Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Jammat-e-Islami Proposes Compromise Between PTI and Govt; Ghani and Abdullah Still in Talks

Topline

  • The Jamaat-e-Islami-led opposition jirga has proposed a compromise agreement intended to meet he demands of PTI and PAT protestors; the agreement calls for Prime Minister Sharif to agree in advance to resign if investigations into alleged vote rigging is proven “and if it is established that he became the prime minister as a result of such rigging”. Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani met on Thursday and Friday with international diplomats and veteran anti-Soviet jihad leaders, with both sides suggesting that their talks were ongoing but no agreement announced. Pakistan State Oil is on the verge of suspending fuel supplies to Pakistan International Airlines, as its unpaid dues mount and its own suppliers have begun cutting it off. Additional reports indicate the Karachi University professor killed on Thursday had been accused of blasphemy by former colleagues, and had received death threats.

Pakistan — Security

  • Waziristan Operations: The Pakistani military announced on Thursday that it had killed 23 militant suspects in North Waziristan airstrikes in the Zerom and Ismail Khel areas. At a press conference in Peshawar on Thursday, displaced Waziristan residents complained that police and customs officials had been illegally impounding their vehicles after they resisted paying bribes. [AJE] [Dawn]
  • Karachi Professor Killed: Additional reporting on the shooting death on Thursday of Karachi University dean of Islamic Studies Muhammad Shakil Auj indicates that he had been receiving death threats since giving a speech in the United States, after which four university professors, including the former dean, accused him of blasphemy. Auj had also taken unorthodox liberal positions that drew complaints. The Karachi University Teachers’ Society has announced an indefinite boycott of all academic activities following his death. [AJE]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Mediation Proposal Released: The Jamaat-e-Islami-led opposition jirga seeking to mediate between the government, PTI, and PAT released a proposal for resolving the deadlock on Thursday. The proposal calls for an independent commission to address the PTI’s allegations of vote rigging over a 45-day period, and for Prime Minister Sharif to announce in advance his intention to resign “if systematic rigging is proved and if it is established that he became the prime minister as a result of such rigging”. The proposal also recommends that investigations into mid-June clashes between Lahore police and PAT activists be transferred to the jurisdiction of another province. Prime Minister Sharif met with parliamentary party heads on Friday to discuss the proposal.  Speaking in the National Assembly on Friday at the conclusion of the current joint session of parliament, Sharif expressed his thanks to parliament for it support, criticizing protestors and saying that “governments can only be changed through democratic means”. Imran Khan reiterated on Thursday that he would not give up his sit-in without Sharif’s resignation and would not hold talks with the government while PTI activists were under arrest. [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]
  • Corruption Cases: On Friday, a National Accountability Bureau court acquitted Prime Minister Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif of a 14-year old money laundering charge brought by the former Musharraf government, citing the absence of any witnesses. The Lahore High Court began hearings on Friday on a petition brought against 61 lawmakers, including the Sharif brothers and Imran Khan, accused of illegally transferring their assets abroad. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Energy Crisis: Pakistan State Oil has warned that it will be unable to meet the fuel requirements of Pakistan International Airlines beginning next week, after the National Refinery Ltd halted the supply of jet fuel to PSO, which is again on the verge of default to its suppliers. PIA owes PSO roughly Rs 10 billion in overdue fuel payments, and is being supplied on credit. PIA officials downplayed the issue as a “matter of routine”.
  • Polio Crisis: Six more polio cases were recorded around the country on Thursday, bringing the total nationwide to 164. [Dawn]
  • Floodwaters Reach Sindh: Although floodwaters have diminished from their peak as the flood has entered northern Sindh, several villages in the area have been inundated. The National Disaster Management Authority reports that there have been 323 deaths from the flooding, most concentrated in Punjab or Azad Jammu and Kashmir. [ET] [Dawn]
  • Tax Revenues: The Federal Board of Revenue signed a memorandum of understanding with the UK’s Department for International Development on Thursday to support the improvement of Pakistan’s tax system. [ET]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Three Lashkar-e-Islam Militants Killed in Bara Roadside Bombing [Dawn]
  • Former Musharraf Lawyers Receive Attorney General Appointments [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • MQM Renews Call for More Provinces [ET] [Dawn]
  • FATA Tribunal Seeks Complete Shakil Afridi Record [ET]
  • Explosives Seized in Quetta [Dawn]
  • Election Tribunal Orders Re-Election in NA-267 Quetta Seat [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Market Attack: Details are limited, but at least two Afghan soldiers and a civilian are reported to have been killed in an attack on a market in the Shindand district in Herat on Friday.
  • Border Tensions: Turkmenistan armed forces are alleged to have crossed into Afghan territory in Faryab, building fences and trenches in order to repel Taliban fighters; the Afghan government has yet to comment on the issue. Meanwhile, several hundred people protested against Pakistani artillery attacks into eastern Afghanistan in a rally in Kabul on Thursday.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Election Deadlock: Spokesmen for Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani expressed optimism after the two talks on Thursday, which were attended by UN Special Representative Jan Kubis and the ambassadors from the UK and US. A spokesman for Ghani suggested that a final agreement on the formation of a national unity government might be reached today. The two candidates met again on Friday with anti-Soviet jihad veterans as well as senior government officials, where they reported “considerable progress” but did not announce a deal. Kubis briefed the UN Security Council on Thursday, stressing that that there was “no better way forward” than a unity government arrangement. On Thursday, the Electoral Complaints Commission said that it had completed its review of complaints filed related to the election audit, overturning the invalidation of 28 out of 1,124 polling stations. Those findings have been referred to the Independent Election Commission, which may itself appeal the results. [TOLO] [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Prosecutors Seeking Stiffer Sentence Against Pakistani TV Reporter Who Met With Taliban [ET]
  • Commentary: Two Kings Can’t Share Afghanistan’s Kingdom – “Even if both candidates reach an agreement to form a unity government, and even if they are able to define the responsibilities and authorities of a new Chief Executive, the arrangement is likely to break down in practice as trust between the two sides has disappeared.” [Shahmahmood Miakhel, South Asia Channel]
  • Commentary: How We Missed Mullah Omar – “The story of how confusion over [Predator drone] technology’s first deployment effectively ruined the U.S. military’s clearest opportunity to kill the elusive Mullah Omar.” [Richard Whittle, Politico]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: New Military Appointments Expected Soon; Abdullah Seeks More Vote Disqualifications

Topline

  • Appointments and promotions for the new head of the ISI and five new corps commanders may come as soon as next week, the BBC Urdu service reports. Abdullah Abdullah has sought the disqualification of additional votes by the Electoral Complaints Commission in order to narrow Ashraf Ghani’s margin of victory and retain the support of his backers, Reuters reports. In a Post inreview, Ghani suggests that an announcement of final results, which Abdullah has sought to block, could come this Saturday. The Election Commission of Pakistan has accepted Imran Khan’s petition to review ballots cast in the NA-122 Lahore constituency where he lost to national assembly speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq. The Islamabad High Court has sought to reassert the role of the magistracy in controlling police arrests around the PTI and PAT sit-ins. The Afghan finance ministry sought to downplay yesterday’s report in the Post about the need for an immediate $537 million assistance package. The attack on the Karachi Naval Dockyards last week was intended to seize control of a Pakistani frigate and turn its weapons systems on U.S. ships in the Indian Ocean, Pakistani security officials tell the WSJ.

