Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Government and Opposition Continue Talks; IEC Pushes Back Final Results Announcement

Topline

  • Pakistani government sources claim to be making progress with the PTI and PAT in ongoing negotiations, suggesting that the other side is showing flexibility in talks; the ultimate question of Prime Minister Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s resignation remains unresolved, however. The death toll from flooding in Pakistan has risen to 231 people, most from Punjab. The Afghan Independent Election Commission now says it will not release final election results until all candidate complaints are resolved, which is unlikely to happen within the next week “at soonest”. India’s foreign minister is visiting Kabul today for talks that are likely to cover bilateral defense cooperation issues. Pakistan’s military says it killed as many as 65 militant suspects in North Waziristan strikes on Wednesday.

Pakistan — Security

  • Karachi Dockyard Attack: Speaking in a joint session of parliament on Tuesday, Defense Minister Khawaja Asif said that investigations were underway regarding Saturday evening’s attack on the Karachi Naval Dockyards. Asif indicated that “some suspected officials” had been detained on suspicion of offering insider support for the attack, which he said was made from the sea. [Dawn]
  • Waziristan Operations: The Pakistani military reported that it killed as many as 65 militant suspects in airstrikes on hideouts in the Datta Khel and Shawal areas of North Waziristan on Wednesday; the area remains restricted to journalists and there is no independent confirmation. On Tuesday, the Finance Ministry authorized the release of Rs 1.059 billion in cash allowances for displaced Waziristan residents.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Islamabad Protests: In negotiations with the Pakistan Awami Tehreek on Tuesday, the government is reported to have reached agreement on the formation of a Joint Investigation Team to conduct further investigations into the June clashes between PAT supporters and Lahore police, although discussions are ongoing about its tenure and regarding Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s resignation. Former Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, who resigned in the wake of those clashes, is said to be preparing a legal challenge to a previous judicial inquiry into the incident. Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal suggested that the two sides might reach “an understanding” today. Iqbal also called on Imran Khan to avoid “irresponsible politics,” saying that the economy had suffered Rs 1 trillion in losses from the protests. Finance Minister Dar told parliament on Wednesday that the prime minister’s resignation was “non-negotiable” in talks with the PTI, but suggested that they might be “flexible” on this point. In an AFP interview, Khan insists that he is in a “battle of nerves” with the government and says that he has “a feeling we’ll win it”. The Supreme Court has continued to hear positions from the government and opposition parties; the PML-N filing maintains that the current protests are in violation of the constitution, while the PTI has questioned the court’s standing to regulate protests. [WSJ] [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [ET]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Flood Crisis: The National Disaster Management Authority reported on Tuesday that the death toll from floods around the country had risen to 231, 156 of them from Punjab. More than 500,000 people are reported to have been displaced from their homes. Prime Minister Sharif continued visits to flood-affected areas on Tuesday, pledging government assistance to those affected. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif described the floods as the “deadliest in Pakistan’s history,” although they have yet to reach the scale of the 2010 floods, which killed more than 2,000 people and affected 18 million. Further floodwater rise on the Jhelum and Chenab rivers is expected around southern Punjab over the next 48 hours. [Dawn]
  • Polio Crisis: A paramilitary Levies soldier was killed while guarding a polio vaccination team in the Bajaur Agency of FATA on Wednesday. Another polio case was reported in Quetta on Wednesday, the second there this year and the 139th so far nationwide. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Punishment Recommended for 58 Officers Over 2013 Dera Ismail Khan Jailbreak [Dawn]
  • 195 Suspects Killed in Police Encounters in Karachi Since July [Dawn]
  • Supreme Court Initiates Contempt Proceedings Against ARY News Anchor [Dawn] [ET]
  • Deobandi Seminary Teacher Killed in Karachi [ET]
  • Ministry of Water and Power Reports Reduced Circular Debts, But Power Company Receivables Still Rising [ET]
  • Water and Power Minister Defends Chinese Investments in Pakistan [ET]
  • Balochistan Chief Minister Seeks Rs 300 Billion in Development Spending [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Civilian Casualties: On Wednesday, Pres. Karzai issued a statement condemning a U.S. airstrike that reportedly took place in Kunar’s Narang district the previous night, killing 14 people, “mostly civilians,” and injuring 13. ISAF officials say that one armed fighter was killed in the adjacent Dangam district, but otherwise cannot confirm the allegations.
  • Attack on NDS: In the latest of a series of attacks around the country on the National Directorate of Security intelligence service, two NDS officers were killed in Badghis on Tuesday after their convoy was ambushed by a group of Taliban fighters in the Karkh district.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Calls for National Unity: In an apparent reversal on Tuesday, the Independent Election Commission said that it would not announce the final election results “until all complaints presented by presidential candidates are addressed,” now saying that results will be announced “in the coming week, at the soonest.” As reported yesterday, Pres. Karzai called for Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani to form a new national unity government as soon as possible during ceremonies commemorating the late Ahmad Shah Masood in Kabul. The Post notes that the Masood Day ceremonies have brought large, often armed, crowds of former supporters into Kabul; an Abdullah spokesman reiterated his campaign’s commitment to nonviolence. One person was killed and five injured in stray celebratory gunfire on Tuesday, according to Kabul police. Also on Tuesday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urged the two candidates to reach an agreement and conclusion to the election process. [TOLO] [TOLO]
  • Indian Foreign Minister Visits: India’s Foreign Minister, Susham Swaraj, will arrive in Kabul on Wednesday for talks with Pres. Karzai and other senior officials, which are expected to focus on security assistance and other bilateral ties.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • House Votes to Condemn Administration Transfer of Guantanamo Detainees to Free Bergdahl [AP]
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs Confirms Unspecified Number of Afghans Fighting with Islamic State [Khaama Press]
  • Tensions Rise as NATO Wind-Down Threatens Afghan Boomtowns [Financial Times]
  • Helmand Conflict Keeps 80% of Shindand District Girls Out of School [TOLO]
  • Commentary: The Study and Understudy of Afghanistan’s Ethnic Groups – “What is most remarkable in the study of Afghanistan’s ethnic groups is the disparity in who gets studied and who does not.” [Christian Bleuer, AAN]
  • Commentary: The Afghan Girls Who Live as Boys – “Between gender and freedom, freedom is the bigger and more important idea—in Afghanistan as well as globally. Defining one’s gender becomes a concern only after freedom is achieved.” [Jenny Nordberg, The Atlantic]
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