Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Moscow Summit Calls for US to Provide More Aid; Balochistan No-Confidence Motion Moves Ahead

Sign up to receive this update by email.

Topline

  • On Wednesday, the Russian-hosted conference on Afghanistan called for the UN to convene a donors conference to generate additional pledges of humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan, which participants argued “should be borne by the forces whose military contingents have been present in this country over the past 20 years”. On Thursday, Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi arrived in Kabul for talks with Taliban foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi.
  • Dissident lawmakers introduced the no-confidence motion against Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani in the provincial assembly on Wednesday, with 33 out of 65 members voicing support for its introduction; voting on the measure will take place on Monday.
  • Five Pakistani security personnel were killed in separate attacks in the Bajaur and Hangu districts in Khyber Paktunkhwa on Wednesday; a sixth soldier was killed in an attack in Balochistan’s Kech district. On Thursday, Khyber Paktunkhwa police announced that they had killed three Islamic State-affiliated suspects in a raid in Peshawar, although it is not clear that the operation was directly linked to the earlier attacks.
  • The Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan staged a protest in Lahore on Tuesday, calling for the release of party leader Saad Hussain Rizvi, who has been detained since April; a sit-in is continuing as of Thursday.
  • On Thursday, the UN announced the formation of a special trust fund aimed at providing liquidity to Afghan households through public work programs, basic income payments to elderly and displaced families, and grants to small enterprises.
  • Senior PTI leaders met on Wednesday to consider additional subsidies to offset the increase in petroleum prices and electricity tariffs; Information Minister Chaudhry told Dawn that the government intends to reduce petroleum prices for motorcycle and rickshaw drivers.
  • As of Thursday, Pakistan reports 1.266 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, out of 20.366 million tests, with at least 28,328 associated deaths; 98.607 million vaccine doses have been administered.

Pakistan — Security

  • Peshawar Operations: Khyber Paktunkhwa provincial police announced on Thursday that they had killed three Islamic State militants in a raid in Peshawar; all of the individuals were identified as Afghan nationals, but no further details were reported.
  • Khyber Paktunkhwa Bombings: Two soldiers and two police officers were killed in a roadside bombing in the Bajaur district on Wednesday; there was no immediate claim of responsibility reported. Separately, a soldier was killed in an attack on a military checkpost in the Hangu district. [ET] [Dawn]
  • Balochistan Attack: A Pakistani soldier was killed in an attack on a checkpost in Balochistan’s Kech district on Wednesday.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

Pakistan — Economics and Development

Pakistan — Remainders

  • FATF Reviews Pakistani Compliance [ET]
  • Government Cuts Security Protocol for VIPs and Senior Bureaucrats [Dawn] [ET]
  • Rupee Depreciates Against the Dollar [Dawn] [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Security

  • ISIS in Afghanistan: Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid tells TOLO that more than 250 Islamic State-affiliated fighters have been arrested in the past month, many of them former prisoners who had escaped in the Taliban’s takeover of the country.
  • NATO Ministers Meet: NATO defense ministers will meet on Thursday for discussions that will include a review of the NATO mission in Afghanistan and prospects for future operations outside NATO territory.
  • Taliban Policing: The WSJ profiles a Taliban district police chief in Kabul, Mawlawi Zubair Mutmaeen, who previously led Taliban suicide operations in Kabul.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • International Engagement: On Wednesday, the Russian-hosted conference on Afghanistan called for the UN to convene a donors conference to generate additional pledges of humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan, which participants argued “should be borne by the forces whose military contingents have been present in this country over the past 20 years”. Conference participants, which included Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, India, and the Central Asian states, reaffirmed support for Afghanistan “as a peaceful, indivisible, independent, economically developing State, free of terrorism and drug-related crime and respecting the basic norms in the human rights area.” Taliban deputy prime minister Abdul Salam Hanafi told the conference that “the security situation in Afghanistan is reliable and there is no threat to countries near and far” and reiterated calls for recognition and the unfreezing of Afghan government assets. Hanafi met separately with the special representatives of Iran and India on the sidelines of the Moscow conference. On Thursday, Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi arrived in Kabul for talks with Taliban foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi. [WSJ] [Guardian] [Khaama Press] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Girls’ Education: A group of approximately twenty women activists staged a protest outside the ministry of education in Kabul on Thursday, calling for the resumption of girls’ school; Taliban fighters reportedly beat at least three journalists and some participants to disperse the protest.

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Humanitarian Assistance: On Thursday, the UN announced the formation of a special trust fund aimed at providing liquidity to Afghan households through public work programs, basic income payments to elderly and displaced families, and grants to small enterprises. Germany has pledged $58 million to the effort, out of a $667 million request for twelve months. Ariana News reports rising prices for heating materials in Kabul. [TOLO] [TOLO]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Inside the Effort by US Troops to Rescue Their Families in Afghanistan [CNN]
  • Balochistan Forms Committee to Address Chaman Border Closure [Dawn]
  • Taliban Rescue Doctor Kidnapped in Herat [Ariana News]
  • Judge Rules Detention of Afghan at Guantanamo to Be Unlawful [NYT]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: US Treasury to Maintain Sanctions on Taliban; US Ambassador to Pakistan Announced

Sign up to receive this update by email.

Topline

  • Speaking to the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, Deputy U.S. Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said that he saw “no situation” in which the new Taliban government would be allowed access to Afghan central bank reserves, saying that “we believe that it’s essential that we maintain our sanctions against the Taliban but at the same time find ways for legitimate humanitarian assistance to get to the Afghan people”.
  • Speaking at the opening of a conference in Moscow on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Lavrov emphasized the need to form a “really inclusive government fully reflecting the interests of not only all ethnic groups but all political forces of the country”.
  • The White House announced the appointment of Ambassador Donald Blome, a career Foreign Service diplomat currently serving as ambassador to Tunisia, as the ambassador to Pakistan.
  • Interior minister Sirajuddin Haqqani met in Kabul with a gathering of surviving family members of Taliban suicide bombers and slain fighters on Tuesday, where he pledged financial assistance and land allocations.
  • Finance advisor Shaukat Tarin returned to Washington DC on Tuesday to rejoin negotiations with the IMF, the finance ministry announced.
  • As of Wednesday, Pakistan reports 1.266 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, out of 20.321 million tests, with at least 28,312 associated deaths; 93.551 million vaccine doses have been administered.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • US Ambassador Appointment: The White House announced on Tuesday Pres Biden’s intent to appoint Ambassador Donald Blome, a career Foreign Service diplomat currently serving as ambassador to Tunisia, as the ambassador to Pakistan. [Reuters]
  • Other Political Activity: PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz criticized the PTI government’s management of the economy in comments on Tuesday, accusing PM Khan of failing to establish the “state of Madina” welfare system; Khan vowed to pursue that system in comments at a conference on Tuesday commemorating the new Rahmatul lil Aalameen Authority focused on Islamic education. News is limited due to the Eid Milad-un-Nabi holidays on Tuesday commemorating the birth of the Prophet Muhammad. [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Bomb Defused in Peshawar [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Kabul Grenade Attack: At least six people, including four student bystanders, were wounded in a grenade attack on a Taliban vehicle in western Kabul on Wednesday morning; no claim of responsibility was reported. [Ariana News]
  • Evacuation and Resettlement Efforts: Pentagon officials reported to Congress on Oct 8 that approximately half of the 53,000 Afghan evacuees who have been transferred to military bases in the United States are children, the WSJ reports. The State Department office of the inspector general has announced plans to investigate the administration of the Special Immigrant Visa program and the emergency evacuation effort in Kabul in August.
  • Taliban Security Policy: Interior minister Sirajuddin Haqqani met in Kabul with a gathering of surviving family members of Taliban suicide bombers and slain fighters on Tuesday, where he pledged financial assistance and land allocations. Reuters interviews former Taliban fighters seeking treatment at a Red Cross hospital in Kabul. TOLO reports that the Taliban have organized a special forces unit in Balkh, the ‘Mansouri Division’; the report provides few other details. [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Moscow Conference: In remarks on Tuesday, ahead of a planned conference on the situation in Afghanistan with China, Pakistan, and a delegation from Afghanistan, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said that “official recognition of the Taliban is not under discussion for now”  but added that “it is time to mobilise the resources of the international community to provide Kabul with effective financial humanitarian support”. Speaking at the opening of the conference on Wednesday, Lavrov emphasized the need to form a “really inclusive government fully reflecting the interests of not only all ethnic groups but all political forces of the country”. [Ariana News] [Ariana News]
  • US Envoy: In a statement on Tuesday following the resignation of Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, a spokesman for the Taliban foreign ministry welcomed the appointment of his successor, Tom West, and said that they hoped to move forward with the “full implementation of Doha Agreement [which] will normalize relations between both governments”. [Khaama Press] [Ariana News] [TOLO]