Pakistan — Security

  • New Military Appointments: Dawn, citing the BBC Urdu service, reports that new appointments for the director general of the ISI and five other senior corps commanders are likely to be announced next week, ahead of their scheduled retirements in October; sources suggest that Lahore Corps Commander Lt Gen Naveed Zaman and National Defense University president Lt Gen Javed Iqbal Ramday are among the top contenders for the ISI position. Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif is also said to be considering the promotion of Major Generals Nazeer Butt and Rizwan Akhtar to the lieutenant general rank so that they can be put under consideration for the postings. [ET]
  • Karachi Violence: Shakeel Auj, the dean of the Islamic Studies department at the University of Karachi, was killed by unidentified gunmen on Thursday. All universities in Sindh have suspended classes following the attack; no claim of responsibility has been reported. Separately on Wednesday, police said they killed seven militant suspects from the Tehreek-e-Taliban’s Waliur Rehman group (now headed by Khan Zaman) during a raid in the Sohrab Goth district. Residents of the area protested afterwards, saying that innocent people were being killed in the name of the TTP, and demanded an investigation. [Dawn]
  • Karachi Dockyard Attack: Further reporting by the WSJ on last week’s attack by the new Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent affiliate on the Karachi Naval Dockyards indicate that the attackers had been planning on seizing the PNS Zulfiqar and joining an international naval coalition in the Indian Ocean, which the Pakistani navy had assumed command of in mid-August. There “the plan was to get close to the U.S. ships on the high seas, and then turn the shipboard weapon systems on the Americans”, according to Pakistani security officials.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Protest Standoff: Speaking in Attock on Wednesday, Prime Minister Sharif rebuffed the continued calls for his resignation, saying that he would not “step down on just the wishes of 5,000 people”. Also on Wednesday, the Election Commission of Pakistan accepted a petition by Imran Khan seeking a review of ballots cast in the NA-122 constituency in Lahore, which Khan contested and lost to Sardar Ayaz Sadiq of the PML-N, now the speaker of the national assembly. The NA-122 seat is one of four that the PTI had initially sought full investigations of alleged vote rigging; no date for the review has yet been set. Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court quashed all police investigation reports against PTI and PAT activists for violating Section 144 orders barring public assembly, and ordered the deployment of district magistrates to the sit-in venue “to ensure that no innocent people or peaceful protesters are arrested, manhandled or assaulted by the police.” At a meeting of senior PTI leaders on Wednesday, the party decided that Imran Khan would visit Karachi on Sunday to “spread this movement all over the country”. In parliamentary proceedings, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan criticized Khyber Paktunkhwa Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak for neglecting his duties in the province. [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Flooding Reaches Sindh: Peak floodwaters entered Sindh on Wednesday, but at much lower levels than has been experienced further upstream in Punjab over the past week. The National Disaster Management Authority reports that around 2,000 schools and 17,000 have been destroyed in Punjab. [Dawn]
  • Polio Crisis: Two more polio cases were reported in Karachi on Wednesday, bringing the national total to 164 so far this year.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • PPP Senators Propose New Civil-Military Committees [ET]
  • Aafia Siddiqi Seeks to Drop US Legal Appeal [Reuters]
  • National Accountability Bureau Initiates Probe Against Three Balochistan Ministers [Dawn]
  • Fugitive Former Chicago Comprotller to be Repatriated to US [ET]
  • Electronic Voting Only Possible with Parliamentary Approval, Election Commission Says [Dawn]
  • Asian Development Bank Backs Benazir Income Support Program [ET] [AFP]
  • Financial Troubles Forestalls PSO Privatization [ET]
  • Two Years On, YouTube Remains Blocked [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Tensions With Pakistan: In testimony before parliament on Wednesday, Interior Minister Omar Daudzai highlighted the recent statement by the Punjabi Taliban that they would redirect their activities to Afghanistan, saying that “Pakistani militia forces disguised as Taliban fighters have declared war in Afghanistan”. Kunar provincial officials say that Punjabi Taliban fighters were among 22 killed in clashes with security forces in the Ghaziabad district on Wednesday evening. In Pakistan, the foreign ministry summoned the deputy chief of mission from the Afghan embassy to formally protest a cross-border attack in North Waziristan on Tuesday, conveying “serious concerns” on the “developing threats from the recently established sanctuaries across the border in Khost and Paktika provinces”. [TOLO]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Election Deadlock: US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Daniel Feldman met with Pres. Karzai on Wednesday. Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani failed to make progress in national unity government talks on Tuesday, which as reported yesterday are now deadlocked over Abdullah’s insistence that final results not be released until after an agreement is reached. Abdullah negotiators have also called for the invalidation of more ballots by the Electoral Complaints Commission in order to produce a more narrow margin between the two candidates “so that he could sell the deal to his backers”. Ghani officials rejected both proposals. Prominent supporter Atta Mohammad Noor reiterated that Abdullah was the “real winner” of both rounds of the presidential elections in a statement on Wednesday. In an interview with the Post on Thursday, Ghani suggested that results would be announced by Saturday, and said that as the new chief executive officer, Abdullah would have power to “implement the policies of the government”. Ghani also said that the convening of a loya jirga for constitutional amendments within two year’s time would affirm an “executive prime minister” position but that he would not lead parliament and “the system will remain presidential”. [TOLO]

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Finance Ministry Denies ‘Emergency’: In comments to TOLO, a spokesman for the Afghan Finance Ministry sought to downplay yesterday’s Washington Post article, in which the head of the treasury department had said that the government was seeking an emergency infusion of $537 million in aid from foreign donors in order to be able to meet salary payments and other operational expenses in October. The spokesman tells TOLO that “the aid package request is not out of emergency, but rather just to meet the full budget deficit for this year.”

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Defense Minister Accuses Lawmaker Ramazan Bashardost of Spying [Khaama Press]
  • Suicide Attack on Nangarhar NDS Office Thwarted [Khaama Press]
  • More Details on Stabbing Death of Mazar-e-Sharif Journalist [NYT]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Afghan Government Seeking Immediate Aid to Pay Salaries; Protests Continue in Islamabad

Topline

  • The Afghan government is in “critical” financial straits and needs an infusion of $537 million from external donors within the next week in order to make its October salary payments, Afghan finance ministry officials tell the Post. No breakthroughs have been reported in talks between Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah over the formation of a national unity government. Imran Khan continues to lead protest sit-ins in Islamabad; government officials suggested that they may bring more legal cases against PTI and PAT activists. Peak flooding in the Chenab river has started to decline after more breaches in embankments in southern Punjab. More than 1,500 Afghan police have been killed so far this year, the Interior Minister reported yesterday. The Asian Development Bank will not meet Pakistan’s financing request for the Diamer Bhasha Dam. Pakistan’s Finance Ministry has indicated it will not make more payments to Pakistan State Oil, which is again facing default.

Pakistan — Security

  • Waziristan Operations: In a statement on Wednesday, the Pakistani military reported that it had killed as many as 40 militants in airstrikes in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan; more sorties were carried out Tuesday in the Khyber Agency, where the military says it killed 23 militants. Independent confirmation of these casualties figures is not possible.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Protests Continue: In an interview with the Express Tribune, Imran Khan said that he had received assurances from Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif that five of his six demands related to electoral reforms and investigations into rigging in the 2013 elections would be met, but no guarantee of Prime Minister Sharif’s resignation; Khan maintained that the army was not supporting his campaign, however, which he said was succeeding at “waking the masses” against corruption in the system. The party has again set a large attendance target for Friday. At the rally on Tuesday, PTI officials welcomed a man claiming to be a police officer from Faisalabad; police officials they have no record of his employment. At a press conference on Tuesday, other PTI leaders said that they had not closed the door to talks, and put the blame for their cessation on the police crackdown last week. Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid told reporters on Tuesday that the government was considering more legal cases against PTI and PAT leaders, suggesting that “we will unmask them in courts and curb this lawlessness”.  The Islamabad High Court is hearing PTI challenges against the imposition of Section 144 in Islamabad, directing the district commissioner to testify. The PAT filed murder charges with police against Prime Minister Sharif and other officials in connection to the deaths of three protestors in Islamabad on August 30. [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET] [Reuters]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Floodwaters Waning: The peak flood on the Chenab river weakened on Tuesday as a result of more embankment breaches and the diversion of floodwaters into surrounding rural areas in the Alipur and Jatoi tehsils near Muzaffaragah. Further north in Kashmir, health workers are now warning that stagnant waters are increasing the risk of disease outbreaks. In an interview with Reuters, Jamaat-ud-Dawa leader Hafeez Saeed lays blame on India for the crisis, accusing it of deliberately releasing floodwaters into Pakistan, claims which experts and Indian officials dismiss. [Dawn]
  • Energy Infrastructure: In meetings with Finance Minister Dar on Tuesday, the Asian Development Bank’s visiting president Takehiko Nakao urged Pakistan to mobilize its own domestic resources to finance the construction of the $13 billion Diamer Bhasha Dam project. At a senate committee hearing on Tuesday, senators expressed concerns at the high promised rate of return for Chinese-financed energy projects. [ET]
  • Energy Crisis: Finance Ministry officials tell the Express Tribune that they will not release additional funds for Pakistan State Oil, laying blame on the Water and Power Ministry for failing to disburse Rs 40 billion to power companies who in turn owe PSO Rs 190 billion, pushing it near default on its supplier credit obligations.
  • Polio Crisis: Thirteen new polio cases were reported on Tuesday, the majority from FATA and Khyber Paktunkhwa, bringing the total number of cases nationwide to 158 so far this year. [ET]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • London Police Appeal for More Information in Imran Farooq Murder Case [ET]
  • Musharraf Trial Debates Authority to Impose Emergency Rule [Dawn]
  • Election Commission to Appoint its Own Officers as Returning Officials [ET]
  • Altaf Hussain Calls for More Provinces [Dawn] [ET]
  • Court Stays Execution of Murder Convict [Dawn]
  • Supreme Court Issues Contempt Order Over Government Failure to Regularize Female Health Workers [ET]
  • National Accountability Bureau Preparing Investigation Against Khyber Paktunkhwa Chief Minister’s Advisor [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Security

  • ANSF Casualties: In testimony before the Afghan Senate on Tuesday, senior defense officials said that 2014 had been the “deadliest year” in the conflict within the Taliban, with Afghan security forces “fighting alone” against 691 Taliban offensives, supported by “foreign Taliban” from Pakistan. Interior Minister Omar Daudzai indicated that 1,523 Afghan National Police and Afghan Local Police had been killed so far this year.
  • Civilian Casualties: Kunar police report that the Taliban burned the homes of six families in the Marwara district on Tuesday, forcing 154 families to flee, in retaliation after a clash with local police earlier this week. In Helmand, two civilians were killed and three wounded in a roadside bombing in Musa Qala.
  • Journalist Killed: Palwasha Tokhi Miranzai, a journalist with the Bayan-e-Shamal news network, was killed in her home in Mazar-e-Sharif on Wednesday. There has been no claim of responsibility and security officials said the motive for her murder was currently unclear.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Campaign Deadlock: Despite optimistic statements from the presidency, the Abdullah and Ghani campaign appear to still be deadlocked over the question of the balance of power between the next president and the new chief executive position. The Abdullah campaign is also reportedly seeking to ensure that the announcement of audit results by the Independent Election Commission does not specify a winner and loser of the runoff election. Both sides profess optimism, however. The Independent Election Commission said Wednesday that it would not wait for an agreement between Ghani and Abdullah to announce final results, although it has not specified when that announcement will take place.

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Fiscal Crisis: The Afghan Finance Ministry’s director general of the treasury, Alhaj M. Aqa, tells the Post that the government is now facing “critical” financial shortfalls and will be unable to pay its October salary bill unless it receives $537 million in immediate assistance from the U.S. and other international donors within “five or six days”. Without the assistance, Aqa indicated that the government would begin deferring payments for other items such as fuel for government vehicles. The U.S. embassy said in a statement that it was ““working to find ways to help the new government meet some of its challenges and priorities using resources already allocated.”

