- An Afghan army intelligence officer was reportedly arrested near the Chaman border crossing in Balochistan on Thursday. Prime Minister Sharif continued to tout his government’s commitment to infrastructure development, contrasting his focus on “the country’s progress” with his opponents’ “protests and rallies”. Pres. Ghani is reported to be reviewing a list of death row prisoners, amid calls for their execution following last week’s attack in Kabul. The Pentagon is expected to announce details today of the disciplinary actions it has taken against sixteen servicemembers in connection to the October 2015 hospital bombing in Kunduz. One of the suspects in the Imran Farooq murder case, Khalid Shamim, appear in an interrogation video on GEO TV on Wednesday, repeating allegations that MQM leader Altaf Hussain had ordered the assassination of Farooq in London in 2010. On Thursday, Afghan presidential spokesmen denounced the reported visit by a Taliban delegation to Islamabad this week, saying “a terrorist group does not have the right to travel to countries. We expect Pakistan to have government-to-government relations with Afghanistan.” Pakistan will need to pay the full $700 million price for eight F-16 fighter jets planned for sale, State Department sources tell the BBC, after Congress blocked price subsidy assistance.
Pakistan — Security
- Afghan Intelligence Officer Arrested: An Afghan National Army intelligence officer, identified as Rozi Khan, was reportedly arrested near the Chaman border crossing in Balochistan on Thursday, Dawn reports. His arrest follows the detention of a National Directorate of Security agent in Chaman earlier this month.
- F-16 Sales: Congress’ refusal to approve Foreign Military Financing for the planned sale of eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan means Pakistan will have to pay the full unsubsidized price itself of roughly $700 million, anonymous State Department sources tell the BBC. During House Foreign Affairs Committee hearings on Wednesday, Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen called for a halt to the sale, saying Pakistan “does not need and will probably not use [the F-16s] in its supposed fight against terrorism”. [Dawn]
Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- Prime Minister Touts Development Plans: At a groundbreaking ceremony for a new highway segment in Mansehra on Thursday, Prime Minister Sharif pledged his commitment to “making Pakistan and its people prosper”, contrasting his focus on “the country’s progress” with others’ focus on “protests and rallies”. The prime minister also pledged Rs 1 billion in funds for Hazara University, and inaugurated a new gas supply pipeline. His brother Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif also attended groundbreaking ceremonies in Bahawalpur on Thursday, saying that “people should reject the politics of agitation”, which was stalling economic progress, and that “those who have been staging sit-ins do not want the country to flourish”. Separately, JUI-F leader Fazlur Rehman spoke by phone with Prime Minister Sharif, pledging his party’s support and dismissing the significance of the Panama papers leaks. In parliament, the PPP accused the government of using public funds to place advertisements in papers defending the prime minister. Attorney General of Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf met with representatives of the Supreme Court Bar Association on Thursday. [Dawn] [Dawn]
- Video of Suspect Alleging MQM Involvement in Imran Farooq Murder: GEO TV broadcast a video on Wednesday showing the apparent interrogation of one of the suspects in the Imran Farooq murder case, Khalid Shamim, in which Shamim alleges that MQM leader Altaf Hussain had personally directed the assassination of Farooq in London. The interior ministry has ordered an investigation into the video’s leak. The MQM denounced the broadcast as a “mockery of justice” and part of “the MQM’s media trial”. [ET]
- Other Political Activity: Unofficial results indicate that the PML-N candidate in the NA-267 Jhal Magsi by-election, Khalid Khan Magsi, is leading his PTI rival by approximately 27,000 votes to approximately 16,000. PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi led rallies in Nawabshah on Thursday, pledging action against corruption. [Dawn]
Pakistan — Remainders
- Seminaries Boom in Absence of Government Checks [Dawn]
- Chief of Army Staff Observes Jhelum Exercises [ET] [APP]
- Ecologists Criticize PTI Tree-Planting Campaign [Dawn]
- Filmmaker Challenges ‘Maalik’ Ban [Dawn] [ET]
- Public Accounts Committee Authorizes Probe Into Ministry of Religious Affairs Phone Purchases [ET]
- Balochistan Chief Minister Seeks Chinese Coal Investments [Dawn]
Afghanistan — Security
- Detainee Releases: The Post notes that at least one of the attackers in the Kabul bombing last week had previously been detained in Bagram prison but was later released as part of periodic amnesties by the Karzai administration; in a Taliban video this week, the alleged bomber, Abdul Wali, credits prison for strengthening his faith. A spokesman for Chief Executive Abdullah suggested that “those who have released criminals from prisons will be held accountable by the government.” Pres. Ghani is reported to be reviewing a list of death row prisoners, amidst calls for the government to avenge the Kabul attack by carrying out executions of detained Taliban leaders, specifically Anas Haqqani, a son of Jalaluddin Haqqani arrested in October 2014. [TOLO]
- Punishments for Kunduz Hospital Bombing: Reuters reports that the U.S. military will announce on Friday that it has taken disciplinary action against 16 servicemembers in connection to the October 2015 bombing of a Doctors Without Borders / Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital in Kunduz, which killed at least 42 people. At least one general officer is among those subjected to non-judicial disciplinary action, which military officials say will be effectively “career-ending”. [AP]
- Herat Prosecutor Killed: Samiuddin Rahin, who sources variously described as the chief prosecutor or appellate court chief in Herat province, was killed in a drive-by shooting near his home in the capital city on Thursday. At least one younger son — TOLO reports two — was also wounded in the attack. No claim of responsibility has been reported.
- Russian Assistance: Acting Afghan defense minister Masoom Stanekzai met with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu on Thursday and agreed to form a “military-technical cooperation committee”; they are also reported to have discussed intelligence sharing and training assistance.
Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- Taliban Talks: In a statement on Thursday, spokesmen for the Afghan presidential palace said that the visit by a Taliban delegation to Islamabad this week is “totally questionable”, adding that “a terrorist group does not have the right to travel to countries. We expect Pakistan to have government-to-government relations with Afghanistan.” The statement also said that “the remarks by the Taliban group is mainly aimed at deviating the public thoughts from the crimes the group committed and is currently committing”.
Afghanistan — Remainders
- Sayyaf Warns Against ‘Sidelining’ Mujahadeen Veterans [TOLO]
- Ghazni Calls for Security Unit to Safeguard Historical Sites [TOLO]
- Report: “We Knew They Had No Future in Kabul”: Why and How Afghan Families Decide to Leave – “There are clear information and knowledge gaps on the reasons behind the current, increased levels of Afghan migration. For this reason, this brief study aimed to explore the decision-making processes at the family level of a small number of migrants.” [AAN]