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Financial Crisis: In remarks to the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, Deputy U.S. Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said that he saw “no situation” in which the new Taliban government would be allowed access to Afghan central bank reserves, saying that “we believe that it’s essential that we maintain our sanctions against the Taliban but at the same time find ways for legitimate humanitarian assistance to get to the Afghan people”. TOLO reports the depreciation of the Afghani in Kabul markets.
  • Humanitarian Crisis: The Washington Post reports that the curtailment of international assistance and staffing shortfalls have led hospital facilities in Afghanistan to cut back on services, especially in rural areas.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Council of Ministers Meets [Ariana News]
  • Female Judges in Afghanistan, Now Jobless and in Hiding [NYT]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Khalilzad Resigns as Special Envoy; Punjab Restores Local Elected Bodies

Sign up to receive this update by email.

Topline

  • Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad resigned from his position as special envoy on Monday; Sec. Blinken issued a statement thanking Khalilzad for his service, and announcing that Thomas West, who had previously served as deputy special representative, would replace him.
  • On Monday, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar ordered the restoration of elected local government bodies in the province following a Supreme Court order earlier this March and recent hearings in the court on its lack of implementation.
  • Chief of Army Staff Bajwa visited ISI headquarters on Monday for a briefing on “internal security and the ongoing situation in Afghanistan” from current ISI chief Lt. Gen. Faiz Hamid. Speaking to reporters on Monday, Information Minister Chaudhry claimed that “all issues have been settled” between the military and civilian government, and that the ISI chief’s appointment would be made this week.
  • Taliban deputy prime minister Abdul Salam Hanafi and foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi will lead a delegation to Moscow to participate in a Russian conference on Afghanistan. The U.S. State Department said Monday that it would not participate in the talks, citing logistical constraints.
  • On Tuesday, the Pakistani military announced that it had deterred an Indian submarine from entering Pakistani territorial waters earlier on Saturday, without providing further details on the encounter.
  • As of Tuesday, Pakistan reports 1.265 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, out of 20.279 million tests, with at least 28,300 associated deaths; 93.551 million vaccine doses have been administered.

Pakistan — Security

  • ISI Chief Appointment: Anonymous official sources tell the Express Tribune that the defense ministry has submitted a summary for approval by the prime minister’s office for the appointment of Lt. Gen. Nadeem Ahmed Anjum as head of the ISI. Speaking to reporters on Monday, Information Minister Chaudhry claimed that “all issues have been settled” between the military and civilian government, and that the ISI appointment would be made this week. Chief of Army Staff Bajwa visited ISI headquarters on Monday for a briefing on “internal security and the ongoing situation in Afghanistan” from current ISI chief Lt. Gen. Faiz Hamid. [ET]
  • Tensions with India: On Tuesday, the Pakistani military announced that it had deterred an Indian submarine from entering Pakistani territorial waters earlier on Saturday, without providing further details on the encounter. [Dawn]
  • Quetta Bombing: One police officer was killed and at least 15 other people wounded in a bombing targeting a police bus near Balochistan University in Quetta on Monday; no initial claim of responsibility was reported. [Dawn]
  • North Waziristan Attack: A Pakistani soldier was killed in an attack on a checkpost in North Waziristan on Monday.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Elections: On Monday, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar ordered the restoration of elected local government bodies in the province following a Supreme Court order earlier this March and recent hearings in the court on its lack of implementation. The original tenure for the local representatives expires in December, but Faisalabad mayor Razzaq Malik has petitioned the Lahore High Court to extend that for another 24 months to compensate for their gap in office. Separately, the Election Commission has set a schedule for a by-election for the NA-133 Lahore constituency, to be held Dec 5. [Dawn]
  • Opposition Politics: On Monday, the Pakistani Democratic Movement opposition coalition announced fresh plans for nationwide protests starting on Wednesday. PML-N opposition leader denounced rising inflation and the PTI government’s management of the economy in a national assembly session on Monday. [ET] [ET]
  • Afghanistan Engagement: In remarks during a meeting with Japan’s outgoing ambassador to Pakistan on Monday, PM Khan reiterated calls for the international community to unfreeze Afghan government assets. Chief of Army Staff Bajwa met with US charge d’affaires Angela Aggeler on Monday to discuss the security situation in Afghanistan. Foreign Minister Qureshi also spoke by phone with his Iranian counterpart on Monday to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. [ET] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • COVID Crisis: As of Tuesday, Pakistan reports 1.265 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, out of 20.279 million tests, with at least 28,300 associated deaths; 93.551 million vaccine doses have been administered. PM Khan and Chief of Army Staff Bajwa visited the National Command and Operation Center to review the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and to commemorate outgoing coordinator Lt. Gen. Humood uz Zaman, who is retiring from service. [Dawn]
  • Price Controls: Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Planning Minister Umar announced that the government would reduce sales tax and customs duties on food oils in an effort to reduce food price inflation, but acknowledged that it might be several months before inflation slowed. [ET]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • PM Khan to Visit Saudi Arabia Next Week [The Nation]
  • Khyber Paktunkhwa Government Delays Legislation to Regularize Former FATA Project Employees [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Khalilzad Resigns: Special Envoy for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad resigned from his position on Monday; he had held the position since being appointed by Pres. Trump in September 2018 and continued on into the Biden administration. In his resignation letter, Khalilzad expressed sorrow that “the political arrangement between the Afghan government and the Taliban did not go forward as envisaged.” Sec. Blinken issued a statement thanking Khalilzad for his service, and announcing that Thomas West, who had previously been appointed as deputy special representative, would replace him as special representative for Afghanistan. [WAPO] [WSJ] [Reuters]
  • International Engagement: Taliban deputy prime minister Abdul Salam Hanafi and foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi will lead a delegation to Moscow to participate in a Russian conference on Afghanistan. The U.S. State Department said that it would not participate in the talks, citing logistical constraints, and expressed openness to participation in future meetings of the “troika plus” group of the US, China, Russia, and Pakistan.
  • Karzai Interview: In a VOA interview, former Pres. Karzai called on the Taliban to hold elections or a Loya Jirga to secure “internal legitimacy” as a precursor to obtaining international recognition.
  • Taliban Policing: The Washington Post reports on Taliban efforts to manage crime, policing, and local dispute resultion; several inmates interviewed during a visit to Pul-e-Charki prison allege that they were detained on false accusations, and say they have not received any legal representation. [TOLO]

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Humanitarian Assistance: The AP reports on efforts by Afghan financial technocrats to continue the management of the economy under the Taliban regime. A new IMF economic outlook report has warned that the economy faces “several fiscal and balance-of-payments crises” and that the “resulting drop in living standards threatens to push millions into poverty and could lead to a humanitarian crisis”, prompting migration outflows to neighboring countries. Kazakhstan dispatched a shipment of 4,000 tons of flour to Balkh on Monday.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Malala Yousafzai Urges Taliban to Let Girls Return to School [AFP]
  • Deputy Defense Minister Visits Military Forces in Balkh [TOLO]
  • Former Government and Military Veterans Continue Efforts to Evacuate Afghans [NYT]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: No Agreement on Resumption of IMF Program; Taliban Delegation Visits Uzbekistan

Sign up to receive this update by email.

