Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: All-Parties Conference Endorses Talks; Arrests in Indian Author’s Death in Paktika

Topline

  • Pakistan’s all-parties conference on national counterterrorism policy endorses negotiations “with all stakeholders” but provides little specific guidance on talks with the Pakistani Taliban. Mamnoon Hussain was sworn in as Pakistan’s twelfth president on Monday. The Pakistani government will lower its budget deficit target for the fiscal year from 6.3% of GDP to 5.8% to meet IMF loan conditions. Two men affiliated with the Haqqani network were arrested in connection to Indian writer Sushmita Banerjee’s death in Paktika last week. Supporters marked the death anniversary of Ahmad Shah Massoud on Monday.

Pakistan — Security

  • All-Parties Conference Endorses Talks with Pakistani Taliban: Monday’s all-parties conference of senior political and military leaders in Islamabad formally endorsed efforts by the government to “initiate dialogue with all stakeholders”. The resolution also stressed that “we shall ourselves determine the means and mode of fighting this war in our national interest and shall not be guided by the United States of America or any other country in this regard,” but offers few specifics on how outreach will be conducted. Gen. Kayani was quoted as saying that “the army will follow whatever decision the government takes”; military officials have previously shown little enthusiasm for talks with groups unwilling to disarm, and the resolution does not specify whether doing so will be a precondition for negotiations. PTI officials claim that Imran Khan convinced Kayani to agree to a “phased withdrawal” of troops from the FATA, although this was not otherwise announced. A Pakistani Taliban spokesman welcomed the resolution, but said that “the government will also have to convince the army and to decide a road-map for the talks”. [NYT] [AJE] [ET] [ET] [Resolution Text]
  • Anti-Taliban Militia Members Beheaded: Six members of an anti-Taliban militia in the Khyber Agency’s Bara region were kidnapped and three were subsequently beheaded by Lashkar-e-Islam militants, officials say; Lashkar-e-Islam spokesmen denied the charge.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • President Hussain Sworn In: Mamnoon Hussain was sworn in as Pakistan’s twelfth president by Chief Justice Chaudhry at a ceremony on Monday, which was attended by former Pres. Zardari, Prime Minister Sharif, and other officials. On Tuesday, the federal government responded to a petition seeking to bar Zardari from leaving the country, seeking its dismissal. [ET]
  • Local Elections: Acting Chief Election Commissioner Judge Tassaduq Jilani presided over a meeting of the Election Commission on Tuesday to review plans for local government elections, and ordered the commission to seek an extension from the Supreme Court on its September 15 deadline by which to hold local polls. Local elections will be held in military cantonment areas on November 3, but local election laws have yet to be finalized in most other provinces.
  • Judicial Proceedings: Chief Justice Chaudhry marked the opening of a new judicial calendar year on Monday, beginning with a public defense of his frequent use of suo moto investigations.

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Budget Cuts: The government has reportedly agreed to lower its budget deficit target for the year from 6.3% of GDP to 5.8% in order to meet IMF conditions and qualify for the release of the next tranche of a $6.6 billion loan approved last week. Government officials are reportedly considering a new gas tax and further cuts to the development budget to make up the Rs 180 billion difference.
  • Energy Crisis: The Senate Committee on Water and Power has called for the re-nationalization of the Karachi Electric Supply Company, accusing it of failing to provide regular power supply and arguing for the reinstatement of 7000 employees. [ET] [ET]
  • Education Initiative: A three-day national campaign to enroll 500,000 children in primary school was launched on Monday; schoolteachers in Khyber Paktunkhwa warn that their classes are already over capacity.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Sindh Assembly Members Call for More Powers for Rangers [ET]
  • Islamic Development Bank Pledges $850M [ET]
  • PML-N Workers in Khyber Paktunkhwa Complain of Marginalization [Dawn]
  • Report: Domestic Barriers to Dismantling the Militant Infrastructure in Pakistan – “Perceptions about the U.S. role in the insurgency, the belief that foreign powers support anti-state militants, that some militants will not attack if not provoked, and that others have domestic as well as geopolitical utility collectively inform the security establishment’s strategic calculus for how it engages with militants in Pakistan.” [Stephen Tankel, USIP]
  • Commentary: To Ease Pakistan Violence, Turn On the Lights – “Militancy grabs headlines internationally, and it’s undoubtedly of grave concern. But Pakistan’s energy crisis directly affects many more people than the Taliban.” [Michael Kugelman, Bloomberg]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Arrests in Indian Writer’s Death: Paktika police officials say they have arrested two men, identified as Mohammad Yaqub and Mohammad Asif, in connection to the death of Sushmita Banerjee, an Indian writer who had lived in the area with her husband. Both suspects reportedly confessed to the murder and said that they were members of the Haqqani network, although it is unclear at what level the attack was ordered. [TOLO]
  • Attacks: A suicide car bombing attack at an Afghan army base in Logar province on Tuesday wounded four ANA soldiers; the Taliban claimed responsibility. In the Helmand capital of Lashkar Gah, a bomb planted on a motorcycle in a marketplace injured five civilians as a police vehicle passed nearby; no claim of responsibility was reported.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Massoud Death Anniversary: Supporters marked the death anniversary of former Northern Alliance commander Ahmad Shah Massoud on Monday. In remarks at the ceremony, former mujahedeen leader Abdul Sayyaf criticized the Taliban, saying they “do not have enough dignity to face us and to talk with us” and were “enemies of Islam and slaves to foreign interests”.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Ministry Pushes for Parliamentary Approval of Stalled Mining Law [TOLO]
  • Report: Women and the Afghan Police – “Although female police are vital for Afghan women to be able to report crimes and access desperately-needed justice, few women in Afghanistan will ever encounter one.” [Oxfam International]
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