Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Afghan Government Seeking Immediate Aid to Pay Salaries; Protests Continue in Islamabad

Topline

  • The Afghan government is in “critical” financial straits and needs an infusion of $537 million from external donors within the next week in order to make its October salary payments, Afghan finance ministry officials tell the Post. No breakthroughs have been reported in talks between Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah over the formation of a national unity government. Imran Khan continues to lead protest sit-ins in Islamabad; government officials suggested that they may bring more legal cases against PTI and PAT activists. Peak flooding in the Chenab river has started to decline after more breaches in embankments in southern Punjab. More than 1,500 Afghan police have been killed so far this year, the Interior Minister reported yesterday. The Asian Development Bank will not meet Pakistan’s financing request for the Diamer Bhasha Dam. Pakistan’s Finance Ministry has indicated it will not make more payments to Pakistan State Oil, which is again facing default.

Pakistan — Security

  • Waziristan Operations: In a statement on Wednesday, the Pakistani military reported that it had killed as many as 40 militants in airstrikes in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan; more sorties were carried out Tuesday in the Khyber Agency, where the military says it killed 23 militants. Independent confirmation of these casualties figures is not possible.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Protests Continue: In an interview with the Express Tribune, Imran Khan said that he had received assurances from Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif that five of his six demands related to electoral reforms and investigations into rigging in the 2013 elections would be met, but no guarantee of Prime Minister Sharif’s resignation; Khan maintained that the army was not supporting his campaign, however, which he said was succeeding at “waking the masses” against corruption in the system. The party has again set a large attendance target for Friday. At the rally on Tuesday, PTI officials welcomed a man claiming to be a police officer from Faisalabad; police officials they have no record of his employment. At a press conference on Tuesday, other PTI leaders said that they had not closed the door to talks, and put the blame for their cessation on the police crackdown last week. Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid told reporters on Tuesday that the government was considering more legal cases against PTI and PAT leaders, suggesting that “we will unmask them in courts and curb this lawlessness”.  The Islamabad High Court is hearing PTI challenges against the imposition of Section 144 in Islamabad, directing the district commissioner to testify. The PAT filed murder charges with police against Prime Minister Sharif and other officials in connection to the deaths of three protestors in Islamabad on August 30. [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET] [Reuters]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Floodwaters Waning: The peak flood on the Chenab river weakened on Tuesday as a result of more embankment breaches and the diversion of floodwaters into surrounding rural areas in the Alipur and Jatoi tehsils near Muzaffaragah. Further north in Kashmir, health workers are now warning that stagnant waters are increasing the risk of disease outbreaks. In an interview with Reuters, Jamaat-ud-Dawa leader Hafeez Saeed lays blame on India for the crisis, accusing it of deliberately releasing floodwaters into Pakistan, claims which experts and Indian officials dismiss. [Dawn]
  • Energy Infrastructure: In meetings with Finance Minister Dar on Tuesday, the Asian Development Bank’s visiting president Takehiko Nakao urged Pakistan to mobilize its own domestic resources to finance the construction of the $13 billion Diamer Bhasha Dam project. At a senate committee hearing on Tuesday, senators expressed concerns at the high promised rate of return for Chinese-financed energy projects. [ET]
  • Energy Crisis: Finance Ministry officials tell the Express Tribune that they will not release additional funds for Pakistan State Oil, laying blame on the Water and Power Ministry for failing to disburse Rs 40 billion to power companies who in turn owe PSO Rs 190 billion, pushing it near default on its supplier credit obligations.
  • Polio Crisis: Thirteen new polio cases were reported on Tuesday, the majority from FATA and Khyber Paktunkhwa, bringing the total number of cases nationwide to 158 so far this year. [ET]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • London Police Appeal for More Information in Imran Farooq Murder Case [ET]
  • Musharraf Trial Debates Authority to Impose Emergency Rule [Dawn]
  • Election Commission to Appoint its Own Officers as Returning Officials [ET]
  • Altaf Hussain Calls for More Provinces [Dawn] [ET]
  • Court Stays Execution of Murder Convict [Dawn]
  • Supreme Court Issues Contempt Order Over Government Failure to Regularize Female Health Workers [ET]
  • National Accountability Bureau Preparing Investigation Against Khyber Paktunkhwa Chief Minister’s Advisor [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Security

  • ANSF Casualties: In testimony before the Afghan Senate on Tuesday, senior defense officials said that 2014 had been the “deadliest year” in the conflict within the Taliban, with Afghan security forces “fighting alone” against 691 Taliban offensives, supported by “foreign Taliban” from Pakistan. Interior Minister Omar Daudzai indicated that 1,523 Afghan National Police and Afghan Local Police had been killed so far this year.
  • Civilian Casualties: Kunar police report that the Taliban burned the homes of six families in the Marwara district on Tuesday, forcing 154 families to flee, in retaliation after a clash with local police earlier this week. In Helmand, two civilians were killed and three wounded in a roadside bombing in Musa Qala.
  • Journalist Killed: Palwasha Tokhi Miranzai, a journalist with the Bayan-e-Shamal news network, was killed in her home in Mazar-e-Sharif on Wednesday. There has been no claim of responsibility and security officials said the motive for her murder was currently unclear.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Campaign Deadlock: Despite optimistic statements from the presidency, the Abdullah and Ghani campaign appear to still be deadlocked over the question of the balance of power between the next president and the new chief executive position. The Abdullah campaign is also reportedly seeking to ensure that the announcement of audit results by the Independent Election Commission does not specify a winner and loser of the runoff election. Both sides profess optimism, however. The Independent Election Commission said Wednesday that it would not wait for an agreement between Ghani and Abdullah to announce final results, although it has not specified when that announcement will take place.

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Fiscal Crisis: The Afghan Finance Ministry’s director general of the treasury, Alhaj M. Aqa, tells the Post that the government is now facing “critical” financial shortfalls and will be unable to pay its October salary bill unless it receives $537 million in immediate assistance from the U.S. and other international donors within “five or six days”. Without the assistance, Aqa indicated that the government would begin deferring payments for other items such as fuel for government vehicles. The U.S. embassy said in a statement that it was ““working to find ways to help the new government meet some of its challenges and priorities using resources already allocated.”

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Pakistan Says Afghan Allegations of Involvement in Terrorist Activities “Unfounded and Counterproductive” [Dawn] [ET]
  • Afghan Policemen Vanish During US Training Visit [Khaama Press]
  • Commentary: Victory Lab Kabul – “Ghani ran a smarter, more popular, and more proactive campaign than Abdullah, who was already positioned for defeat going into the run-off election.” [Hamdullah Mohib, Foreign Policy]
  • Commentary: Experience with ‘Goverments of National Unity’ Elsewhere – “Although many of the details, for example, of the outbreaks of election-related violence and external mediation to stop it in Kenya and Zimbabwe, look similar to the Afghan situation, there are serious differences in how the balance between power-holders and opposition is configured, how strong institutions are and how they interact.” [Thomas Ruttig, AAN]
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