Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: New Military Appointments Expected Soon; Abdullah Seeks More Vote Disqualifications

Topline

  • Appointments and promotions for the new head of the ISI and five new corps commanders may come as soon as next week, the BBC Urdu service reports. Abdullah Abdullah has sought the disqualification of additional votes by the Electoral Complaints Commission in order to narrow Ashraf Ghani’s margin of victory and retain the support of his backers, Reuters reports. In a Post inreview, Ghani suggests that an announcement of final results, which Abdullah has sought to block, could come this Saturday. The Election Commission of Pakistan has accepted Imran Khan’s petition to review ballots cast in the NA-122 Lahore constituency where he lost to national assembly speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq. The Islamabad High Court has sought to reassert the role of the magistracy in controlling police arrests around the PTI and PAT sit-ins. The Afghan finance ministry sought to downplay yesterday’s report in the Post about the need for an immediate $537 million assistance package. The attack on the Karachi Naval Dockyards last week was intended to seize control of a Pakistani frigate and turn its weapons systems on U.S. ships in the Indian Ocean, Pakistani security officials tell the WSJ.

Pakistan — Security

  • New Military Appointments: Dawn, citing the BBC Urdu service, reports that new appointments for the director general of the ISI and five other senior corps commanders are likely to be announced next week, ahead of their scheduled retirements in October; sources suggest that Lahore Corps Commander Lt Gen Naveed Zaman and National Defense University president Lt Gen Javed Iqbal Ramday are among the top contenders for the ISI position. Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif is also said to be considering the promotion of Major Generals Nazeer Butt and Rizwan Akhtar to the lieutenant general rank so that they can be put under consideration for the postings. [ET]
  • Karachi Violence: Shakeel Auj, the dean of the Islamic Studies department at the University of Karachi, was killed by unidentified gunmen on Thursday. All universities in Sindh have suspended classes following the attack; no claim of responsibility has been reported. Separately on Wednesday, police said they killed seven militant suspects from the Tehreek-e-Taliban’s Waliur Rehman group (now headed by Khan Zaman) during a raid in the Sohrab Goth district. Residents of the area protested afterwards, saying that innocent people were being killed in the name of the TTP, and demanded an investigation. [Dawn]
  • Karachi Dockyard Attack: Further reporting by the WSJ on last week’s attack by the new Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent affiliate on the Karachi Naval Dockyards indicate that the attackers had been planning on seizing the PNS Zulfiqar and joining an international naval coalition in the Indian Ocean, which the Pakistani navy had assumed command of in mid-August. There “the plan was to get close to the U.S. ships on the high seas, and then turn the shipboard weapon systems on the Americans”, according to Pakistani security officials.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Protest Standoff: Speaking in Attock on Wednesday, Prime Minister Sharif rebuffed the continued calls for his resignation, saying that he would not “step down on just the wishes of 5,000 people”. Also on Wednesday, the Election Commission of Pakistan accepted a petition by Imran Khan seeking a review of ballots cast in the NA-122 constituency in Lahore, which Khan contested and lost to Sardar Ayaz Sadiq of the PML-N, now the speaker of the national assembly. The NA-122 seat is one of four that the PTI had initially sought full investigations of alleged vote rigging; no date for the review has yet been set. Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court quashed all police investigation reports against PTI and PAT activists for violating Section 144 orders barring public assembly, and ordered the deployment of district magistrates to the sit-in venue “to ensure that no innocent people or peaceful protesters are arrested, manhandled or assaulted by the police.” At a meeting of senior PTI leaders on Wednesday, the party decided that Imran Khan would visit Karachi on Sunday to “spread this movement all over the country”. In parliamentary proceedings, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan criticized Khyber Paktunkhwa Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak for neglecting his duties in the province. [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Flooding Reaches Sindh: Peak floodwaters entered Sindh on Wednesday, but at much lower levels than has been experienced further upstream in Punjab over the past week. The National Disaster Management Authority reports that around 2,000 schools and 17,000 have been destroyed in Punjab. [Dawn]
  • Polio Crisis: Two more polio cases were reported in Karachi on Wednesday, bringing the national total to 164 so far this year.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • PPP Senators Propose New Civil-Military Committees [ET]
  • Aafia Siddiqi Seeks to Drop US Legal Appeal [Reuters]
  • National Accountability Bureau Initiates Probe Against Three Balochistan Ministers [Dawn]
  • Fugitive Former Chicago Comprotller to be Repatriated to US [ET]
  • Electronic Voting Only Possible with Parliamentary Approval, Election Commission Says [Dawn]
  • Asian Development Bank Backs Benazir Income Support Program [ET] [AFP]
  • Financial Troubles Forestalls PSO Privatization [ET]
  • Two Years On, YouTube Remains Blocked [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Tensions With Pakistan: In testimony before parliament on Wednesday, Interior Minister Omar Daudzai highlighted the recent statement by the Punjabi Taliban that they would redirect their activities to Afghanistan, saying that “Pakistani militia forces disguised as Taliban fighters have declared war in Afghanistan”. Kunar provincial officials say that Punjabi Taliban fighters were among 22 killed in clashes with security forces in the Ghaziabad district on Wednesday evening. In Pakistan, the foreign ministry summoned the deputy chief of mission from the Afghan embassy to formally protest a cross-border attack in North Waziristan on Tuesday, conveying “serious concerns” on the “developing threats from the recently established sanctuaries across the border in Khost and Paktika provinces”. [TOLO]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Election Deadlock: US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Daniel Feldman met with Pres. Karzai on Wednesday. Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani failed to make progress in national unity government talks on Tuesday, which as reported yesterday are now deadlocked over Abdullah’s insistence that final results not be released until after an agreement is reached. Abdullah negotiators have also called for the invalidation of more ballots by the Electoral Complaints Commission in order to produce a more narrow margin between the two candidates “so that he could sell the deal to his backers”. Ghani officials rejected both proposals. Prominent supporter Atta Mohammad Noor reiterated that Abdullah was the “real winner” of both rounds of the presidential elections in a statement on Wednesday. In an interview with the Post on Thursday, Ghani suggested that results would be announced by Saturday, and said that as the new chief executive officer, Abdullah would have power to “implement the policies of the government”. Ghani also said that the convening of a loya jirga for constitutional amendments within two year’s time would affirm an “executive prime minister” position but that he would not lead parliament and “the system will remain presidential”. [TOLO]

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Finance Ministry Denies ‘Emergency’: In comments to TOLO, a spokesman for the Afghan Finance Ministry sought to downplay yesterday’s Washington Post article, in which the head of the treasury department had said that the government was seeking an emergency infusion of $537 million in aid from foreign donors in order to be able to meet salary payments and other operational expenses in October. The spokesman tells TOLO that “the aid package request is not out of emergency, but rather just to meet the full budget deficit for this year.”

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Defense Minister Accuses Lawmaker Ramazan Bashardost of Spying [Khaama Press]
  • Suicide Attack on Nangarhar NDS Office Thwarted [Khaama Press]
  • More Details on Stabbing Death of Mazar-e-Sharif Journalist [NYT]
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