Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Peshawar Church Bombing Investigations Begin; Karzai to Skip UN General Assembly

Topline

  • Investigations begin in the aftermath of the Peshawar church bombing, as Imran Khan and the PTI come under criticism for their support for talks with militant groups. Precise reporting on responsibility for the attack remains unclear. Pres. Karzai will skip the UN General Assembly and travel to China this week instead. Hazara leader Mohammad Mohaqiq will resign from parliament to contest the upcoming elections. Pakistan’s provincial governments seek delays in local government elections until later this fall.

Pakistan — Security

  • Peshawar Church Bombing Aftermath: The death toll from Sunday’s attacks on the All Saints Church in Peshawar has risen to 85 as of Monday evening; many survivors are being transferred to hospitals in other parts of the country, as Khyber Paktunkhwa lacks hospitals with burn treatment units. A Federal Investigation Agency team arrived in Peshawar on Tuesday to begin investigations; reporting on responsibility for the incident remains unclear. AFP sources attribute the attack to a new Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan unit established to target foreigners, the “Junood ul-Hifsa,” while Reuters attributes it to the “TTP Jundullah group”. Without elaborating further, The News reports that a committee of senior militant representatives, including Hakimullah Mehsud and Sirajuddin Haqqani, has been established to “advance the talks process with the government” and that the the TTP have “disassociated themselves” from the attack. On Monday, the National Assembly passed a resolution condemning the incident as an “attack on all Pakistanis”. Imran Khan condemned “those who carried out the attack” and said that peace talks could only be pursued with those willing to renounce violence; protestors demonstrated against Khan and the PTI government outside the Peshawar Lady Reading Hospital as he visited victims there on Monday. Maulana Fazlur Rehman suggested that the Peshawar church bombing and the recent attack on senior Pakistani military officers in Upper Dir were “a well-orchestrated plan” to derail the government’s outreach initiative with the TTP. At a session of the Sindh Assembly on Monday, PPP and MQM legislators criticized the PML-N government’s support for talks with militant groups; the Sunni Ittehad Council has also issued a statement opposing talks with the TTP. [NYT] [WAPO] [Guardian] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Military Appointments: Following the death of Major Gen. Sanaullah Khan Niazi in a roadside bombing in Upper Dir earlier this month, Major Gen. Javed Mahmood Bukhari, currently head of the 8th Division in Sialkot, has been appointed to lead the 17th Infantry Division, stationed in Swat. Lt. Gen. Naweed Zaman has also been appointed to lead the IV Corps in Lahore, and 40th Division commanding officer Major Gen. Ahmad Hayat, previously posted in Dera Ismail Khan, was transferred to lead the ISI analysis wing. [ET]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Local Elections: Attorney General Muneer Malik has requested an extension from the Supreme Court until late November for local body elections in the country’s military cantonment areas and around the country. Punjab’s advocate general told the court that it could not hold local elections until December 14, the Sindh representative said that elections were conditional on improved law and order, Balochistan’s advocate general said elections could not be scheduled without a complete cabinet, and Khyber Paktunkhwa sought an additional 45 days to finalize legislation, which the court rejected. Hearings continue today.
  • Sindh Governor Returns: After ten days abroad in Dubai and reports of his resignation, Sindh governor Ishrat ul Ebad has returned to Karachi, where he conducted briefings with federal government officials on the political and security situation. [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Audit Reports: The Auditor General of Pakistan informed the Public Accounts Committee in parliament that 18 senior bureaucrats have taken advantage of Rs 7.6 million in pay honorariums originally intended only for more junior-level officers.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Lal Masjid Leader Maulana Abdul Aziz Acquitted in All Cases [Dawn]
  • Government Borrows $625 Million to Build Reserves and Stabilize Rupee Devaluation [Dawn] [ET]
  • 80 Government Employees, Including Intelligence Bureau and NAB Officers, Reportedly Hold Dual Nationality [ET]
  • Supreme Court Issues Notices in Missing Person Case [ET]
  • Afghan Refugee Plans Call for Complete Repatriation by 2015 [ET]
  • PIA Seeks to Boost Revenues Through New Routes and Stave Off Privatization [ET]
  • Government Refuses to Increase Gas Supply to Power Plants [ET]
  • Council of Islamic Ideology Rejects DNA as Primary Evidence in Rape Cases [Dawn]
  • Appointments to Pakistan Telecom Authority Expected this Week [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Border Clashes: At least eleven border police officers were killed in a Taliban attack on a police checkpost in Kandahar’s Shorabak district on Sunday, officials report; the assailants are then reported to have fled across the border into Pakistan. On the Pakistani side, officials in North Waziristan allege that two people were killed in cross-border shelling from Afghanistan on Tuesday. [BBC]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Karzai to Visit China: Pres. Karzai will travel to Beijing on Wednesday to attend the 2013 Euro-Asia Economic Forum, skipping the UN General Assembly session in New York this week. Foreign Minister Zalmai Rasoul will attend in his stead.
  • Election Preparations: Mohammad Mohaqiq, a prominent Hazara opposition leader and chief of the Wahdat-i-Islami party, announced on Tuesday that he was resigning from the lower house of parliament in order to contest the upcoming elections; it is unclear whether he intends to run on a presidential or vice-presidential ticket. On Monday, Independent Election Commission officials warned that they would be unable to hold transparent elections if attacks on IEC staff continued.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Lower House Approves Land Theft Law [TOLO]
  • Information Ministry Pledges Approval for Right to Information Law [TOLO]
  • Supreme Court to Announce Final Verdict in Sahar Gul Case [TOLO]
  • Ministry of Mines Announces Tenders for Three Cement Plants [TOLO]
  • Marine in Urination Video Controversy Speaks Out [Marine Times]
  • Commentary: The Release of Mullah Baradar: What’s Next for Negotiations? – “After three years in the possibly not so gentle hands of the ISI, it is unclear who he will listen to or who he will represent and, indeed, what his position might still be within the movement.” [Kate Clark, AAN]

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