- Violence continues in Karachi as Chief Justice Chaudhry orders efforts to curtail weapons smuggling into the city. Talks with the Pakistani Taliban are “at a standstill,” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan says. Mansoor Dadullah, a senior Afghan Taliban commander announced to have been released from Pakistani custody earlier this month, reportedly remains in detention. Prime Minister Sharif is not expected to hold talks with Pres. Obama at the UN General Assembly meeting next week; the two sides will instead meet in Washington for a bilateral summit in October or early November. Lawyer Abdul Satar Sadaat has been elected chairman of the Electoral Complaints Commission. Three IEC staff members have reportedly been kidnapped in Faryab.
Pakistan — Security
- Karachi Violence: Three people were killed and at least fifteen injured in an attack on a Shia worship center in Karachi’s Landhi neighborhood on Thursday evening; no claim of responsibility has yet been reported. Reuters publishes a previously-conducted interview with Zafar Baloch, the People’s Amn Committee leader killed in a driveby shooting on Wednesday, in which he vowed to maintain the group’s hold on the Lyari neighborhood and challenge the MQM’s control over the city. In Supreme Court hearings on the Karachi security situation on Thursday, Chief Justice Chaudhry suggested that violence in the city could be attributed to weapons smuggled in from “US, Israel, and India”; after previous remarks from the Director General of the Rangers, Rizwan Akhtar, suggesting that as many as 19,000 containers carrying arms shipments for U.S. forces in Afghanistan had been diverted under the previous government’s tenure, a charge that investigators were subsequently unable to substantiate. At Thursday’s hearing, the Rangers asked that the allegation be retracted; Chaudhry nonetheless ordered additional efforts to curtail weapons smuggling. Additionally, the court pushed for investigations into targeted attacks on police officers, particularly those who had taken part in crackdowns on the MQM in the 1990s. Speaking before parliament on Thursday, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan estimated that around 250 terror suspects had fled Karachi for North Waziristan amid the ongoing security crackdown but said they “would not find a place to hide” there. [ET] [ET]
- Pakistani Taliban Talks: Javed Ibrahim Paracha, a former PML-N national assembly member, told reporters on Thursday that he had been contacted by Hakimullah Mehsud and provided a list of 50 Taliban and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi detainees to be freed; the TTP’s spokesman denied the claim. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told parliament on Thursday that outreach efforts with the Pakistani Taliban had “come to a standstill” after last weekend’s attack on senior army officers in Upper Dir, but said the government would consult both the opposition and the military to take “a stand that will be in consonance with the country’s independence, sovereignty, integrity and dignity”. [Dawn]
- NATO Supply Line Attacks: Frontier Corps officials announced the arrest of nearly two dozen militants in the Hub district on Thursday; at least ten are said to be members of gangs based in Karachi’s Lyari neighborhood, although reporting is somewhat unclear on whether they have been directly linked to attacks on NATO supply trucks passing through the area. Separately, one Frontier Corps officer was killed and four injured in an attack in the Bolan district on Friday.
- Peshawar Mosque Attacked: A hand grenade attack on a mosque in the Peshawar suburbs killed three people and injured at least twenty others on Thursday evening; no claim of responsibility has been reported. [ET]
Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- U.S.-Pakistan Diplomacy: Prime Minister Sharif is not expected to conduct formal meetings with Pres. Obama on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly next week, foreign ministry officials said Thursday; foreign advisor Sartaj Aziz tells The Nation that summit-level talks will instead be held in Washington at an unspecified date in October or early November. Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN, Masood Khan, raised concerns over U.S. drone strikes at the UN Security Council on Thursday, calling for their immediate cessation and “urgent and intense dialogue” to resolve the issue.
Pakistan — Economics and Development
- Energy Crisis: The head of Pakistan’s Atomic Energy Commission told the IAEA General Conference in Austria on Thursday that Pakistan intends to expand its nuclear energy program to held overcome the domestic energy crisis, noting plans for upgrading the KANUPP and Chashma plants. After weakening demand and increasing diesel stocks, the government is seeking to cut petroleum imports to ease pressure on foreign exchange reserves. The Express Tribune notes that administrative devolution has complicated efforts to introduce federal and provincial legislation oil, gas, and mineral exploration projects. [ET]
Pakistan — Remainders
- Council of Islamic Ideology Hardliners Block Move for Blasphemy Law Change [Dawn] [ET]
- Deadlock Continues Over National Accountability Bureau Nomination [ET]
- India Accused of Blocking Cross-Border Trade in Kashmir [ET]
- IDP Return in Tirah Suspended [Dawn]
- Sindh Assembly Passes Nine Bills During MQM Absence [Dawn]
- State Bank Blames Market Forces Rather than IMF Loan for Rupee Depreciation [ET]
- Government Preparing Vision 2020-25 Planning Document [APP]
- Interview: Pakistan’s Finance Minister Pushes Privatization – “’Stabilization measures and structural reforms are always painful,’ Mr. Dar acknowledged. ‘We have taken some very difficult decisions.’” [WSJ]
Afghanistan — Security
- Attacks and Kidnappings: Three Afghan Independent Election Commission staff members, including one woman, have reportedly been kidnapped in northwestern Faryab province while working to distribute voter registration cards; no claim of responsibility has yet been reported. Separately, the Afghan Interior Ministry’s spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi, disputed yesterday’s reports that approximately a dozen police officers had been kidnapped in a Taliban ambush in Badakshan also reported to have killed as many as two dozen. Seddiqi “acknowledged some casualties” but gave no precise figures, and claimed that police operations in the Warduj district had in fact cleared “ninety percent of the district of the Taliban’s presence”.
- Abuse Allegations: A new video showing Afghan police and army officials abusing a Taliban detainee — TOLO’s reporting is unclear on the original source and timing of the broadcast — has prompted the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission to demand an investigation into the incident. The Ministry of Defense’s spokesman suggested that the men involved were likely “disguised” and not members of the security services, but said an investigation would be undertaken.
Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- Taliban Detainee Releases: Mansoor Dadullah, the highest-profile member of the seven Afghan Taliban commanders that Pakistan’s foreign ministry announced it was releasing from custody on September 7, has not yet been freed, according to the Express Tribune; the other six former detainees are only reported to have been released earlier this week. Taliban sources suggest that Dadullah may be freed alongside Mullah Abdul Ghani Bardar, whose date for release remains uncertain.
- Electoral Complaints Commission Chairman Chosen: The five new members of the Electoral Complaints Commission have elected Abdul Satar Saadat as the commission’s chairman. Saadat is a lawyer and has previously served as a legal advisor to the office of the president. Reeda Azimi, the commission’s only woman member and a former member of the Independent Election Commission as well as a former senator, has been chosen as deputy head.
Afghanistan — Remainders