Topline

  • Pakistani finance ministry officials and IMF representatives failed to reach a staff-level agreement last week for the resumption of the stalled Extended Fund Facility lending agreement; Finance Secretary Yousaf Khan is continuing talks in Washington through Tuesday.
  • Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin’s tenure as finance minister officially expired on Saturday, as he has not been elected to parliament and is holding the position on a temporary basis; on Monday, the federal government appointed him as advisor to the prime minister instead, which limits his ability to chair cabinet meetings.
  • On Saturday, a Taliban delegation visited Uzbekistan for talks on trade and transit. Russia will host a conference in Moscow on Afghanistan this week; the CSTO began military exercises near the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border on Monday. India is reportedly seeking to convene a meeting of national security advisors from Russia, China, and Pakistan in early November. On Monday, Iran’s foreign ministry announced plans to host a meeting of Afghanistan’s regional neighbors on Oct 27.
  • The Balochistan assembly will convene on Oct 20 to consider a no-confidence motion brought against Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani by a dissident faction of the Balochistan Awami Party.
  • The Islamic State claimed responsibility for Friday’s bombing at a Shia mosque in Kandahar, which killed at least 47 people and injured scores more.
  • In remarks on Saturday, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid claimed that the appointment of the ISI chief would be made by Oct 22 and said that “everything is settled”.
  • The DOD has made compensation payments to the surviving family members of the victims of an errant U.S. drone strike on Aug 29 that killed ten civilians in Kabul, and is reportedly working to facilitate their resettlement.
  • Afghan aviation authority and airline representatives reportedly reached an agreement on Friday to resume flights between Kabul and Islamabad, with the airlines agreeing to reduce ticket prices.
  • The PDM and PPP opposition parties staged separate protests in Faisalabad and Karachi on Saturday and Sunday, denouncing new increases in petroleum prices announced by the government on Saturday.
  • As of Monday, Pakistan reports 1.265 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, out of 20.235 million tests, with at least 28,280 associated deaths; 93.551 million vaccine doses have been administered.

Pakistan — Security

  • ISI Chief Appointment: The prime minister’s office has yet to make further announcements on the appointment of a new ISI chief. In remarks on Saturday, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid claimed that the appointment would be made by Oct 22 and said that “everything is settled”. Speaking at a separate event on Saturday, Foreign Minister Qureshi also claimed that the PTI government had “ideal relations with all state institutions”. [Dawn] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Balochistan No-Confidence Motion: The Balochistan assembly will convene on Oct 20 to consider a no-confidence motion brought against Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani by a dissident faction of the Balochistan Awami Party. Dawn reports on the rivalries within the BAP and the factions opposed to Alyani.
  • Opposition Politics: The Pakistan Democratic Movement opposition parties held a protest rally in Faisalabad on Saturday, denouncing recent electricity and petroleum price hikes by the PTI government; JUI-F leader Fazlur Rehman announced plans for another rally in Dera Ghazi Khan on Oct 31. PML-N leader Shehbaz Sharif did not participate in the Faisalabad rally, but spoke by phone with Fazl on Sunday to discuss future protest plans. The PPP held a rally in Karachi on Sunday, marking the anniversary of a 2007 bombing targeting Benazir Bhutto. [The Nation] [Dawn]
  • Legal Proceedings: The Express Tribune reports that the government is planning to issue another ordinance further modifying the National Accountability Bureau law; jurisdictional changes made by the most recent ordinance have led to halts in several pending cases. The Islamabad High Court has ordered the federal government to submit a report on foreign gifts received by PM Khan by Nov 11. [The Nation] [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Other Political Activity: Government efforts to convene a joint session of parliament on Friday to pass legislation on several executive ordinances failed to clear the quorum threshold. [ET] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • IMF Talks: The Express Tribune reports that Pakistani finance ministry officials and IMF representatives failed to reach a staff-level agreement for the resumption of disbursals under the stalled Extended Fund Facility lending agreement, with the IMF pushing for additional tax measures that the government was unwilling to accept. Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin met with US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Donald Lu at the conclusion of his meetings in Washington on Friday; Finance Secretary Yousaf Khan is continuing talks in Washington through Tuesday.
  • Finance Minister’s Appointment: Shaukat Tarin’s tenure as finance minister officially expired on Saturday, as he has not been elected to parliament and had been holding the position on a temporary basis; on Monday, the federal government appointed him as advisor to the prime minister instead, which limits his ability to chair cabinet meetings. [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]
  • Petroleum Price Increased: Following an earlier increase in electricity tariff rates last week, the PTI government approved a further increase in petroleum prices on Saturday. Opposition leaders denounced the move. Pakistan’s spending on oil imports rose 97% year-on-year in the first quarter of the current fiscal year, to $4.59 billion. [ET] [ET] [Dawn]
  • COVID Crisis: As of Monday, Pakistan reports 1.265 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, out of 20.235 million tests, with at least 28,280 associated deaths; 93.551 million vaccine doses have been administered. On Friday, the National Command and Operation Center reduced restrictions on markets, shrines, and cinemas. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Afghan Taliban’s Victory Boosts Pakistan’s Radicals [AP]
  • Government Approves Rs 3.61B Package for Line of Control Residents [ET]
  • US Charges D’Affaires Meets with PPP Leader Yousaf Raza Gilani [ET]
  • Income Tax Filing Increases to 2.562 Million Returns [Dawn]
  • Commentary: Is the Party Over? – “The strain is getting more intense by the day as the disagreement slowly but menacingly morphs into a stand-off. It may get resolved sooner or later, but the damage appears to have been done.” [Fahd Husain, Dawn]
  • Commentary: The Last Fortress – “[The new social media regulations] is the climax of the state’s perseverance to exercise control over narratives and speech on social media that have unsettled the powers that be owing to the accountability that citizens are able to demand for the abuse of power.” [Usama Khilji, Dawn]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Kandahar Mosque Bombing: The Islamic State claimed responsibility for Friday’s bombing at a Shia mosque in Kandahar, which killed at least 47 people and injured scores more; two suicide bombers carried out the attack. Funeral services were held on Saturday. Taliban police officials in Kandahar said that they would deploy additional security personnel to guard Shia mosques in the province. [WSJ] [Khaama Press] [Khaama Press]
  • Compensation for Victims of US Drone Strike: In a statement on Friday, the Department of Defense said that it had made compensation payments to the surviving family members of the victims of an errant U.S. drone strike on Aug 29 that killed ten civilians in Kabul. The Pentagon said that was also working with the State Department to help assist the relocation of surviving family members to the United States. [WAPO] [CNN] [Reuters]
  • Evacuation and Resettlement Efforts: A Qatari flight carrying approximately 350 people, including faculty, staff, and students from the American University of Afghanistan, departed Kabul on Sunday. The WSJ reports on delays in the resettlement process for Afghans who have reached the United States.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • International Engagement: In an interviews during a visit to Ankara last week, Taliban foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi reiterated calls for the international community to recognize the Taliban government and unfreeze Afghan government assets held in international banks. On Saturday, a Taliban delegation visited Uzbekistan for talks on trade and transit led by deputy prime minister Abdul Salam Hanafi; Uzbek officials reportedly agreed to continue the supply of electricity to Afghanistan despite unpaid dues. Russian special envoy Zamir Kabulov told reporters on Friday that “we do not expect any breakthroughs” at a conference in Moscow on Afghanistan this week; the Collective Security Treaty Organization began military exercises near the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border on Monday. India is reportedly seeking to convene a meeting of national security advisors from Russia, China, and Pakistan in early November. On Monday, Iran’s foreign ministry announced plans to host a meeting of Afghanistan’s regional neighbors on Oct 27. Secretary Blinken spoke by phone with Qatari minister of foreign affairs Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani on Sunday. [Ariana News] [Dawn]
  • Girls’ Education: UNICEF deputy executive director Omar Abdi told reporters on Friday that he had received commitments from the Taliban to issue a framework for the resumption of secondary education for girls within “a month or two”.

