Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: US Says Afghan Security Deal Must Be Signed By Year’s End; Pakistani Officials Protest Drone Strike

Topline

  • U.S. administration officials say they are still waiting for clarity on the Karzai administration’s position regarding the signature of the U.S.-Afghan bilateral security agreement, but reiterate that it must be signed before the end of the year in order to allow for planning for military personnel to remain in country past 2014. PML-N government officials reiterate objections against U.S. drone strikes as the PTI gears up for Saturday protests in Khyber Paktunkhwa. The Afghan High Peace Council delegation in Pakistan reportedly met with Mullah Baradar, but no details of their discussion have been reported. A murder case has been filed against Dr. Shakil Afridi in connection to a 2007 death during surgery. The Pakistani cabinet has approved new regulations governing non-government organizations, who must disclose sources of foreign funding.

Pakistan — Security

  • Drone Strike Protests: Following Thursday’s drone strike in Hangu, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan accused the U.S. of not wanting peace in Pakistan, suggesting that Pakistan would have to choose “between its own dignity or its reliance on the U.S.” and criticizing foreign advisor Sartaj Aziz for believing American assurances that strikes might stop. Speaking on Friday, Prime Minister Sharif defended his government from criticism from the opposition PTI, saying that his administration had “always taken a forthright and genuine stance in condemning drone attacks”. Khyber Paktunkhwa provincial officials are preparing security plans for protests against drones on Saturday. [ET] [ET]
  • Murder Case Against Shakil Afridi: The Khyber Agency political agent has filed a murder charge against Dr. Shakeel Afridi, who is still awaiting a retrial on charges of having aided the militant organization Lashkar-e-Islam; the murder case is linked to the death of a patient under surgery in 2007. Hearings have been set for December 20.
  • Sectarian Violence: Security officials are on high alert Friday against the possibility of renewed clashes following last weekend’s violence in Rawalpindi; the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat and Majlis-i-Wahdat-i-Muslimeen, Sunni and Shia groups respectively, have called for protests in Karachi. [ET] [ET]
  • Torkham Bombing: A teenage suicide bomber detonated inside the Torkham Customs Clearance Office at the Khyber border crossing with Aghanistan on Thursday, killing himself and injuring at least 26 people. No claim of responsibility has been reported; the border was briefly closed before reopening under increased security.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • NGO Law: The cabinet Economic Coordination Committee approved new regulations on non-governmental organizations that will require them to disclose sources of foreign funding and seek permission from the government when receiving any new sources.
  • Local Election Preparations: The Election Commission decided on Friday that it would not use special magnetized ink in the upcoming local government elections, with commission officials suggesting that such ink makes thumbprint readability more difficult. In Balochistan, which is scheduled to hold local elections on December 7, fully 2,332 candidates have been elected to positions unopposed, out of 7,190 seats total. [ET]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Baloch Families March 700KM to Seek Justice for Missing Relatives [AFP]
  • Karachi Prosecutor Attacked [Dawn]
  • US and Pakistani Officials Hold Talks on Nuclear Security [Dawn]
  • KESC to Convert Oil-Fired Power Plants to Coal [ET]
  • Profiles: General Kayani’s Possible Successors [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Karzai Calls for Security Agreement Delay: As reported yesterday, during his opening address to the Loya JIrga on Thursday Pres. Karzai called for the signature of the U.S.-Afghan bilateral security agreement to be delayed until after the April 2014 elections. Karzai’s spokesman suggested that he would still be on the one to sign the agreement, “once we are assured of peace and security, and transparent elections”. The agreement must be reviewed by both the jirga and parliament before Karzai will consider it. U.S. officials say they are still seeking “clarity” on Karzai’s position after the conclusion of the jirga, but that the agreement must be signed before then; State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that “we need a timely conclusion of this in order to plan any potential post-2014 presence, which means signing it by the end of the year.” On travel in Canada, Sec. Hagel noted that any decisions about post-2014 troop levels were contingent on the agreement’s completion, saying that “until we have a signed bilateral security agreement that essentially gives us then the assurance that we need to go forward, I don’t think the president is going to commit to anything.” [Obama Letter to Karzai (pdf)] [AP] [WSJ] [BBC] [TOLO] [TOLO] [NYT]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Afghan High Peace Council Meets Baradar: Afghan High Peace Council sources tell the Express Tribune that they were successful in meeting with former Taliban deputy commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar during a three-day visit to Pakistan that began midweek. No details of that meeting have yet been reported.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Commentary: Shocks in a Lackluster Speech: President Karzai Addresses the Jirga – “The president made little attempt to really sell the agreement to the 2500 delegates; he mentioned some benefits, criticised the Americans and, with little passion or conviction, said it was up to the jirga to decide whether to support it or not.” [Kate Clark, Christine Roehrs and Obaid Ali, AAN]
  • Commentary: Afghan-U.S. Accord May Be At Risk in Informal Assembly This Week – “The political elites in Kabul who have benefitted from international financial support generally see the security agreement as crucial to the future of the Afghanistan they envisage. But what public debate has occurred has mainly highlighted the views of the opponents, who appeal to well-known sentiments of national independence.” [Scott Smith, USIP]

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