Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: National Accountability Bureau Chief Chosen; Taliban Complain Mullah Baradar Not Freed

Topline

  • PML-N and PPP leaders have agreed to appoint Chaudhry Qamar Zaman as head of the National Accountability Bureau, ending months of deadlock. The Afghan Taliban say Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar remains under effective detention and should be freed immediately. Balochistan’s Chief Minister has formally requested that the federal government allow foreign aid agencies to assist in quake relief efforts in the Awaran district. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has approved bail for former Pres. Musharraf in the Akbar Bugti murder case.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • National Accountability Bureau Chief Chosen: PPP opposition leader Khursheed Shah told reporters on Tuesday that he had reached agreement with Prime Minister Sharif to appoint Chaudhry Qamar Zaman as head of the National Accountability Bureau, a position which has been vacant since late May. A formal notification of Zaman’s appointment has yet to be issued, but government Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid confirmed Shah’s account. The PTI criticized the appointment as an “underhanded deal” between the PML-N and PPP, saying it was not consulted and suggesting it might challenge the move. Zaman is a retired army major and career bureaucrat who stepped down as Interior Secretary to take the position; the Express Tribune provides a brief profile. [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Election Investigations: Election Commission officials have ordered election tribunals to issue a ruling by October 25 on the general election results from the NA-256 Karachi constituency, following a vote audit by the National Database Registration Authority that raised questions about the ID numbers used by a large number of votes. Leaders of the MQM, which won the seat, said that blame for voting irregularities lay with the Election Commission’s administration of the polls, and not its voters; the PTI repeated calls for Supreme Court intervention. Separately, Election Commission officials said that in the absence of provincial legislation to that effect, overseas Pakistani nationals would not be able to vote in upcoming local government polls. [ET]
  • Musharraf Gets Bail in Bugti Case: A Supreme Court bench has approved a bail application for former Pres. Musharraf in the murder case of former Baloch nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti. Musharraf, who has remained under house arrest since returning to Pakistan earlier this summer, has also previously been granted bail in the two other major cases against him. There were no immediate reports on whether he would leave his house arrest.

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Balochistan Seeks Foreign Quake Aid: Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch tells Dawn that his government has sought formal permission from the federal government to allow international donors and aid organizations to help earthquake relief efforts in the Awaran district, where the Pakistani military and Baloch militant groups continue to clash. Dawn reports from Awaran, where local journalists say the military’s aid program is not reaching locals in need. Maj Gen. Samrez Salik, the head of the 33rd Army Division in Balochistan, tells the Express Tribune that he is ready to join hands with “everyone” in the relief efforts.
  • Finance Minister to Hold IMF Talks: Finance Minister Dar departed for Washington on Tuesday, where he will hold talks with IMF and World Bank officials ahead of the annual meetings of the two institutions scheduled to begin October 11. In its World Economic Outlook report, issued Tuesday, the IMF lowered growth forecasts for Pakistan to 2.3% in 2013 and 3.6% in 2014, a .7 and .1 percent downgrade, respectively.
  • Iran Pipeline Project: Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi tells the AFP that Pakistan is seeking $2 billion in financing from Iran to support the construction of its half of the gas pipeline linking the two countries, up from initial agreements that Iran would provide $500 million in financing. Abbasi also denies that U.S. officials have sought to dissuade the government from proceeding with the project.
  • Natural Gas Cuts: Facing a shortage of natural gas, the government has ordered the suspension of gas supplies to compressed natural gas stations in Punjab from November to January, in order to prioritize domestic consumers.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Algerian National Linked to Militant Training Extradited from Pakistan to France [Reuters]
  • Indian Court Issues Arrest Warrants for Pakistani Officers Linked to Mumbai Attacks [ET]
  • Swiss Officials Confirm Cases Against Zardari Cannot Be Reopened [ET]
  • High Tensions as ASWJ Protestors Exhume Hindu Grave in Sindhi Town of Pangrio [Reuters]
  • Karachi Rangers Seize Weapons from PPP Provincial Assembly Member [ET]
  • Planning Commission Considering McKinsey to Help Draft Vision 2025 Plan [ET]
  • Economic Coordination Committee Takes Critical View of Domestic Auto Sector Incentives [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Helmand Attacks: A suicide bombing targeting a police vehicle on patrol in Helmand’s Gereshk district on Wednesday has killed two policemen and two civilians. In the Garmser district, two people were killed when the fuel truck they were driving was struck by a roadside bomb.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Taliban Say Baradar Still Not Free: In a statement issued Wednesday, the Taliban’s top spokesman said that former deputy commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar “is still spending days and nights locked up behind bars” in Pakistan “in worrisome health conditions” and should be released immediately. Anonymous Pakistani security officials insist Baradar is free to travel and is accompanied by Pakistani security “for his own safety”. [AFP] [ET]
  • Election Campaigning: The WSJ interviews Qayyum Karzai, who professes a need for “continuity” but also insists that he has “very different views about politics” from his younger brother the president, who reportedly sought to dissuade Qayyum from registering his candidacy. TOLO reports that representatives of the Afghan National Congress and Young Activists for Reform and Change called on the Independent Election Commission to disqualify candidates who were involved in human rights violations or who showed poor management abilities during their tenure in government. On Tuesday, IEC officials said that, following the resignation of seven Wolesi Jirga members to contest the presidential elections, it would appoint the next runners-up to replace them in parliament.
  • Karzai Criticizes NATO Mission: The NYT and Guardian pick up Pres. Karzai’s recent BBC interview, noted yesterday, in which he said that the NATO mission had caused Afghans “a lot of suffering, a lot of loss of life, and no gains because the country is not secure”.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Senators Divided on Karzai Loya Jirga Call [TOLO]
  • Russian Foreign Minister Says Afghanistan ‘Not Ready’ for NATO Troop Pullout [TOLO]
  • Report: Development Assistance in Afghanistan After 2014: From the Military Exit Strategy to a Civilian Entry Strategy – “After the departure of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), delivering development assistance in Afghanistan can return to common practices and procedures used in other insecure areas such as Somalia and Sudan (and already in areas of Afghanistan).” [Jair van der Lijn, SIPRI]
  • Commentary: Afghanistan’s Crowded Electoral Roster – “The biggest challenge in an overcrowded field will be to engage in another cycle of coalition building during or after elections to strengthen team-building and to realign agendas and policies that are not fundamentally contradictory or contrary.” [Omar Samad and Javaid Ahmad, AfPak Channel]
  • Commentary: A Leader Apologizes: General Dostum, Elections and War Crimes – “In a country where it is becoming ever more difficult to discuss war crimes, Dostum’s words may have opened this painful subject to public debate.” [Kate Clark, AAN] [TOLO]
  • Commentary: Lessons from Negotiating with the Taliban – “If there is ever to be peace in Afghanistan, Afghans will need to talk to other Afghans about the future of Afghanistan.” [Marc Grossman, YaleGlobal]
  • Commentary: The Taliban’s Public Enemy Number One – “Over the past few years, [Abdul Rab Rasool Sayyaf] has taken on a subject that is critical for the survival of the Taliban and other violent extremists — their own religious narrative to inspire, recruit, and justify violence in the name of God — making him their new arch nemesis.” [Ahmad Shafi, AfPak Channel]
  • Commentary: Portrait of an Afghan Assassin – “No one is sure what made a 17-year-old poetry-writing cop gun down four Marines. But somewhere in his story is the key to whether we’ll ever get out of Afghanistan.” [Matthieu Aikins, Mother Jones]

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