Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Pakistani Chief of Army Staff Appointed; US-Afghan Bilateral Security Deadlock Continues

Topline

  • Lt. Gen. Raheel Sharif has been appointed the chief of army staff and Lt. Gen. Rashad Mahmood the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff; the appointments bypass Lt. Gen. Haroon Aslam, but one account suggests they were made with Gen. Kayani’s approval. The U.S. and Afghan governments remain deadlock on the signature of the bilateral security agreement. The PTI’s protests against NATO supplies through Peshawar are continuing, although reporting is unclear on the degree to which their block is actually being enforced. Pakistan made a $396 million IMF repayment on Tuesday. Six Afghan aid workers were killed in Faryab province on Wednesday. Pakistan has released three additional senior Afghan Taliban officials.

Pakistan — Security

  • Lt. Gen. Raheel Sharif Appointed Chief of Army Staff: Prime Minister Sharif met with senior military officials on Wednesday and afterwards announced that he would appoint Lt. General Raheel Sharif, currently the Inspector General for Training and Evaluation, as Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, taking effect this Friday upon the retirement of the long-serving General Ashfaq Kayani. General Sharif is not a direct relation to the prime minister. Additionally, the more senior Lt. Gen. Rashad Mahmood, currently Chief of General Staff, will be appointed to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which has historically been a ceremonial position. Both appointments bypass Lt. Gen. Haroon Aslam, the seniormost commander after Gen. Kayani, despite previous statements from Prime Minister Sharif that he would follow seniority in his appointment decisions. Prior to the announcement an anonymous Pakistani military source earlier reported that the appointments were recommended by Gen. Kayani. Additionally, Federal Minister of Water and Power Khawaja Asif was appointed defense minister, a position previously held by Prime Minister Sharif; he will retain the water and power portfolio. [ET] [AP] [BBC] [Reuters]
  • Missing Persons Case: On Tuesday, Chief Justice Chaudhry ordered the defense minister and defense secretary to produce 35 missing persons before the court by Thursday or appear in court themselves to explain their absence. Defense Secretary Asif Yasin Malik did not appear during the proceedings, pleading illness.
  • PTI Drone Protests Continue: The PTI established checkpoints in Peshawar to stop trucks bound for NATO forces in Afghanistan for the fourth consecutive day on Wednesday. The Express Tribune reports that police appear to be ramping up their security presence around the protest camp, and that at least one PTI activist was arrested; that report suggests that PTI enforcement has been limited and truck traffic has not been affected. Khyber Paktunkhwa Chief Minister Pevaiz Khattak has called for a meeting with Prime Minister Sharif and the other provincial leaders to establish a “common strategy” against drone attacks.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • IMF Repayment: Pakistan made a $396 million repayment to the IMF on Tuesday, bringing its total repayments since July 2011 to $6.045 billion. As of November 21, the State Bank of Pakistan held $3.6 billion in foreign exchange reserves, the lowest level in five years.
  • Iran Gas Pipeline: Foreign advisor Sartaj Aziz traveled to Tehran on Tuesday for a ministerial meeting of the Economic Cooperation Organization; Pakistan foreign ministry said afterwards that Iran and Pakistan had agreed to “fast track” efforts to “formulate a road map and a more realistic time schedule” for the proposed gas pipeline linking the two countries. [ET]
  • Nuclear Plant Groundbreaking: More details are reported on yesterday’s groundbreaking of the new Karachi Coastal Power Project. The two Chinese-constructed reactors will produce approximately 2,200 Megawatts by 2019, and are estimated to cost approximately $10 billion; details on the project’s financing are unclear, however. [NYT] [ET]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Military Intelligence Officials Reiterate Stance They Can Only Be Tried Under Army Act [Dawn]
  • Gunmen Kill Four Policemen in Hyderabad [AFP]
  • Sharif Vows to Continue Karachi Operations [ET]
  • NADRA Identifies Multiple Cases of Multiple Voting in May 2013 Elections [ET]
  • Cabinet Secretary Sami Saeed Appointed to Asian Development Bank Directorship [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Bilateral Security Deadlock: In a RFE/RL interview, Pres. Karzai appeared to moderate his views on the bilateral security agreement to an extent, saying that the loya jirga’s endorsement of it was welcome and that “we consider this agreement to be in the interest of Afghans”. But he stuck to his demands for “an end to all American attacks against Afghan homes and the beginning of a realistic peace process”. In a TOLO news interview, National Security Advisor Rice countered that “we have no magic wand” to bring about peace in Afghanistan, saying that “the whole purpose of the Bilateral Security Agreement if President Karzai chooses to sign it is to enable the United States to continue supporting Afghanistan in its efforts to achieve lasting peace and security, but it can’t be achieved overnight as people know.” In her meetings earlier this week with Karzai, Rice reiterated that “without a prompt signature, the US would have no choice but to initiate planning for a post-2014 future in which there would be no US or Nato troop presence in Afghanistan,” a White House spokesman said yesterday. The NYT and WSJ both note concern among other Afghan political leaders, including some former Karzai allies, such as jirga chairman Sibghatullah Mujadidi, that Karzai has misjudged his leverage with the United States. Several Afghan senators accused Karzai of “taking the bilateral security agreement hostage” and joined calls for him to sign it promptly. Anonymous U.S. officials tell the LA Times that they are considering pushing for Foreign Minister Zarar Ahmad Osmani or another senior official to sign the agreement rather than Karzai, but acknowledge that doing so would likely not be possible without the president’s consent. [AP]
  • Aid Workers Killed: Six Afghans working for the French aid organization ACTED were killed by unidentified gunmen in Faryab province on Wednesday. No claim of responsibility has been reported. [Pajhwok]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Pakistan Releases Taliban Commanders: On Wednesday Pakistan released three senior Taliban officials, identified as Mullah Abdul Ahad Jahangirwal, Mullah Abdul Manan, and Mullah Younus; more than fifty Taliban detainees have now been released by Pakistan. A Taliban official confirmed their release.

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