Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: India and Pakistan Accuse Each Other of Terror Sponsorship; Hekmatyar Reportedly Returns to Kabul

Topline

  • India and Pakistan continue to trade accusations that the other is sponsoring terrorism, with India’s foreign ministry denouncing Prime Minister Sharif’s praise of slain Kashmiri militant commander Burhan Wani and Pakistan condemning reports that Baloch separatist leader Brahamdagh Bugti may seek asylum in India. Pakistani forces are reported to be on high alert, but spokesmen for the air force and foreign ministry reiterated that the closure of the Lahore-Islamabad highway for air force exercises was pre-planned and not related to current tensions. National Security Advisor Hanif Atmar affirmed the Afghan government’s intention to remove Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and other Hezb-e-Islami leaders from US and UN sanctions list; Hekmatyar reportedly reentered Kabul on Wednesday evening, but did not appear at Thursday’s signing ceremony. A HIG member offered an apology to victims of Hezb-e-Islami during the Afghan civil war in comments to VOA on Friday. The Uruzgan-Kandahar highway remains closed to traffic after the Taliban attack on Tirin Kot earlier this month. The TTP Jamaat ul Ahrar claimed responsibility for two attacks on security checkposts in Bajaur and Mohmand on Friday. The military announced seven new death sentences after military court convictions on Thursday. During meetings with Prime Minister Sharif on Wednesday, Iranian Pres. Rouhani voiced support for Iran’s connection to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Afghanistan’s Water and Energy ministry announced plans for a World Bank-finance 50 megawatt gas power plant, to be built within two years in Mazar-e-Sharif.

Pakistan – Security

  • Tensions with India: Anonymous Pakistani foreign ministry officials tell the Express Tribune that Pakistan is unlikely to cooperate in an Indian investigation of the attack on the Uri army base, protesting that “on one hand you are declaring Pakistan a terrorist state, while on the other hand, you are expecting us to cooperate with you”. A spokesman for Pakistan’s Air Force and spokesman for the foreign ministry reiterated on Thursday that the closure of the Lahore-Islamabad highway for a military exercise was “routine training” and not related to current tensions; Reuters reports that Pakistani forces are on high alert, however. On Thursday, Indian foreign ministry officials continued to condemn Prime Minister Sharif’s address to the UN General Assembly the day prior, saying his praise for slain Kashmiri commander Burhan Wani amounted to “self-incrimination”. Pakistan’s foreign ministry denounced reports that Baloch separatist leader Brahamdagh Bbugti was seeking asylum in India, saying it was “indicative of Indian involvement in terrorism in Pakistan”. [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [WAPO]
  • Attacks from Afghanistan Repelled: The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s Jamaat-ul-Ahrar splinter faction claimed responsibility for separate attacks on security checkposts in Mohmand and Bajaur on Friday, from across the Afghan border; security sources report the attacks were repelled without casualties on either side.
  • Military Courts: On Thursday, the military’s public relations arm announced that Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif had approved death sentences for seven men convicted under closed-door military court proceedings; two of the men were described as being members of the TTP, while the affiliations of the others were not specified. [Dawn]
  • NGO Crackdown: On Thursday, the Islamabad Capital Territory Administration issued a one-month deadline for all NGOs operating within the city to submit audit reports, as well as details on local and international funding sources and bank account details.
  • Russia-Pakistan Joint Training Exercise: A unit of Russia soldiers arrived in Pakistan on Friday to participate in a two-week long joint military exercise with Pakistan, military spokesmen announced.

Pakistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Opposition Protests: Following new leaks detailing offshore bank holdings in the Bahamas this week, Finance Minister Dar ordered an investigation into the individuals and companies named, which reportedly includes at least 144 Pakistani business executives. PTI leader Arif Alvi criticized the government for acting swiftly in this case and for failing to investigate politicians named in earlier leaks. On Thursday, the PTI filed an Election Commission petition seeking action against the PML-N for the formation of what the PTI described as a “militant wing” of the ruling party, referring to party activists that organized demonstrations earlier this week threatening retaliation if the PTI conducted a protest march on the prime minister’s residence in Raiwind. [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [ET]

Pakistan – Economics and Development

  • Iran Seeks to Join CPEC: In a meeting with Prime Minister Sharif in New York on Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani voiced interest in connecting Iran to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project; a statement by Pakistan said that “the two leaders reiterated the complementarity between Gwadar and Chabahar sea ports that could boost regional trade exponentially in the decades ahead”, and also discussed the resumption of work on the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project. [Dawn] [ET]
  • FWO Faces Audit: On Thursday, the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee ordered the military-run Frontier Works Organization to submit to an audit by the Auditor General of Pakistan.

Pakistan – Remainders

  • Pakistani Investigators Probing Travel by Would-Be New York Bomber Rahami [LAT]
  • Another Man Arrested on Blasphemy Charges in Kasur [ET]
  • Police Officer Killed in Quetta [ET]
  • Khyber Paktunkhwa to Reintroduce Women’s Protection Bill [ET]
  • Five More Ministers Added to Gilgit-Baltistan Cabinet [ET]
  • Supreme Court Imposes Restrictions on Promotion of Secretarial Staff Into Civil Service Ranks [Dawn]

Afghanistan – Security

  • Attacks and Operations: TOLO reports that the Uruzgan-Kandahar highway remains closed since the Taliban’s attack on Tirin Kot earlier this month; special forces commandos say they are moving to reopen the highway but attribute slow progress to a desire to protect civilians. Foreign Policy reports on fighting in Helmand earlier this summer, where the Taliban increasingly encircle the provincial and capital and where as much as 40% of Afghan security forces in province are believed to be “ghost soldiers” on the rolls to allow commanders to collect extra paychecks.

Afghanistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Hezb-e-Islami Agreement: In remarks during the signing of a draft peace agreement yesterday, Afghan National Security Advisor Hanif Atmar praised the peace deal and affirmed the government’s intention to seek the removal of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and other Hezb-e-Islami leaders from UN and US sanctions lists. UN and EU officials joined the US in issuing statements of support for the agreement. The WSJ reports that Hekmatyar returned to Kabul on Wednesday evening, although he did not attend the signing ceremony on Thursday. In remarks to the VOA’s Afghan service on Friday, a senior member of Hezb-e-Islami, Qarib-ur-Rehman Syed, said that the party “belongs to the people and people belongs to Hezb-e-Islami. In every and every second [sic], we apologize from those who were hurt” during the Afghan civil war during the 1990s.

Afghanistan – Economics and Development

  • Power Plant Planned: Ministry of Water and Energy officials announced on Thursday that they had reached an agreement with the World Bank and the private Ghazanfar Group for the construction of a 50 megawatt thermal power plant in Mazar-e-Sharif, slated for completion in two years, which will be fed by the Sheberghan gas field.

Afghanistan – Remainders

  • Abdullah Promises to Improve Private Sector Opportunities [TOLO]
  • Report: Afghanistan’s High Office of Oversight: Personal Asset Declarations of High Ranking Afghan Government Officials are Not Consistently Registered and Verified – “The HOO still suffers from a lack of independence and authority to fulfill its mandate, lacks enforcement power, and, in some instances, has failed to register and verify asset declarations.” [SIGAR (pdf)]
  • Interview: Afghanistan at an Inflection Point – “The current policy is not bringing conditions any closer to a political settlement, it’s not leading to the defeat of the Taliban, and it’s not getting any greater regional cooperation.” [Chris Kolenda, CFR]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Draft Peace Deal Signed with Hezb-e-Islami; Sharif Condemns Indian Actions in Kashmir

Topline

  • Prime Minister Sharif addressed the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, focusing his remarks on charges of “Indian brutalities” in Kashmir; Indian diplomats responded by condemning Pakistan as a “terrorist state”. India summoned Pakistan’s ambassador in New Delhi in connection to the attack on an Indian army base in Uri on Sunday. At least one Indian news outlet made an unconfirmed report on Wednesday that Indian special forces had conducted a retaliatory attack across the border in Pakistani Kashmir, but the Express Tribune quotes anonymous Pakistani security services who say they do not believe India is planning an attack on Pakistan. The Afghan government and representatives of Hezb-e-Islami Gulbbuddin signed a draft peace agreement in Kabul on Thursday; the deal must still be signed by Pres. Ghani and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and one High Peace Council member tells TOLO that the final text of the agreement may yet be modified. Some 259 Pakistani nationals are listed in a new tranche of Bahamian offshore banking documents released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists on Wednesday. The PTI has announced the location of its planned protest in Raiwind on September 30; PML-N officials announced that Prime Minister Sharif will headline a counter-rally in Lahore the same day.