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Pakistan Says Afghan Allegations of Involvement in Terrorist Activities “Unfounded and Counterproductive” [Dawn] [ET]
  • Afghan Policemen Vanish During US Training Visit [Khaama Press]
  • Commentary: Victory Lab Kabul – “Ghani ran a smarter, more popular, and more proactive campaign than Abdullah, who was already positioned for defeat going into the run-off election.” [Hamdullah Mohib, Foreign Policy]
  • Commentary: Experience with ‘Goverments of National Unity’ Elsewhere – “Although many of the details, for example, of the outbreaks of election-related violence and external mediation to stop it in Kenya and Zimbabwe, look similar to the Afghan situation, there are serious differences in how the balance between power-holders and opposition is configured, how strong institutions are and how they interact.” [Thomas Ruttig, AAN]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Deal Reportedly Near Between Abdullah and Ghani; Khan Calls for Supreme Court Intervention

Topline

  • Following meetings in the presidential palace on Monday, a spokesman for Pres. Karzai suggests that there has been a “breakthrough” and that a deal between Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani is close to finalization. The Electoral Complaints Commission will begin hearing challenges to the IEC’s audit findings on Wednesday. Imran Khan continues to lead protests in Islamabad, appealing to the Supreme Court to intervene and calling for a surge of attendance this Friday. Angry protestors forced Prime Minister Sharif to cut short a visit to flood-affected areas of Multan on Monday, and attacked local officials and parliamentarians in Muzaffaragah. A suicide bombing outside a US Special Forces base in Kabul has killed three soldiers, at least one of whom was identified as a Polish officer. An ISAF trainer was killed by an Afghan soldier in Herat on Monday. Pakistan’s chief military spokesman said Monday that Operation Zarb-e-Azb has dispersed the TTP’s command structure, “neutralizing” their ability to carry out attacks.

Pakistan — Security

  • Waziristan Operations: In a BBC Urdu interview on Monday, the military’s chief spokesman, Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa, said that Operation Zarb-e-Azb had “neutralized” the Pakistani Taliban’s capacity to carry out terrorist attacks, and that “the second tier of command structure of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has either been killed or arrested during the operation.” ISAF Commander Gen. John Campbell met with Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif on Monday to discuss the Waziristan operations and other cross-border security issues, his first visit since assuming command of ISAF in June. On Tuesday, a group of militants crossing from the Afghan side of the border into North Waziristan clashed with Pakistani ground forces, killing three Frontier Corps soldiers; eleven militants were killed and one captured. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Protests Continue: In his nightly speech to supporters on Monday, Imran Khan called on the Supreme Court to take notice of the police arrests of PTI and PAT activists last week; five PTI sit-in attendees were arrested on Tuesday morning, resulting in clashes with police, before their eventual release. On Tuesday, Khan called on supporters to turn out en masse this Friday, warning that “the people of this nation will not tolerate injustices any longer” and that the Supreme Court “now [has] the responsibility of saving Pakistan’s democracy”. The Supreme Court previously refused to hear a PTI petition seeking Prime Minister Sharif’s disqualification from office on the grounds that he had lied during remarks to parliament; the PTI filed an appeal on Monday, which the court has agreed to hear. [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET] [ET]
  • Special Elections: The Election Commission has set the by-election for former PTI leader Javed Hashmi’s now vacant NA-149 Multan seat for October 16, with nomination papers due by September 22. Hashmi has indicated he will run for the seat as an independent; the PPP has named a candidate, and the PML-N and PTI are said to be debating whether or not to contest the seat so as to support or punish Hashmi for his earlier resignation from the PTI. Meanwhile, the Election Commission disqualified Maulvi Agha Muhammad, a JUI-F national assembly member, on Tuesday on grounds of holding a fake education degree. Re-elections have been ordered in the NA-261 Pishin-Ziarat constituency. [ET]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Flood Relief: Prime Minister Sharif visited flood-affected areas of Multan on Monday, pledging assistance; Sindh is now preparing for the wave of floodwaters around Guddu and Sukkur. Crowds of protestors angry at the slow pace of relief forced Sharif to cut short meetings with local displaced residents; independent parliamentarian Jamshed Dasti of Muzafarragah and other district administrators were also attacked by protestors after floodwaters were diverted into outlying rural areas in order to save the city from flood. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Proposal Raised to Import LNG from Iran [ET] [ET]
  • Ambassador’s Remarks that Hafiz Saeed is ‘Free to Roam’ Spark Criticism in India [ET]
  • Supreme Court Hears Defamation Case Against ARY [Dawn]
  • Quetta Journalists Make Human Chain to Mourn Slain Colleagues [Dawn]
  • Pakistan and Germany Move Towards Strategic Dialogue [Dawn]
  • Foreign Direct Investment Drops 37% Year-on-Year in First Two Months of Fiscal Year [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Attacks on Kabul Base:  A suicide car bombing targeting a convoy at the gates of an American Special Operations base in Kabul on Tuesday killed three soldiers and wounded five, also wounding at least thirteen civilian bystanders. The nationality of all the ISAF soldiers killed has not been disclosed but the Polish military said that one of its officers was among the dead and two others had been wounded. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. [NYT] [BBC] [AJE] [AFP] [Khaama Press]
  • Insider Attack: An ISAF training officer was killed by an Afghan soldier at a base in Herat on Monday; the commander of the 207 Zafar Army Corps tells TOLO that the gunman, who was killed during the exchange of fire, was not linked to the Taliban and had “psychological problems”. ISAF said it was investigating the incident. [Khaama Press]
  • Torkham Crossing Attacked: Two suicide bombers attacked the Torkham border crossing in Nangarhar on Monday evening, destroying as many as 26 fuel tankers before they were killed by security forces.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Karzai Suggests Deal Soon: Following meetings between Pres. Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani on Monday, a spokesman for Karzai said that there had been a “breakthrough” and suggested that the two sides were near an agreement on sharing power through a national unity government. No details were disclosed, but on Tuesday a Ghani spokesman said that “if no new issues arise … it is possible and expected that it could be concluded at the meeting today”. The Ghani spokesman noted that the election results must be accepted as part of the deal, as “for the government of national unity to be shared, there must be a legitimately elected and accepted president.” The AP reports that the two sides had reached consensus over the weekend on whether the president must reach “agreement” on key decisions with the new chief executive – the Abdullah position – or “consultation”, with the UN proposing the chief executive should “coordinate cabinet activities”. On Monday, the Independent Election Commission said that it had invalidated results from 1,028 polling stations during the course of the audit and recount process. The results of the audit were shared with the campaigns and the Electoral Complaints Commission, beginning a 72-hour period in which any challenges to the IEC’s decisions are to be filed and decided by the ECC, allowing for the announcement of final results by the end of the week. The WSJ notes that the divisions of the election campaign are echoed within the Afghan security services; Abdullah’s running mate Mohammad Mohaqeq warns that “our team is very wide, and if the results of the election are not accepted, then I am not sure that all the security forces will obey Ashraf Ghani”.  [Khaama Press] [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • NDS Announces Arrest of Kidnapping Network Head [TOLO]
  • Appeals Court Affirms Death Sentence for Rapist Group [NYT] [BBC] [TOLO]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Arrests Derail PML-N – PTI Talks; Afghan Election Still Deadlocked

Topline

  • The arrest of as many as 576 Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek activists in Islamabad and Lahore on Friday led Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri to call off all negotiations with the government, demanding their release. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan defended the arrests, saying those detained had been responsible for attacks on state property; the Islamabad High Court ordered at least 100 activists freed on Sunday. Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani met separately with Pres. Karzai over the weekend but remain deadlocked on unity government talks; on Sunday, the Independent Election Commission announced that it had completed the final round of audit review, but did not set a date for the announcement of final results. More embankments were breached in order to redirect floodwaters away from Multan; the unofficial death toll from Pakistan’s flooding has surpassed 300 people. Pakistani military spokesmen announced on Friday that they had detained ten gunmen in connection with the 2012 shooting of Malala Yousafzai. The Punjabi Taliban led by Ismatullah Muawiya released a video on Saturday reiterating their intention to halt attacks in Pakistan, but to continue fighting against “infidel forces” in Afghanistan. The Shehryar Mehsud group announced its split from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan on Monday. The Karzai government has formed a commission to investigate reports that the Balochistan Frontier Corp is constructing a more than 400-kilometer long trench along the Afghan-Pakistan border.