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Transportation Links: Representatives from the Afghan Civil Aviation Authority, Pakistan International Airlines, Kam Air, and Ariana Airlines reportedly reached an agreement on Friday to resume flights between Kabul and Islamabad, with the airlines agreeing to reduce ticket prices. In remarks on Friday, Turkish Pres. Erdogan suggested that Turkey was open to taking on responsibility for operating in the Kabul airport “if agreements can be reached”. The Chaman border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been closed for the past two weeks; approximately a thousand Afghan students were allowed to return to Afghanistan through the Torkham border crossing on Sunday.
  • Humanitarian Assistance: The WHO and UNICEF announced on Monday that they had reached an agreement with the new Taliban government to resume nationwide house-to-house polio vaccination efforts starting in November. The WSJ reports on Afghan families facing extreme poverty, with some seeking to sell their children to survive. TOLO reports that at least ten children living in temporary IDP camps in Kabul have died from cold weather and a lack of medical care. [Ariana News] [TOLO]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Electronic ID Card Center Resumes Operations in Kabul [TOLO]
  • How Three Strangers Came to the Rescue of a Badly Burned Afghan Girl [NYT]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Shia Mosque Attacked in Kandahar; PTI Govt Issues Revised Social Media Regulations

Sign up to receive this update by email.

Topline

  • At least seven people have been killed in a bombing at a Shia mosque in Kandahar on Friday; the attack follows a bombing at another Shia mosque in Kunduz last week that killed 46 people, which was claimed by the Islamic State.
  • Speaking at a press briefing on Thursday, State Department spokesman Ned Price said that the U.S. was working to routinize support for charter flights out of Afghanistan to “facilitate the departure of Americans, of lawful permanent residents and others.”
  • On Thursday, Pakistan’s ministry of information issued revised social media regulations, which requires providers to register with the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority within the country but loosens the timeline for them to establish an office within the country.
  • On Thursday, the PTI government approved a 14% increase in electricity tariff rates, coming amidst talks in Washington with the IMF and efforts to revive the stalled lending agreement with the Fund.
  • As of Friday, Pakistan reports 1.262 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, out of 20.098 million tests, with at least 28,228 associated deaths; 93.551 million vaccine doses have been administered.

Pakistan — Security

  • ISI Chief Appointment: Speaking at a press conference following a meeting of PTI legislators on Thursday, Information Minister Chaudhry insisted that the “army and government are on the same page” over the appointment of a new ISI chief, which the government has yet to notify. [The Nation] [Dawn]
  • Waziristan Operations: An accused terrorist suspect was killed in a military operation in North Waziristan on Thursday, the military announced. [The Nation]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Social Media Regulations: On Thursday, the ministry of information and technology issued revised social media regulations, which requires providers to register with the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority within the country but loosens the timeline for them to establish an office within the country, and extends the timeline for responding to a PTA block request from 24 to 48 hours. [ET]
  • Tensions with India: Pakistan’s foreign ministry denounced remarks by Indian Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday, in which Shah had warned of further retaliatory “surgical strikes” against Pakistan if it “transgresses” against India’s borders. [ET]
  • US Relations: US charge d’affaires Angela Aggeler met separately with PML-N leaders Shehbaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz on Thursday; Dawn notes that most other senior party leaders participated in the meeting with Maryam rather than Shehbaz.
  • Local Elections: The Supreme Court held hearings on Friday over the Punjab government’s delay in implementing its March order for the restoration of local government bodies, ordering a report within the next week. An Election Commission meeting on Thursday has reportedly determined to hold local elections in Khyber Paktunkhwa starting in December. [The Nation] [ET]
  • Legal Proceedings: The National Accountability Bureau has expanded its investigation into former Punjab principal secretary Tahir Khursheed after he rebuffed earlier summons. [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Other Political Activity: Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani met with PM Khan on Thursday, and afterwards vowed to defeat the no-confidence motion being brought against him by dissident Balochistan Awami Party members. The Express Tribune reports that plans for a new census are underway and that enumeration will begin in August 2022. [ET] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Army Chief Commissions Chinese Air Defense System [Dawn]
  • EU Reviewing Pakistan’s GSP+ Status [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Kandahar Mosque Bombing: At least seven people have been killed in a bombing at a Shia mosque in Kandahar on Friday; the attack follows a bombing at another Shia mosque in Kunduz last week that killed 46 people, which was claimed by the Islamic State. A Taliban spokesman said that the incident was under investigation. [Reuters] [TOLO]
  • Evacuation and Resettlement Efforts: Speaking at a press briefing on Thursday, State Department spokesman Ned Price said that the U.S. was working to routinize support for charter flights out of Afghanistan to “facilitate the departure of Americans, of lawful permanent residents and others.” The Guardian reports that a UK RAF flight carrying approximately 40 Afghans is expected to land in the UK on Friday; its exact route was not disclosed. In the US, the Department of Health and Human Services is repurposing a temporary shelter in Michigan to provide care for 201 unaccompanied Afghan minors. [WSJ] [Reuters] [CNN] [Ariana News]
  • Tajikistan Border Tensions: TOLO reports that a Taliban “quick reaction force’ has been deployed to Badakhshan province to provide security along the border with Tajikistan.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • International Engagement: Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that he had told a visiting Taliban delegation in Ankara that “they need to be inclusive for the unity of the country” and that the Taliban had in turn “conveyed to us their request for continuing aid and investments there.” [TOLO]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Former Taliban Commander Pleads Not Guilty to Killing Three US Soldiers in 2008 [Reuters]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: PIA Suspends Kabul Flights; PM Khan to Interview ISI Nominees

Sign up to receive this update by email.

Topline

  • On Thursday, the Afghan Civil Aviation Authority ordered PIA and Kam Air to reduce the price for tickets for flights from Kabul to Islamabad, which have increased tenfold since the Taliban takeover of the country. Subsequently, PIA announced a suspension of its flight services to Kabul, citing “highly intimidating behavior” of its staff by Taliban commanders and “heavy handed” interference.
  • PM Khan reportedly received a set of three nominees from the military to consider for the position of ISI chief on Wednesday, and The News reported that Khan wants to interview each. In an interview on Wednesday, Information Minister Chaudhry insisted that the military and political leadership remained “on the same page”.
  • Taliban foreign minister Amir Khan Mutaqi traveled to Turkey on Thursday for talks with Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. A delegation of foreign ministers from Muslim-majority countries, led by Turkey, is reportedly preparing to visit Kabul to urge the Taliban to allow women’s participation in education.
  • Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau has frozen activity on all cases until it receives clarification from the law ministry on the new ordinance amending the NAB law.
  • As of Thursday, Pakistan reports 1.261 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, out of 20.045 million tests, with at least 28,201 associated deaths; 93.551 million vaccine doses have been administered.

