- In his speech to supporters on Thursday Imran Khan hit back at criticism from the Jamaat-e-Islami, the PTI’s provincial coalition partners, suggesting that the JI was “playing on both sides of the wicket”. Opposition politicians continue to protest the government’s plans to sell a stake of the Oil and Gas Development Company Ltd; the sale is scheduled to begin November 5. Indian press sources indicate that the Afghan government has frozen a request for military assistance from India, citing delays in delivery and concerns about strained relations with Pakistan. Speaking at the opening of a regional ministerial conference in Beijing on Friday, Pres. Ghani called for dialogue with the Taliban. Kabul police have set a three-day deadline for a halt to the sale of police and military uniforms and equipment within the city.
Pakistan — Security
- Predator Strike: The reported death toll from Thursday’s drone strike in South Waziristan rose to six, at least four of whom were foreign militants. Khaama Press reports that one of those killed was a senior Haqqani network commander, identified as Abdullah, who was said to be responsible for directing suicide attacks.
- FATA Operations: Pakistani military officials say that twenty militant suspects were killed in airstrikes in the Khyber Agency on Thursday; these accounts cannot be independently confirmed. At its press briefing on Thursday, the Pakistani foreign ministry said that nearly 30,000 Pakistani nationals are believed to still be in Afghanistan after being displaced by Waziristan fighting.
Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- Political Standoff: Speaking to supporters on Thursday, Imran Khan hit back at the Jamaat-e-Islami, following critical comments by JI leader Sirajul Haq earlier in the day that had suggested there was “no difference” between the PTI and the PML-N. Khan demanded that the JI “stop playing on both sides of the wicket”, and said the party’s “failure to recognise the injustice of the May 2013 elections” raises “serious questions on the commitment of the JI to the implementation of Islamic principles of justice”. JI spokesmen subsequently said that Haq had been misquoted. Anonymous PTI sources tell Dawn that internal divisions remain within the PTI over the party’s stance on resigning from the national and Punjab provincial assembly. In Khyber Paktunkhwa, legislators from the PTI and JUI-F clashed as the latter criticized the ongoing Islamabad sit-ins. [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn]
- OGDCL Privatization: The PPP and JI staged a protest walkout in the national assembly on Friday, and Senate opposition figures continue to criticize the government for its privatization of the Oil and Gas Development Company Ltd, whose workers clashed with Islamabad police on Wednesday. Privatization Commission chairman Muhammad Zubair tells Dawn that the government remains committed to the sale of a 7.5% stake in OGDCL, which is scheduled to take place November 5-7. [Dawn]
Pakistan — Economics and Development.
- Energy Policy: At a cabinet session on Friday, Prime Minister Sharif approved a Rs 9.43 per litre cut in petroleum prices. Sharif rejected an audit report that found Rs 2 billion in alleged over-billing by electricity distribution companies for the month of July, calling for a “reassessment”. At a meeting on Thursday, the Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet extended tax exemptions on investment in power transmission lines for a ten-year period. [Dawn]
- Textile Policy: The Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet was due to review the government’s five-year textile policy this week but does not appear to have finalized its passage as of this writing; the plan reportedly proposes Rs 120 billion in government support for the industry, with the goal of doubling annual exports to $26 billion. The head of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association warned that continued energy shortages and tariff increases would cut exports by $2.2 billion this financial year if more action was not taken to ensure regular power supply. Exports have declined by $1.2 billion during the first six months of the fiscal year. [ET]
Pakistan — Remainders
- Sindh Health Officials Negligent in Providing for Tharparkar, Inquiry Reports [ET]
- BNP-Mengal Accuses Security Agencies of Abducting Party Leader [Dawn]
- Bombing Targets Frontier Corps Convoy in Quetta [ET]
- Jamaat-e-Islami Rewrites Khyber Paktunkhwa Textbooks to Reinsert Religious References [Reuters]
- Prime Minister Orders More Content on Constitutional Democracy in Higher Education Curriculum [Dawn] [ET]
- Turkmenistan Seeks Airspace Dues from PIA [Dawn] [ET]
- Senate Hears Details on Judicial Salaries [Dawn]
- Supreme Court Defers Indictment of ARY Anchor on Intra-Court Appeal [Dawn]
- Commentary: Cost of Politics – “What we are left with is a large section of the population all riled up with nowhere to go.” [Khurram Hussain, Dawn]
Afghanistan — Security
- Indian Military Assistance: The Indian Express, citing anonymous Afghan sources, reports that Pres. Ghani has frozen requests for military arms and equipment previously initiated by former Pres. Karzai. Agreements are reported to have been reached in February for the supply of Russian small arms to Afghanistan, but no deliveries have been made; Ghani is said to be concerned that “the outreach to India would poison the country’s relationship with Pakistan, without yielding any dividends in return.”
- Taliban Talks: Speaking at the opening of the ministerial conference of regional Afghan neighbors in Beijing on Friday, Pres. Ghani made a rare direct reference to the Taliban, saying that “peace is our highest priority” and that “we invite the political opposition, particularly the Taliban, to join and enter Afghan dialogue, and ask all of our international partners to support an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process”. Ghani has made few public remarks on how his government will approach the insurgency since taking office; he did not offer specifics, and added that “we must not and will not permit groups pursuing grand illusions to use our country as the battleground or launching-pad against the international system.” [Khaama Press] [Khaama Press]
- Counterfeit Military Equipment: In a statement released Thursday, Kabul police officials ordered a crackdown on the sale of military equipment and uniforms, which are often used by militant and criminal actors; shops have been given a three-day deadline to halt sales.
Afghanistan — Remainders