Pakistan — Security

  • Arrests in Connection to Malala Yousaf Shooting: On Friday, the military’s chief spokesman announced that ten gunmen had been detained in Malakand for their role in the 2012 shooting attack on teenage education activist Malala Yousafzai, who survived the incident along with two classmates. Military officials did not provide details on when the arrests took place, but identified the men as members of the a group called “the Shura”, and said they had been plotting an attack on a group of 22 leading anti-Taliban figures in the area. Ehsanullah Ehsan, the spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban at the time and now a representative for the rival splinter group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, refuted the military’s account, saying that only three gunmen had been involved in the 2012 shooting, one of whom had since been killed, and claimed that the attack had been carried out independently without the authorization of TTP leader Maulana Fazlullah — contradicting accounts at the time. Military sources said that the two surviving gunmen were among those detained, and that they had led to the arrest of a commander, identified as Zafar Iqbal, who led to the arrest of the others. Yousafzai’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, who along with the family now lives in the UK, told the AP that “this first step of apprehending Malala’s attackers signifies the beginning of real hope for the hundreds of thousands of people whose lives have been affected by terrorism”. [Dawn] [BBC] [Guardian] [ET]
  • Punjabi Taliban Announces Halt to Pakistan Attacks: In a video message released Saturday, Ismatullah Muawiya, the head of the ‘Punjabi Taliban’ group announced a halt to attacks within Pakistan, reiterating a statement issued last week that the group would focus its activities in Afghanistan against “infidel forces”. Afghanistan’s National Security Council reacted on Sunday with a statement saying that the Punjabi Taliban declaration showed “clear interference of Pakistani intelligence agencies in Afghanistan … to kill innocent civilians”; Afghanistan’s foreign ministry summoned the Pakistan charges d’affaires in Kabul to convey its “deep concern”. Former Pres. Musharraf issued a statement on Sunday saying that “ending terrorist activities by Punjabi Taliban is a welcome decision and a victory of the armed forces of Pakistan”. [Dawn] [ET] [The Nation]
  • TTP Faction Splits: In a statement on Monday, the Shehryar Mehsud faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan announced a split from the Maulana Fazlullah-led TTP, reportedly denouncing the policy of attacking the government.
  • FATA Attacks: A rocket attack on a Pakistani military fort in North Waziristan killed three security personnel and injured two others. A group of militants attacked a police station in Hangu on Monday, killing once officer and wounding three; the group Ansarul Mujahadeen claimed responsibility. Military spokesmen said Monday that 15 militant suspects were killed in helicopter airstrikes in the Tabai area of North Waziristan. [Dawn] [Dawn] [AFP]
  • Karachi Naval Dockyard Attack: Dawn reports that preliminary investigations have implicated the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s Sindh chapter in last week’s attack on the Karachi Naval Dockyards, which was claimed by both the TTP and the new Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent group; 21 suspects, including at least 14 service members and five government employees of unspecified rank, have been detained. Other sources tell Dawn that all the attackers were navy personnel, and that they had been planning to hijack the frigate PNS Zulfiqar.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Arrests Derail Deadlocked Talks: Police reportedly arrested as many as 576 PTI and PAT activists in raids in Islamabad and Lahore on Friday and Saturday. The police confirmed the arrest of 100 activists in Islamabad, predominantly PTI members, and ordered them held without bail for 14 days, on charges brought in a district court of attacking state institutions such as the Pakistan Television building on September 1, and violating the Section 144 order barring mass assemblies. At a press conference on Saturday, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan defended the crackdown, saying that those arrested were responsible for attacks on police and state property. On Sunday, the Islamabad High Court ordered the release on bail of all 100 PTI and PAT detainees. Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri condemned the arrests, with Khan vowing “not to spare” the Islamabad police chief when he became prime minister, and Qadri calling on supporters to “break the legs” of any police who attempted to arrest or eject them from the square. Imran Khan was later charged, but not arrested, on Monday with obstructing public servants from performing their duties for intervening to secure the release of around 15 people who police had earlier arrested; police have also registered another case against Tahirul Qadri for the use of loudspeakers in violation of Section 144. The PTI and PAT have both called off all negotiations with the government, reiterating their commitment to continuing the sit-in until Prime Minister Sharif resigns. The Jamaat-e-Islami-led “jirga” of opposition party mediators will convene on Monday in an attempt to break the deadlock in talks. At a federal cabinet meeting on Friday, Prime Minister Sharif was quoted as saying that the government was willing to “pay heed” to the opposition groups’ demands, but that “the unconstitutional and illegal demands cannot be accepted”. Saturday marked the thirtieth day of continuous sit-ins in Islamabad, with higher reported turnout among PTI supporters but no new developments in Khan’s rhetoric against the government. PAT officials say that, due to harassment of catering companies by police, they are cutting meals provided for their members at the sit-ins to twice a day. At a press briefing on Friday, military spokesman Maj. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa stressed that the army “has nothing to do with the ongoing political crisis”, saying it was “regrettable that the army is being linked to political matters”. [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [ET] [ET] [ET] [ET] [Reuters] [AJE]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Flooding Losses Continue: The unofficial death toll from the ongoing floods in Pakistan surpassed 300 people, National Disaster Management Authority officials said on Sunday; the confirmed death toll as of Monday is 289 people, however, with more than 2.5 million people affected. Prime Minister Sharif visited the Jhang district on Saturday, pledging assistance to those affected; PTI, PPP, and Jamaat-e-Islami officials have all criticized the government’s response. Officials breached dikes on the Chenab river near Multan on Friday in an effort to divert floodwaters from two bridges and the city itself; more than 120 surrounding villages have been inundated with floodwaters, affecting an estimated 275,000 people. Authorities are attempting to reinforce embankments near Muzaffaragah. At least eight districts in Sindh are also in danger of flooding. Chaudhry Abdul Majeed, the prime minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, called on the government to offer more assistance to Indian-administered Kashmir, where the main city of Srinigar has been “drowned completely”. [Reuters] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • IMF Talks: Finance ministry officials tell The News that the government in considering combining and delaying the fifth and sixth quarterly reviews of the IMF loan program, after an inconclusive fourth quarterly review in which the government has been unable to make good on pledges to increase electricity tariffs and pass legislation to strengthen the autonomy of the State Bank, among other reform benchmarks.
  • Polio Crisis: The National Economic Council executive committee approved a countrywide Rs 33 billion emergency polio vaccination plan on Friday, supported by loans and grants from the Islamic Development Bank, the World Bank, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, and the Gates Foundation; the UN World Health Organization will carry out the campaign on behalf of Pakistani authorities. The international Independent Monitoring Board for polio, which previously recommended travel restrictions on Pakistani nationals in May, will convene on September 30 to review the government’s progress in implementing measures to combat the virus’ spread. On Monday, a Levies security guard was killed in an attack on a vaccination team in the Pishin district of Balochistan. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Altaf Hussain Resigns, Rejoins MQM in Affirmation of Leadership [Dawn] [ET]
  • Independent Power Producers Complain of Unpaid Dues [ET] [Dawn]
  • Car Bombing in Quetta Kills Three [AJE] [Dawn] [ET]
  • Two Injured in Attack on NATO Containers Near Chaman [Dawn]
  • Shrinking Asylum Space for Pakistan’s Hazaras [AJE]
  • Asian Development Bank President to Visit Monday [ET]
  • Election Commission Proposes Serving Judges to Head Election Tribunals [Dawn]
  • Current and Former Sindh Education Ministers At Odds Over Teacher Protests [Dawn]
  • Xi Jinping “Looking Forward” to Pakistan Visit [APP]
  • Commentary: Fast Forward to the Past – “All that these protests do, scripted or not, is shrink not just the PMLN’s power but the overall democratic space maintained so painstakingly by the previous government and the then opposition.” [Umair Javed, Dawn]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Attacks: A large force of Taliban fighters attacked Afghan security force checkpoints in Ghazni’s Qarabagh district over the weekend, as many as forty of whom were reportedly killed in clashes continuing through Sunday; officials said that Pakistani militants were among those killed. The attack follows a large complex attack by a team of suicide bombers in Ghazni city last weekend, which National Directorate of Security intelligence service officials attributed to the Taliban’s Quetta Shura. Another smaller group of Taliban fighters attacked the district governor’s office in Janikhel, Paktia on Saturday; the district governor was not present at the time. [Guardian] [Khaama Press] [TOLO] [TOLO] [Khaama Press]
  • Border Tensions with Pakistan: Tthe Balochistan Frontier Corps has reportedly dug a 235-kilometer trench along the border in an effort to curtail illegal crossings; the Karzai administration has formed a commission to investigate the report. Kunar provincial officials report that one man was injured in cross-border artillery fire by Pakistani forces on Monday. [TOLO]
  • Parliamentarian Wounded in Bombing: Member of parliament Ali Akbar Qasimi, a Hazara from Ghazni, was wounded in a bombing at a gym in Kabul on Sunday; he was hospitalized and is said to be in good condition. No claim of responsibility has been reported. [TOLO]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Election Deadlock: In a speech at the Kabul Loya Jirga tent on Saturday as part of the ongoing Martyr’s Week gathering, Sarwar Danish, Ashraf Ghani’s second vice presidential running mate, said that “we will only accept the election process and the votes of the people,” and that “no one has the right to hold the people of Afghanistan hostage”. Pres. Karzai met separately with Abdullah Abdullah and Ghani at the presidential palace again on Saturday, asking “both candidates to reach an agreement within the legal framework and end the election crisis”. Karzai later told the Ulema Council that the two candidates were “close” to an agreement, but there has been no indication of a breakthrough. An anonymous Ghani campaign source tells the WSJ that he had told Pres. Obama in a recent call that “agreeing to further concessions in negotiations with Mr. Abdullah would jeopardize his political capital and force him to go to Mr. Karzai to declare a state of emergency and nullify the election,” although Ghani campaign spokesmen deny this. Meanwhile, in statements on Saturday, the UN warned that it would “severely limit its activities, reducing its assistance to Afghanistan and its people” if UN staff continued to come under verbal threat for their role in the election audit process. UN officials did not identify specific threats; at a small pro-Abdullah rally in Kabul on Friday, some participants reportedly chanted “death to the UN”, although Abdullah campaign spokesmen deny involvement in the protest. On Sunday, the Independent Election Commission announced the completion of the audit review and adjudication process, after the ninth and final review of audit tally sheets, in which results from 276 polling stations were invalidated and 85 polling stations partially invalidated. As in past statements, details on the locations or votes involved in those decisions have yet to be released. [Khaama Press] [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Drone Strike at Paktika-Pakistan Border Kills Seven [Dawn]
  • Afghan National Army Helicopter Crash in Daikundi Kills One [TOLO] [Khaama Press]
  • Driver of Kidnapped Pakistani Engineers Killed in Jawzjan [Khaama Press]
  • Minister of Public Works Summoned Over Report of Contractor’s Flight [TOLO] [Khaama Press]
  • Afghanistan Boldly Raises its Colors, as Never Before [NYT]
  • Will Lone Surviving Camp Bastion Attacker Receive the Death Penalty? [WAPO]
  • Ulema Council Demands Execution of Convicted Gang Rapists [Khaama Press]
  • Report: Quarterly UN Secretary General Report to the UN Security Council on Afghanistan – “A transfer of power through the electoral process, and the candidates’ acceptance of the results, is the only means to provide a new leader and government with the mandate required to tackle the many challenges.” [UN (pdf)]
  • Commentary: Still Deadlock, Make or Break – “Despite all of these pressures making a political settlement of the election-related deadlock in Afghanistan both necessary and urgent, we are at a political standstill and the many and various attempts to resolve the differences between the two candidates have brought them no closer together.” [Kate Clark, AAN]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Khan Still Insists on PM’s Resignation; Abdullah and Ghani Still Deadlocked

Topline

  • Imran Khan continues to insist that talks with the government will not be resolved without Prime Minister Sharif’s resignation, although Dawn reports further division within the PTI on whether to hold to that stance. Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani are also deadlocked in their negotiations; Abdullah reportedly proposed a “new plan” for the formation of a unity government on Thursday, the details of which were not released. Disaster management authorities are preparing to breach embankments around Multan in order to save the city from flooding; more than 125 villages in the surrounding area have already been affected. The PML-N government’s failure to impose electricity tariff hikes means the IMF executive board will not meet to consider the release of a $550 million loan tranche later this month, the Express Tribune reports. The new Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent affiliate claimed responsibility for the past weekend’s attack on Karachi naval facilities. Pres. Karzai attended a Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Tajikistan.

