Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Parliament Backs Sharif as PTI Resigns; GAO Concludes Bergdahl Transfer Violated Law

Topline

  • The PTI submitted resignations from the National Assembly on Friday; on Thursday, the assembly passed a unanimous resolution backing Prime Minister Sharif’s government, a move echoed by the Senate on Friday. The removal of Islamabad Inspector General of Police Ahmad Cheema has sparked rumors of an impending crackdown on the protestors; Prime Minister Sharif told journalists on Thursday that the government had no intention to use force, however. Imran Khan attacked the U.S. in his speech to the crowds on Thursday, after comments by the U.S. State Department the day prior indicating that the U.S. “supports the constitutional and electoral process in Pakistan”. The GAO has concluded that the transfer of five Taliban detainees from Guantanamo in exchange for the release of Bowe Bergdahl violated Defense Appropriation Act requirements for advance notice to Congress. The State Department has increased its reward offer for five Haqqani network leaders, and the Treasury department sanction a Pakistani hawala network linked to Taliban financing on Thursday. Under criticism, the Afghan government upped its accusations against NYT reporter Matthew Rosenberg on Thursday as he was expelled from the country, accusing him of spying.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Parliament Backs Government; PTI Resigns: On Thursday, the National Assembly passed a unanimous resolution — save for the absent PTI and PML-Q — rejecting “the unconstitutional demands from certain political parties for the resignation of the Prime Minister and the dissolution of the National Assembly and deplor[ing] the extremely derogatory, defamatory and inflammatory language used by leaders and members of these parties in their speeches”. Prime Minister Sharif attended the session but did not speak publicly; he is due to make an address on Friday. All 34 PTI National Assembly legislators submitted their resignations on Friday. On Friday, the Senate passed its own resolution, brought by PPP senator Saeed Ghani, rejecting the calls for Sharif’s resignation and affirming the supremacy of the constitution and parliament. [AP] [ET] [Dawn]
  • Protests Continue: An anonymous police official alleges to the Express Tribune that Islamabad Inspector General of Police Ahmad Cheema, who was reassigned from his post on Wednesday, was removed for his “failure to use force” against the protestors; both Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri cited Cheema’s removal in speeches to supporters on Thursday, with Khan warning the government against any attempt at a crackdown. Meeting with journalists on Thursday, Prime Minister Sharif insisted that the government “is trying to find a political solution to the crisis, and has no plan to use force”. He said that he would not fulfill “unconstitutional demands” and would not be “blackmailed,” noting that “all democratic forces are on the same page regarding this issue”. [Dawn] [ET]
  • Khan Attacks U.S. Statements: In his speech to the crowd on Thursday, Khan directed new anger at the United States, saying that U.S. leaders “like only those governments in Muslim countries that are your slaves”. Khan’s criticism came a day after U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters at a press briefing that the U.S. “support[s] he constitutional and electoral process in Pakistan” and that Prime Minister Sharif did lead “the elected government”. The U.S. embassy released a statement Thursday that the U.S. was “in no way involved in the process or the discussion between the parties. Any suggestion to the contrary is completely false.”
  • Negotiations Efforts Stall: Talks between the protestors and the government have not resumed; in a BBC interview, Imran Khan suggested that he was willing to talk, but called instead for a formation of a caretaker government, as the current government “cannot ensure that justice is done”. The PPP held a meeting in Dubai on Wednesday to review the political situation in the country; opposition leader Khurshid Shah, said Thursday that he would support the PTI’s call for Prime Minister Sharif’s resignation only after first conducting investigations into charges of election rigging. Imran Khan rejected Shah’s position as a mediator on Thursday, suggesting that he would be “unable to stand against” the prime minister. Sharif and former Pres. Zardari are reported to have conferred by phone on Thursday. [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • State Bank Holding Back As Rupee Depreciates by Nearly 2% [ET]
  • FATA Tribunal Seeks Record of Shakeel Afridi’s Trial [Dawn]
  • Eight Killed in Rainstorms in Khyber Paktunkhwa and FATA [Dawn]
  • Government Seeks Explanation from Provinces on New Spike in Polio Cases [Dawn]
  • US Energy Information Agency to Assess Pakistan’s Shale Gas Prospects [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • New Rewards for Haqqani Leaders: On Wednesday, the U.S. State Department updated its reward offers for five leaders of the Haqqani network, doubling the bounty on Sirajuddin Haqqani to $10 million and offering $5 million rewards for information leading to the location of Aziz Haqqani, a brother to Sirajuddin; Khalil al-Rahman Haqqani, an uncle and financier; Yahya Haqqani, a brother-in-law and senior leader; and Abdul Rauf Zakir, the group’s chief of suicide operations. The U.S. Treasury Department has also imposed sanctions on a Pakistan-based hawala money transfer businesses, Haji Basir and Zarjmil Company, and its owner Haji Abdul Basir, for providing financial services to the Afghan Taliban. [State Department Statement] [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Bergdahl Transfer Violated Law, GAO Advises: Responding to a letter by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), the Government Accountability Office has concluded that the transfer of five Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for the release of Bowe Bergdahl violated Section 8111 of the Defense Appropriations Act of 2014. The administration did not notify Congress in advance of the transfer, as required by the law; the Pentagon defended the decision, saying that compliance “would have interfered with the executive’s performance of two related functions that the Constitution assigns to the president: protecting the lives of Americans abroad and protecting U.S. service members”. [Reuters] [WAPO]
  • Afghan Government Accuses NYT Reporter of Spying: The U.S. ambassador to Kabul and the UN Special Representative to Afghanistan condemned Afghanistan’s expulsion of NYT reporter Matthew Rosenberg on Thursday. The Afghan Government Media and Information Center issued a statement defending the decision, saying that it “considers Mr. Rosenberg’s report more of an espionage act than a journalistic work, one that was meant to create panic and disruption in people’s minds, and provide the basis for other spying purposes.”

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Taliban Offensive in Kunduz Reportedly Led by Former Detainee [TOLO]
  • Five Policemen Killed in Checkpost Attack [TOLO]
  • New Disciplinary Code to Be Required for Candidate Agents at Election Audit [TOLO]
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s