Pakistan – Security

  • Tensions with India: Some Indian press reports suggest that the gunmen who attacked an Indian army base in Uri on Sunday may have been members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, rather than Jaish-e-Mohammad as originally reported, although no official confirmation has been made. On Wednesday, one Indian news outlet reported that members of India’s Paras special forces unit crossed the Line of Control and conducted a retaliatory strike in Pakistani Kashmir; details of the target are limited, and other outlets do not appear to have confirmed the story. Anonymous Pakistani security sources tell the Express Tribune that they do not believe India is planning an attack against Pakistan. In response to a separate report questioning Indian military accounts that the Uri attackers bore weapons with “Pakistani markings”, India’s ministry of defense has issued a notice to journalists demanding that they “pre-verify” their stories with defense sources. On Wednesday, airspace was closed in northern Pakistan and sections of the Lahore-Peshawar motorway were closed for previously-scheduled air exercises. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sharif addressed the UN General Assembbly in New York on Wednesday, saying that peace with India was “not possible without resolving the Kashmir issue”, and criticizing “Indian brutalities” in the disputed region. Sharif called for an independent UN investigation in Indian Kashmir, and in a separate meeting with Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon submitted a “dossier detailing atrocities”. Indian diplomats at the UN responded by condemning Pakistan as a “terrorist state” and was now host to “the Ivy League of terrorism”; Indian junior foreign minister MJ Akbar added that “we have always been ready for a dialogue, but we will not succumb to the blackmail tactics of a government in Islamabad that seems eager to use terrorist and terrorism as policy”. India summoned Pakistan’s ambassador to New Delhi, Abdul Basit, to formally protest the Uri attack, in which the Indian foreign ministry “demanded that Pakistan live up to its public commitment of not allowing terror against India”. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met with Prime Minister Sharif on Wednesday, and was quoted saying that China “attach[es] great importance to Pakistan’s position on Kashmir” and “hope[s] that the situation between India and Pakistan will not escalate.” [Reuters] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [TOI] [Dawn]
  • Quetta Hospital Attack Investigation: Lawyers for the victims of those killed in last month’s bombing of the Quetta Civil Hospital accused the government of concealing its investigation into the incident; at a Supreme Court hearing on Tuesday, the Balochistan provincial police chief submitted a confidential report on the investigation to Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali.

Pakistan – Politics and Diplomacy

Pakistan – Economics and Development

  • Security Expenditures: Finance Minister Dar and Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif met on Wednesday to discuss financing for 29 new Civil Armed Forces wings to provide additional border security, whose creation was authorized by a cabinet meeting last month; details of the meeting were not disclosed.

Pakistan – Remainders

  • US-Pakistan Defense Consultative Group Meets in Rawalpindi [ET]
  • Balochistan Accuses Sindh of Water Theft [ET]
  • Higher Education Commission Closes Down 31 PhD and 26 MPhil Programs [Dawn] [ET]
  • Fazlur Rehman Criticizes Khyber Paktunkhwa Government’s Expulsion of Afghan Refugees [Dawn] [ET]
  • Mardan National Bank of Pakistan Staff Charged with Embezzlement [ET]
  • Fake Teachers and Ghost Schools Fed Embezzlement in Federal Basic Community Schools Program [Dawn]
  • Sindh Lawmakers and Power Companies Spar [Dawn]
  • World Bank Approves $390 Tarbela Dam Loan [ET]

Afghanistan – Security

  • Attacks and Operations: A spokesman for the Wardak provincial governor reported that ten Taliban fighters had been killed in operations in the Nirkh district on Wednesday night. [TOLO]

Afghanistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Hezb-e-Islami Peace Agreement Signed: Representatives of the Afghan High Peace Council and the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin signed a peace agreement on Thursday, capping two years of negotiations; the agreement must still be signed by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Pres. Ghani, and a member of the HPC told TOLO that both sides will still be meeting to “discuss a number of articles in the agreement”. Full text of the agreement has yet to be officially released. HPC chair Pir Syed Ahmad Gilani and National Security Advisor Hanif Atmar, both of whom attended the agreement signing ceremony, called on other insurgent groups to end their war against the government and join in a peace process. The U.S. embassy in Kabul issued a statement welcoming the agreement. The AFP notes Hekmatyar’s past as a military commander and charges of human rights abuses and war crimes against him, which the agreement has granted immunity and amnesty from prosecution for; the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission warned that “decisions made by the Afghan government without thinking about their implications on justice and human rights can be evaluated as a major backslide in the country’s political sphere and development process”. [NYT] [AP] [Khaama Press] [TOLO] [Khaama Press]
  • UN Talks: Second Vice President Sarwar Danish addressed the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, highlighting concerns over Pakistan’s failure to take action against militant safe havens on its territory. Indian, American, and Afghan diplomats met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly; a joint statement afterwards said that the group “reaffirm[ed] their shared interests in advancing peace and security in the region, as well as countering terrorism”. [Khaama Press] [TOI]
  • Unity Government Reforms: A spokesman for Chief Executive Abdullah told TOLO on Wednesday that despite the government’s failure to complete its reform priorities within its first two years in office,

Afghanistan – Remainders

  • Pakistan and Afghanistan Agree to Synchronize Polio Vaccination Efforts [ET] [Dawn]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: 10 Militants Killed at Uri Border; Hezb-e-Islami Agreement Text Leaks Ahead of Signature

Topline

  • On Tuesday, Indian army officials reported that they had killed at least 10 militants seeking to infiltrate into the Uri area of Indian Kashmir from Pakistan. Indian interior ministry officials tell Reuters that they are considering “multiple serious action” against Pakistan, including economic pressures. In comments on Tuesday, Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor endorsed the government’s forthcoming peace agreement with the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin. TOLO has released a purported copy of the agreement, the final text of which has not been disclosed by the High Peace Council; the text includes commitments from the government to remove HIG leaders from the UN sanctions blacklist, to provide residences and security for HIG leaders, and to include HIG in electoral reform processes, among other steps. Following remarks by MQM party convener Nadeem Nusrat in London that criticized efforts by the party’s Pakistan-based leadership to separate themselves from Altaf Hussain’s leadership, the Pakistan-based party leadership announced his removal from the party’s main coordination committee body. MQM legislators joined a Sindh Assembly resolution on Wednesday calling for treason charges against Hussain. Few opposition party leaders appear to be preparing to join the PTI’s planned protest march in Raiwind. Meanwhile, representatives of several government agencies professed an inability to investigate the Panama Papers leaks. Frequent Pakistan critics Rep. Ted Poe and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher introduced a resolution in the House on Tuesday demanding a report from the administration on why Pakistan was not designated as a state sponsor of terror under U.S. law.

Pakistan – Security

  • Tensions with India: Indian army officials reported Tuesday that they had killed at least ten militants seeking to infiltrate across the border from Pakistan into Indian Kashmir, near the Uri army base that was the site of a major attack on Sunday. Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesman denied Indian reports over an exchange of fire across the border in that area. Although India has stopped short of a cross-border military retaliation, an Indian interior ministry official tells Reuters that they are preparing to present evidence of Pakistan’s complicity in the Uri attack to the U.S., and “you will see multiple serious action against Pakistan, the results will hurt their economy”. Pres. Ghani spoke with Prime Minister Modi by phone on Wednesday, in which he “conveyed Afghanistan’s solidarity and support with India for all actions to eliminate the threat of terrorism”. Indian media reports suggest that India, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh may all boycott the SAARC summit in Islamabad in November. Prime Minister Sharif spoke by phone with Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif on Tuesday, ahead of the prime minister’s arrest to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan met with Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider on Tuesday, telling him that “Pakistan will not step back from lending moral, diplomatic and political support to the Kashmiris struggling to achieve their internationally recognised right to self-determination” and that “Pakistan cannot be cowered down by Indian threats”. [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [TOI]
  • ISIS Suspect Arrested: Khyber Paktunkhwa Counter Terrorism Department officials announced the arrest on Wednesday of a man accused of carrying out as many as 32 targeted killings, who was also charged with membership with the Islamic State.

Pakistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • MQM in Turmoil: London-based MQM party convener Nadeem Nusrat issued a statement on Tuesday saying that “MQM founder Altaf Hussain is himself MQM and the party is nothing without him”, rejecting the split by the party’s Pakistan-based legislators under Farooq Sattar. On Tuesday evening, Sattar and other Pakistan-based leaders met and decided to remove Nusrat and three other London-based leaders from the party’s coordination committee. On Wednesday, MQM legislators joined in a unanimous resolution in the Sindh Assembly calling for treason investigations against Altaf Hussain. [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]
  • Opposition Protests and Other Political Activity: Opposition party sources tell Dawn that they are still undecided on participation in the PTI’s protest march on the prime minister’s residence of Raiwind; formal invitations from the PTI are reported to have not yet been made. The Jamaat-e-Islami has confirmed it will not participate, and is instead holding talks with PPP leaders about a possible joint campaign. Punjab assembly opposition leader Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed tells the Express Tribune that the party has chosen a venue for its rally, which has not yet been announced publicly, and that “we will do it on our own. We are relying on our own strengths, volunteers and workers”. During a meeting between Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Sharif reportedly ordered a closure of PML-N offices and protection for PTI demonstrators. In testimony before the Public Accounts Committee on Tuesday, representatives of the National Accountability Bureau, Federal Investigation Agency, State Bank of Pakistan, and Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan all professed an inability to investigate allegations of illegal offshore business holdings documented in the Panama Papers; federal law secretary Karamat Hussain Niazi argued that the committee itself also lacked jurisdiction on the issue. [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn] [ET] [ET]
  • Congressional Proposal to Designate Pakistan a State Sponsor of Terrorism: On Tuesday, Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) introduced a legislative proposal that would require a report from the White House and State Department on why Pakistan should not be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism under U.S. law.
  • Afghan Refugee Repatriation: The Express Tribune reports that the federal government had originally planned to extend the stay of registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan through the end of next year, but modified that to run only until end-March 2017 in response to pressure from the Khyber Paktunkhwa provincial government.

Pakistan – Economics and Development

  • IMF Chief to Visit: IMF managing director Christine Lagarde will visit Pakistan in late October, finance ministry sources tell Dawn.
  • Supreme Court Ruling Appealed: The federal government filed a review petition with the Supreme Court, appealing an earlier verdict that mandated that the prime minister could not make fiscal or ordinance decisions without the participation of the entire federal cabinet.

Pakistan – Remainders

  • Iran Detains Two Sunni Militants on Border with Pakistan [AP]
  • Punjab Police Plan Crackdown on Cops with Criminal Links [ET]
  • Bajaur Tribal Elders Strike in Opposition to Proposed FATA-Khyber Paktunkhwa Merger [ET]
  • First Arrests Made Under New Cyber-Crime Law [Dawn]
  • Teenage Christian Boy Charged with Blasphemy [AP]
  • Turkish General Meets with Chief of Army Staff [ET]
  • Karachi Electric Considers Purchase of Government’s Kot Adu Power Company Stake [ET]
  • Pakistan Seeks Remote-Sensing Satellite Launch by 2018 [Dawn]

Afghanistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Hezb-e-Islami Peace Agreement Text Leaks: In a meeting with supporters on Tuesday, Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor voiced support for the prospective peace agreement between the government and Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin, describing it as a “big achievement”. The text of the agreement has not officially been publicized, and High Peace Council officials said it would not be released until after a deal was signed. However, a TOLO report on Tuesday included a purported copy of the agreement text, which includes a commitment to allow HIG leaders to return to the country and take part in political and social activities, and to “consider a role for Hizb-e-Islami in the electoral reform process”. The agreement also commits the government to providing security and residences for Hezb-e-Islami leaders, and to recruit HIG members into the security services. [TOLO]

Afghanistan – Remainders

  • Would-Be Suicide Bomber Arrested in Khost [Khaama Press]
  • Foreign Minister Rabbani Addresses CFR [TOLO]
  • Commentary: How to Replace a Bad ALP Commander: in Shajoy, Success and Now Calamity – “An abusive ALP can often result in worsening insecurity which, in turn, can pave the way for militants to connect with the local population, carry out attacks on government institutions and inflict considerable casualties on government forces.” [Fazal Muzhary, AAN]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Sharif Highlights Kashmir as India Debates Uri Response; HIG Deal To Be Signed This Week

Topline

  • Indian officials are debating a response to the attack on an army base in Kashmir, seeking “clear evidence of Pakistan’s complicity” for presentation at international fora and stepping up patrols in the area. India accused Pakistan of a ceasefire violation along the Line of Control on Tuesday, and carried out a joint surface-to-air missile test with Israel. In New York, Prime Minister Sharif met with U.S. diplomats on Monday, highlighting India’s crackdown on protestors in Kashmir and calling for the U.S. and other UN Security Council members to intervene. A peace agreement with Hezb-e-Islami will reportedly be signed Wednesday or Thursday of this week; speaking at a Council of Ministers meeting on Monday, Chief Executive Abdullah indicated his acceptance of the deal, the details of which have not been disclosed.. A convoy of security guards for Vice President Dostum was attacked in Jawzjan on Tuesday, but no casualties were reported. PML-N activists held demonstrations on Monday, warning the PTI against continuing with their plans for a protest in Raiwind. Chief Executive Abdullah indicated Monday that he and Pres. Ghani had reached an agreement on electoral reforms; the Ministry of Justice said it was still waiting for a draft copy of Ghani’s most recent electoral decree. A Pakistani senate committee approved draft legislation that would void election results in areas with less than 10% female voter turnout. The Khyber Paktunkhwa provincial assembly has unanimously passed legislation outlawing interest on private loans. Afghanistan’s minister of refugees said that as many as 6,000 Afghans were returning to the country daily, most from Pakistan.

Pakistan – Security

  • NGO Crackdown: A meeting of the National Assembly Committee on Human Rights on Monday saw calls for further scrutiny of local and international NGOs operating in the country.
  • Sindh Operation: On Monday, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah ordered a “vigorous operation” against gangs operating in the Sukkur and Larkana divisions.

Pakistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Tensions with India: Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif chaired a meeting of senior corps commanders in Rawalpindi on Monday, during which he noted a “hostile narrative being propagated by India” in the wake of the attack on the Uri army base in Kashmir the day prior. During a high-level security meeting on Monday, Prime Minister Modi reportedly sought “clear evidence of Pakistan’s complicity” in the attack to be presented in international forums, including the UN General Assembly taking place this week; anonymous sources told the Indian press that there would be no “knee-jerk reaction”, although proposals for cross-border retaliatory strikes by artillery or special forces have reportedly been debated. The Business Standard notes a lack of Indian interagency planning for a response. On Tuesday, India accused Pakistan of violating the ceasefire across the Line of Control; an exchange of small arms fire has been reported, but details are otherwise limited. Also on Tuesday, India test-fired a long range surface-to-air missile, in a test conducted jointly with Israel. On Monday, Balochistan separatist leader Brahamdagh Bugti announced that he was seeking asylum in India, and said he planned to file criminal cases against Pakistani leaders and China in the International Court of Justice. Meanwhile, the Pakistani foreign ministry announced on Monday that Prime Minister Sharif had written to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, calling on them to intervene to stop the Indian crackdown on protests in Kashmir and implement a plebiscite on the status of the disputed territory. PM Sharif met with Sec. Kerry in New York on Monday, calling on the US administration to “use [its] good offices to help in resolving bilateral issues between Pakistan and India”. Pakistani Kashmir officials announced plans to protest Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj’s remarks to the UN General Assembly on Sept 26. A meeting of the Organization of the Islamic conference on the sidelines of UNGA on Tuesday called for “immediate cessation of Indian atrocities” in Kashmir. [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn] [WAPO] [ET] [Dawn]
  • Elections and Other Political Activity: PML-N activists wielding batons staged demonstrations of support for Prime Minister Sharif in Lahore and other parts of Punjab on Monday, warning the PTI against moving forward with their planned protest march on Raiwind. In Sahiwal, a PML-N candidate won election to a vacant national assembly seat formerly held by the PTI, after the incumbent was disqualified for concealing his assets. The Senate Committee on Parliamentary Affairs approved draft legislation that would void the outcome of any election where women’s turnout was less than 10%. [ET] [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [ET]

Pakistan – Economics and Development

  • Khyber Paktunkhwa Outlaws Interest: On Monday, the Khyber Paktunkhwa provincial assembly unanimously passed legislation that outlaws interest on private loans, imposing a Rs 1 million fine and a maximum sentence of ten years in prison.

Pakistan – Remainders

  • Chief Justice Inaugurates New Judicial Year [Dawn] [ET]
  • Despite Pressure, Pak-Turk Schools Won’t Be Shut [ET]
  • Police Officer-Turned Novelist Shahid Hamid Returns to Duty [Dawn] [ET]
  • Sindh High Court Orders Senior Officials to Attend Missing Persons Hearing [ET]
  • Punjab Government Institutes Training Course for Security Guards [ET]
  • Supreme Court Stays Execution of Mentally Ill Man [AP]
  • Finance Minister Reviews FBR Revenue Collection [ET]
  • Pakistan-China Fiber Optic Cable Planned for Completion by June 2018 [ET]
  • Commentary: Pakistan and India: The Art of Peace – “Only a combination of Indian coercive and non-violent capabilities, paired with a willingness to bargain, can motivate Pakistan to remove the threat of violence.” [George Perkovich and Toby Dalton, Dawn]

Afghanistan – Security

  • Dostum Convoy Ambushed: A convoy of security guards for Vice President Dostum were ambushed in Jawzjan province’s Khwaja Dokoh district on Tuesday; no casualties were reported, and reporting does not indicate that Dostum himself was present at the time of the attack.
  • Other Attacks and Operations: The Ministry of Interior has appointed a delegation to investigate the errant U.S. airstrike that killed eight Afghan policemen in Tirin Kot on Sunday. Nangarhar provincial police officials claimed on Tuesday that 29 Islamic State-affiliated fighters were killed in separate airstrikes in the Haska Mina, Kot, and Achin districts. Five soldiers were killed in a Taliban attack on a military checkpost in the Kekhi Kotal district of Kandahar on Monday, provincial government officials reported.
  • Transferred Prisoners Seek Reassessment of Cases: A group of 197 Afghan prisoners transferred from Iran to Herat in a prisoner swap last month have appealed to the government to reassess their cases, or to transfer them to prison facilities closer to their home provinces.

Afghanistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Hezb-e-Islami Peace Agreement: A member of the Afghan High Peace Council, Qazi Mohammad Amin Waqad, tells TOLO that a peace agreement between the government and the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin will be signed this week; few details on the agreement have been disclosed, and Waqad indicated that Pres. Ghani would form a commission “to make preparations and decide whether Hekmatyar should come over land or by air and it also should decide about his house, office and security”. In remarks at the Council of Ministers meeting on Monday, Chief Executive Abdullah signaled acceptance of the agreement, saying he none of the agreement’s provisions were “against the national interests”. Hezb-e-Islami sources tell the Express Tribune that the agreement will be signed on Wednesday or Thursday of this week.
  • Electoral Reforms: A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said it had not yet received a copy of the presidential decree on electoral reforms issued by Pres. Ghani, for review and publication in the official gazette; speaking on Monday, Chief Executive Abdullah suggested that he and Ghani had reached an agreement over reform issues. In a Facebook posting, Second Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danish indicated that the government had directed the Independent Electoral Commission to draw new constituency boundaries for single-member district elections.
  • Refugee Repatriation: Speaking at an inauguration ceremony for a new housing project in Kabul for refugee returnees, Minister of Refugees and Repatriation Sayed Hussain Alemi Balkhi said that around 6,000 Afghans were returning to the country on a daily basis, most of them from Pakistan. Speaking at the UN, Prime Minister Sharif insisted that Pakistan “supports the safe and dignified return of all Afghan refugees to their homeland, in a sustainable manner”.

Afghanistan – Remainders

  • MPs Question Finance Minister Over Economic Strategy Ahead of Brussels Summit [TOLO]
  • Afghanistan In Talks with UAE Companies for Infrastructure Investments [Khaama Press]
  • Large Fire Sweeps Kabul Fuel Market [Khaama Press]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Attack on Indian Army Base Heightens Kashmir Tensions; Errant US Airstrike Kills Uruzgan Police

Topline

  • At least 17 Indian soldiers were killed in an attack on a military base near Srinagar in Indian Kashmir early Sunday morning, in an attack that Indian officials suggested was carried out by Jaish-e-Mohammad. India’s home minister blamed Pakistan for the attack and called for it to be isolated as “a terrorist state”; Pakistan’s military and foreign ministry spokesmen rejected Indian allegations of responsibility. The attack comes during a period of already high tensions, and ahead of Prime Minister Sharif’s address to the UN General Assembly this week, which is expected to focus on allegations of human rights abuses by Indian forces in Kashmir. An errant U.S. airstrike killed at least eight Afghan police at a checkpost near the Uruzgan provincial capital of Tirin Kot on Monday, police officials report. Residents of Baghlan’s Dahana-e-Ghori district held protests in the provincial capital on Sunday, seeking a military operation to retake control of the district. Disagreements between Pakistan’s military and civilian governments are reported to have delayed the formation of a Special Security Division to protect the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project and to have delayed the deployment of paramilitary Rangers to provide security in Punjab. MQM leader Khawaja Izharul Hassan was freed from police custody on Friday and Senior Superintendent of Police Rao Anwar was suspended by Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah; Anwar has protested his suspension and filed a petition with the Sindh High Court on Monday seeking reinstatement. Afghan parliamentarians have raised questions about the legality of Pres. Ghani’s latest electoral reforms decree, and have summoned officials from the Independent Commission for Overseeing the Implementation of Constitution to brief them on the issue. The PTI has set September 30 as the new date for its protest march in Raiwind, near Prime Minister Sharif’s residence; internal leadership divisions and waning support from other opposition parties are complicating its plans for the march, however. Less than 11,000 new Pakistani income taxpayers filed their taxes during the 2014-15 fiscal year, for around 1.064 million in total.

Pakistan – Security

  • Attack on Indian Army Base in Kashmir Heightens Tensions: A team of at least four gunmen attacked an Indian army base early Sunday morning in the town of Uri, west of the main city of Srinagar in Indian Kashmir, killing at least 17 soldiers and wounding at least 30 more. Most of the fatalities appear to have been caused by a fire in a temporary tent for a new unit that had been set to take command of the base. Indian Director General of Military Operations Lt. Gen. Ranbir Singh said that all of the gunmen were “foreign terrorists” believed to be members of Jaish-e-Mohammad, the Pakistani-based militant organization that carried out an attack on the Pathankot airbase in January. Prime Minister Modi vowed that “those behind this despicable attack will not go unpunished”. After an emergency meeting of senior security officials, India’s Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, tweeted a statement that “Pakistan is a terrorist state and should be identified and isolated as such”. Lt. Gen. Singh spoke with his Pakistani counterpart by hotline in the aftermath of the attack; Pakistan’s military public relations arm said that Indian allegations of Pakistani complicity were “unfounded and premature”. Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesman also rejected blame, saying “India is trying to divert world’s attention from the human rights violations being committed in occupied Kashmir”. Afghanistan’s National Security Council also issued a statement on Sunday condemning the bombing. Tensions have already been at a height since the death of a Kashmiri militant commander in July, which sparked renewed protests in Indian Kashmir and a heavy crackdown by Indian security forces. Prime Minister Sharif arrived in New York on Sunday ahead of the UN General Assembly meeting, where his Sept 21 address and meeting with Pres. Obama are expected to focus on allegations of human rights violations against India. On Monday, India increased military patrols along the Line of Control; the Times of India reports that the army has sought permission to conduct “limited but punitive” cross-border strikes into Pakistan. Prime Minister Modi will hold a cabinet meeting today to review the incident. [WSJ] [WAPO] [Reuters] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET] [APP] [ET] [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • CPEC Security: Disputes between the military and government have delayed the formation of the southern wing of the Special Security Division tasked with protecting China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects, Dawn reports; the military is reportedly seeking a role that would allow it to “advise, guide, and indirectly control” civilian law enforcement agencies providing security for the project. The military has already established the northern wing of the SSD, covering the area between the China-Pakistan border and Rawalpindi.
  • Counterterrorism Response: Punjab government officials have yet to formally issue a notification requisitioning the deployment of paramilitary Rangers to provide additional security in the province between the period of Eid and Muharram, as Law Minister Rana Sanaullah had indicated would be done. Dawn reports that the army is pressing for the Rangers’ mandate to be expanded to include policing powers that would allow them to target ordinary criminals as well. On Friday, the Lahore Counter Terrorism Department announced the arrest of four men described as being affiliated with the Islamic State, who were accused of planning to attack local officials. Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and Balochistan Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri spoke by phone on Saturday, agreeing to strengthen provincial border security and “chalk out a joint strategy to eliminate terrorists in their provinces”. On Friday, Chief Minister Shah approved a Rs 2.2 billion allocation for training and the purchase of arms and equipment from the Pakistani army, for use by the Sindh police. [ET]
  • FATA and Khyber Paktunkhwa Attacks: The Islamic State’s ‘Amaq news agency and the TTP Jamaat ul Ahrar splinter group issued separate claims of responsibility for an attack on an army van in Peshawar on Sunday that killed three army employees. Dawn identifies the men as employees of a military-run dairy farm. The death toll from Friday’s suicide bombing at a mosque in the Mohmand Agency has risen to 36, most of whom are reported to have been teenagers sitting near the back row of the mosque. The TTP Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for the attack. Khyber Paktunkhwa Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra and Peshawar Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Hidayat-ur-Rehman visited the area on Saturday to offer compensation and condolences for the victims. A curfew has been imposed in the area. [NYT] [Dawn]

Pakistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • MQM Leader Released After Arrest: MQM leader and Sindh provincial assembly opposition leader Khawaja Izharul Hassan was released after five hours in police custody on Friday; Malir Superintendent of Police Rao Anwar was suspended by Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah over the arrest. Speaking to reporters, Anwar described Hassan as the “chief of target killers” and insisted that he had followed legal procedures in making the arrest; he also charged that the MQM was still following leader-in-exile Altaf Hussain’s orders. PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari met with Chief Minister Shah and other party leaders on Saturday; a statement quoted him saying that the PPP was “committed to depoliticising the police, as political operation will only weaken our resolved efforts for restoration of peace and tranquillity.” PTI leader Imran Khan denounced Anwar’s suspension, accusing Prime Minister Sharif of intervening to secure Hassan’s released; a spokesman for Shah said that he spoke with Sharif only after Anwar’s suspension. On Monday, Anwar petitioned the Sindh High Court to overturn his suspension. [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Opposition Protests: Speaking to supporters in Islamabad on Sunday, PTI leader Imran Khan set a new date for a protest march near Prime Minister Sharif’s residence in Raiwind, calling on supporters to rally there on September 30. Khan’s announcement followed a strategy meeting amongst senior party leaders on Saturday; the Express Tribune reports that additional secretary general Saifullah Niazi has stepped down due to disputes over the conduct of the rally, and that the party’s Hazara chapter will boycott over disputes with senior leadership. Dawn confirms Niazi’s resignation but quotes PTI sources who attribute it to disputes with secretary general Jahangir Tareen; last week, Tareen ordered the dissolution and reorganization of the PTI’s youth, women, and labor wings. PML-N activists held a rally in Raiwind and Gujranwala on Saturday, warning that they would not allow PTI demonstrators to enter the area; a Punjab government source insists to Dawn that the government plans to handle the protest “softly”. [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [ET] [ET]
  • Court Orders Confiscation of Musharraf Property: An Islamabad local court ordered the confiscation of properties owned by former Pres. Musharraf over his failure to attend trial proceedings in a case related to the death of Lal Masjid leader Abdul Rashid Ghazi, and confiscated his bail bond. Musharraf’s lawyers unsuccessfully sought the dismissal of the case on grounds that the 2007 Lal Masjid operation had been sanctioned by the civilian government. [ET]

Pakistan – Economics and Development

  • Tax Revenues: Despite an increase in tax rates for those who did not file income tax returns and an amnesty plan, government efforts to broaden the income tax base saw the number of filers increase by only 10,745 people during the 2015 fiscal year, the Express Tribune reports, bringing the total to 1.064 million people. [ET] [ET]

Pakistan – Remainders

  • Khyber Paktunkhwa Seeks Merger with FATA by 2018 [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]
  • Pakistan Navy Launches Fast Attack Craft [ET] [APP]
  • Afghan National Killed in Chaman [ET]
  • Militant Suspect Killed in Dera Bugti Clash [ET]
  • New Controls on FATA Health NGO Operations [Dawn]
  • Deadline Extended Until Oct 1 for Afghan Transporters to Obtain Pakistani Visas [ET]
  • Rights Groups Call on Pakistan Not to Hang Mentally Ill Man [AFP]
  • Commerce Ministry to Hold Talks with UK on Post-Brexit Trade Linkages [ET]
  • Report: Competing Priorities Have Complicated USAID/Pakistan’s Efforts to Achieve Long-Term Development under EPPA – “EPPA gave the lead role for assistance activities to the State Department, making it responsible for budget and project decisions. However, the State Department and USAID/Pakistan had competing priorities, and ultimately USAID/Pakistan had to integrate its long-term objectives with State’s shorter-term priorities.” [USAID Inspector General (pdf)]
  • Commentary: Politics, Not Law, Likely to Decide Murder Probe – “It is difficult to escape the conclusion that had the MQM been a jihadi outfit there would have been charges long ago. Which raises the question: why is the British state protecting the MQM?” [Owen Bennett-Jones, Dawn]

Afghanistan – Security

  • Afghan Police Killed in Errant US Airstrike: An errant U.S. airstrike struck an Afghan police checkpost on the outskirts of the Uruzgan provincial capital of Tirin Kot on Sunday, killing at least eight Afghan police officers; seven of those killed were members of a first responder team who were struck in a second bombing. A spokesman for the U.S. military coalition confirmed the strike but said it had targeted “individuals firing on, and posing a threat to” the Afghan security forces and referred further questions to the Ministry of Interior. [TOLO] [Pajhwok] [NYT]
  • Other Attacks and Operations: Taliban fighters carried out attacks on four districts in Faryab province early Monday morning; the provincial police chief reported as many as 500 attackers, but said they had suffered heavy casualties. Residents of Baghlan’s Dahana-e-Ghori district held a demonstration outside the provincial governor’s office on Sunday, calling on Afghan security forces to retake the district from Taliban control; participants estimated that around 5,000 families had been displaced from the area. The Afghan Air Force carried out strikes on Islamic State militants in the Kunar district of Wataput and the Nangarhar district of Achin on Saturday and Sunday, as many as 18. NDS officials announced that eight Taliban militants, including three commanders, had been killed in operations in the Qarabagh district of Kabul province over Saturday night. On Friday, security officials in Zabul claimed that the Taliban chief for the province had been killed in an attack on a police checkpost in the provincial capital of Qalat. Four policemen were killed in a bombing that targeted a visiting interior ministry general’s convoy in the Najrab district in Kapisa on Friday. [TOLO] [TOLO] [TOLO] [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Unity Government Reforms: On Sunday, the general director of legislature of the justice ministry, Majid Ghanizada, accused the executive branch’s Administrative Affairs Office of failing to act on a draft law on the government’s basic structure that had been sent for review last year. Wolesi Jirga legislators decided to summon the Independent Commission for Overseeing the Implementation of Constitution to brief them on Pres. Ghani’s end-August electoral reforms decree, which some parliamentarians said could not be issued while they were still considering an earlier decree. [TOLO]
  • Tensions with Pakistan: In a statement on Saturday following Pres. Ghani’s two-visit to India, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said that it had “noted with disappointment the unhelpful statements made by Afghan leadership in complete disregard to the efforts that Pakistan has made and continues to make for peace and stability in Afghanistan”; the statement also said that “Pakistan remains concerned that Afghan soil is being increasingly used by ‘a neighbour’ for subversive activities inside Pakistan and terror financing”. A spokesman for the Afghan ministry of defense said that “if any country helps terrorists, they should be isolated like North Korea”, and a spokesman for the Afghan ministry of interior suggested that “recent military aid and commitments by India, aid from China – a strategic partner of Pakistan – for Afghan forces and Afghan people, and the pressure by the United States on Pakistan will make Pakistan not support terrorist groups anymore”.
  • Corruption Cases: At least eight defense ministry generals have been arrested on corruption and embezzlement charges, officials with the Attorney General’s office report, although they did not provide details on when those arrests took place.

Afghanistan – Remainders

  • UN Seeks $150 Million for Internally Displaced Afghan Refugees [TOLO]
  • Presidential Palace Rebuffs Karzai Criticism Over US Airstrikes [TOLO]
  • Estimated Two Million Children Working in Afghanistan [TOLO]
  • Afghanistan to Hold Two-Day Energy Summit in Dubai [Khaama Press]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Suicide Bomber Strikes Mohmand Agency Mosque; Senators Raise Afghanistan Corruption Concerns

Topline

  • A suicide bomber at a Mohmand Agency mosque killed at least 16 people on Friday and injured many more; details remain limited as of this writing, and no claim of responsibility has been reported. During SFRC testimony on Thursday, senators raised concerns over a new SIGAR report on U.S. corruption efforts in Afghanistan; Special Representative Olson praised Pres. Ghani as a “committed partner” in anti-corruption efforts. MQM leader Khawaja Izharul Hassan, the Sindh assembly opposition leader, was arrested from his home in Karachi on Friday; Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah is reported to have ordered the suspension of several senior police officers involved in the move. Nangarhar residents warn that Islamic State-affiliated fighters have retaken control of parts of the Achin, Kot, and Haska Mina districts, accusing the government of neglecting its pledges to eliminate the group. Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider told reporters that Prime Minister Sharif would meet with Kashmiri leaders on Friday, ahead of his visit to the UN General Assembly later this month.

