Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Ceasefire in North Waziristan; Year-End Afghan Security Agreement Deadline Slipping

Note: The news will be on brief hiatus for the Christmas holiday and will resume daily updates on Friday, December 27. Happy holidays, and thank you for reading!

Topline

  • A ceasefire and end to the curfew in North Waziristan has reportedly been reached after negotiations on Monday, although details are minimal. U.S. officials appear to have relaxed a year-end deadline for the completion of the bilateral security agreement with Afghanistan, and next steps on the issue remain unclear. The opening of former Pres. Musharraf’s treason was delayed on Tuesday after a reported bomb was discovered on his route to court proceedings; Musharraf’s lawyers continue to challenge the court and charges against him. Indian and Pakistani military officials met in Wagah to discuss the ceasefire along the Kashmir Line of Control. Afghan police casualties rose 15% in 2013, Ministry of Interior officials report.

Pakistan — Security

  • North Waziristan Clashes: In a statement on Monday, the Pakistani military denied that its recent operations in Mir Ali had resulted in civilian casualties; local tribal elders tell Reuters that as many as 70 civilians have been killed in artillery shelling. A grand jirga of government officials, Mir Ali elders, and Taliban representatives was held on Monday, after which curfew in the area was reportedly lifted and ceasefire ordered; details of the agreement were limited.
  • Chehlum Processions: Increased security personnel were deployed around the country at Shia mosques and procession routes marking the fortieth day after the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussain on Tuesday; cell phone services were suspended in most major cities. In Karachi, a double bombing in Orangi killed three people, including a teenage girl, and wounded eighteen; no claim of responsibility has been reported. [ET] [ET] [AJE]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Indian and Pakistani Military Officials Meet: Pakistan and India’s directors general for military operations met on Tuesday at the Wagah border to discuss efforts to maintain the ceasefire along the Line of Control in Kashmir. Details of their discussions, which lasted two hours, are limited. [Dawn]
  • Musharraf Trial: The Islamabad High Court dismissed three petitions filed by former Pres. Musharraf challenging the authority of the special court appointed to hear treason charges against him, saying they were “inadmissible”. Also on Monday, the Sindh High Court dismissed a petition by Musharraf seeking the removal of his name from the exit control list barring travel outside the country, indicating that it lacked jurisdiction over the issue. The opening day of the treason trial was scheduled to take place on Tuesday; Musharraf’s lawyers filed another Supreme Court petition challenging the trial on Monday. Musharraf failed to appear before the court on Tuesday; police report the discovery of a small bomb on his route to the court. Hearings have been adjourned until January 1. [AP] [Dawn]
  • Judicial Appointments: PML-N legal officials and other opposition party representatives have begun a review of constitutional amendments introduced during the previous administration that set the procedure for judicial appointments, with an eye towards “empowering” the parliamentary committee that confirms nominated judges. Under former Chief Justice Chaudhry’s tenure, the parallel judicial commission exerted effective control over the nomination process.
  • Corruption Investigations: The National Accountability Bureau has cleared its chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, currently on suspension, from involvement in the National Insurance Company Ltd scam, Dawn reports, although a formal announcement has not yet been made. Former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani and several of his former aides have been indicted in the case. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Nuclear Power Financing: China agreed to provide $6.5 billion in financing for the construction of new 1,100-megawatt nuclear reactors in Karachi, official inaugurated last month, Reuters reports. Total costs of the reactors, which are scheduled to be completed by 2019, are estimated at $9.59 billion.
  • Energy Trade: The Ministry of Water and Power is in the process of finalizing a memorandum of understanding for the import of 2000-2500 megawatts of electricity from India, officials report.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Visiting Turkishm PM Erdogan Vows to Strengthen Ties [APP] [APP] [APP]
  • Election Commission Issues Code of Conduct for Local Elections [Dawn]
  • Balochistan Officials Debate Devolution of Responsibilities to Local Bodies [ET]
  • Gunfight in Turbat Kills Two Militants, One Soldier [Dawn]
  • Loadshedding Increased Due to Canal Cleaning [Dawn]
  • Report: Taxation by Misrepresentation: A Comparative Study of Public Representatives’ Income and Tax Declarations for 2012 – “Out of 550 lawmakers who claimed tax-payment [in candidacy filings for the May 2013 elections, the Federal Board of Revenue] confirmed tax having been paid only by 379 of them.” [Umar Cheema, CIRP (pdf)] [Reuters]
  • Commentary: Opposition Politics – “[The PML-N’s] biggest challenge continues to be the peaceful accommodation of their constituency level lynchpins, primarily through local government elections, and the sustenance of their core electorate — through policy interventions and patronage.” [Umair Javed, Dawn]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Bilateral Security Agreement Negotiations: Anonymous U.S. and Afghan officials tell the NYT that the Obama administration is backing down on a year-end deadline to complete the bilateral security agreement between the two countries, although a new deadline for either concluding the agreement or deciding to pull all forces out of the country after 2014 has not been reached. “We’ve never spoken with one voice,” one U.S. official says, “one person says sign now, another tells Karzai that he has time. It’s not been clear what’s going on.” Separately, in remarks to TOLO, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Interior repeated past complaints that departing international forces were destroying or dismantling basing facilities around the country as they withdrew, rather than handing them over to Afghan forces to manage.
  • ANP Casualties: The Afghan Interior Ministry acknowledged on Monday that Afghan National Police casualties in 2013 increased by 15% over the prior year; absolute casualty figures were not reported.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • U.S. Embassy in Kabul Defends Itself Against Blistering Fraud Reports [LAT]
  • Ghazanfar Group Resumes Refining Operations [TOLO]
  • Report: A Survey of Public Perception on Elections and Civic Education in Afghanistan – “While a plurality of Afghans (46%) are satisfied with the election process, there is a severe lack of election-related information throughout Afghanistan.” [Democracy International]
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