Pakistan — Security

  • Al Qaeda Group Claims Attacks: In an Urdu-language statement issued on Thursday, the recently-announced Al Qaeda in South Asia affiliate claimed responsibility for this past weekend’s attack on the Karachi Naval Dockyards, claiming to have targeted a “US supply ship”. There has been no confirmation of any American presence at the port at the time of the attack; the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan previously issued a claim of responsibility. Dawn reports that three Pakistani naval officials, of unspecified rank, were arrested in Quetta on Thursday while trying to flee to Afghanistan, and are being held on suspicion of working to assist to the attack.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Protests Continue: Speaking to supporters on Thursday, Imran Khan reiterated that no matter how many rounds of talks were held between the government and the protestors, “the sit-in will not end without resignation of the PM”, which PML-N officials continue to rule out. Khan claimed that on Saturday, the thirtieth day of the protests, he would identify the murderers of MQM legislator Tahira Asif and National Party legislator Hendry Masih, who were killed in separate shootings in Lahore and Quetta in June, an apparent implication against government officials. At a press conference on Thursday, Jamaat-e-Islami and PPP mediators said that they had offered the “best possible formula” to the opposing sides to end the standoff, but offered no details. Anonymous PTI sources continue to express concern over the party’s inflexible stance, with an “overwhelming” number of party leaders, save Imran Khan, said to be willing to accept commitments to electoral reform with the prime minister’s resignation. The NYT notes the strain the continued protests have placed on Islamabad residents, and the protestors; Pakistan Awami Tehreek activists participating in the protests say their organizers took their identity cards to prevent them from leaving, while others confirm they are being paid to attend, which PAT officials deny. On early Friday morning, Islamabad police arrested DJ Butt, the main musical act at the PTI rallies; the PTI alleges other party workers have also been detained, and has demanded his release. A spokesman for the Majlis-i-Wahdatul Muslimeen party said nine of its party members were also arrested on Friday, which police officials deny; the party, which has been allied with the PAT, said it would break off attendance in talks with the government until its members are released. [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Flooding Alert: Disaster management authorities are reportedly considering breaching embankments near two major railway bridges, which would likely indundate areas in the Multan district with floodwaters but largely spare the city. As many as 125 villages around Multan have already reportedly been submerged; most residents are said to have been evacuated, with the army reporting that it has rescued nearly 30,000 people with helicopters and boats. Flood warnings are now being issued for cities further south. Prime Minister Sharif visited Pakistani-administered Kashmir on Thursday, pledging assistance. On Friday, the National Disaster Management Authority formally requested UN assistance in assessing damages caused by the floods. [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • IMF Talks: The government has failed to impose a previously agreed-to 7% increase in electricity prices, concerned over the blowback from the ongoing protests in Islamabad. Finance ministry officials suggest an increase could be implemented next month, although it has been delayed since July; the IMF is said to have set the tariff increase as a precondition for the release of the next $550 million loan tranche payment to Pakistan, and the IMF executive board will therefore reportedly not meet later this month to consider disbursal.
  • Polio Crisis: Three more polio cases were registered in the Khyber Agency of FATA on Friday, bringing the national total to 147 cases so far this year; officials are concerned that cases will spike further, as September normally represents a high transmission season. [ET]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Federal Investigation Agency Holds Musharraf ‘Wholly Responsible’ for 2007 Emergency [ET] [Dawn]
  • Foreign Office Rejects Indian Report of Sri Lankan Citizen Arrested on Charge of Spying for Pakistan [Dawn] [ET] [ET]
  • Hospitals Underfunded as Waziristan IDPs Strain System [Dawn]
  • MQM ‘Unofficially’ Dissolves Karachi Tanzeemi Committee [ET]
  • MQM Refutes Connection to Sectarian Killings [Dawn]
  • Acting Sindh Inspector General of Police Confirmed in Role [The Nation]
  • Protesting Teachers and Police Clash in Karachi [ET]
  • Cabinet Economic Coordination Committee Approves Use of LNG for CNG Sector [ET]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Election Deadlock: Negotiators for Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani met on Thursday but failed to resolve their deadlock over the formation of a national unity government, with the Abdullah team reportedly offering a “new plan,” which was not publicly detailed. Jeffrey Feltman, the UN Deputy Secretary General, visited and met with both Abdullah and Ghani on Thursday, urging them to reach an agreement; both reportedly reaffirmed their commitment to do so. The head of the Independent Election Commission, Ahmad Yousaf Nuristani, said Thursday that final results would be announced next week, although he did not specify when; the IEC will hold its final round of audit review and adjudication on Friday, to be followed by a 48-hour complaint period. [Khaama Press] [TOLO] [TOLO]
  • Karzai Attends SCO Summit: Pres. Karzai traveled to Dushanbe, Tajikistan on Thursday to attend a Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit, accompanied by foreign minister Zarar Ahmad Osmai and national security advisor Rangin Dadfar Spanta. Karzai will also hold bilateral meetings with Tajikistan officials and a trilateral meeting with Iran and Tajikistan. In his address to the summit on Friday, Karzai reiterated the contention that havens for terrorism “are located outside Afghanistan” and the need for regional support for Afghanistan, calling for cooperation between the SCO and SAARC.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • US-Turkish Construction Firm Accused of “Escaping” the Country with Work Incomplete [Khaama Press]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Embankment Destroyed to Save Jhang, Flooding Villages; Ghani Rules Out ‘Two-Headed Government’

Topline

  • An embankment was breached to save the city of Jhang from flooding on Wednesday, inundating surrounding villages; flood warnings persist for cities further downstream, and the death toll has reached 261 people as of Thursday. At a press conference on Wednesday, Ashraf Ghani called for the release of final results by the Independent Election Commission, and said that while he would continue negotiations with Abdullah Abdullah over the formation of a national unity government, it “will be on a constitutional basis” and “shouldn’t be a two-headed government”. The PTI reaffirmed their plans to continue their sit-in in Islamabad; negotiations with the government have continued, without reports of break-through. Talks with the PAT have been postponed until Friday. India’s foreign minister visited Kabul on Wednesday, pledging continued partnership and support. Tit-for-tat sectarian killings continue in Karachi.