Pakistan — Security

  • ISI Chief’s Appointment: The prime minister’s office still has yet to notify the appointment of the new ISI chief; PM Khan reportedly received a set of three nominees from the military to consider for the position on Wednesday, and The News reports that Khan wants to interview each. In an interview on Wednesday, Information Minister Chaudhry insisted that the military and political leadership remained “on the same page”. Dawn notes the lack of established legal guidance on a procedure for the ISI chief’s appointment. In remarks to reporters on Wednesday PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz accused PM Khan of lacking the “legal and moral authority” to make the appointment. [The Nation] [ET]
  • Iranian Military Chief Visits: Iranian armed forces chief of general staff Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri met with PM Khan and Chief of Army Staff Bajwa during a visit to Islamabad on Wednesday; discussions with both reportedly focused on the situation in Afghanistan and security along Pakistan and Iran’s shared border. [ET]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Legal Proceedings: The National Accountability Bureau has frozen activity on all cases until it receives clarification from the law ministry on the new ordinance amending the NAB law. On Wednesday, a Karachi anti-terrorism court declared Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement leader Manzoor Pashteen a ‘proclaimed offender’ for failing to make appearances in a case related to a PTM rally in Karachi in December 2020. Lawyers for PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz challenged her conviction in the Avenfield property case in arguments before the Islamabad High Court on Wednesday. The Sindh High Court rejected a bail petition from provincial assembly speaker Agha Siraj Durrani on Wednesday. [Dawn]
  • Other Political Activity: A parliamentary committee rejected draft legislation barring forced conversions, following objections from minister for religious affairs Noorul Haq Qadri. PM Khan reviewed development spending in Gilgit-Baltistan on Wednesday. [ET] [ET]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • COVID Crisis: As of Thursday, Pakistan reports 1.261 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, out of 20.045 million tests, with at least 28,201 associated deaths; 93.551 million vaccine doses have been administered. The U.S. will ship an additional 2.4 million Pfizer vaccine doses to Pakistan through the COVAX donor consortium.
  • IMF Talks: Speaking at an event in Washington on Wednesday, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin expressed optimism that an agreement would be reached with the IMF to resume lending under the $6 billion Extended Fund Facility agreement; he also professed a desire to work with both the United States and China “equally”. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • PIA Fires Over 1500 Employees Recruited on Forged Documents [Dawn]
  • Commentary: Post Afghanistan, US-Pakistan Relations Stand on the Edge – “Warning signs are flashing red for the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, and it’s safe to say that the scope for cooperation has narrowed.” [Madiha Afzal, Brookings]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Evacuation and Resettlement Efforts: CNN reports that several evacuation flights scheduled to depart Afghanistan this week were cancelled, but that the State Department has advised American citizens to be “ready to travel on short notice”. On Thursday, the Afghan Civil Aviation Authority ordered PIA and Kam Air to reduce the price for tickets for flights from Kabul to Islamabad, which have increased tenfold since the Taliban takeover of the country. Subsequently, PIA announced a suspension of its flight services to Kabul, citing “highly intimidating behavior” of its staff by Taliban commanders and “heavy handed” interference. Separately, TOLO reports that approximately 30,000 pending passport applications have been completed and distributed since the passport office reopened in Kabul earlier this month. Fox News reports that the Department of Homeland Security has drafted guidance exempted former Afghan government civil servants who worked under the Taliban regime between 1996-2001 from restrictions on entry to the United States, provided they fulfill other background screenings. [AP] [Reuters] [Newsweek] [Guardian]
  • Kunar Bombing: A Taliban district police chief was killed in a roadside bombing in the Kunar provincial capital of Asadabad on Thursday.
  • Masud Resistance Group: RFE/RL reports that resistance leader Ahmad Masud traveled to Dushanbe on Oct 6 to participate in peace talks sponsored by the Tajikistan government and Pakistan, but that no Taliban representatives agreed to participate. Prior accounts have suggested that Masud has been living in exile in Tajikistan since early September.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • International Engagement: Taliban foreign minister Amir Khan Mutaqi traveled to Turkey on Thursday for talks with Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. A delegation of foreign ministers from Muslim-majority countries, led by Turkey, is reportedly preparing to visit Kabul to urge the Taliban to allow women’s participation in education. A Taliban delegation will travel to Moscow next week to participate in a conference on Afghanistan hosted by Russia; in remarks at a meeting of the Commonwealth of Independent States on Wednesday, Pres. Putin expressed concerns over militant threats emerging from Afghanistan. Qatari foreign minister Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al Thani urged international engagement with the new Taliban government during remarks on Wednesday, suggesting that “this will help the moderate power (voices) to also provide an incentive to be more influential and more effective in their government”. [Khaama Press] [Ariana News]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Japan Pledges $190M in Aid at G20 Summit [Ariana News]
  • Commentary: The Taliban Can’t Take on the Islamic State Alone – “For now, countries like China, Russia, Pakistan, and even Iran, which hold major stakes in Afghanistan’s future and hope to pursue their geo-economic interests there, may be best placed to jointly tackle the problem posed by the Islamic State in Afghanistan.” [Amira Jadoon and Andrew Mines, WOTR]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: PM Khan Seeks to Assert Control Over ISI Appointment; EU Pledges Additional Afghanistan Aid

Sign up to receive this update by email.

Topline

  • On Tuesday, Information Minister Chaudhry insisted that there were no disagreements between the government and military over the appointment for the ISI chief, but said that “the legal procedure will be followed”. On Wednesday, Chaudhry announced that consultations between PM Khan and Chief of Army Staff Bajwa “had been completed” and that “the process for a new appointment has begun”. PTI lawmaker Amir Dogar told Dawn that Khan wants Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed to continue in the position of ISI chief, citing the “critical situation in Afghanistan”.
  • Tuesday’s virtual meeting of G20 leaders on Afghanistan generated a $1.15 billion pledge from the EU for additional humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and neighboring countries, but no further major assistance pledges. Speaking at a press conference after the summit, Italian PM Mario Draghi said that the Taliban had not met commitments for inclusive government or minority representation.
  • On Tuesday, the State Department appointed veteran diplomat Elizabeth Jones to serve as coordinator for Afghanistan evacuation and resettlement efforts, replacing John Bass, who has been nominated to be undersecretary of State for management.
  • On Tuesday, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani reversed an earlier statement that he was resigning from the Balochistan Awami Party presidency, saying that he would continue in that role until intra-party elections are held; the BAP had appointed party vice president Zahoor Ahmed Buledi to replace Alyani.
  • As of Wednesday, Pakistan reports 1.260 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, out of 19.997 million tests, with at least 28,173 associated deaths; 93.551 million vaccine doses have been administered.