Pakistan – Security

Pakistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • MQM Leader Arrested: MQM leader Khawaja Izharul Hassan, the Sindh assembly opposition leader, was arrested from his home in Karachi on Friday; Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah is reported to have ordered the suspension of Senior Superintendent of Police Malik Rao Anwar following the raid on Hassan’s home. MQM leader Farooq Sattar protested the action, saying that “it is becoming clear the issue here is not whether the party is being run from London, or the statements that come from London. The issue is not anti-Pakistan statements…the issue is an enmity with the MQM and mohajirs”. [ET]
  • Tensions with India: Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider told reporters that Prime Minister Sharif would meet with Kashmiri leaders on Friday, prior to addressing the UN General Assembly session in New York later this month. Haider led protests against India and in support of Kashmiri unity in Muzaffarabad on Friday. India’s foreign ministry spokesmen reported on Thursday that Indian foreign secretary S. Jaishankar wrote to his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Chaudhry last week seeking the expedition of the now eight year-long trial of suspects linked to the Mumbai attacks. [ET]
  • PTI Protests: PTI secretary general Jahangir Tareen tells Dawn that the PTI has renewed outreach to other opposition parties, seeking to put “maximum pressure” on the PML-N through a series of simultaneous protests around the country in October. PPP secretary general Latif Khosa tells Dawn that the party is waiting to see the ruling of the Election Commission on petitions seeking Prime Minister Sharif’s disqualification from office before making a decision on protest plans. [ET] [ET]

Pakistan – Remainders

  • Honor Killings Legislation Stalls [ET]
  • PEMRA Registers Complaints Over Anti-Ahmadi Broadcasts [Dawn] [ET]
  • Eid Celebrations Come to a Close [ET] [ET] [ET]
  • Prime Minister Reviews 3000-Megawatt Energy Surplus Target [Dawn] [ET]

Afghanistan – Security

  • Attacks and Operations: Nangarhar tribal elders and provincial council officials tell TOLO that parts of the Achin, Kot, and Haska Mina districts have been retaken by Islamic State-affiliated forces, despite Afghan security forces’ clearing operations, accusing the government of neglecting its pledge to eliminate the group from the area. In Kunduz, Afghan army forces announced on Friday that they had cleared 20 villages of Taliban presence in the Qala-e-Zal district. In Balkh, the army’s Shaheen Corps received four MD-530 light attack helicopters for use by the Afghan Air Force.

Afghanistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • SFRC Testimony: Special Representative Richard Olson testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, where ranking member Robert Menendez (D-NJ) raised concerns over a recent SIGAR report assessing U.S. anti-corruption efforts in Afghanistan; Olson said that Pres. Ghani was a “committed partner” in anti-corruption efforts. Olson also said that the U.S. was seeking a “constructive relationship” between Afghanistan and Pakistan, concluding that “despite greater regional cooperation overall, regional players continue to hedge so long as they have doubts about the viability of the Afghan state.” [Dawn]

Afghanistan – Economics and Development

  • Power Demand: A spokesman for the Afghan electric utility Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat tells TOLO that increased power demand is likely to increase Afghanistan’s electricity imports from 80% of total demand to 90% within the next two years.

Afghanistan – Remainders

  • Ghani Discusses ‘Fifth Wave’ of Terrorism During Remarks at Indian Think Tank [IDSA]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Karzai Again Calls for Loya Jirga; India and Pakistan Trade Criticisms at UN

Topline

  • In a Reuters interview, former Pres. Karzai criticized new U.S. rules of engagement enacted in June, and the use of U.S. airpower in Afghanistan that the Afghan government has sought. Karzai also called for a Loya Jirga to be held to “give the country a voice”, but said he was not seeking to end the national unity government’s term in office before five years. India and Pakistan traded criticisms over Kashmir and Balochistan in the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday. Pres. Ghani continued a visit in India, meeting Pres. Mukherjee on Wednesday evening. MQM leader Farooq Sattar was discharged from the hospital on Wednesday following a car accident on Sunday. SIGAR released a ‘Lessons Learned’ study on corruption and conflict in Afghanistan, concluding that the surge of U.S. funds and lack of oversight or will to hold politically powerful figures accountable helped fuel corruption in the country. The news is otherwise limited as both countries continue to celebrate Eid.

Pakistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Tensions with India: During debate at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN Ambassador Tehmina Janjua welcomed the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ criticism of India’s crackdown in Kashmir, calling for the UN to conduct an independent investigation of the situation. India countered with criticism of Pakistani human rights violations in Balochistan. Separately, Pakistan’s foreign ministry confirmed that it had denied an Indian request to transport wheat to Afghanistan through Pakistani land routes. [ET]
  • MQM Leader Discharged from Hospital: MQM leader Farooq Sattar was discharged from a Karachi hospital on Wednesday after surviving a car crash on Sunday; Sattar told reporters after his release “to not look for conspiracy theories into this incident and only consider it as a mishap”. [Dawn]

Pakistan – Remainders

  • Six Killed, More Than a 150 Injured in Multan Train Collision [Reuters] [AP] [AFP]
  • Commentary: ‘We Search, We Find, We Kill’: Inside Karachi’s Gangland Purge – “While the operation has re-imposed a modicum of order, the question haunting Karachi is how long this relative peace can last.” [Taimur Khan, World Policy Journal]

Afghanistan – Security

  • Attacks and Operations: Samar, a former jihadi commander, was killed in a Taliban ambush in the Baghlan-e-Markazi district on Wednesday; four other members of his family were also killed in the attack. Two children survived with injuries. No claim of responsibility has been reported, although the district police chief blamed the Taliban.

Afghanistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Karzai Criticizes US Combat Authorities, Calls for Loya Jirga: In a Reuters interview, former Pres. Karzai criticized changes to U.S. rules of engagement in Afghanistan made in June, saying they were a violation of Afghanistan’s sovereignty and that “we must remain the owners of this house, the United States of America, a guest”. U.S. officials say the measures were agreed to in conjunction with the Afghan government, which has sought greater U.S. airpower assistance. Karzai also insisted that he wanted the national unity government to complete a full five year term, but said that “the country needs a voice, the country needs to regain its confidence” and for this, a loya Jirga should be called. [TOLO]
  • Ghani in India: On Wednesday evening, Pres. Ghani met with Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, following earlier meetings with Prime Minister Modi. Mukherjee pledged that “India as a good friend always will be on the side of Afghanistan.” Separately, during quarterly UN Security Council debate on the situation in Afghanistan on Wednesday, India’s deputy permanent ambassador raised questions as to why the Taliban’s leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhunzada was not listed on the UN sanctions list. [TOLO]

Afghanistan – Remainders

  • Report: Corruption in Conflict: Lessons from the U.S. Experience in Afghanistan – “The United States contributed to the growth of corruption by injecting tens of billions of dollars into the Afghan economy, using flawed oversight and contracting practices, and partnering with malign powerbrokers.” [SIGAR (pdf)] [AP]
  • Report: Quarterly Secretary General’s Report on Afghanistan to the UN Security Council – “Increased tensions between the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, and the Chief Executive, Abdullah Abdullah, persistent security challenges and rising pressure from political opposition groups contributed to growing volatility.” [UN Security Council] [TOLO]
  • Commentary: Forging an Enduring Partnership with Afghanistan – “We should plan for a long-term American—and coalition—role in the country that avoids the recent pattern of nearly annual reassessments of whether the United States should stay, militarily and as a major donor.” [Group of former Ambassadors and Military Commanders, The National Interest]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Modi Pledges Economic Aid During Ghani Visit; TTP and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar Claim Quetta Bombing

Topline

  • Pres. Ghani arrived in New Delhi on Wednesday for a two-day visit; in a joint statement, Prime Minister Modi announced an additional $1 billion in economic assistance, and both leaders “expressed grave concern at continued use of terrorism and violence in the region for achieving political objectives”. Both the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar issued separate claims of responsibility for a bombing in Quetta on Tuesday that killed two police officers and wounded ten people. Police continue to investigate the suicide bombing attacks in Shikarpur on Monday, with one attacker under investigation. A spokesman for Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin told TOLO on Tuesday that earlier complaints from Chief Executive Abdullah regarding a peace agreement between HIG and the government had been resolved, and that Abdullah would make an announcement regarding the deal after Eid holidays. The news is otherwise limited given the holidays in both countries.

Pakistan – Security

  • Quetta Bombing: Two police officers were killed and at least ten people wounded in a bombing near a police training center in Quetta on Tuesday; both the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar splinter group reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack, which officials say was remotely-detonated.
  • Shikarpur Bombing: Police in Shikarpur are reported to have arrested nearly two dozen people in connection to Monday’s bombing of a Shia mosque and Eid prayer ground; one of the surviving attackers, reported to originally be a resident of Swat and a student at a Karachi seminary, has been transferred to the Sindh Counter-terrorism Department for questioning.

