Heart of Asia’ Start Beating? A Review of the Regional Cooperation Process – “One reason for the sluggish progress is the lack of agreement among participating and supporting states and organisations over how a regional initiative on this scale should be organised and funded.” [S Reza Kazemi, AAN]