Pakistan — Security

  • ISI Chief Appointment: Following a federal cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Information Minister Chaudhry acknowledged that the government had yet to issue a formal notification appointing Lt. Gen. Nadeem Ahmed Anjum as the new head of the ISI, as announced by the military last week; Chaudhry insisted that there were no disagreements between the government and military, but also said that “the legal procedure will be followed in the appointment”. Chaudhry said that PM Khan and Chief of Army Staff Bajwa had held a “long meeting” on Tuesday evening to discuss the issue; on Wednesday, Chaudhry announced that consultations between the two leaders “had been completed” and that “the process for a new appointment has begun”. PTI lawmaker Amir Dogar tells Dawn that PM Khan wants Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed to continue in the position of ISI chief, citing the “critical situation in Afghanistan”. [ET] [ET] [The Nation]
  • Iranian Military Commander Visits: Iranian armed forces chief of general staff Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri arrived in Islamabad on Tuesday for meetings with Pakistani military officials. On Tuesday, interior minister Sheikh Rashid met with a delegation of Iranian parliamentarians, and agreed to form a committee to discuss prisoner exchanges between the two countries.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Balochistan Leadership Challenge: The Balochistan Awami Party leadership appointed party vice president Zahoor Ahmed Buledi as acting party president following chief minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani’s resignation earlier this month; at a press conference on Tuesday, however, Alyani said he had not formally resigned and would continue in the presidency role until intraparty elections were held. [ET] [Dawn]
  • Legal Proceedings: At Sindh High Court hearings on Tuesday, the Election Commission said that it had given the Sindh provincial government until November 6 to provide census data to conduct constituency delimitation for local elections in the province. At Islamabad High Court hearings on Wednesday, judges questioned the federal government’s refusal to disclose gifts made to PM Khan while he is in office. The Federal Investigation Agency is investigating approximately a hundred individuals suspected of purchasing and smuggling dollars to Afghanistan. [Dawn] [ET] [The Nation]
  • Other Political Activity: The PTI government has convened both houses of parliament for sessions starting on Thursday, which will reportedly focus on passing electoral reform legislation and changes to the National Accountability Bureau law. The parliamentary committee on Election Commission appointments will meet on Thursday. [ET] [ET] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Army Chief Observes Commissioning of Chinese VT-4 Tank [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Evacuation and Resettlement Efforts: On Tuesday, the State Department appointed veteran diplomat Elizabeth Jones to serve as coordinator for Afghanistan evacuation and resettlement efforts, replacing John Bass, who has been nominated to be undersecretary of State for management. A State Department official tells CNN that the relocation mission will continue “indefinitely” and that Jones will be based in Washington DC. The AP reports that Spain evacuated another group of approximately 160 Afghan nationals through Pakistan on Wednesday. [NYT]
  • Taliban Military Reforms: A spokesman for the ministry of interior announced on Tuesday that the Taliban cabinet meeting had approved the formation of an “independent commission to monitor its forces”, comprising members of the ministries of defense, interior, and the intelligence agency”.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • International Engagement: Tuesday’s virtual meeting of G20 leaders on Afghanistan generated a $1.15 billion pledge from the EU for additional humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and neighboring countries, but no further major assistance pledges. EU president Ursula von der Leyen emphasized that the provision of aid was not being paired with recognition of the Taliban government. Speaking at a press conference after the summit, Italian PM Mario Draghi said that the Taliban had not met commitments for inclusive government or minority representation. In a speech at a separate event in Doha on Tuesday, Qatari special envoy Mutlaq bin Majed al-Qahtani called for engagement with the Taliban, describing them as the “de facto authority”. In remarks on Tuesday, Turkey’s foreign minister suggested that he may visit Kabul with a group of other foreign ministers “in the upcoming period”. In a statement on Tuesday confirming weekend talks between the Taliban and a U.S. delegation in Doha, the Taliban said that foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi had warned that “weakening the Afghan government is not in the interest of anyone because its negative effects will directly affect the world in [the] security sector and economic migration from the country”.  [WSJ] [Reuters] [Reuters] [Reuters] [Ariana News]
  • Girls Education: Reuters and the WSJ follow other reports that girls schools have been allowed to reopen and operate in the Balkh provincial capital of Mazar-e-Sharif and some other northern provinces. [TOLO]

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Humanitarian Crisis: The Guardian reports that Taliban restrictions on border crossings into Pakistan have constrained patients’ ability to seek healthcare treatment there. A shipment of Iranian aid arrived in Kunduz on Wednesday.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • CSTO to Conduct Military Exercise Near Tajikistan-Afghanistan Border [Reuters]
  • Taliban Religious Police Instructed to Be More Moderate, But Vulnerable Afghans Say Brutal Justice Still Being Meted Out [CNN]
  • Marine Who Criticized Withdrawal Will Plead Guilty, Seek Favorable Discharge [WAPO]
  • Commentary: Why Afghanistan Fell – “When the United States decided to fully withdraw its troops, these same [Afghan political] leaders continued to compete for power rather than plan for the worst-case scenario.” [Ajmal Ahmady, Foreign Affairs]
  • Commentary: The Least Bad Option for Afghanistan – “Given the West’s almost non-existent political leverage with [the Taliban], the UN must resume its central role in promoting reconciliation, providing humanitarian aid, and encouraging development.” [Richard Ponzio, Project Syndicate]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Italy to Host G20 Summit on Afghanistan; ISI Chief’s Appointment Yet to Be Notified

Sign up to receive this update by email.

Topline

  • Italy will host a virtual meeting of the G20 countries on Tuesday to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. In remarks on Monday, UN Secretary General Guterres urged the international community “to take action and inject liquidity into the Afghan economy to avoid collapse” but also said that such efforts should not involve direct transfers to the Taliban government. Speaking at a separate event in Doha on Monday, Taliban foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said that the international community “should not seek your demands through putting pressure on us” but should rather “ask us through cooperation” and “strong international support”.
  • Despite the announcement by the military last week of Lt. Gen. Nadeem Ahmad Anjum as the new head of the ISI, the prime minister’s office has yet to issue an official notification of his appointment.
  • A group of 14 Balochistan assembly lawmakers filed a no-confidence motion against Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani on Monday, claiming to have the support of the majority of members.
  • As of Tuesday, Pakistan reports 1.259 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, out of 19.953 million tests, with at least 28,152 associated deaths; 92.597 million vaccine doses have been administered.

Pakistan — Security

  • ISI Chief Appointment: Despite the announcement by the military last week of Lt. Gen. Nadeem Ahmad Anjum as the new head of the ISI, the prime minister’s office has yet to issue an official notification of his appointment; Dawn reports that top military and civilian leaders will meet “imminently” to resolve the issue.
  • TLP Crackdown: On Tuesday, the Supreme Court held hearings on a Punjab government petition against an earlier Lahore High Court decision ordering the release Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan leader Saad Rizvi; the Supreme Court referred the petition back to the LHC.
  • Waziristan Operations: A terrorist suspect was killed in an operation in North Waziristan on Monday, the Pakistani military announced.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Balochistan Confidence Challenge: A group of 14 Balochistan assembly lawmakers filed a no-confidence motion against Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani on Monday, claiming to have the support of the majority of members. [ET] [The Nation]
  • Legal Proceedings: An Election Commission investigation into complaints of illegal overseas fundraising by the PPP and PML-N has agreed to allow PTI lawyers to scrutinize documents submitted by the other parties, as was done for complainant Akbar Babar in the parallel case against the PTI. [The Nation]
  • Other Political Activity: The Pakistan Democratic Movement postponed a planned leadership meeting on Monday following the death of PML-N leader Pervez Malik on Sunday, and will meet again on Oct 18. Estranged PTI leader Jahangir Tareen criticized the PTI’s management of the economy in remarks on Monday, calling for tighter control of inflation. [ET] [The Nation]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Iranian Military Chief to Visit [ET]
  • Sindh Rejects Plan to Revisit 1991 Water-Sharing Agreement [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Evacuation and Resettlement Efforts: TOLO reports a spike in airline ticket prices for flights to Pakistan; Kam Air officials say their flights have been suspended since Friday. The NYT reports that Congress is pushing the administration to facilitate the evacuation of direct family members of naturalized Afghan-American servicemembers, a group estimated to number in the “low hundreds”. An Afghan interpreter who had assisted then-senator Joe Biden during a 2008 visit to Afghanistan has successfully escaped the country, the WSJ reports. Members of an Afghan junior girl’s football team will be relocated from Pakistan to resettle in the UK. Greek officials are increasing the number of border guards along its border with Turkey due to fears of an influx of Afghan refugees. [Reuters]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • International Engagement: Italy will host a virtual meeting of the G20 countries on Tuesday to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. UN Secretary General Guterres, who will participate in the G20 meeting, warned earlier on Monday that the Afghan economy faces a “make-or-break moment”, urging “the world to take action and inject liquidity into the Afghan economy to avoid collapse” but also saying that such efforts should not involve direct transfers to the Taliban government. Guterres added that he was “particularly alarmed to see promises made to Afghan women and girls by the Taliban not being honored”. Speaking at a separate event in Doha on Monday, Taliban foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said that the international community “should not seek your demands through putting pressure on us” but should rather “ask us through cooperation” and “strong international support”. [AP] [Reuters] [Ariana News]
  • Cabinet Meeting: Prime minister Muhammad Hassan Akhund chaired a cabinet meeting on Monday, which ordered the expulsion of Taliban members “who are not needed and ill-treat people” and for security officials to protect government buildings and provide security for the business and trade community. [TOLO]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Strange Quite Arrives in Afghanistan After Decades of War [WSJ]
  • Victims of August Kabul Drone Strike Yet to Receive US Compensation [LAT]
  • Abdullah Criticizes Ghani’s Departure from Afghanistan [TOLO]
  • Commentary: Afghanistan is Facing a Total Economic Meltdown – “We must avert Afghanistan’s full economic meltdown, regardless of who controls its territory. Otherwise millions of Afghan children, women and men will pay the heaviest price.” [Jan Egeland, NYT]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: AQ Khan Passes Away; US Delegation Meets Taliban in Doha

Sign up to receive this update by email.

