Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: NATO Reiterates Need for Security Agreement; Fazlullah Reportedly Returns to FATA

Topline

  • NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels have reiterated the need for a bilateral security agreement as a prerequisite for post-2014 military assistance and training. Three people were injured in an attack by unidentified gunmen on the offices of the Express media group in Karachi. Pakistani Taliban spokesmen say new commander Mullah Fazlullah is leading the group from the FATA, after his reportedly spending the past several years across the border in Afghanistan. Aid worker deaths in Afghanistan tripled this year, with 36 deaths and nearly a hundred kidnappings reported, UN officials say. PTI activist protests in Peshawar continue for a tenth day.

Pakistan — Security

  • Mullah Fazlullah Reportedly Relocated: A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban tells the AFP that new commander Mullah Fazlullah was now leading the group from an undisclosed location in Pakistan’s tribal areas, after spending the past several years across the border in Afghanistan following military operations in Swat in 2009. Anonymous intelligence officials confirm Fazlullah’s movement to the AP.
  • Attack on Express News Offices: A group of eight to ten armed men attacked the Karachi offices of the Express media group on Monday evening, exchanging gunfire with security guards and throwing two handheld bombs before fleeing the scene. Three people were injured in the attack. No claim of responsibility has been reported, although police suggested that they were investigating the possibility of a Pakistani Taliban link. The offices were previously attacked in August; press leaders and politicians condemned the incident. [NYT] [BBC] [ET]
  • Missing Persons: At hearings on Tuesday, Chief Justice Chaudhry gave the government a “final deadline” of December 5 to produce 33 surviving missing persons believed to be under military extrajudicial detention. Two of an original group of 35 detainees were confirmed to have died while in custody; the government said another two had been released, and one had left the country. Separately, six Pakistani prisoners formerly held at Bagram and recently transferred to the Peshawar central jail in mid-November were allowed to meet with family members; lawyers are pressing for their release. [ET] [Reuters]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Local Elections: Speaking to reporters on Monday, Election Commission secretary Ishtiaq Ahmad said that the ECP was determined to issue a final schedule for local elections in Punjab and Sindh on December 7, and ruled out further delay in their polls, currently scheduled for January 30 and January 18, respectively. [Dawn]
  • PTI Protests: Despite earlier reports of low turnout, PTI protestors blocked a truck carrying supplies for the US Embassy in Kabul from transiting through Peshawar on Monday. Dawn notes that despite the protests, the Khyber Paktunkhwa government, which is led by the PTI, will meet on Wednesday to review at least eleven new dozen donor-funded development projects in the province; PTI officials dismissed the likelihood of any aid cut-off as a result of the protests.

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Inflation Rises: Statistics released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics indicate that Pakistan’s consumer price index inflation accelerated to 10.9% in November over the same period last year, up from 9.1% in October.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Finance Ministry Presses State Bank on Currency Exchange [ET]
  • Prime Minister Holds Meetings with New Chief of Army Staff [Dawn]
  • Police and Islami Jamiat Tulaba Students Clash Over Punjab University Hostel Evictions [Dawn] [ET]
  • Pakistan Seeks Options to Revive Iran Pipeline [ET]
  • Outgoing Ambassador to India Sees ‘Light at End of Tunnel’ with India [AFP]
  • Khurram Dastagir Receives Commerce Ministry Portfolio, Leaving Privatization Vacant [Dawn]
  • Ulema Propose Code of Conduct on Sectarian Harmony [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Security

  • NATO Reiterates Need for Security Agreement: NATO foreign ministers began two days of meetings in Brussels beginning Monday; speaking to reporters, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen warned that the alliance “will not be possible to deploy a train, advise (and) assist mission to Afghanistan after 2014” without a firm agreed legal framework with the Afghan government. Separately, Iraq’s foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, visited Kabul where he held meetings with Pres. Karzai; he said afterwards that he had discussed Iraq’s “expertise in signing the security agreement with the American forces”, but did not provide details. In a statement on Monday, the Taliban called on Karzai to reject the security agreement with the U.S. entirely. [WSJ] [AP] [TOLO] [Reuters]
  • Aid Worker Casualties: UN officials reported on Monday that aid worker deaths in Afghanistan had tripled this year compared to the year prior, with 237 attacks reported and 36 people killed. Nearly a hundred were reported to have been detained or abducted. An anonymous aid organization official expresses concern to the NYT that, without a high-profile ISAF presence, “these people who are on a jihad, they need someone to attack — so we are the target because we are out there”. Most of Afghanistan’s large community of aid workers are Afghan nationals; the Taliban’s spokesman insisted that the group “does not target those NGO workers who aren’t working for the foreigners.”

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Karzai to Visit Iran and India [Pajhwok]
  • Senators Clash Over Debate on Ethnic Identity on National ID Cards [TOLO]
  • Independent Election Commission Registers Over 1,000 Election Observers [TOLO]

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