Pakistan — Security

  • Sectarian Killings in Karachi: Maulana Masood Baig, the son-in-law of the principal of the Jamia Binoria International madrassa in Karachi, was killed by four unidentified gunmen on Wednesday, an apparent tit-for-tat killing in response to the shooting of Shia cleric Allama Abbas Kumaili of the Jafaria Alliance Pakistan. At least two other sectarian shootings were reported in the city on Wednesday as well. A ten-day ban on pillion riding has been imposed in the city. Paramilitary Rangers arrested a member of an unidentified “banned outfit” on Thursday, along with four other suspects. Separately, an aide to MQM leader Haider Abbas Rizvi, Salman Kazmi, was killed in a shooting on Wednesday evening.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Protests Continue: At a meeting of the PTI senior leadership on Wednesday, party leaders reaffirmed their decision to carry on their protests, although negotiations are also continuing. Speaking to supporters on Wednesday, Imran Khan vowed to unveil more evidence against the government on Saturday, the one-month mark for the ongoing sit-in in Islamabad; on Thursday, Khan repeated accusations against Prime Minister Sharif of personal corruption. Prime Minister Sharif met with senior parliamentary party leaders in a meeting on Thursday, reaffirming their support against the protestors. PTI and government negotiators said Wednesday that talks were in a “sensitive phase” and offered no details of their discussions. Talks with the Pakistan Awami Tehreek were postponed on Wednesday until Friday, at which the PAT would reportedly make its “final proposals” regarding demands for the resignation of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. The WSJ interviews and profiles the PAT’s leader Tahirul Qadri. Meanwhile, PPP Senator Raza Rabbani appeared before the Supreme Court on Wednesday as counsel to the Awami National Party and Balochistan National Party-Awami, during which he sought to raise questions on the legality of using the threat of violence to force the resignation of a constitutional office-bearer, and “whether any political leader can legitimately involve the Pakistan Army in his design to achieve his unconstitutional objectives by attempting to reassure his followers that army by a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ will determine the future course of his action.” The court directed the PTI and PAT to respond to the questions within the next three days. In Peshawar, the High Court has sought responses from Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak and provincial assembly speaker Asad Qaisar, as it hears a petition seeking their disqualification for their participation in the PTI’s calls for “civil disobedience”. In an interview with Dawn, PPP opposition leader Khurshid Shah called on Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif to “give a shut up call to those who want to exploit the army” and claim its support, particularly targeting the PML-Q leadership for criticism. [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn] [ET]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Flooding Continues: The death toll from flooding in Pakistan has risen to 261 people as of Thursday, the National Disaster Management Authority reported. An embankment was deliberately breached near Jhang to divert floodwaters from the city on Wednesday, flooding more than 300 villages in the surrounding area with as much as 20 feet of water. Similar measures are being prepared for the cities of Multan and Muzaffaragah further south. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif announced as Rs 100 million relief package on Thursday; the Sindh government has also offered Rs 100 million, and the Balochistan government has pledged Rs 10 billion. [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Polio Crisis: Five new polio cases from Khyber Paktunkhwa, FATA, and Balochistan were registered on Thursday, bringing the total number of cases nationwide for the year to 144.
  • Development Spending: Rural development and infrastructure spending by the federal and provincial governments fell 76% during the first three quarters of the last fiscal year, the Express Tribune reports.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • No Meeting Scheduled Between Sharif and Modi at UN General Assembly [ET]
  • US Seeking Extradition of Former Ohio Deputy Treasurer [ET]
  • Musharraf Counsel Seeks Expansion of Treason Trial [Dawn]
  • Tariff Agreement Reached with Chinese Firm on Kohala Hydropower Project [Dawn]
  • Dengue Risk Increases in Islamabad [Dawn]
  • PML-N Provincial Assembly Member Cleared in Raid on Police Station [Dawn]
  • Simulation Indicates Major Damage to Karachi in Event of Tsunami [AFP]
  • Report: Overcoming Pakistan’s Energy Crisis: A Case for More Integrated and Coordinated Planning and Policymaking – “Combined with a new energy ministry, a strengthened policy environment could emerge that would be capable of successfully addressing Pakistan’s energy issues—and that could pave the way to recovery for the energy sector and the economy overall.” [Ziad Alahdad, Wilson Center]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Civilian Casualties: NATO ISAF officials said they were investigating reports by Kunar provincial officials that 14 civilians, including two children, had been killed in an errant airstrike in the Dangam district on Tuesday. The provincial police chief reports that a joint US-Afghan patrol came under attack and called in air support, which killed both militants and civilians; a survivor says that four civilians were initially killed in the bombing, and the others killed or injured while attempting to retrieve their bodies.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Ghani Calls for Acceptance of Final Results: At a press conference on Wednesday, Ashraf Ghani said that “accepting the announcement of the final results is the only way to break this political deadlock,” saying that he would continue negotiations with Abdullah Abdullah on the formation of a national unity government but that “it will be on a constitutional basis. We will not go past the Constitution to make a deal.” Ghani added that he supported “the formation of the national unity government from the beginning… but it shouldn’t be a two-headed government.” His rival Abdullah Abdullah has sought greater powers for a proposed chief executive office and has rejected the results of the audit of the disputed second round of voting, seeking to delay the release of the Independent Election Commission’s findings. Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor, a prominent Abdullah supporter, reiterated his intention on Thursday to organize an “anti-fraud movement”, accusing the IEC and the presidential palace of facilitating fraud on Ghani’s behalf. The IEC said Wednesday that it would finish processing and entering data from audit tally sheets by the end of the day, but continues to adjudicate results on the basis of those findings and has given no timeline for the announcement of final results. [TOLO] [Khaama Press]
  • Indian Foreign Minister Visits: Indian Foreign Minister Shushma Swaraj arrived in Kabul on Wednesday, where she met with Afghan Foreign Minister Zarar Ahmad Moqbel and President Karzai, and inaugurated a new Indian embassy building. Swaraj noted that “India is here to stay” during the “critical decade of transformation for Afghanistan,” saying that “India will always be Afghanistan’s first strategic partner and we will always share the Afghan peoples’ vision of a strong, independent, united and prosperous Afghanistan.” Swaraj delivered a 78-meter Afghan flag, the largest in Afghanistan, as a gift at a ceremony with Karzai, and pledged $1 million for a national monument site. [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Over 9,000 Suicide Attempt Cases Recorded in Afghanistan in 2014 [Khaama Press]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Government and Opposition Continue Talks; IEC Pushes Back Final Results Announcement

Topline

  • Pakistani government sources claim to be making progress with the PTI and PAT in ongoing negotiations, suggesting that the other side is showing flexibility in talks; the ultimate question of Prime Minister Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s resignation remains unresolved, however. The death toll from flooding in Pakistan has risen to 231 people, most from Punjab. The Afghan Independent Election Commission now says it will not release final election results until all candidate complaints are resolved, which is unlikely to happen within the next week “at soonest”. India’s foreign minister is visiting Kabul today for talks that are likely to cover bilateral defense cooperation issues. Pakistan’s military says it killed as many as 65 militant suspects in North Waziristan strikes on Wednesday.

Pakistan — Security

  • Karachi Dockyard Attack: Speaking in a joint session of parliament on Tuesday, Defense Minister Khawaja Asif said that investigations were underway regarding Saturday evening’s attack on the Karachi Naval Dockyards. Asif indicated that “some suspected officials” had been detained on suspicion of offering insider support for the attack, which he said was made from the sea. [Dawn]
  • Waziristan Operations: The Pakistani military reported that it killed as many as 65 militant suspects in airstrikes on hideouts in the Datta Khel and Shawal areas of North Waziristan on Wednesday; the area remains restricted to journalists and there is no independent confirmation. On Tuesday, the Finance Ministry authorized the release of Rs 1.059 billion in cash allowances for displaced Waziristan residents.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Islamabad Protests: In negotiations with the Pakistan Awami Tehreek on Tuesday, the government is reported to have reached agreement on the formation of a Joint Investigation Team to conduct further investigations into the June clashes between PAT supporters and Lahore police, although discussions are ongoing about its tenure and regarding Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s resignation. Former Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, who resigned in the wake of those clashes, is said to be preparing a legal challenge to a previous judicial inquiry into the incident. Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal suggested that the two sides might reach “an understanding” today. Iqbal also called on Imran Khan to avoid “irresponsible politics,” saying that the economy had suffered Rs 1 trillion in losses from the protests. Finance Minister Dar told parliament on Wednesday that the prime minister’s resignation was “non-negotiable” in talks with the PTI, but suggested that they might be “flexible” on this point. In an AFP interview, Khan insists that he is in a “battle of nerves” with the government and says that he has “a feeling we’ll win it”. The Supreme Court has continued to hear positions from the government and opposition parties; the PML-N filing maintains that the current protests are in violation of the constitution, while the PTI has questioned the court’s standing to regulate protests. [WSJ] [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [ET]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Flood Crisis: The National Disaster Management Authority reported on Tuesday that the death toll from floods around the country had risen to 231, 156 of them from Punjab. More than 500,000 people are reported to have been displaced from their homes. Prime Minister Sharif continued visits to flood-affected areas on Tuesday, pledging government assistance to those affected. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif described the floods as the “deadliest in Pakistan’s history,” although they have yet to reach the scale of the 2010 floods, which killed more than 2,000 people and affected 18 million. Further floodwater rise on the Jhelum and Chenab rivers is expected around southern Punjab over the next 48 hours. [Dawn]
  • Polio Crisis: A paramilitary Levies soldier was killed while guarding a polio vaccination team in the Bajaur Agency of FATA on Wednesday. Another polio case was reported in Quetta on Wednesday, the second there this year and the 139th so far nationwide. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Punishment Recommended for 58 Officers Over 2013 Dera Ismail Khan Jailbreak [Dawn]
  • 195 Suspects Killed in Police Encounters in Karachi Since July [Dawn]
  • Supreme Court Initiates Contempt Proceedings Against ARY News Anchor [Dawn] [ET]
  • Deobandi Seminary Teacher Killed in Karachi [ET]
  • Ministry of Water and Power Reports Reduced Circular Debts, But Power Company Receivables Still Rising [ET]
  • Water and Power Minister Defends Chinese Investments in Pakistan [ET]
  • Balochistan Chief Minister Seeks Rs 300 Billion in Development Spending [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Civilian Casualties: On Wednesday, Pres. Karzai issued a statement condemning a U.S. airstrike that reportedly took place in Kunar’s Narang district the previous night, killing 14 people, “mostly civilians,” and injuring 13. ISAF officials say that one armed fighter was killed in the adjacent Dangam district, but otherwise cannot confirm the allegations.
  • Attack on NDS: In the latest of a series of attacks around the country on the National Directorate of Security intelligence service, two NDS officers were killed in Badghis on Tuesday after their convoy was ambushed by a group of Taliban fighters in the Karkh district.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Calls for National Unity: In an apparent reversal on Tuesday, the Independent Election Commission said that it would not announce the final election results “until all complaints presented by presidential candidates are addressed,” now saying that results will be announced “in the coming week, at the soonest.” As reported yesterday, Pres. Karzai called for Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani to form a new national unity government as soon as possible during ceremonies commemorating the late Ahmad Shah Masood in Kabul. The Post notes that the Masood Day ceremonies have brought large, often armed, crowds of former supporters into Kabul; an Abdullah spokesman reiterated his campaign’s commitment to nonviolence. One person was killed and five injured in stray celebratory gunfire on Tuesday, according to Kabul police. Also on Tuesday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urged the two candidates to reach an agreement and conclusion to the election process. [TOLO] [TOLO]
  • Indian Foreign Minister Visits: India’s Foreign Minister, Susham Swaraj, will arrive in Kabul on Wednesday for talks with Pres. Karzai and other senior officials, which are expected to focus on security assistance and other bilateral ties.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • House Votes to Condemn Administration Transfer of Guantanamo Detainees to Free Bergdahl [AP]
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs Confirms Unspecified Number of Afghans Fighting with Islamic State [Khaama Press]
  • Tensions Rise as NATO Wind-Down Threatens Afghan Boomtowns [Financial Times]
  • Helmand Conflict Keeps 80% of Shindand District Girls Out of School [TOLO]
  • Commentary: The Study and Understudy of Afghanistan’s Ethnic Groups – “What is most remarkable in the study of Afghanistan’s ethnic groups is the disparity in who gets studied and who does not.” [Christian Bleuer, AAN]
  • Commentary: The Afghan Girls Who Live as Boys – “Between gender and freedom, freedom is the bigger and more important idea—in Afghanistan as well as globally. Defining one’s gender becomes a concern only after freedom is achieved.” [Jenny Nordberg, The Atlantic]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Abdullah Rejects Vote Results; PML-N and PTI Negotiators Stuck on PM’s Resignation

Topline

  • In a speech on Monday, Abdullah Abdullah reiterated that he would not accept the outcome of the election audit process, insisting that he had won the second round; he appealed for supporters to remain peaceful, however, and gave little clear signal as to his next move. At celebrations commemorating the late Ahmad Shah Masood on Tuesday, Pres. Karzai called on Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani to reach an agreement and form a new government. The Independent Election Commission has indicated that it will release the final results of the June run-off, potentially as soon as mid-week. The PML-N and PTI have reached agreement on all but two “core issues,” negotiators said Monday; in a WSJ interview, Imran Khan professes confidence that he will eventually triumph over Nawaz Sharif in their standoff. Relief efforts continue in southern Punjab as flood waters remain high; the death toll has now surpassed 200 people nationwide. The Pakistani Navy announced Monday that it had repelled an attack on the Karachi Naval Dockyards on Saturday evening, killing two militants and arresting four; the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack on Tuesday.

