Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Balochistan Quake Toll Rises; Insider Attack Kills NATO Soldier in Paktika

 
Topline

  • The death toll in Tuesday’s earthquake in Balochistan has risen as rescue efforts reach affected remote rural areas of the Awaran district; attacks have been reported on military rescue personnel, including a failed rocket attack on a helicopter carrying the head of the National Disaster Management Authority. No claims of responsibility have been reported. Drawing parallels with the Afghan Taliban in Qatar, Imran Khan has called for the establishment of an “office” for the Pakistani Taliban through which to hold negotiations. A NATO soldier has been killed in another insider attack in Paktika province. Abdul Rashid Dostum is refusing to back the proposed Afghanistan Electoral Alliance ticket unless his party is represented in one of the vice presidential slots. The Afghan parliament has confirmed Umar Daudzai as interior minister, along with several other Karzai appointments. The Pentagon’s prime food supply contractor in Afghanistan may have incurred sanctions by using a supply route through Iran last summer, the WSJ reports.

 
Pakistan — Security

  • Imran Khan Calls for Pakistani Taliban ‘Office’: Speaking to reporters in Peshawar on Wednesday after visiting victims of Sunday’s church bombing, Imran Khan criticized the government for not showing “seriousness” in its efforts to broker talks with domestic militant groups. Khan said that the government should call for a ceasefire with the Pakistani Taliban, suggesting that “if the government is serious about pursuing the dialogue process with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan it should allow them to have their own office like the one opened by the Afghan Taliban in Qatar”. RFE/RL notes the challenge of establishing talks with the TTP given the proliferation of splinter groups; two, Jandullah and Jand-ul-Hafsa, have reportedly claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack. [ET] [Dawn]
  • Karachi Operations: Arrest sweeps by the Rangers continue in Karachi, including one senior-level Lyari gang leader. Police report that Pres. Mamnoon Hussain’s nephew’s shop in Karachi was attacked by extortionists; no injuries were reported. On Thursday, Ghulam Nabi Wassan, a professor at Islamia College, was killed in a driveby shooting in Karachi; no claim of responsibility has been reported.

 
Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Pervaiz Khattak Surrenders PTI Party Post: After several months of pressure to step down, the Express Tribune reports that Khyber Paktunkhwa chief minister Pervaiz Khattak has agreed to surrender his dual office as PTI party secretary general, to be succeeded by Jahangir Tareen.

 
Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Earthquake Toll Rises: Relief efforts are ongoing in Balochistan near the epicenter of Tuesday’s earthquake in the Awaran district; the death toll has now reached at least 350 people, with more than 600 injured and as many as 300,000 affected in some way. 1,000 military personnel have been dispatched as part of the rescue efforts; Pakistan has not yet requested international assistance. On Thursday, two rockets were fired at the helicopter of National Disaster Management Authority chairman Major Gen. Mohammad Saeed Aleem; they missed, and no claim of responsibility has been reported. Army officials also tell the Guardian that a Frontier Corps relief team was attacked in a “minor incident” the Mashkel area, but that no injuries were sustained. Awaran, one of Balochistan’s poorest districts, has been the site of past clashes with Baloch separatist groups. The PPP and PTI opposition staged a walkout in the national assembly on Wednesday, accusing the PML-N government of “apathy” and “insensitivity” in its response to the quake. [BBC] [WAPO] [AP] [ET]

 
Pakistan — Remainders

  • Government Debates Winter Gas Load Management Plan [ET]
  • Sharif ‘Looking Forward’ to Meeting Singh [AFP] [Reuters]
  • Pakistani Internet Regulators Block Country’s First Gay Website [BBC]
  • Lahore High Court Issues Notices to Major General in Missing Persons Case [ET]
  • Nawaz Sharif Meets Malala Yousafzai in New York [ET]
  • Majority Legislators Yet to File Asset Declarations [ET]
  • Supreme Court Voids Appointment of Civil Aviation Authority Director General [Dawn]
  • Commentary: Deflecting from the Church Attack – “The Peshawar church attack was designed to murder Christians. There should be no deflection of this.” [Mosharraf Zaidi, The News]
  • Commentary: Peshawar Church Attack and its Implications – “Strategically speaking, it does not make sense for the TTP to lose its hard-won gains by mounting such a gratuitous attack on a soft target.” [Ejaz Haider, Express Tribune]

 
Afghanistan — Security

  • Insider Attack: In the second incident in less than a week, provincial government officials report a NATO soldier was killed by an Afghan soldier in Paktika province on Thursday; the gunman was subsequently killed by Afghan and American forces. The Taliban claimed to have organized the attack. [AP]

 
Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Election Negotiations: Junbesh-e-Milli leader Abdul Rashid Dostum tells TOLO that he has objected to a proposed Afghanistan Electoral Alliance coalition presidential ticket headed by Abdullah Abdullah and with Mohammad Mohaqiq and Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal as vice presidents; Dostum has called for a Junbesh nominee to replace Arghandiwal, currently minister of the economy and leader of Hezb-e-Islami’s non-militant faction, as the first vice president candidate. [TOLO]
  • Ministers Win Confidence Vote: Parliament formally approved the appointment of Omar Daudzai as interior minister and Akram Khpalwak as minister of tribal and border affairs in a vote on Wednesday; Lotfurrahman Saeed, a nominee for the Commission on Overseeing the Implementation of the Constituion, and Barat Ali Mateen, a nominee for the Supreme Court, were also approved. Nusrat Estanikzai, another COIC nominee, failed to receive approval.

 
Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Contractor Used Iran Routes: The WSJ reports that Anham FZCO, the primary supplier of an $8.1 billion Pentagon contract to supply food and water to U.S. forces in Afghanistan, used the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas and routes through Iran to ship supplies used to complete a warehouse at Bagram airbase in June 2012. Anham stated that it “foreign-produced items shipped by a third party vendor hired by a foreign subsidiary of Anham” were involved, and that it had made a “voluntary disclosure” to the Treasury and Commerce departments that violations of sanctions on doing business with Iran may have taken place.

 
Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Afghan Parliamentarians Visit Islamabad [Dawn]
  • Afghan Women Gain Education and Rights But Still Face Abuse, Forced Marriages [WAPO]
  • Commentary: Afghanistan After ISAF – “The US and NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) are handing the Afghans a stalemated war, attempting to increase the ANSF’s capacity enough to beat back the Taliban insurgency while simultaneously constricting their own capacity to operate in Afghanistan.” [Vanda Felbab-Brown, Harvard Review]
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