- Karachi police halted an MQM protest rally against the ongoing arrests of party activists in the run-up to Karachi local elections on December 5; several party leaders have been charged with violations of laws restricting public assemblies. During a visit to Kunduz on Thursday, Pres. Ghani dismissed several intelligence and security officials, and warned that the government would not tolerate independent militia groups, and pledged that ALP militias would be held “accountable to the government”. RFE/RL reports that Pakistani officials are pushing for the resumption of talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government to follow the “Heart of Asia” regional forum hosted in Islamabad on December 7. Akram Khan Durrani, a senior JUI-F member and federal minister for housing, survived a roadside bombing while traveling to Bannu on Thursday, but two police officers guarding his convoy were killed. Anonymous Pakistani diplomatic sources tell the Express Tribune that they have received assurances from China that it will either block India’s accession into the Nuclear Supplier’s Group or ensure Pakistan is allowed to enter as well. Anonymous Lahore police sources tell the Guardian that Lashkar-e-Jhangvi commander Haroon Bhatti’s death yesterday was a staged extrajudicial killing.
Pakistan — Security
- Attack on JUI-F Minister: A roadside bombing hit the convoy of federal minister for housing Akram Khan Durrani, a member of the JUI-F, as he was traveling to Bannu on Thursday. Durrani, a former Khyber Paktunkhwa chief minister, is reported to have been unhurt; at least two policemen providing escort were killed, however, and as many as five others injured. No claim of responsibility has been reported. [ET]
- Nuclear Program: The Express Tribune quotes anonymous Pakistani diplomatic sources who claim that Chinese officials have pledged that they “will take all measures so that [Pakistan] also becomes the member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group” if India is allowed to join, and that “if India is allowed to join NSG and Pakistan is deprived of the membership of the group, Beijing will veto the move to block Indian entry.”
- Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Commander’s Killing: Anonymous Lahore police officials tell the Guardian that Lashkar-e-Jhangvi commander Haroon Bhatti was killed in a staged extrajudicial police killing, not in the crossfire during a police raid that he was cooperating with as officially reported. One officer argues that “no one would have given evidence against them because witnesses would be brutally targeted. You can’t allow terrorists to carry on their attacks just because you don’t have any proof against them.” Bhatti’s killing follows that of commander Malik Ishaq. [ET]
- Arson Targets Christian TV Station: The offices of Gawahi TV, a Christian-owned tv station in Karachi, were destroyed in a fire on early Tuesday morning; the owners report receiving threats since May, and say they believe it to be a case of arson. They also report the theft of the facility’s cameras, and signs forced entry to the building. Police are investigating, and no claim of responsibility has been reported.
Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- Elections and Other Political Activity: Karachi police halted an MQM protest march in Karachi on Thursday aimed at holding demonstrations outside the headquarters of the Sindh Rangers against the continued arrest of party activists; the MQM accuses the Rangers of deliberately increasing its crackdown ahead of local government polls scheduled to take place December 5. Nine MQM senior leaders were charged with violating restrictions on the use of loudspeakers, public demonstrations, and impeding traffic. Elsewhere, the federal government has not made November 30 a public holiday for the Islamabad local elections, a move the PPP and PTI said would decrease voter turnout. [ET] [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]
- Corruption Investigations: As reported yesterday, a Karachi anti-terrorism court remanded Dr Asim Hussain to an additional four day’s custody on Thursday, after his transfer to police and the filing of charges against him on financing or supporting militants. In a separate statement on Thursday, PPP leaders called on the PML-N to make a “public apology” after former Pres. Zardari was acquitted in two more corruption cases originally filed under the PML-N’s tenure in the 1990s. [Reuters] [Dawn]
Pakistan — Economics and Development
- Tax Revenues: Finance Minister Dar spoke before the national assembly finance committee on Thursday to discuss plans to impose additional regulatory duties on luxury items; he also suggested that the government was preparing to offer traders the ability to pay only a nominal fixed income tax payment in an effort to bring them into the tax net. [Dawn]
Pakistan — Remainders
- 21 Reportedly Killed in Khyber Airstrikes [Dawn]
- Prime Minister Arrives in Malta for Commonwealth Summit [ET]
- New Cabinet Members for Climate Change and Capital Development Inducted [Dawn]
- Suspect Arrested in Attack on Polio Vaccination Teams in Mansehra [Dawn] [ET]
- Former Chief Justice Chaudhry Urges Presidential Form of Government [Dawn] [ET]
- Mumtaz Qadri Threatens Suicide Over Jail Visitation [Dawn] [ET]
- Government Plans to Establish Five New LNG Plants [ET]
- 100,000 National ID Cards Blocked Over Past Year [ET]
- 50 Pakistani Asylum Seekers Deported from Norway [Dawn]
Afghanistan — Security
- Ghani Visits Kunduz: At meetings with Pres. Ghani during his visit to Kunduz on Thursday and afterwards, local leaders expressed concerns that the Taliban were preparing to launch another offensive on the city; several rockets struck the city during Ghani’s visit, and a bomb planted on the vehicle of an Afghan Local Police commander wounded three people in the Chardara district on the city’s outskirts on Friday. Speaking on Thursday, Ghani blamed a “lack of unified command” for the Taliban’s takeover, and ordered the dismissal of “all NDS personnel who neglected their duties”, including the provincial intelligence chief. Ghani also warned that the government would not tolerate independent militia groups, giving them a “last warning” to join the uniformed security forces and pledging that the ALP would be “accountable to the government”.
- Landmine Deaths: The International Campaign to Ban Landmines reported Thursday that a year-on-year rise in the number of landmine casualties was in large part attributable to a spike in casualties from improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan.
- Hekmatyar Seeks Comeback: Gulbuddin Hekmatyar provided the AP a video statement this week from an undisclosed location in which he says that “peace can be established and the fighting can end once the occupation is over, foreign forces leave and the people of the Afghan nation are given the right to choose their own destiny and establish their own choice of government and governance”.
Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- Taliban Talks: RFE/RL reports that Pakistan is pushing for a resumption of talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban following the December 7th ‘Heart of Asia’ regional forum in Islamabad; in an apparent bid to convince the Afghan government of its sincerity, Pakistan is reportedly seeking “an agreement on ceasefire or reduction of violence agreed at this meeting”. Afghan officials in turn are seeking “some kind of a cut-off date for ending sanctuaries to achieve some semblance of neutrality” on Pakistan’s part. Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif is said to be planning to visit Kabul within the next few weeks, possibly preceded by foreign advisor Sartaj Aziz.
- Smart City Investigations: The head of the presidential task force appointed with investigating the ‘Smart City’ real estate development project between the Ministry of Urban Development and former Kabul Bank CEO Khalilullah Frozi reports that several government departments are not cooperating with the inquiry; Pres. Ghani’s former legal advisor, Abdul Ali Mohammadi, is the only official to be suspended thus far.
Afghanistan — Remainders