Pakistan — Security

  • Attack on Karachi Naval Dockyard: Pakistani Navy officials announced on Monday that one sailor and two militants had been killed in a previously un-reported attack on the Karachi Naval Dockyard on Saturday evening. Four other attackers, all of whom were armed with “rocket launchers, assault rifles, and hand grenades”, were detained; seven other Naval personnel were injured. Investigations afterwards led to arrests of an unspecified number of people and the seizure of a cache of weapons and explosives. On Tuesday, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesman Shahidullah Shahid claimed responsibility for the attack, and alleged that it had received support from navy insiders. [Dawn]
  • Waziristan Operations: In statements on Monday and Tuesday, the Pakistani military claimed to have killed sixteen militant suspects in North Waziristan in helicopter gunship strikes and a clash with ground forces in Datta Khel, respectively. A group of internally displaced persons led by the PTI’s FATA chapter protested in Peshawar on Monday, calling for more assistance and for their repatriation. IDPs complain that they have received no cash assistance for the past two months, despite government pledges; anonymous provincial officials say the release of funds has been held up by Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak’s absence for the protests in Islamabad.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Protestor Negotiations Continue: In a WSJ interview and in his speech to supporters on Monday, Imran Khan professed that his winning in the standoff with the government is “a matter of time”, suggesting that Nawaz Sharif will eventually make “one last blunder” in handling the protests. Khan also criticized the government’s response to the ongoing flood crisis, and touted the PTI’s win in Dera Ismail Khan by-elections held on Monday. In a BBC report, Pakistan Awami Tehreek activists say they were initially being paid to attend the protest rallies and are now being blocked from leaving; PAT officials denied the report. Another round of talks between PTI and PML-N negotiators was held on Monday; the PTI’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi told reporters afterwards that disagreement remained on “two core issues”; Finance Minister Ishaq Dar agreed but said that “one of them” – believed to be the resignation of the prime minister for the duration of a judicial commission investigation into fraud allegations – was “not negotiable for us”. Talks with the PAT were resumed on Monday. The joint session of parliament resumed on Tuesday, with the prime minister in attendance; the parliamentary committee on electoral reforms, whose tenure officially expires October 23, has yet to make significant headway in proposing new legislation. [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Reuters] [Dawn] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Flood Toll Rises: The death toll in Pakistan from monsoon rains and heavy flooding has passed 200 people; several thousand have been displaced by flooding around the Jhelum and Chenab rivers, and relief operations are ongoing. In an exchange of letters, Prime Minister Sharif thanked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his offer of assistance in relief efforts; Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s Hafiz Saeed, however, has accused India of “water aggression” and deliberately allowing floodwaters to travel downstream into Pakistan. The Punjab provincial government is considering a Rs 1.6 million compensation package for each death caused by the flooding; chief minister Shahbaz Sharif visited Jhang on Tuesday, urging residents to evacuate their homes in anticipation of a water level rise there. Khyber Paktunkhwa Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak met with Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif on Tuesday and reportedly pledged Rs 100 million towards relief efforts. Flood coordination agencies met in Islamabad on Monday, although Dawn reports that the discussions primarily focused on laying blame for failing to anticipate the scale of the flooding. [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET] [BBC] [AJE] [Reuters]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Indian Foreign Minister Lays Blame on Pakistan for Halt to Talks, But Says ‘No Full Stop’ in Diplomacy [Dawn] [ET]
  • PPP Senator Proposes Closed-Door ‘Civil-Military Dialogue’ [Dawn]
  • Chief Justice Stresses Constitutional Protection in Speech at Opening of Judicial Year [Dawn] [ET]
  • Rebuilt Government Girls’ School Destroyed in Bajaur [Dawn]
  • Polio Campaign Postponed in Rawalpindi [Dawn] [ET]
  • MQM Sindh Assembly Member Irum Azeem Farooque Quits Party, Assembly [Dawn]
  • Court Reiterates Order for Musharraf Appearance in Bugti Trial [ET]
  • Amended Tax Treaty with Switzerland to Allow Investigations into Swiss Banking [ET]
  • Commentary: Pakistan’s Dueling Military Cultures – “Two new books published in quick succession have expanded the debate and provide new insights into the workings of the Pakistani military.” [Raza Rumi, South Asia Channel]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Abdullah Rejects Disputed Vote: In a speech to supporters on Monday, Abdullah Abdullah reiterated that he would not accept the outcome of the presidential runoff election audit, saying that “not even for a single day will we accept a government based on fraudulent votes.” Abdullah insisted that he had won the second round run-off, but gave no clear indication of what his next move would be, saying that the process had reached a “deadlock” and suggesting that “the people would decide what is next”. He stopped short of calls for a parallel government, which have been made by his supporters. Abdullah called on his supporters to remain peaceful, particularly as Afghanistan marks the death anniversary of former Northern Alliance commander Ahmad Shah Masood on Tuesday; in his remarks Monday, Abdullah said that supporters should not “mix these two issues”. In an address commemorating Masood on Tuesday, attended by both Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, Pres. Karzai stressed that the country needed a resolution to the electoral process, urging the crowds to demand the two sides reach an agreement. Pro-Abdullah crowds shouted down Sebghatullah Muajdidi, a Ghani supporter, at the conference. At a separate press conference, the Independent Election Commission said that it would release the final results of the second round, which Abdullah supporters have opposed, regardless of whether or not an agreement was reached between the two candidates; the results of the audit process may reportedly be complete by Wednesday. In deliberations over 2,300 ballot boxes on Monday, the IEC invalidated votes from 94 polling stations and ordered recounts on another 224. [AP] [Reuters] [AJE] [Khaama Press] [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Helmand Police Chief Alleges Pakistan Paying Taliban Fighters 4,000 Afs Daily [TOLO]
  • Former Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad Under Investigation for Money Laundering [NYT] [AP]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Flooding Death Toll Rises in Pakistan; Abdullah and Ghani Talks Remain Deadlocked

Topline

  • The death toll from flooding and heavy monsoon rains in Punjab and Azad Jammu and Kashmir has surpassed 200 people; Prime Minister Sharif visited Sialkot on Sunday, and the military is conducting relief efforts. Although forecast call for reduced rain over the next 24 hours, flood warnings have now been issued further downstream in southern Punjab and Sindh. Negotiations between the PML-N government and the PTI continued over the weekend but have made no progress in resolving their disagreements; Imran Khan has told supporters to plan for at least two more weeks of sit-ins. The PTI and Pakistan Awami Tehreek repositioned their protest camps on Saturday back at the D-Chowk plaza where the rallies initially began in mid-August, withdrawing from the heart of the “Red Zone”. Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani are still deadlocked over the role of the new chief executive officer; Pres. Obama spoke with both on Sunday, but Abdullah spokesmen suggested that they would announce their future course after a “final round” of talks on Monday. With the political crisis unresolved and no bilateral security agreement signed, NATO attendees at last week’s summits did not reach an agreement on how many troops they would commit to a training and assistance mission in Afghanistan after 2014. Taliban offensives in Helmand have nearly taken control over the Musa Qala district center, local officials warn.

