Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Pakistani Taliban Attack Rival Orakzai Commander; US-Afghan Bilateral Security Agreement Still Stalled

Topline

  • The Pakistani Taliban attacked a rival commander’s compound in Orakzai on Thursday, killing at least seventeen; he was not present at the time of the attack. U.S.-Afghan bilateral security agreement talks remain deadlocked. Pakistani Taliban spokesmen say drone strikes must also cease before they will agree to a ceasefire and peace negotiations. Imran Khan tells the Guardian that the Pakistani Taliban must accept the Pakistani constitution, and that he would support military operations if talks fail within the next two months. Ismail Khan will join Abdul Sayyaf’s ticket as first vice president; presidential candidates have three days left to file their nominations. The Supreme Court of Pakistan pushes the government to reverse a consumer electricity price hike; Minister of Water and Power Khawaja Asif gives conflicting messages on whether the government is willing to review the decision.

Pakistan — Security

  • Orakzai Bombing: The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for a complex attack on the compound of Mullah Nabi Hanafi in the Orakzai Agency on Thursday, detonating a suicide car bomb and continuing with small arms fire. At least seventeen people were reportedly killed and 22 injured. Hanafi, who was not present at the time of the attack, had previously been associated with the Pakistani Taliban, but his faction later split off and now opposes the TTP. [AP] [BBC]
  • Talks with the TTP: The Pakistani Taliban’s main spokesman told the AFP on Wednesday that “ceasefire alone is not sufficient” for peace talks with the government to begin, saying that “the stoppage of drone strikes is essential, otherwise, if drones continue to strike, we will not accept the ceasefire”. In a Guardian interview, Imran Khan says that he would support military operations against the Taliban if negotiations fail to produce results within the next two months and “we are left with no option”. Khan adds that militant groups “will have to accept the constitution”. [ET]
  • Karachi Operations: As many as 97 suspects were arrested across Karachi in ongoing arrest sweeps by Rangers and police personnel on Thursday; six suspected Pakistani Taliban militants were killed in clashes with authorities earlier on Wednesday. [ET] [ET]
  • Kashmir Border Tensions: Indian Lt. Gen. Gumit Singh told reporters on Wednesday that his forces in Kashmir were confronting a large group of 30-40 militant fighters who had crossed the Line of Control in from Pakistan in an ongoing, nine-day long operation. Pakistani military spokesmen denied allegations that its soldiers were involved.
  • Zardari Receives Extra Security: Former Pres. Zardari has petitioned the Sindh High Court for permission to retain 100 weapons licenses for private security guards to protect himself and his family. [ET]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Local Elections: On Thursday, the Supreme Court ordered the provinces to submit their schedule for holding local government elections by October 7; the Election Commission has called a meeting on Thursday to review the variations in province-by-province local election laws, which have not yet been finalized in Khyber Paktunkhwa or Balochistan. Punjab government officials announced their intention to hold local elections on December 14, pushing that date back from December 4.
  • Capital Punishment: A spokesman for the interior ministry tells Reuters that the government has decided to maintain the five-year moratorium on the use of the death penalty. Earlier plans in August to end the ban and resume executions had drawn threats of retaliation by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and criticism from human rights groups.

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Energy Price Hikes: Minister of Water and Power Khawaja Asif appeared before the Supreme Court hearings investigating the increase in consumer electricity tariffs on Wednesday, which Chief Justice Ifitkhar Chaudhry has challenged on regulatory procedural grounds. Dawn reports Khawaja Asif suggested that the government was willing to review its decision, although GEO quotes Asif saying that prices will not be reviewed. Chaudhry has asked the government to withdraw the increase by Friday rather than forcing the courts to do so. Government officials say the decision was based on National Electric Power Regulatory Authority officials’ recommended price increases in August, which in fact exceeded those eventually imposed by the government. [The Nation]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • National Assembly Committees Still Stalled Without Chairpersons [Dawn]
  • Bail for Sri Lankan Cricket Team Attack Mastermind Challenged [ET]
  • Missing Lawyer in ISI Custody, Police Report [Dawn]
  • Council on Common Interests to Review Role of Federal Education Ministry After Devolution [ET]
  • Continued Deadlock on National Accountability Bureau Chief [Dawn] [ET]
  • Asian Development Bank Lowers Growth Forecast [ET]
  • Government to Set 3G Spectrum Auction Policy [APP]
  • Three Consulting Consortia Submit Bids on Diamer Bhasha Dam Project [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Bilateral Security Agreement Negotiations: The WSJ and Post both interview Pres. Karzai’s chief spokesman, Aimal Faizi, on the stalled U.S.-Afghan bilateral security negotiations. Anonymous U.S. defense officials tell the WSJ that “a long-term troop presence could be in jeopardy if a deal isn’t concluded by November” and that the two sides remain “far apart” on questions of legal immunity for U.S. forces and the extent of U.S. protection responsibilities for the Afghan government against external threats. [TOLO]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Election Preparations: Speaking to reporters yesterday, Abdul Rasul Sayyaf confirmed that he had resigned his parliamentary seat and would contest the presidency. TOLO quotes Sayyaf saying that former Herat commander Ismail Khan will join Sayyaf’s ticket as first vice president, and that a second vice president has yet to be chosen. Electoral Complaints Commission officials say they will begin reviewing candidate filings after nominations close on October 6.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Afghan Military Faces Surge of Roadside IEDs [AP]
  • Brother Arrested in Connection to Afghan MP’s Kidnapping [TOLO]
  • How Australian Spies Tracked Rogue Afghan Sergeant [News.com.au]
  • Commentary: The Formation of Electoral Alliances in Afghan Politics in the 2014 Presidential Season – “The most prominent candidates to emerge are Zalmai Rassoul and Abdullah Abdullah. They represent the two main electoral factions will decide the 2014 election: the Karzai-Establishment and an anti-Karzai opposition.” [Jackson Keith, ISW]
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