Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Embankment Destroyed to Save Jhang, Flooding Villages; Ghani Rules Out ‘Two-Headed Government’

Topline

  • An embankment was breached to save the city of Jhang from flooding on Wednesday, inundating surrounding villages; flood warnings persist for cities further downstream, and the death toll has reached 261 people as of Thursday. At a press conference on Wednesday, Ashraf Ghani called for the release of final results by the Independent Election Commission, and said that while he would continue negotiations with Abdullah Abdullah over the formation of a national unity government, it “will be on a constitutional basis” and “shouldn’t be a two-headed government”. The PTI reaffirmed their plans to continue their sit-in in Islamabad; negotiations with the government have continued, without reports of break-through. Talks with the PAT have been postponed until Friday. India’s foreign minister visited Kabul on Wednesday, pledging continued partnership and support. Tit-for-tat sectarian killings continue in Karachi.

Pakistan — Security

  • Sectarian Killings in Karachi: Maulana Masood Baig, the son-in-law of the principal of the Jamia Binoria International madrassa in Karachi, was killed by four unidentified gunmen on Wednesday, an apparent tit-for-tat killing in response to the shooting of Shia cleric Allama Abbas Kumaili of the Jafaria Alliance Pakistan. At least two other sectarian shootings were reported in the city on Wednesday as well. A ten-day ban on pillion riding has been imposed in the city. Paramilitary Rangers arrested a member of an unidentified “banned outfit” on Thursday, along with four other suspects. Separately, an aide to MQM leader Haider Abbas Rizvi, Salman Kazmi, was killed in a shooting on Wednesday evening.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Protests Continue: At a meeting of the PTI senior leadership on Wednesday, party leaders reaffirmed their decision to carry on their protests, although negotiations are also continuing. Speaking to supporters on Wednesday, Imran Khan vowed to unveil more evidence against the government on Saturday, the one-month mark for the ongoing sit-in in Islamabad; on Thursday, Khan repeated accusations against Prime Minister Sharif of personal corruption. Prime Minister Sharif met with senior parliamentary party leaders in a meeting on Thursday, reaffirming their support against the protestors. PTI and government negotiators said Wednesday that talks were in a “sensitive phase” and offered no details of their discussions. Talks with the Pakistan Awami Tehreek were postponed on Wednesday until Friday, at which the PAT would reportedly make its “final proposals” regarding demands for the resignation of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. The WSJ interviews and profiles the PAT’s leader Tahirul Qadri. Meanwhile, PPP Senator Raza Rabbani appeared before the Supreme Court on Wednesday as counsel to the Awami National Party and Balochistan National Party-Awami, during which he sought to raise questions on the legality of using the threat of violence to force the resignation of a constitutional office-bearer, and “whether any political leader can legitimately involve the Pakistan Army in his design to achieve his unconstitutional objectives by attempting to reassure his followers that army by a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ will determine the future course of his action.” The court directed the PTI and PAT to respond to the questions within the next three days. In Peshawar, the High Court has sought responses from Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak and provincial assembly speaker Asad Qaisar, as it hears a petition seeking their disqualification for their participation in the PTI’s calls for “civil disobedience”. In an interview with Dawn, PPP opposition leader Khurshid Shah called on Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif to “give a shut up call to those who want to exploit the army” and claim its support, particularly targeting the PML-Q leadership for criticism. [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn] [ET]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Flooding Continues: The death toll from flooding in Pakistan has risen to 261 people as of Thursday, the National Disaster Management Authority reported. An embankment was deliberately breached near Jhang to divert floodwaters from the city on Wednesday, flooding more than 300 villages in the surrounding area with as much as 20 feet of water. Similar measures are being prepared for the cities of Multan and Muzaffaragah further south. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif announced as Rs 100 million relief package on Thursday; the Sindh government has also offered Rs 100 million, and the Balochistan government has pledged Rs 10 billion. [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Polio Crisis: Five new polio cases from Khyber Paktunkhwa, FATA, and Balochistan were registered on Thursday, bringing the total number of cases nationwide for the year to 144.
  • Development Spending: Rural development and infrastructure spending by the federal and provincial governments fell 76% during the first three quarters of the last fiscal year, the Express Tribune reports.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • No Meeting Scheduled Between Sharif and Modi at UN General Assembly [ET]
  • US Seeking Extradition of Former Ohio Deputy Treasurer [ET]
  • Musharraf Counsel Seeks Expansion of Treason Trial [Dawn]
  • Tariff Agreement Reached with Chinese Firm on Kohala Hydropower Project [Dawn]
  • Dengue Risk Increases in Islamabad [Dawn]
  • PML-N Provincial Assembly Member Cleared in Raid on Police Station [Dawn]
  • Simulation Indicates Major Damage to Karachi in Event of Tsunami [AFP]
  • Report: Overcoming Pakistan’s Energy Crisis: A Case for More Integrated and Coordinated Planning and Policymaking – “Combined with a new energy ministry, a strengthened policy environment could emerge that would be capable of successfully addressing Pakistan’s energy issues—and that could pave the way to recovery for the energy sector and the economy overall.” [Ziad Alahdad, Wilson Center]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Civilian Casualties: NATO ISAF officials said they were investigating reports by Kunar provincial officials that 14 civilians, including two children, had been killed in an errant airstrike in the Dangam district on Tuesday. The provincial police chief reports that a joint US-Afghan patrol came under attack and called in air support, which killed both militants and civilians; a survivor says that four civilians were initially killed in the bombing, and the others killed or injured while attempting to retrieve their bodies.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Ghani Calls for Acceptance of Final Results: At a press conference on Wednesday, Ashraf Ghani said that “accepting the announcement of the final results is the only way to break this political deadlock,” saying that he would continue negotiations with Abdullah Abdullah on the formation of a national unity government but that “it will be on a constitutional basis. We will not go past the Constitution to make a deal.” Ghani added that he supported “the formation of the national unity government from the beginning… but it shouldn’t be a two-headed government.” His rival Abdullah Abdullah has sought greater powers for a proposed chief executive office and has rejected the results of the audit of the disputed second round of voting, seeking to delay the release of the Independent Election Commission’s findings. Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor, a prominent Abdullah supporter, reiterated his intention on Thursday to organize an “anti-fraud movement”, accusing the IEC and the presidential palace of facilitating fraud on Ghani’s behalf. The IEC said Wednesday that it would finish processing and entering data from audit tally sheets by the end of the day, but continues to adjudicate results on the basis of those findings and has given no timeline for the announcement of final results. [TOLO] [Khaama Press]
  • Indian Foreign Minister Visits: Indian Foreign Minister Shushma Swaraj arrived in Kabul on Wednesday, where she met with Afghan Foreign Minister Zarar Ahmad Moqbel and President Karzai, and inaugurated a new Indian embassy building. Swaraj noted that “India is here to stay” during the “critical decade of transformation for Afghanistan,” saying that “India will always be Afghanistan’s first strategic partner and we will always share the Afghan peoples’ vision of a strong, independent, united and prosperous Afghanistan.” Swaraj delivered a 78-meter Afghan flag, the largest in Afghanistan, as a gift at a ceremony with Karzai, and pledged $1 million for a national monument site. [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Over 9,000 Suicide Attempt Cases Recorded in Afghanistan in 2014 [Khaama Press]
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