Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: India and Pakistani Military Officials to Meet; 6 US Soldiers Killed in Zabul Helo Crash

Topline

  • India and Pakistan’s directors general for military operations will meet to discuss the Kashmir Line of Control next week, Pakistani officials say. Six U.S. soldiers were killed in a helicopter crash in Zabul. The Obama administration is reportedly considering transferring some of the 53 remaining foreign nationals held at Bagram to military tribunals in the United States. Sectarian attacks targeted Shia mosques in Rawalpindi and Karachi, killing three people. The Peshawar High Court has ruled that fuel price surcharges imposed by federal regulators in the province are illegal. The Pakistani Taliban has repeated its rejection of talks with the government.

Pakistan — Security

  • Sectarian Violence: A suicide bomber detonated in the parking lot of a Shia mosque in Rawalpindi on Tuesday after being stopped at a police checkpoint; three people, including a police officer, were killed and at least fourteen wounded. On Wednesday, security guards shot two women attempting to enter a Shia mosque in Karachi by force, one of whom was killed and the other injured; both were found to have been carrying explosives. The attacks follow the recent assassinations of senior Sunni and Shia religious organization leaders; no claim of responsibility has been reported. [ET] [ET] [ET]
  • Taliban Reject Talks: A day after the Pakistani national security cabinet committee endorsed continued efforts to seek negotiations with the Pakistani Taliban, TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid told reporters that the Taliban welcomed a military offensive, and dismissed the government as a “puppet of the United States”.
  • FATA Tribunal Returns Afridi Appeal: The FATA tribunal hearing an appeal by Dr. Shakil Afridi returned his case to the Frontier Crimes Regulation commissioner, directing him to clarify whether Afridi should be tried by a political agent under the FCR or a regular sessions judge. [ET]
  • Polio Vaccination Campaigns: Imran Khan headlined polio vaccination efforts in Akora Khattak, Khyber Paktunkhwa, on Wednesday, saying that “whoever is targeting polio workers and policemen, is committing an injustice towards Islam, K-P and Pakistan.” Police in Karachi killed a suspected Pakistani Taliban militant and arrested another after they opened fire on a vaccination team. [AFP]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • India and Pakistan to Meet: A meeting between India and Pakistan’s directors general for military operations to discuss recent clashes on the Line of Control in Kashmir, first agreed to in September, will take place next week, the Pakistani ministry of foreign affairs announced. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Energy Pricing: The Peshawar High Court ruled on Tuesday that fuel price surcharges placed on Khyber Paktunkhwa electricity bills by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority were unconstitutional and illegal; the Peshawar Electric Supply Company indicated it would appeal the ruling in the Supreme Court. Following a Supreme Court order voiding a nine percent sales tax on Compressed Natural Gas, prices were reduced on Tuesday. The Asian Development Bank has delayed the release of a $500m loan for the power sector, citing the need for the government to make good on structural reform pledges for the energy sector; country director Werner Liepach expressed optimism that a “less interventionist Supreme Court” following former Chief Justice Chaudhry’s retirement might facilitate greater action in that regard. Separately, the Economic Coordination Committee revised the gas distribution formula on Tuesday, diverting gas from power producers to industry.
  • Tax Revenues: Around 800,000 people have filed income tax returns and paid around Rs 8 billion in taxes as of the deadline on Tuesday, Federal Board of Revenue officials report, a 12.5% increase in the number of filers over the previous year.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Trader Files Suit Seeking Damages Due to NATO Supply Blockade [ET]
  • Bangladesh Summons Pakistani Envoy Over Parliamentary Resolution [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [ET]
  • Six Pakistanis Repatriated form Afghanistan ‘Under Interrogation,’ Interior Ministry Tells Lahore High Court [ET]
  • Lahore High Court Stops Vote Verification in NA-118 As Supreme Court Takes Up Case [ET] [ET] [Dawn]
  • Sharif Forms Committee to Liaison Between Federal Ministers and PML-N Legislators [ET]
  • Cross-Border Trade with India Rises [Newsweek Pakistan]
  • Rupee Gains Despite State Bank Dollar Purchases [ET] [ET]
  • Foreign Direct Investment Totals $330.7M in First Five Months of Fiscal Year [ET]
  • Commentary: A Right Royal Mess – “Mr Sharif’s highly personalised style of governance is much more pronounced this time than in his previous two terms. It has hugely affected institutional functioning and resulted in the current disarray and paralysis in government.” [Zahid Hussain, Dawn]
  • Commentary: Playing on the Wrong Pitch – “No matter the weight and history behind someone’s last name, can the rich and famous sons and daughters of Pakistan survive a democratic system without measuring up and actually delivering?” [Mosharraf Zaidi, The News]

Afghanistan — Security

  • US Soldiers Killed in Helicopter Crash: A Black Hawk helicopter carrying U.S. forces in Zabul’s Shajoy district crashed on Tuesday, killing six U.S. soldiers in the largest single loss of life for foreign troops in Afghanistan in the past six months. One occupant survived the crash and was subsequently rescued by a joint U.S.-Afghan rapid reaction force. As international coalition forces have drawn down, casualties have declined, with approximately 150 NATO soldiers killed in Afghanistan so far this year, less than half of the 402 killed in 2012. The cause of the crash has not been determined, although coalition officials discounted Taliban claims of responsibility. [WSJ] [WAPO]
  • Military Commission Considered for Bagram Detainees: The Obama administration is reportedly considering transferring a Russian national who has been held at the Bagram prison facility since 2009 on charges of collaborating with the Taliban to a military tribunal in the United States, the Post report, in what would be the first ever such transfer. Congress has barred the transfer of detainees held at Guantanamo to the United States, but no such prohibition is in place on transfer from Afghanistan. Around 53 third-country nationals remain under U.S. custody at Bagram; officials say they would seek to repatriate most to their home countries.
  • Torkham Border Attacked: A team of Taliban suicide bombers attacked a parking area for U.S. forces at the Torkham border crossing in Kandahar on Wednesday morning; one Afghan security guard was killed and two wounded, and all four attackers killed.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Iraqi Foreign Minister’s Advice for Karzai? Take America’s Deal [NYT]
  • Jowzjan Police Chief Accuses Dostum on Security Threats [TOLO]
  • Senators Express Concerns Over Election Security [TOLO]
  • Two Tales of Brutality Against Women in Afghanistan [BBC]
  • Oil Importers Protest Council of Ministers’ Decision to Allow Semi-Refined Fuel Imports by Ghazanfar Group [TOLO]
  • Report: Briefing by the Special Representative of the Secretary for Afghanistan to the UN Security Council – “Progress continues and efforts are, by and large, on track – although not without challenges and temporary setbacks, and at heavy costs of lives and limbs of Afghans.” [United Nations]

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