Pakistan — Security

  • Shia Leader Killed: Allama Ali Akbar Kumaili — the son of Shia scholar, Jafria Alliance Pakistan party leader, and former MQM senator Allama Abbas Kumaili — was killed by unidentified gunmen in Karachi on Saturday. A bodyguard was also killed. Shia political parties, the MQM, the PPP, and Prime Minister Sharif all issued statements in condemnation of the shooting; a three day period of mourning has been called. [Dawn] [ET]
  • Defense Day Celebrated: Pakistan celebrated Defense Day on Saturday, commemorating the armed forces and in particular the 1965 war with India; Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif marked the occasion by visiting displaced North Waziristan residents in Bannu and forces in Mir Ali. President Mamnoon Hussain visited the Joint Staff Headquarters, saying that “our brave officers and soldiers alongside proud people of Pakistan have set unprecedented examples of heroism and resilience in their fight against militancy”. [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Punjabi Taliban to Refocus on Afghanistan: On Friday, Ismatullah Muawiya, who claims leadership over the “Punjabi Taliban” faction, issued a statement saying that his group would now “confine our practical jihadist role to Afghanistan in view of deteriorating situation in the region and internal situation of Pakistani jihadist movement”.
  • Shrine Attack: An unidentified group of armed men attacked the Darbar Astana Fazal shrine in the Sargodha cantonment on Saturday, killing the shrine’s caretaker, Fazal Subhani, as well as his brother Brigadier Fazal Zahoor and one other attendee; six people were injured. Reuters reports that the brigadier, a Shiite, had received threats from the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba sectarian organization. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Military Intervention: A Reuters article, citing a “minister close to military circles” and two military sources, reports that a group of five senior generals, including ISI Director General Zaheerul Islam, had pushed the army to intervene and oust Prime Minister Sharif when protests peaked with violent clashes in Islamabad at the end of August. Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif is reported to have overruled the push; all five of the generals were appointed by his predecessor, and their tenure is due to expire in October.
  • Deadlock Continues: Negotiations between the government and PTI representatives on Friday remain deadlocked, as the government has reportedly rejected the PTI’s proposal for special investigations into 30 constituencies where election rigging is alleged to have occurred last year; Dawn offers a point-by-point review of the two sides’ positions. Negotiations are ongoing despite the disagreements. Talks between the Pakistan Awami Tehreek and the government have not resumed, however. On Saturday, Imran Khan reiterated to his supporters that he would not accept anything short of Prime Minister Sharif’s resignation, and claimed he would seek his disqualification for lying to parliament through a Supreme Court petition. On Saturday, PTI supporters moved Imran Khan’s shipping container base of operations away from the “Red Zone” where it had been moved on August 31, returning to the D-Chowk square where protestors had first gathered in mid-August; Pakistan Awami Tehreek activists also withdrew from their positions. Dawn reports tensions between the senior party leadership and local elected officials, who are criticized for failing to mobilize sufficient turnout. Some larger crowds were reported on Sunday; at a meeting with party leaders and activists on Sunday, Imran Khan told his supporters to plan on maintaining the protests for another two weeks. The News reports that as group of as many as 18 dissident PTI provincial legislators in the Khyber Paktunkhwa assembly are opposed to the continued sit-in. [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Nisar vs Ahsan: As reported Friday, debate in parliament over the protests against the government was derailed by a feud between Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and PPP Senate opposition leader Aitzaz Ahsan, who at one point threatened to withdraw his support for the government in response to Chaudhry Nisar’s earlier allegations of personal corruption. After direct intervention by Prime Minister Sharif, Chaudhry Nisar held a press conference on Saturday in which he said he would drop the issue “for the sake of preserving democracy,” and suggested that he would resign from politics if an investigation into any of the charges laid against him by Ahsan were proven. A meeting of senior parliamentary leaders is scheduled on Monday to form a “strategy to avoid infighting” in the assembly. [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Xi Jinping Visited Postponed: The Chinese foreign ministry confirmed on Saturday that President Xi Jinping had postponed a planned visit to Pakistan this month; Pakistan’s foreign ministry said that the postponement was “mutually agreed”. An anonymous Chinese embassy official tells the Express Tribune that the trip delay was caused by the current protests in Islamabad, in which China “would not interfere”. Yao Wen, the deputy chief of mission for the Chinese embassy, said Sunday that “all the projects agreed between the two countries will be pushed forward and implemented in letter and spirit,” and that the visit postponement would not affect bilateral ties. [ET] [ET] [ET] [Dawn]
  • MQM Leadership Shakeup: After conversations with JUI-F leader Fazlur Rehman on Saturday, MQM leader Altaf Hussain has reportedly halted plans to have his party legislators resign from their seats in the provincial and national assemblies. Dawn reviews the history of the MQM’s Karachi Tanzeemi Committee, which Hussain disbanded in a speech criticizing party leadership last week. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Monsoon Rains Continue: Heavy monsoon rains continued over the weekend, raising the death toll to at least 205 people in Punjab and Pakistani-administered Kashmir as of Monday. Most of the deaths have been reported in Punjab, caused by housing collapse or electrocution. Although rainfall was forecast to slacken off over the next 24 hours, the Pakistan Meteorological Department has warned of flood risks further down the Indus basin in southern Punjab and Sindh. The military is assisting with relief efforts. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif declared a state of emergency on Sunday; Prime Minister Sharif chaired a meeting on Saturday to review relief efforts, and visited Sialkot in Azad Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday. The Khyber Paktunkha government offered Rs 100 million in assistance to the Punjab government on Friday to help affected families. India has also suffered casualties from flooding across the border, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has dispatched a letter to Prime Minister Sharif offering “any assistance that you may need in the relief efforts”. Sharif has in turn offered aid to relief efforts in Indian-administered Kashmir. [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET] [AP]
  • Polio Crisis: Eleven new polio cases were reported in Khyber Paktunkhwa and FATA on Friday, bringing the total cases reported so far this year up to 138. [ET]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • U.S. Seeks FBI Access to Accused in Warren Weinstein Abduction [Dawn]
  • Jamaat-e-Islami Leader Visits Balochistan, Calls for More Representation [Dawn]
  • Director of Military Cantonments Receives Extension [Dawn]
  • Three Security Personnel Injured in Hangu Bombing [Dawn]
  • Tribal Militia and Lashkar-e-Islam Clash Kills Two [Dawn]
  • Gas Pipeline Blown Up in Dera Bugti [Dawn] [ET]
  • Sikh Trader Killed in Peshawar [Dawn] [ET]
  • PML-N Khyber Chapter Demands Support for IDPs [Dawn]
  • Musharraf Skips Bugti Murder Case Hearing [Dawn]
  • Dera Ismail Khan PK-68 Assembly By-Poll Underway [ET]
  • Hacking Spree Continues, Now Targeting PTI Websites [Dawn] [ET]
  • Low Enrollment, Lack of Funding, Poor Teacher Ratios, at Government Schools in Quetta [Dawn]
  • Four Police Officers Reinstated by New Islamabad Inspector General of Police [Dawn]
  • Short-Term Domestic Debt Obligations Reduced to 42% of Total Debt Burden [ET]
  • Discrepancies Worth Billions Reported in State Bank of Pakistan Accounts [ET]
  • Commentary: Is Pakistan Ready for a Monsoon Catastrophe? – “As deaths mount and cities continue to flood, experts are once again sounding the alarm bells over the impacts of climate change in Pakistan.” [Rina Saeed Khan and Zofeen Ebrahim, Dawn]
  • Commentary: Operation ‘Get Nawaz Sharif’ – “A plan was hatched to oust Nawaz Sharif, with the threat of a coup, and before October when some of the key conspirators were due to retire.” [Najam Sethi, Friday Times]
  • Commentary: Pakistan’s Spies Target India – and Their Own Prime Minister – “he Pakistani army and its ISI spies are once again playing with fire—with India, the LeT and Kashmir—in order to secure domestic gains against their civilian leaders.” [Bruce Riedel, Daily Beast]
  • Commentary: Let’s Talk About Kashmir – “Could Modi, Islamabad, and the U.S. troop drawdown in Afghanistan make the disputed territory the world’s next terrorist hotspot?” [Jonah Blank, Foreign Policy]

Afghanistan — Security

  • NATO Assistance: NATO summit attendees did not reach an agreement on the level of forces that they would provide for the training and assistance mission in Afghanistan after 2014; NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen attributed the lack of exact figures to the still unresolved presidential election in Afghanistan and the lack of a completed bilateral security agreement with the U.S. and status of forces agreement with NATO. The summit’s joint statement “renewed [NATO members’] financial commitments to support the sustainment” of Afghan national security forces but did not issue precise figures, noting that such assistance would require “transparency, accountability, and cost-effectiveness of the relevant international funding mechanisms”, as well as increasing Afghan spending; a White House readout had earlier reported pledges of €1 billion in annual contributions from the international community and $4.1 billion annually from the United States through 2017. [TOLO]
  • Helmand Fighting: Local Afghan military and police officials tell the NYT that the summer-long Taliban offensive in Helmand has nearly taken control over the Musa Qala district; an Afghan army general says that as many as 230 Afghan soldiers and police officers have been killed in fighting there and in neighboring Sangin district since June, although provincial officials put the death toll much lower.
  • Attacks on Police: Abdul Manaf, the district police chief of Kandahar’s Arghistan district, was killed in a Taliban suicide bombing attack at the district police headquarters on Sunday evening, along with two bodyguards. Provincial officials report that as many as 33 police officers were killed in separate attacks around the country on Saturday and Sunday. [Khaama Press]
  • Tensions with Pakistan: The National Directorate of Security announced Saturday that it had discovered a cache of 15,000 kilograms of explosives, packed in cement bags; NDS officials said that the materials had been shipped from Pakistan with the help of the ISI. Kunar provincial officials said that two civilians were killed and six injured in cross-border artillery fire from Pakistan on Monday.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Election Deadlock: In an AP interview on Saturday, Mujib Rahman Rahimi, a spokesman for Abdullah Abdullah, warned that if the negotiations between the two campaigns produces “an agreement that insults one side and promotes the other side and each side firmly believes he is a winner” then “that could be a recipe for radicals to re-emerge and challenge the leadership and say this is not acceptable”. Waheed Omar, another Abdullah spokesman, told TOLO on Sunday that a “final round” of talks would be held on Monday, after which “we will announce our stand and after that, the rival team and commission will know what to do.” Omar also suggested that “we would never accept being seen as the party who came second and we will never accept that the opposing party is better than us”. Pres. Obama spoke with both Abdullah and Ghani on Sunday to again urge the continuation of unity government talks, but no breakthrough has been reported. The powers of the proposed chief executive officer remain the principle point of contention between the two sides; a spokesman for Ashraf Ghani suggested Saturday that agreement had been reached that the CEO would not have the power to head the cabinet. After the completion last week by the Independent Election Commission of the audit of all ballot boxes in the June run-off, the Ghani campaign called on Abdullah to endorse the results. The final results of the audit have yet to be announced as the IEC continues to review audit findings; on Saturday, former presidential candidate Abdul Rassoul Sayyaf, an Abdullah backer, warned that an early release of the results could take the country into “an unresolvable crisis”. The Electoral Complaints Commission reviewed 43 complaints filed by the Ghani campaign during the audit process on Saturday and Sunday, upholding only three. [TOLO] [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • The Price of an Education for Afghan Refugees in Iran [Guardian]
  • Afghan Court Sentences Seven Men to Death in Rape Case [NYT] [WSJ] [Reuters] [AJE]
  • Ghazni Hajj and Religious Affair Chief Killed in Wardak [Khaama Press]
  • Former MP Beaten by Mob After Praising Taliban in Friday Prayers [Khaama Press]
  • U.S. Special Forces Seek to Build Good Will in Logar, But Not Without a Fight [NYT]
  • Ghor Minaret in Danger of Collapse [Khaama Press]
  • Commentary: Kandahar’s Mystery Executions – “Are the Afghan police using torture to achieve peace?” [Anand Gopal, Harpers]