- Both Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri have broken off separate talks with the government seeking, with Qadri announcing a “decisive day” of protest today. The government is reportedly proposing the imposition of governor’s rule in Punjab and has agreed to the filing of a FIR police report in connection to June clashes between the Pakistan Awami Tehreek and Lahore police that will name the prime minister and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. The WSJ reports that Prime Minister Sharif has conceded control over foreign and security policy in talks with the military in a bid to buy support for his government’s continuation. London police briefly detained an MQM party activists in connection to the 2010 murder of former MQM leader Imran Farooq; on Wednesday, leader Altaf Hussain called on the government to “voluntarily step down”, appearing to align himself with Qadri and the PAT. The election audit in Afghanistan is continuing without candidate agents present on Thursday after the Abdullah campaign’s boycott; the IEC issued rulings on another 3,000 ballot boxes on Wednesday evening, invalidating only a small number. The National Directorate of Security reiterated accusations that Pakistani military personnel are directly involved in leading the current Taliban offensive; 27 Pakistani nationals were reportedly detained in Paktika on Tuesday.
Pakistan — Security
- India Border Tensions: Border commanders in the Sialkot section of the Line of Control between Pakistan and Indian forces in disputed Kashmir met on Wednesday to discuss recent firing incidents. Firing renewed on Thursday, although no casualties were reported.
- NATO Supply Line Attacks: Three oil tankers were attacked and one destroyed by a group of gunmen on motorcycles in Balochistan’s Mastung district on Thursday; no casualties have been reported.
Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- Sharif Under Pressure: There is more reporting on Prime Minister Sharif’s address to parliament on Wednesday, in which he said his government would “not be diverted” by the ongoing protests. The WSJ reports that Sharif is near an agreement with the military in which he will offer “guarantees” that his government will surrender control of national security and foreign foreign policy to the military, and allow former Pres. Musharraf’s release from the treason trial against him. The government is also reportedly prepared to allow for the resignation of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. Protests continue; in his nightly speech to supporters on Wednesday, Imran Khan broke off talks with the government, returning to the position that negotiations could not proceed as long as the prime minister remains in office. Khan said that he would announce a future course of action today. A small rally of PML-N supporters gathered on Wednesday in support of the prime minister near the site of the main opposition sit-in. In Supreme Court hearings on Wednesday, the court reiterated its order to clear access along Constitution Avenue; the Senior Superintendent of the Islamabad police has issued orders on Wednesday barring the use of force against the protestors, however. [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn]
- Arrest in Connection to MQM Murder: On Wednesday, London police arrested a 30-year old suspect in connection to the 2010 murder of former MQM leader Imran Farooq; he was subsequently released after questioning. Party officials confirm that the man was a MQM party member; in June, Iftikhar Hussain, a nephew of party leader Altaf Hussain, was arrested and then released on bail. Police are still seeking access to two men believed to be in Pakistani custody. Separately, MQM leaders met with Pakistan Awami Tehreek leader Tahirul Qadri, and Hussain called on the government to “voluntarily step down” in the interest of the country, saying that all Qadri’s demands were valid. On Thursday, Hussain spoke with Qadri and urged him to “show patience”. [NYT] [BBC] [Dawn]
- Qadri Announces “Revolution Day”: On Wednesday, Tahirul Qadri told supporters that he was breaking off talks with the government, which he said had “completely failed,” and that they should prepare for a “decisive day” today. Qadri said that repeated meetings by government ministers failed to reach agreement on his two key demands, the resignation of the Sharif brothers and an initiation of a police First Information Report against them in connection to June’s clash between Pakistan Awami Tehreek supporters and Lahore police. PAT lawyers attempted to file the FIR unsuccessfully on Wednesday, following a Lahore High Court order upholding a lower court order to police to do so. Government negotiators have now reportedly proposed governor’s rule in Punjab for the duration of the Lahore clash investigation; on Thursday Defense Minister Khawaja Asif told parliament that “a process for the FIR has started and the government will not appeal against court orders”. Meanwhile, a new government committee has been formed to investigate the June incident. [Reuters] [Dawn]
Pakistan — Economics and Development
- Shortage of Funds for Polio Campaign: Ministry of National Health Services officials tell Dawn that the current political deadlock has forestalled the release of funds for national polio vaccination efforts, which may cut short the effort if funds are not provided for within the next two months.
