Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: TTP Infighting Continues in Waziristan; Motasim Reportedly Detained in UAE

Topline

  • Infighting between rival Pakistani Taliban groups has spread into North Waziristan; the TTP’s senior leadership council is reportedly meeting today to consider the extension of a ceasefire agreement with the government that expired yesterday. Agha Jan Motasim, a former Afghan Taliban leader who has split with the leadership over peace talks, is rumored to have been detained in the UAE. Despite preliminary reports of high voter turnout last Saturday and the absence of a large-scale Taliban attack, low-level violence appears to have been widespread on election day. The PML-N will appeal an election tribunal ruling that disqualified their candidate from winning the NA-89 Jhang constituency and elected ASWJ leader Maulana Ahmad Ludhianvi to the seat.


Pakistan — Security

  • Taliban Infighting: Clashes between rival Pakistani Taliban factions continued on Friday, with at least ten people reportedly killed in North Waziristan. As many as 56 militants are reported to have been killed since Sunday; the fighting is said to have resulted from the TTP’s earlier rejection of Khan Said Sajna as a successor to Hakimullah Mehsud after his death last November. The TTP’s extended ceasefire agreement expired on Thursday, and the group’s leadership shura will meet today to consider its further extension; no announcement has yet been reported.


Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • PML-N to Appeal Jhang Seat Ruling: PML-N party officials have backed a decision by Sheikh Muhammad Akram to appeal the election tribunal ruling earlier this week that invalidated his election in the NA-89 Jhang constituency and directed the Election Commission to notify runner-up Maulana Ahmad Ludhianvi of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat as the winner.
  • Sharif Visits China: Prime Minister Sharif arrived in Beijing on Thursday to attend the Boao Forum, meeting beforehand with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to discuss the proposed China-Pakistan economic corridor project, which Sharif touted at a public session as a “new Silk Road”.


Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Senate Panel Recommends Delay on 3G Auction: The Senate telecommunications committee recommended that the government delay a planned auction of 3G and 4G wireless spectrum licenses scheduled for April 23, arguing that the government must first hire a third member of the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority board before proceeding. Government officials rejected the proposal and said they would proceed with the auction as scheduled. [ET]
  • Economic Indicators: Pakistan’s trade deficit totaled nearly $14 billion during the first nine months of the fiscal year, 5.5% less than the same period last year but $1.5 billion higher than IMF projections. Remittances during the same period totaled $11.58 billion, up 11.9%. [ET]


Pakistan — Remainders

  • Outgoing Saudi Ambassador Says ‘No Hidden Agenda’ Behind Aid [Dawn]
  • Supreme Court Issues Detailed Verdict on Rejection of Musharraf Petition Against July 2009 Ruling [Dawn] [ET]
  • Power Shortage Returns, Forcing 12-18 Hours of Load-shedding [Dawn]
  • PPP and MQM Leaders Reiterate Opposition to Protection of Pakistan Ordinance [Dawn] [ET]
  • Lahore Market Bombing Wounds 17 After Reports of Extortion [ET]
  • US and Pakistan Review Plans to Expand Trade and Investment [Dawn]


Afghanistan — Security

  • Motasim Missing: Associates of dissident Taliban leader Agha Jan Motasim, who has publicly supported peace negotiations with the Afghan government and who most recently sought to organize talks between Taliban commanders in Dubai last month, say that he has been out of contact for the past ten days. An anonymous former Taliban leader indicates that Motasim’s offices were raided by UAE officials, saying that “there are also some speculations that the UAE is angry at Agha Jan’s source of funding,” without elaborating.
  • Election Violence: Brigadier General Dave Haight, who heads U.S. military operations in eastern Afghanistan, tells Stars and Stripes that despite initial reports of broad turnout and the absence of any large-scale incidents, election day was “one of the most violent days in Afghanistan”. The Afghan defense ministry has reported around 690 security incidents, including as many as 200 bombs defused by security forces; the Independent Election Commission reports roughly 300 attacks on polling stations. On Thursday, the National Directorate of Security announced that security forces had arrested 262 insurgents across 23 provinces who had been planning attacks on the elections.


Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Vote Tallying: The Independent Election Commission has counted approximately 45% of ballots cast, Pajhwok reports. No preliminary results have yet been announced. [TOLO] [TOLO] [TOLO]


Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Commentary: Kandahar, A Center-District Divide and the Weakening of the Tribal Factor – “The bigger turnout this time compared to the 2009 election is partially owed to better security. In the town, security was extraordinarily tight.” [Borhan Osman, AAN]
  • Commentary: Democracy Dividends from the Afghanistan Investment – “We may not be headed for a classic victory, but with continued commitment the prospects for an acceptable outcome in Afghanistan look fairly good.” [David Petraeus and Michael O’Hanlon, WSJ]
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