Topline

  • Pakistani nuclear scientist AQ Khan passed away on Sunday after being hospitalized for the coronavirus in late August; he received a state funeral on Sunday.
  • An American delegation held talks with Taliban representatives in Doha over the weekend, the first major senior level meeting between the two sides since end-August. The Taliban reportedly sought a lifting of the freeze on Afghan central bank reserves held in the United States; in a public statement the Taliban claimed to have received pledges of humanitarian assistance from the U.S. side. An American readout of the talks said that the they had focused on “security and terrorism concerns and safe passage for U.S. citizens, other foreign nationals and our Afghan partners, as well as on human rights”, and had also “discussed the United States’ provision of robust humanitarian assistance, directly to the Afghan people.”
  • US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman concluded talks in Pakistan on Friday after meeting with Chief of Army Staff Bajwa, Foreign Minister Qureshi, and other officials.
  • Lahore district officials have ordered the release of TLP leader Saad Rizvi after the Punjab government withdrew a request for the extension of his detention; on Monday, the government petitioned the Supreme Court to uphold his detention, however.
  • The death toll from a Friday suicide attack at a Shia mosque in Kunduz city rose to as many as 80 people, with scores more wounded; the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, which was reportedly carried out by a Uyghur militant.
  • Taliban officials announced on Sunday that they had transferred roughly $18 million in cash reserves to the central bank after seizing it from former government officials.
  • Balochistan chief minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani rebuffed calls for his resignation on Friday; the resignations of three dissident provincial ministers were accepted by the governor on Friday.
  • As of Monday, Pakistan reports 1.258 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, out of 19.911 million tests, with at least 28,134 associated deaths; 89.719 million vaccine doses have been administered.

Pakistan — Security

  • AQ Khan Passes Away: Abdul Qadeer Khan, a founder of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program and central figure in a proliferation network whose discovery led to his dismissal and quasi-house arrest since 2004, passed away on Sunday; he was previously reported to have been hospitalized with the coronavirus in late August. Khan received a state funeral service in Islamabad on Sunday and was praised by PM Khan and other Pakistani officials. [AP] [WSJ] [ET]
  • National Security Committee Meets: PM Khan chaired a meeting of Pakistan’s National Security Committee on Friday, focused on the situation in Afghanistan; the committee agreed to appoint a coordination cell in the prime minister’s office on Afghanistan policy. Khan also met with outgoing ISI chief Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed on Friday. [Dawn]
  • TLP Crackdown: Lahore district officials ordered the release of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan leader Saad Hussain Rizvi on Saturday, after the Punjab government withdrew a request for the further extension of his detention after a Lahore High Court order for his release at the start of the month. On Monday, the provincial government petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn the Lahore High Court decision.
  • Balochistan Bombing: A local television journalist was killed in a roadside bombing in the town of Hub, Balochistan on Sunday; the Baloch Liberation Army later claimed responsibility for the attack.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Deputy Secretary of State Visit: In remarks to reporters in Islamabad on Friday, visiting U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said that “the United States and Pakistan have a long history of security cooperation and deep personal relationships between our military leaders”, and “we’ll be continuing our counterterrorism dialogue.” In earlier remarks to reporters during a prior stop in India, Sherman had indicated that her visit had the “specific and narrow purpose” of focusing on the situation in Afghanistan, and not for the purpose of building a “broad-based relationship” with Pakistan. Sherman met with Chief of Army Staff Bajwa, Foreign Minister Qureshi, and National Security Advisor Yusuf; she said that the U.S. would “judge the Taliban on their actions” which “have fallen far short of [their] public commitments” to form an “inclusive government”. In a PTV interview, Sherman praised Pakistan’s support for Afghan refugees over the past 42 years.
  • Balochistan Leadership Dispute: Balochistan chief minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani rebuffed calls for his resignation on Friday; the resignations of three dissident provincial ministers were accepted by the governor on Friday. Opposition lawmakers have called for a confidence vote in the provincial assembly.
  • Regional Diplomacy: Pres. Alvi visited Dubai on Saturday to attend the Dubai Expo; he met with UAE prime minister Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum to discuss bilateral relations and investment.
  • Legal Proceedings: National Accountability Bureau director general for operations Zahir Shah was appointed to the position of deputy chairman on Friday, replacing Hussain Asghar, who resigned last week. A petition has been filed in the Lahore High Court challenging the government’s executive ordinance modifying the NAB law to allow for an extension of director Javed Iqbal’s tenure. The national assembly Public Accounts Committee will open its own investigations into the Pandora Papers reports, chairman Rana Tanveer Hussain announced on Saturday. [The Nation] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]
  • Other Political Activity: Pakistan Democratic Movement opposition leaders will meet in Islamabad on Monday; PML-N leader Shehbaz Sharif and JUI-F leader Fazlur Rehman met earlier on Saturday, calling for new “transparent elections”. PM Khan met with a delegation of PTI lawmakers on Friday, pledging to address inflation concerns. The PTI and PPP won one seat each in by-elections for two vacant seats in the Azad Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly on Sunday. [ET] [ET] [ET] [The Nation] [Dawn] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • COVID Crisis: As of Monday, Pakistan reports 1.258 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, out of 19.911 million tests, with at least 28,134 associated deaths; 89.719 million vaccine doses have been administered.
  • IMF Talks: Dawn reports that IMF officials are seeking changes to Pakistan’s tax structure and further electricity tariff rate increases as part of talks for the release of a new tranche of its stalled lending agreement. Finance Minister Tarin and State Bank governor Reza Baqir will visit Washington this week to attend meetings at the IMF and World Bank. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Four Militant Suspects Killed in Awaran Operation [Dawn]
  • Pakistan and Russia Conclude Military Exercise [ET]
  • Federal Government Approves Cash Relief for Harnai Earthquake [Dawn]
  • New Vehicle Imports Reach Record High [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Mosque Bombing: The death toll from a Friday suicide attack at a Shia mosque in Kunduz city rose to as many as 80 people, with scores more wounded; Taliban officials initially reported 43 deaths, and vowed to “find and punish the perpetrators of this heinous crime”. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, which was reportedly carried out by a Uyghur militant. Iran has offered to provide assistance to the victims of the attack. On Monday, the US and UK issued a warning to their citizens to avoid the Serena Hotel and other hotels in central Kabul. [TOLO] [TOLO]
  • Tajikistan Border Tensions: In remarks on Friday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko said that “all necessary assistance will be provided to Tajikistan if required, both within the Collective Security Treaty Organisation framework and bilaterally”, as border tensions continue between the new Taliban government and Tajikistan.
  • Evacuation and Resettlement Efforts: Pakistan has reportedly suspended permissions for Kam Air to fly from Kabul to Pakistan. Spanish officials have reportedly begun new efforts to evacuate approximately 200 Afghan nationals through Pakistan. More than 26,000 Afghan nationals have applied for Australian humanitarian visas, against 3,000 allocations. In remarks on Friday, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson suggested that “the alert level is not high enough” for a risk of security threats resulting from migration out of Afghanistan. A group of Afghan nationals stranded in India by the suspension of flights to Kabul have begun transiting back through Tehran. The Washington Post profiles efforts to evacuate a girls’ orchestra group; Al Jazeera interviews female parliamentarians who have evacuated to Greece. [Guardian]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • International Engagement: Taliban foreign minister Amir Khan Motaqi visited Qatar on Friday and met with Qatari foreign minister Muhammad bin Abdurahmand Al-Thani. An American delegation held talks with Taliban representatives in Doha over the weekend, the first major senior level meeting between the two sides since end-August; CIA deputy director David Cohen and State Department deputy special representative Tom West participated in the trip, but Amb. Khalilzad is not part of the American delegation. The Taliban reportedly sought a lifting of the freeze on Afghan central bank reserves held in the United States; in a public statement on Sunday Mutaqi claimed to have received pledges of support for efforts against the coronavirus and other humanitarian assistance, and said he had warned that “nothing should be done to weaken the existing government in Afghanistan”. An American readout of the talks said that the they had focused on “security and terrorism concerns and safe passage for U.S. citizens, other foreign nationals and our Afghan partners, as well as on human rights”, and had also “discussed the United States’ provision of robust humanitarian assistance, directly to the Afghan people.” Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen dismissed the idea that the US and the Taliban government would cooperate to target the Islamic State. Separately, judges at the International Criminal Court have sought official guidance from the UN on who represents Afghanistan in international bodies. Pakistan PM Imran Khan repeated calls for the international community to engage with the Taliban government in an interview on Monday. [WAPO] [Reuters] [TOLO]
  • Womens’ Rights: TOLO reports that girls have been allowed to attend high school in Balkh, Kunduz, and Sar-e-Pul provinces. [TOLO]

