Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: IMF Approves Pakistan Loan; Afghan Interior Ministry Reviewing Election Security

Topline

  • The Pakistani federal cabinet has approved a “concerted campaign” led by the paramilitary Rangers to restore order in Karachi. The IMF has formally approved a $6.7 billion loan for Pakistan, which will be disbursed over the course of three years and repaid over the course of ten years after that. The Afghan Interior Mininistry has been tasked with a review of security preparations for the upcoming presidential elections. A Pakistani advocacy group has raised the plight of approximately 40 Pakistani nationals who remain in U.S. custody at the Bagram detention center in Afghanistan. Afghan police are seeking a young bank employee suspected of helping to embezzle at least $1.1 million from Azizi Bank before fleeing the country. Two men were injured and two attackers killed in an attack on a Shia mosque in Kabul.

Pakistan — Security

  • Karachi Operation: On Wednesday, the federal cabinet met in Karachi and approved a “targeted operation” led by the paramilitary Rangers in the city, to begin within the next day or two against criminal targets linked to targeted killings, kidnappings, and extortion. Raids reportedly began as early as Wednesday night; police report that at least 185 arrests have been made as of Thursday. Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah will formally oversee the “concerted campaign”, and a separate committee that will include representation from the MQM will be tasked to examine prosecution powers and standards of evidence for the Rangers. A “revamp” of the Sindh police service has also been ordered. During a separate meeting of army corps commanders in Rawalpindi, commanders vowed to provide “all-out support” for the operation. Opposition parties were generally supportive of the new initiative. [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [ET]
  • Supreme Court Dismisses Drone Plea: The Supreme Court declined to accept an appeal of the lower Lahore High Court’s decision in October 2009 to reject a petition seeking a court order to the armed forces to defend the country against drone attacks and declare the United States an “enemy state”. Judge Tassaduq Hussain Jillani indicated that the courts lacked jurisdiction over issues related to foreign and defense policy.
  • FATA Operations: Military officials speaking to reporters on Wednesday say they have seized control of the entirety of Khyber Agency’s Tirah Valley, which had been seized by Tehreek-e-Taliban and Lashkar-e-Islam fighters earlier this spring. Eight soldiers, including a colonel, and 104 militants were reportedly killed during a 22-day long operation begun in late May. [Dawn]
  • Arrest Made in Connection to Attack on Climbers: On Thursday, police announced the arrest of Qareebullah, alias Hasan, a former Pakistani Taliban leader from Chilas who they say is responsible for masterminding the June attack on ten climbers in Gilgit Baltistan, as well as the deaths of three high-ranking investigating police officers. [ET]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • PTI Opposition: PTI officials denied that the party had entered into any formal electoral alliance with the PPP and other parties in Punjab, saying they were cooperating solely to challenge the PML-N’s new local government law there. The party’s request for an extension on filing its asset report with the Election Commission has yet to be approved, raising questions as to whether it will be allowed to contest three by-elections scheduled for October 7. The PTI has rejected the unofficial results of the PP-150 Lahore recount, which confirmed PML-N candidate Mian Marghoob’s victory. [ET] [ET]
  • Zardar Celebrates End of Term: The PPP parliamentary opposition leaders hosted a farewell dinner for Pres. Zardari on Wednesday; his term in office expires on Sunday. Zardari also met with PM Sharif on Thursday. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • IMF Board Approves Loan: On Wednesday, the IMF’s board formally approved a $6.7 billion Extended Fund Facility loan to Pakistan; funds will be disbursed over three years, with repayment to take place over ten years. Pakistan will receive $545 million initially, with the rest disbursed subject to periodic quarterly reviews; Pakistan is obligated to take steps to reduce subsidies to the energy sector, improve its tax performance, and contain fiscal deficits as a condition of the loan. Pakistan still owes approximately $4 billion from its last failed program with the Fund, repayments to which have cut into its foreign reserves. [AFP] [BBC] [IMF Statement]
  • Iran Pipeline Financing: A Chinese firm, Panyn Chu King Steel Limited, is pulling out from the Iran gas pipeline project; its withdrawal takes with it an offer to help finance $500 million in costs, which Pakistan is now seeking additional Iranian assistance on. Anonymous Pakistani officials tell the Express Tribune that Iran and Pakistan will meet to discuss the project later this month.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Nawaz to Chair Session of Nuclear Command Authority Today [Dawn]
  • Sixteen Injured in Khyber Paktunkhwa Bombings [ET]
  • Investigation Team Established for Lal Masjid Case Against Musharraf [ET]
  • PPP to Re-File Application to Join Bhutto Murder Case [ET]
  • Balochistan Chief Minister Invites JUI-F to Join Government [GEO]
  • Former Prime Minister Gilani Conducted Record Number of Trips Abroad [ET]
  • Pakistan Slips Lower on Global Competitiveness Rankings [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Bagram Detainees: A new report from Justice Project Pakistan, an Open Society Foundation-sponsored advocacy group, estimates that approximately 40 Pakistani nationals remain in “legal limbo” at the Bagram detention center, where they remain in U.S. custody without charge despite the transfer of the prison’s larger Afghan population to Afghan custody. [AFP]
  • Attack on Shia Mosque: Two men attacked a Shia mosque in Kabul on Thursday morning, injuring two people; the attackers, who the Afghan intelligence service says were Pakistani nationals disguised in police uniforms, were killed.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Election Preparations: The National Security Council has directed the Ministry of Interior to review security preparations for the April elections, after warnings from the IEC that as many as half of all polling stations were under threat. Separately on Wednesday, Pres. Karzai issued a legislative decree setting aside a reserved seat in the lower house of parliament for members of the Hindu and Sikh community; Karzai’s move still requires ratification by parliament, which is currently on recess.

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Bank Theft: Afghan police are seeking the whereabouts of Sokofa Salehi, a 22-year old bank worker who reportedly embezzled at least $1.1 million from the headquarters of Azizi Bank in Kabul before disappearing two months ago; as many as nine other people are suspected to be involved, two of whom were detained in Dubai. [TOLO]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • ISAF Commanders Tout ANSF Readiness [AP] [BBC] [Guardian]
  • Nangarhar District Governor Injured in Roadside Bombing [TOLO]
  • Safi Airways Expands Fleet [TOLO]
  • Report: Higher Education in Afghanistan: An Emerging Mountainscape – “There is strong demand for higher education from secondary school completers, and the pressure for expansion is already being felt in both public and private higher education institutions.” [World Bank]

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