Pakistan — Remainders
- President to Visit Turkey in Prime Minister’s Stead [Dawn] [AFP]
- Chinese President Due to Visit Pakistan Next Month [Dawn]
- Pew Polling From May Suggests Drop in Khan Favorability Ratings [Pew Research]
- PTI Withdraws Apologetic Letter Towards Former Chief Justice in Defamation Case [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]
- Commentary: Pakistan On the Brink, Again – “While the United States has limited leverage with which to encourage a Pakistani settlement of this conflict, the best solution would be a compromise that allowed the judiciary to play a neutral role in assessing the allegations of election fraud.” [Shuja Nawaz, South Asia Channel]
- Commentary: Pakistan’s Protests Risk Another Military Coup – “If a few thousand demonstrators are able to force out an elected leader or provoke another coup, no elected civilian government would be able to survive similar intrigue in the future.” [Hussain Haqqani, WSJ]
Afghanistan — Security
- Tensions with Pakistan: On Wednesday, spokesofficials for the National Directorate of Security said that Pakistani intelligence “has a direct hand” in insecurity within Afghanistan, alleging that “the war in Afghanistan is led by the Pakistani military; Pakistani soldiers are fighting alongside the terrorists.” Ministry of Interior officials say 27 armed Pakistani nationals were arrested in Paktika on Tuesday. Officials in Kunar report continued cross-border artillery shelling.
- Helmand Security Transfer: Helmand governor Muhammad Naeem reported Wednesday that an agreement had been signed to transfer the largest remaining NATO base in the province, Shorab Airfield in the Greshk district, to Afghan military control, although he did not specify a timeframe for the handover. Meanwhile, fighting in Helmand’s Sangin district has reportedly intensified, although government officials say they have pushed back the most recent Taliban offensive there.
- Detainee Transfers: In addition to nine Pakistani prisoners repatriated from the U.S. portion of the Parwan detention center at Bagram last week, the U.S. also sent home two Yemeni detainees, U.S. military officials confirmed on Wednesday. One of the Yemeni detainees is reported to have contracted leukemia, although it is unclear if the diagnosis played an impact in his release. 27 detainees are now reported to remain at the facility.
Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- Political Deadlock: Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Dan Feldman visited Afghanistan on Wednesday to follow up on recent visits by Sec. Kerry; in a statement, State Department officials indicated that Feldman “reiterated the need to conclude the electoral process in a timely way that honors the millions of votes cast by the Afghan people”. British Prime Minister Cameron spoke with Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani by phone on Thursday, urging the completion of the audit process and the inauguration of the next president in time for next week’s NATO summit. A Karzai spokesman said Wednesday that while he would not personally attend the summit, “the new president or the current government” will do so. At a press conference on Wednesday following the boycott of the audit process by the Abdullah team, UN officials said that the audit process would continue, without direct candidate agent observation; limited auditing took place on Wednesday afternoon, and continued on Thursday. IEC officials report that 76.2% of all ballot boxes have been audited to date, but that only 1,500 out of the 6,000 boxes selected for special scrutiny have been reviewed. In a second round of adjudication covering 3,000 ballot boxes, the IEC threw out results from 75 polling stations, 11 of which had been subjected to the special scrutiny process. The Ghani campaign has registered 25 appeals with the Electoral Complaints Commission, related to the first round of ballot invalidations earlier this week. [WAPO] [Khaama Press] [TOLO]
Afghanistan — Remainders
- Report: Afghanistan’s Looming Fiscal Crisis: What Can Be Done? – “Afghanistan faces a fiscal crisis that reflects worsening domestic revenue shortfalls since 2011, which could reach $1 billion in 2014 compared with the 2011 outlook.” [William Byrd, USIP]
- Commentary: A Full List of Foreign Detainees at Bagram? – “Information on who the US military holds at Bagram has emerged over the years at a glacial pace.” [Kate Clark, AAN]