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Financial Crisis: Taliban officials announced on Sunday that they had transferred roughly $18 million in cash reserves to the central bank after seizing it from former government officials. TOLO reports a spike in dollar smuggling out of Afghanistan to Pakistan.
  • Humanitarian Assistance: The WSJ reports on the drought currently facing Afghanistan. The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees called for urgent assistance to Afghanistan to forestall displacement and further humanitarian crisis, saying that only 35% of a $600 million request to sustain humanitarian operations over the next few months had been received. Pakistan delivered a caravan of humanitarian food assistance across the Chaman border crossing on Saturday. [Khaama Press] [TOLO]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • ‘I Never Believed That Would Happen’’; After 20 Years of War, an Abrupt End [NYT]
  • Qatar Release Gunman Who Killed Three Australian Soldiers in 2012 [AP]
  • Taliban to Continue Issuance of Electronic National ID Cards [Khaama Press]
  • Former Ghani Bodyguard Alleges Theft of Millions [Ariana News]
  • Son of Former Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak Buys $21M Home in Miami [Khaama Press]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Deputy Secretary of State Visits Islamabad; Bombing Targets Shia Mosque in Kabul

Sign up to receive this update by email.

Topline

  • U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman arrived in Islamabad on Thursday; she met with National Security Advisor Moeed Yusuf on Thursday and Foreign Minister Qureshi on Friday for talks focused on the situation in Afghanistan. PM Khan also chaired a meeting of Pakistan’s National Security Committee on Afghanistan on Friday.
  • A bombing targeted a Shia mosque in Kabul on Friday; no immediate claim of responsibility was reported, and casualty figures have not been confirmed as of this writing.
  • Reuters reports that international donors are considering a proposal to fly U.S. dollars to Kabul to distribute directly to banks or through small cash grants distributed by the World Food Program, bypassing the Taliban government.
  • Taliban spokesman and UN ambassador-designate Suhail Shaheen met with a group of ambassadors and special representatives in Doha on Thursday.
  • As of Friday, Pakistan reports 1.256 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, out of 19.782 million tests, with at least 28,058 associated deaths; 89.719 million vaccine doses have been administered. Health advisor Faisal Sultan announced new requirements on Friday that all students aged 12 and up must have at least one coronavirus vaccination shot by Oct 31 in order to attend school.

Pakistan — Security

  • TTP Talks: Family members of the victims of the 2014 Army Public School attack in Peshawar held a demonstration outside the Peshawar Press Club on Thursday to protest the government’s negotiations with members of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Deputy Secretary Sherman Visits: U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman arrived in Islamabad on Thursday; she met with National Security Advisor Moeed Yusuf on Thursday and Foreign Minister Qureshi on Friday. The Pakistani foreign ministry said that Qureshi had expressed a desire for “broad-ranging, long-term and stable relations” with the United States”, and urged international engagement with the Taliban government in Afghanistan. Separately, PM Khan chaired a meeting of Pakistan’s National Security Committee on Friday to review the situation in Afghanistan. [AP] [ET]
  • NAB Chief Extension: The National Accountability Bureau released a report on Thursday on its investigations and convictions over the past three years on Thursday, and welcomed the new executive ordinance extending the tenure of NAB chief Javed Iqbal. Opposition leaders have denounced the ordinance. [Dawn]
  • Finance Minister’s Election: The Nation reports that the government will now seek to elect finance minister Shaukat Tarin to a senate seat for Khyber Paktunkhwa; his tenure as an advisor expires Oct 15.
  • Other Political Activity: PM Khan chaired a meeting of PTI party leaders on Thursday, at which his reiterated the government’s commitment to the use of electronic voting machines and absentee balloting for Pakistani expatriates in the next general elections. [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Pakistan and Saudi Navies Conduct Joint Naval Exercise [Dawn]
  • Finance Minister Restricts Cash Redemption on Remittances [Dawn]
  • Estimated Cost of Diamer Bhasha Dam Rises to Rs 653 Billion [The Nation]
  • Commentary: How Pakistan Sees Afghanistan – “The new Taliban authorities will ultimately have to prove that they intend to govern Afghanistan in a more inclusive manner. However, history will judge us very poorly if we do not create the most conducive environment possible to push them in a healthy direction—for the collective benefit of Afghans and the world.” [Moeed Yusuf, Foreign Affairs]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Kabul Mosque Bombing: A bombing targeted a Shia mosque in Kabul on Friday; no immediate claim of responsibility was reported, and casualty figures have not been confirmed as of this writing.
  • Evacuation and Resettlement Efforts: The WSJ notes that the European Union has made no new commitments to take in Afghan refugees since the conclusion of the US and NATO mission at the end of August. A group of 60 British nationals stranded in Afghanistan have appealed to the UK for evacuation assistance for themselves and their family members.
  • Internal Displacement: The ministry of refugees and repatriation plans to begin the process of resettling a group of approximately 2,000 families who fled their homes to Kabul in August.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • International Engagement: Taliban spokesman and UN ambassador-designate Suhail Shaheen met with a group of ambassadors and special representatives in Doha on Thursday; Shaheen said in a statement that he had told the group that “[the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan] is a reality and we are ready to engage with the international community and resolve issues through talks and understanding based on mutual interests and positive interaction”. Uzbekistan’s Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov visited Kabul on Wednesday and met with Taliban foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and other officials. An Iranian trade delegation visited Kabul for talks on bilateral trade.
  • UN Establishes Afghanistan Rapporteur: The UN Human Rights Council approved the appointment of a special rapporteur on Afghanistan to focus on investigating human rights abuse allegations. [Reuters]

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Financial Crisis: Reuters reports that international donors are considering a proposal to fly U.S. dollars to Kabul to distribute directly to banks or through small cash grants distributed by the World Food Program, bypassing the Taliban government. Separately, the US, EU, and UK are considering options to form a new international trust fund to support local services, particularly in the health sector.
  • Health Crisis: TOLO reports that at least four people have died from a dengue fever outbreak in three districts in Nangarhar. The Christian Science Monitor reports on efforts by midwives in Afghanistan to continue their work despite Taliban restrictions on women’s employment.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • US Charges Former Taliban Commander in Killing of Three Soldiers in 2008 Attack [NYT] [Reuters]
  • Commentary: Thinking Through the Dilemmas of Aid to Afghanistan – “While aid conditionality is not likely to shape Taliban policies to any great degree, it is not impossible that renewed aid with conditions could bring some small improvements.” [ICG]