Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Sectarian Riots in Rawalpindi; Bombing in Kabul Ahead of Jirga to Review US Security Agreement

Topline

  • Sectarian clashes hit Rawalpindi and several nearby towns and cities on the final day of Ashura on Friday, leaving at least a dozen people dead; the Pakistani police and military imposed curfews in the area over the weekend. A suicide car bombing hit Kabul near the site of this week’s planned jirga to review the U.S.-Afghan bilateral security agreement. Afghan sources tell the NYT that the two sides remain at an impasse, although U.S. officials downplay their statements; the agreement must also still be considered by parliament, some of whose members are boycotting the jirga this week. The WSJ reports that rival factions of the TTP are clashing in South Waziristan and Karachi after the selection of Mullah Fazlullah as the group’s leader. The PTI has announced that it is postponing its planned rallies to block NATO supplies through Khyber Paktunkhwa until November 23, citing the recent Rawalpindi violence for the delay. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan announced that the Pakistani government will seek the prosecution of former Pres. Musharraf on treason charges. The Afghan Electoral Complaints Commission missed the Saturday deadline to announce the final candidate list for the upcoming presidential and provincial council elections and has given no indication when the list will be released.

Pakistan — Security

  • Nine Killed in Rawalpindi Ashura Riots: Nine people were killed and dozens wounded in sectarian clashes in Rawalpindi on Friday, the culmination of Ashura processions during the month of Muharram. Initial police accounts reported that a Rawalpindi mosque had been issuing provocative Friday sermons as Shia worshippers passed by, and that marchers attacked, killing three. Sunni groups retaliated and clashes spread to other areas of the city; a cloth marketplace in Rawalpindi, the Raja Bazaaar, and a Shia mosque in the neighboring town of Chistian were burnt down. Police and military forces imposed a heavy curfew in response, blocking cell service and traffic in and out of the city; the curfew was temporarily lifted on Saturday but was reimposed on Sunday, and broadened to include some areas of neighboring Islamabad. It was lifted on Monday but access to the former bazaar remains closed; a polio drive planned for the twin cities has been postponed. Army personnel have also been called out in Multan and Chistian to disperse protesters on Saturday; at least 40 injuries are reported. In Kohat, a two-hour curfew was imposed on Monday following riots by Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat supporters in which three people were killed. Shia groups condemned the attacks; on Sunday, Maulana Sami-ul Haq of the JUI-S led funeral prayers for some of the Sunni seminary students. A judicial commission has been appointed to investigate the incident; Dawn notes several breakdowns of security measures that should have been in place to prevent the initial exchange. On Monday, the government ordered the Ministry of Information Technology to take “strict action” against individuals spreading sectarianism over social media. [Dawn] [ET] [APP]
  • Other Attacks: Five paramilitary soldiers were kidnapped in an attack by militants in Balochistan’s Kharan district on Sunday evening; it follows the kidnapping of six customs officials in a separate attack in the Balochistan coastal city of Jiwani on the same day. No claim of responsibility was reported in either incident. A string of bombings hit Khyber Paktunkhwa on Saturday; one police officer was killed in Dera Ismail Khan, one police officer was injured in Peshawar, and six people were injured in a suicide bombing in Bannu. [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Tehreek-e-Taliban Divisions: The WSJ reports that supporters of Khan Said, also known as Sajna, a Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan commander who was initially reported as the successor to Hakimullah Mehsud prior to the announcement that the group would be led by Mullah Fazlullah instead, have violently clashed with Fazlullah supporters in both South Waziristan and in Karachi. The report also cites allegations of Pakistani military support for the Sajna faction; TTP spokesmen deny any rifts exist.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • PTI Postpones NATO Supply Cut-Off: Citing the weekend violence in Rawalpindi, Imran Khan and the PTI’s other coalition partners in Khyber Paktunkhwa announced on Sunday that they would postpone planned demonstrations seeking to block NATO supplies bound for Afghanistan, which had been scheduled for November 20. Khan insisted that the protests had not been cancelled and would now be held on November 23. [Dawn]
  • Government to Bring Treason Charges Against Musharraf: In a Sunday press conference, Interior Minsiter Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that the government would proceed with high treason charges against former Pres. Musharraf in connection to his 2007 suspension of the constitution. It is the first such case in Pakistan’s history and could bring a death sentence in the event of conviction. A special prosecutor was announced Monday and a three-judge supreme court bench will be chosen for the case. The announcement comes a day prior to court hearings on Musharraf’s appeal to be allowed to leave the country for Dubai to visit his elderly mother; he has been released on bail in four other criminal cases. Anonymous Federal Investigation Agency officials, who had been leading a formal investigation against Musharraf as a prelude to treason charges, tell the Express Tribune that he did not cooperate in their attempts to interview him while under house arrest. Musharraf’s spokesman described the case as “a vicious attempt to undermine the Pakistani military”, saying that the Sharif government was “criminalizing the lawful acts of the Musharraf government”. [NYT] [WAPO] [AP] [BBC] [ET] [ET]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • PML-F Calls for Judiciary to Administer Local Elections [ET]