Afghanistan – Security

  • Attacks and Operations: Pres. Ghani attended the funeral for Nangarhar provincial police chief Brig. Gen. Zorawar Zahid on Tuesday, saying that “we are mourning the demise of a martyred hero, but they must know that thousands of other heros will emerge from each drop of blood of each hero”. A magnetic mine placed on a police vehicle in Kabul killed one police officer and injured another on Wednesday morning; no claim of responsibility has been reported. [TOLO] [TOLO]

Afghanistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Ghani Visits India: Pres. Ghani arrived in New Delhi on Wednesday, meeting with Prime Minister Modi; in their talks and in a joint statement afterwards, the two leaders “expressed grave concern at continued use of terrorism and violence in the region for achieving political objectives” and “agreed that this phenomenon presented the single biggest threat to peace, stability and progress in the region”. Although Ghani is reported to be seeking additional Indian military assistance, the joint statement did not provide details beyond a “resolve to counter terrorism and strengthen security and defence cooperation“. Prime Minister Modi pledged an additional $1 billion in economic assistance, but the timelines or mechanisms for disbursal of that aid were not specified. The two countries also signed an extradition treaty, and prior to Ghani’s trip, the Indian embassy in Afghanistan announced 1,000 scholarships for Afghan students to study in India during the 2017-18 academic year. [Khaama Press] [TOLO]
  • Hezb-e-Islami Talks: On Tuesday, a spokesman for Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin said that Chief Executive Abdullah had earlier objected to unspecified portions of a peace agreement between HIG and the government, but claimed that “the disputed topics have been resolved” and that Abdullah would make an announcement after the Eid holidays.

Afghanistan – Remainders

  • Lawyers Union Criticizes Unity Government for Failing to Implement Reforms [TOLO]
  • Archaeologists Map Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage [AFP]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Suicide Bombers Target Shikarpur Shia Mosque; Gunmen Attack Kandahar Hospital

Topline

  • A team of four suicide bombers targeted a Shia mosque and Eid prayer ground in Shikarpur on Monday; thirteen people were injured and one of the attackers was reportedly arrested, but no claim of responsibility has been reported. Two gunmen attacked Kandahar’s Mirwais hospital on Monday before being killed by Afghan security forces; a NDS was officer was injured or killed (reports vary) but provincial officials say no hospital staff or patients were hurt. The Afghan High Peace Council issued a statement attributing delays in the announcement of a peace agreement between the government and the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin to unspecified “technical issues”, but also said the “final agreement has been concluded” and insisted that both Pres. Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah were supportive of the deal. Leaders and residents of both Pakistan and Afghanistan celebrated Eid ul Azha.

Pakistan – Security

Pakistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Eid Celebrations: In his statement commemorating the Eid ul Azha holidays, Prime Minister Sharif highlighted residents of Indian Kashmir “who have sacrificed their third generation at the hands of Indian forces”, saying he would “continue to dedicate all coming Eids to the Kashmiris till the issue of Kashmir is resolved in accordance with their wishes”. Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif visited with soldiers and tribal elders in Bajaur on Tuesday, pledging that the army “would not leave without completing the job of bringing peace, completing rehabilitation and transferring administrative control to an institutionalised mechanism,” according to a military spokesman. [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • PTI Protests: In comments to reporters on Monday, PTI Punjab central region leader Abdul Aleem Khan defended the party’s plans for a protest in Raiwind, in what party officials now say will not be a direct march on the prime minister’s residence. [Dawn]
  • Government to Appeal Supreme Court Cabinet Ruling: The Express Tribune reports that the government is preparing a review petition seeking to appeal a Supreme Court ruling that held that the prime minister could not take certain financial measures or issue ordinances without the full review and approval of the cabinet, and will likely file after Eid.

Pakistan – Remainders

  • Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd Reports ‘Mafia’ in Three Khyber Paktunkhwa Districts Has Taken Over Infrastructure [Dawn]
  • Farooq Sattar’s Condition Improving, Hospital Officials Report [Dawn] [ET]
  • German Firm Increases Compensation Payment for Baldia Factory Fire Victims [AFP]
  • National Assembly Committee to Visit Gwadar [Dawn]

Afghanistan – Security

  • Attacks and Operations: Two gunmen wearing suicide vests attacked Kandahar’s Mirwais hospital on Monday; reports variously suggest a National Directorate of Security officer was killed or injured before the gunmen were killed by Afghan security forces. Pajhwok reports the attackers were dressed as doctors and planning to attack a visiting government delegation. A spokesman for the provincial governor said no hospital staff or patients were injured; no claim of responsibility has been reported. In a statement on Tuesday, Kandahar provincial police chief vowed that he would not return to the province until the Uruzgan provincial capital of Tirin Kot was “fully cleared” of Taliban fighters. [TOLO] [TOLO] [TOLO]

Afghanistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Hezb-e-Islami Peace Agreement: The High Peace Council issued a statement on Monday attributed the delayed completion of a peace agreement between the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin and the Afghan government to “technical issues,” but also saying that “a final agreement has been concluded” and denying suggestions that either Pres. Ghani or Chief Executive Abdullah were not fully supportive of the agreement. [AFP]
  • Eid Celebrations: In his Eid remarks on Monday, Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor praised Afghan security forces but criticized their leadership, accusing them of “leav[ing] the sons of the poor in the wars alone” and accusing unnamed police officials of facilitating suicide bombing attacks in Balkh.

Afghanistan – Remainders

  • India and Afghanistan Expected to Sign Extradition Treaty [TOLO]
  • 22 Indians Reported to Have Joined ISIS in Afghanistan [Khaama Press]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Punjab Operations Target Baloch Militants; Hezb-e-Islami Peace Deal Nears Announcement Again

Topline

  • Pakistani military border police and paramilitary Rangers conducted “combing operations” in the Rajanpur district near the border with Balochistan on Saturday, killing eight militant suspects that military spokesmen said were affiliated with the Baloch Liberation Army; operations also took place in the Dera Bugti district in Balochistan. In an Eid message, Heb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar attributed delays in finalizing a peace agreement to divisions within the Afghan government; in his Eid address on Monday, Pres. Ghani suggested that an agreement was close but that “some issues are left” to finalize. Nangarhar provincial police chief Zorawar Zahid was killed in a bombing in the Hesarak district on Sunday. A spokesman for the Uruzgan provincial governor claimed that planning was underway for an operation to “eliminate the Taliban from Uruzgan” in the coming week. The PTI has apparently scrapped plans for a march on Prime Minister Sharif’s Raiwind residence, saying that they will not protest outside the residence itself and will set a new date for the event; opposition parties, including the Pakistan Awami Tehreek, had distanced themselves from the planned protest. Pres. Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah will reportedly meet to discuss electoral reform plans. MQM leader Farooq Sattar announced on Saturday that the party would not collect sacrificial animal hides during Eid ul Azha, previously a major source of revenue for the party; Sattar was injured in a car crash on Sunday evening, but has been hospitalized and is in stable condition. India’s foreign ministry announced that Pres. Ghani would visit India September 14-15 for talks with Prime Minister Modi. Pakistan’s foreign ministry rejected Ghani’s complaints that Afghan exports were not being allowed to transit the Wagah border crossing into India.

Pakistan – Security

  • Military Operations Target Balochistan Separatists: On Saturday, the military’s public relations arm announced that eight militants and one security officer had been killed in “combing operations” in the Gayandari area of Punjab’s Rajanpur district, on the border with Balochistan. Military border police and the Punjab Rangers, backed by army helicopters, are carrying out the operations, with local district police telling Dawn they were not involved. An ISPR spokesman described the targets as members of the Baloch Liberation Army, and said nearly 50 had been arrested. Separately, the Frontier Corps targeted Balochistan Republican Army camps in the adjoining Dera Bugti district in Balochistan on Saturday, seizing weapons caches and arresting two suspects. [ET]
  • FATA and KPK Attacks and Operations: Military airstrikes killed nine militant suspects in the Tirah Valley area of the Khyber Agency on Friday. In Peshawar, a police officer was killed in a driveby shooting on Friday. On Sunday, a leading polio vaccination campaign official, Dr. Zakaullah Khan, was killed in a driveby shooting in Peshawar, which the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s Jamaat-ul-Ahrar splinter group claimed responsibility for.

Pakistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • PTI Scraps Plans for Raiwind Protest: Speaking after a meeting of PTI party leaders in Islamabad on Friday, Imran Khan announced that the party would not target the prime minister’s residence in an upcoming protest rally in Raiwind, and would set a new date for the protest, which he insisted would be announced soon after further consultations with other opposition parties. Most major opposition parties have indicated they will not take part in the march; the PPP is now planning its own series of rallies later this month. On Saturday, PAT leader Tahirul Qadri said that he would not join a Raiwind march, attributing the decision to the risk that the PML-N would respond with violence against Qadri’s supporters; at a Lahore rally the day prior, Qadri reiterated allegations that the Sharif family was secretly employing Indian nationals at its factories. On Saturday, Prime Minister Sharif met with PML-N senator Zafarul Haq to discuss draft legislation on a “Commission of Inquiry”, among other items. [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn] [ET]
  • MQM in Turmoil: On Saturday, MQM leader Farooq Sattar announced that the party would not collect sacrificial animal hides during the Eid-ul Azha period, a significant annual source of revenue for the party; Sattar cited the past arrest of party activists and seizure of hides, and said that the MQM was focusing instead on reorganization. The MQM’s candidate for the PS-127 Sindh Assembly seat filed a Sindh High Court petition challenging the outcome of the election. Separately, the Pakistani interior ministry reported that UK Home Office authorities had confirmed receipt of and passed on their incitement complaint against Altaf Hussain for investigation by the British police. On Sunday evening, Sattar suffered shoulder injuries following a car crash on a Karachi highway; he has been hospitalized and is in stable condition. [ET] [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET] [ET]
  • FATA Reforms: A “grand Jirga” featuring tribal representatives from all seven agencies met in Peshawar on Sunday and called on the government to hold a referendum regarding proposed FATA reforms currently under review by a government committee. Separately, displaced North Waziristan residents held a protest in Bannu on Sunday, criticizing the federal and provincial governments for failing to provide them with assistance. [ET]
  • Legal Politics: The Islambad High Court has issued a restraining order against the replacement of the current membership of the Pakistan Bar Council’s 21 committees with new leadership, following a switch in affiliation by a member of the executive committee to a faction led by lawyer Asma Jahangir.

Pakistan – Economics and Development

  • Tax Revenues: On Friday, Finance Minister Dar released a directory of legislators’ tax records, showing that national assembly lawmakers paid arounds Rs 310.8 million in taxes in the 2014-15 fiscal year, up by around 30% from the year prior. Both Prime Minister Sharif and Imran Khan paid significantly less in taxes in the 2015 fiscal year than the year before, records indicated. A PTI spokesman accused the government of misreporting Khan’s income and tax details. Five ministers, including Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan, have not filed income tax returns; overall, 120 legislators out of 1,169 in the national parliament and provincial assemblies failed to file tax returns. [Dawn]
  • China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: The Express Tribune reports that Chinese Communist Party Vice Minister of the International Department Zheng Ziasong told a visiting PPP delegation in Beijing on Saturday that “political consensus coupled with unanimity in approach is essential to draw the maximum benefits” from the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project. In a separate meeting between Iran’s ambassador to Pakistan Mehdi Honardoust and the head of the Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Honardoust expressed interest in participating in CPEC projects.

Pakistan – Remainders

  • Pakistani Lawyers Gather to Reflect a Month After Quetta Hospital Bombing [WAPO]
  • PM Sharif to Highlight Kashmir Conflict During UNGA Remarks [Dawn]
  • Bill Proposes Gender-Disaggregated Vote Counting [Dawn]
  • Three NADRA Officials Arrested Over Issuance of National ID Cards to Foreigners [Dawn]
  • Finance Ministry Concerned Over Falling Exports [ET]
  • Pakistan and Russia to Hold Joint War Games [ET]
  • Stranded Workers Begin Repatriation from Saudi Arabia [Dawn]
  • Cabinet Approves Land Acquisition for Diamer Bhasha Dam [Dawn]
  • Federal Government Seeks Land for 46 New Hospitals [ET]
  • Commentary: MQM Without Altaf Hussain? – “Altaf Bhai may have become Altaf Saheb overnight and lost the veto powers he had under the MQM’s unamended constitution, but he still casts a long shadow over the organisation he founded. Can the party survive dissociated from his cult of personality or will it tear itself apart?” [Ahmed Yusuf and Ammar Shahbazi, Dawn]

Afghanistan – Security

  • Nangarhar Police Chief Killed: Nangarhar provincial police chief Brigadier General Zorawar Zahid was killed in a roadside bombing in the province’s Hesarak district on Sunday evening; Taliban spokesmen claimed responsibility for the attack, although it is unclear if Zahid was directly targeted. Police officials says that a “weapons clearing operation” has been underway in Hesarak for the past few days. One civilian man was killed and his son wounded in a bombing in Jalalabad city on Saturday morning; no claim of responsibility has been reported. Airstrikes in the Achin and Deh Bala districts on Saturday killed at least thirteen Daesh-affiliated militants, Afghan army officials reported. [TOLO] [AP] [TOLO]
  • Urzugan Operations: A spokesman for the Uruzgan provincial governor told Reuters on Saturday that after repelling a Taliban attack on the provincial capital of Tirin Kot, Afghan security forces were planning a “massive operation in three or four days” to “eliminate the Taliban from Uruzgan”. The Reuters piece reports that the U.S. conducted at least three airstrikes on Taliban forces positioned around the city on Friday, in addition to Afghan Air Force strikes. Although officials say that the city has now been secured, police sources tell TOLO that they are running low on ammunition.
  • Other Attacks and Operations: TOLO reports that August was the most violent month in the Afghan conflict in the past two years, with over 1,300 security incidents reported around the country. Kabul police officials said they had tightened security in the city in conjunction with Eid ul Azha, calling on residents to avoid celebratory gunfire; police sources tell TOLO that they have not been searching trucks entering the city. On Saturday, the NDS announced the seizure of over 35 tons of explosive materials in two trucks from Pakistan; the two drivers, both reported to be from Khost, have been arrested. The Afghan Air Forced carried out airstrikes in the Faizabad district of Jowzjan on Saturday, reportedly killing at least nine militant suspects. A U.S. drone strike also reportedly struck a group of militants in the Khak-e-Safid district of Farah province on Saturday night; details of the targets have not been reported. [Khaama Press] [TOLO] [TOLO]

Afghanistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Hezb-i-Islami Peace Agreement: Reports on Friday suggested that the government was preparing to sign a peace agreement with Hezb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar; his son, Habibur Rehman Hekmatyar, made a Facebook announcement on Friday in which he said the government and HIG had reached an agreement on all articles of the draft. In an Eid message on Sunday, the elder Hekmatyar attributed delays in the agreement’s conclusion to divisions within the unity government. A HIG source tells the Express Tribune that they were expecting the agreement to be announced on Saturday evening. In his Eid address on Monday, Pres. Ghani thanked HIG negotiators and the High Peace Council, saying that “some issues are left and those are issues that would be very important for implementing peace… these issues should be solved within a limited period of time.” He did not provide further details but said that “God willing, the agreement will be finalised soon and we will witness a major step toward the creation of peace environment and end of fighting”. [TOLO]
  • Unity Government Divisions: TOLO reports that Pres. Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah will meet soon to discuss electoral reforms, with proposals for a switch to single-member districts reported to be a main point of contention. Both leaders attended Martyrs Week ceremonies at the presidential palace on Saturday. In remarks on Friday, former minister and Herat strongman Ismail Khan criticized the government, saying that “if the system fails to stop waywardness, corruption and bullying, then we have to act against those who one day pose for a picture with (one person) and one day with (another) to establish their authoritarian approach”, an apparent reference to Ghani. In a TOLO interview, second deputy to the chief executive Mohammad Mohaqiq also warned that divisions between Ghani and Abdullah were compounding the problems facing the government and that ministers and directors were not being given authority to do their jobs. [TOLO]
  • Mullah Haibatullah Issues Eid Message: In a public message on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha, Taliban leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhunzada called on Taliban fighters to consult with “honorable religious and spiritual leaders, tribal influential and pious men of insight” and to avoid harassing civilians, and for members of the Afghan security services to “deeply think over their jeopardizing position of their being in the ranks of the invaders”. [Khaama Press]
  • Ghani to Visit India: Pres. Ghani will visit India on September 14-15, India’s foreign ministry announced on Saturday, for talks with Prime Minister Modi and for meetings with the Indian business community. Ghani is expected to renew requests for additional attack helicopters from India, in addition to artillery, ammunition, and spare parts. [TOLO]

Afghanistan – Economics and Development

  • Transit Trade: Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesman told the BBC Urdu service on Saturday that Pakistan was “fulfilling its commitment to the Afghan people by providing them a trade transit facility”, saying that Afghan goods were free to export goods to India through the Wagah border crossing with Pakistan. The day prior, Pres. Ghani was quoted telling the UK’s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan that “if Pakistan does not allow Afghan traders to use the Wagah border for imports and exports of their goods, Afghanistan will also not allow Pakistan to use Afghan transit routes to reach Central Asia and other countries for exports”.

Afghanistan – Remainders

  • From Where Agha Jan Motasim Sits, Demand is Growing for Afghan Peace [NYT]
  • Ethnic Tensions, Taliban Attacks Pose Traps for Afghan Leaders [Reuters]
  • In a Shift, U.S. Includes Families in Hostage Rescue Efforts [NYT]
  • AIHRC Raises Concerns Over Government Child Welfare Policies [TOLO]
  • Commentary: Afghan Exodus: Smuggling Networks, Migration, and Settlement Patterns in Turkey – “Turkey is both a means and an end for Afghan migrants.” [Noah Arjomand, AAN]