  • Dismissed Quami Watan Party Minister Rebuts PTI Charges of Corruption [Dawn] [ET]
  • Supreme Court Dismisses Defense Secretary’s Contempt Appeal [ET]
  • Sharif Addresses Commonwealth Conference in Sri Lanka [Dawn] [ET]
  • MQM Adds Three to Coordination Committee Leadership [ET]
  • Over a Dozen Killed in Police-Gang Clashes in Lyari [ET] [ET] [Dawn]
  • Commentary: Why Pakistan Lionizes its Tormenters – “The Pakistani logic seems to be that if America stops killing them, they’ll stop killing us. But the truth is that the Taliban leadership has made no such promises.” [Mohammed Hanif, New Yorker]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Bombing in Kabul Ahead of Jirga Session: A suicide car bomb struck an Afghan army vehicle in downtown on Kabul on Saturday near Kabul Education University, the site of the upcoming loya jirga gathering scheduled to open on Thursday to debate the prospective U.S.-Afghan bilateral security agreement. As many as fifteen people were reported killed, including one Afghan soldier and several students; nearly thirty were wounded. The Taliban have threatened to carry out reprisals against participants of the jirga, and claimed responsibility for the attack afterwards. At a news conference earlier in the day, Pres. Karzai had invited the Taliban to participate peacefully in the gathering to “share [their] views”. He reiterated that the jirga would only consider the security agreement and rejected rumors that it might consider broader constitutional changes that could facilitate his continuation in office. Post sources report that a draft of the security agreement has been finalized, which it says affirms U.S. jurisdiction over American forces serving in Afghanistan after 2014 and stops short of offering a commitment to protect Afghanistan from any outside attacks, which Karzai had sought. Two anonymous Afghan officials tell the NYT that the talks with the U.S. remain at a “profund impasse”; American officials downplayed the remarks and said that they would “not negotiate in public” on the issue. On Sunday, Karzai approved the final list of jirga participants; several senators announced their intention to boycott the gathering, saying it was not representative of the Afghan public. Jirga organizer Sediq Mudaber tells TOLO that even after the gathering, the bilateral security agreement will still need to pass both the upper and lower house of parliament. [WSJ] [AJE] [AP] [TOLO] [TOLO]
  • Other Attacks: Six Afghan contractors working on the construction of a police post in Kandahar were found dead on Sunday. One civilian was killed and four people wounded, two of them police officers, in a suicide attack in Mazar-e-Sharif on Sunday; police said that the passing convoy of Balkh deputy provincial governor Mohammad Zhir Wahdat was the apparent target of the bombing, but that he was unhurt. No claim of responsibility was reported in either incident.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Final Candidate List Delayed: Electoral Complaints Commission officials missed the November 16 deadline to announce the final candidate list for presidential and provincial council elections scheduled for April; no date has yet been announced for the delayed release of the candidate list. In his Saturday press conference, Pres. Karzai vowed that any government officials found to have intervened in the elections would be removed from their position, and said that he had personally advised his brother Qayyum Karzai not to contest the presidential election. TOLO interviews candidates Hedayat Amin Arsala and Qutbuddin Helal. [TOLO]
  • High Peace Council Visit to Pakistan: Afghan High Peace Council officials met in Kabul on Saturday to prepare for a visit to Pakistan within the coming month, during which they will attempt to meet with former Taliban deputy commander Abdul Ghani Baradar as part of a “broader peace agenda”. The exact dates of the visit have not yet been confirmed.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Foreign Ministry Spokesman Janan Mosazai Appointed Ambassador to Pakistan [ET]
  • India Hosts Afghan Trade Conference [TOLO]
  • U.S. Military-Funded Clinic in Kabul Closing Due to Lack of Afghan Government Support [WAPO]
  • Balkh Customs Revenue Falls 20% [TOLO]
  • Clinton and Kerry Speak in Support of Afghan Womens’ Rights at Georgetown Conference [TOLO]
  • Commentary: The First Inklings of the Bilateral Security Agreement: Spanta Briefs the Afghan Parliament – “On Saturday, 16 November 2013, the President’s national security advisor, Rangin Dadfar Spanta, and the chief of the Afghan National Army, General Sher Mohammad Karimi, briefed Parliament on the draft, giving everyone the first solid information of what the two governments have agreed – including the numbers of troops and bases.” [Kate Clark and Ehsan Qaane, AAN]
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