Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: MQM Challenges PPP Opposition Leader’s Position; Afghan Parliament to Vote on BSA Next Week

Topline

  • The MQM has challenged National Assembly opposition leader Khurshid Shah’s position following the party’s break with the PPP in the Sindh Assembly. Tahirul Qadri met with partners in Lahore on Monday and agreed that the PAT would not hold public demonstrations during Muharram. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan disowned their former spokesman after he split with the group and pledged support to ISIS. Afghanistan’s parliament will vote on the U.S. Bilateral Security Agreement next week. The Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction released a critical report on U.S. counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan over the past decade; opium cultivation reached record highs in 2013. Four ANA soldiers were killed in a bus stop bombing in Kabul on Tuesday. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has issued an interim order allowing the government to proceed with the privatization of a 10% stake of the Oil and Gas Development Company Ltd.

Pakistan — Security

  • FATA Operations: Local militants have reportedly warned Bara residents in Khyber not to flee the area ahead of military operations, and have destroyed the homes of at least thirty fighters who have surrendered to authorities. A Lashkar-e-Islam commander and 80 fighters reportedly surrendered on Monday. On Tuesday, a civilian was killed and two injured in cross-border mortar fire into Bajaur; three Pakistani Frontier Corps soldiers in Bajaur were injured in firing from Afghanistan’s Kunar province on Monday.
  • Former TTP Spokesman Dismissed: Following the announcement by former Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesman Shahidullah Shahid (a nom de guerre) that he and five other commanders had split from the group and endorsed the leadership of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the TTP announced on Tuesday that Shahid — whose real name is Abu Omar Sheikh Maqbool — would no longer be allowed to speak on the group’s behalf. Another, unidentified militant has been appointed to take over the spokesman position; the TTP reiterated a pledge of allegiance to Mullah Omar in their statement. [BBC]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • MQM Split: Following the MQM’s resignation from the Sindh provincial government coalition in the wake of critical comments by PPP leader Bilalwal Bhutto Zardari, leaders from the PPP and MQM continued to trade accusations during assembly proceedings on Monday. In the national assembly, the party filed a motion challenging PPP opposition leader Khurshid Shah’s position; should the PTI join the MQM in opposition, the two would have 57 seats against the PPP’s 46, allowing for a selection of opposition leader. Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani offered to serve as a “neutral mediator” between the MQM and PPP on Tuesday. [ET]
  • Protests Continue: Speaking to supporters in Islamabad on Monday, Imran Khan suggested that he would call off the sit-ins if Prime Minister Sharif were willing to declare his “real assets” to the public. Imran also criticized rising electricity prices, and claimed that the party would hold protests in all district headquarters around the country on Wednesday in opposition to recent reports of a tariff increase. Tahirul Qadri met with the PML-Q and other PAT allies in Lahore on Monday, agreeing that the party would not hold any “public meetings and processions” during the month of Muharram. On Monday, the Supreme Court rejected a PTI plea for Judge Jawwad Khawaja to recuse himself form a case brought by the party seeking Prime Minister Sharif’s disqualification from office. [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • ARY News Suspended: On Monday, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority imposed a 15-day suspension and Rs 10 million fine on ARY News for alleged defamatory remarks against the judiciary by anchor Mubasher Lucman, a vocal opponent of the Sharif government. The Lahore High Court is also hearing a case against Lucman and ARY producers, who have not appeared at proceedings; arrest warrants were issued Friday. [BBC] [ET]
  • Elections: The Supreme Court gave Punjab and Sindh until the end of the month to finalize legislation regarding the process for delimiting local government constituencies; the Sindh Assembly passed legislation in that regard on Monday in the absence of the MQM. The Election Commission has said that it needs five months to make preparations for biometric polling in Khyber Paktunkhwa; Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak insisted that the government was ready for polling. Separately, the national assembly committee on electoral reforms has amassed a total of 1,283 recommendations from a variety of electoral organizations, and is now in the process of vetting them. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Supreme Court Oks OGDCL Privatization: In an interim order on Monday, the Supreme Court approved the government’s plan to privatize a 10% stake of the Oil and Gas Development Company Ltd, but barred it from using funds garnered from the sale until a final verdict was announced on the Khyber Paktunkhwa provincial government’s challenge. Hearings will resume November 10. [Dawn]
  • Electricity Tariff Increase: Water and Power Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif defended the government’s planned electricity tariff increase in senate testimony on Monday, suggesting that the government had reduced other surcharges for a “net zero” impact on consumers. [APP] [ET]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Sartaj Aziz Downplays Rift with Iran [Dawn]
  • Islamabad High Court Reiterates Order to Police to File Charges Against Former CIA Station Chief [ET]
  • Suspects Identified in Edhi Robbery [NYT] [Dawn] [ET]
  • Current Account Deficit During First Quarter Widens to $1.33 Billion [ET]
  • Chinese Solar MOU Cancelled [ET]
  • No Settlement on Reko Diq Dispute, Balochistan Chief Minister Says [Dawn]
  • New Gwadar Airport Construction Re-Approved at Rs 26.6 Billion Cost [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Kabul Bombing: Four Afghan National Army soldiers were killed in a bus stop bombing in Kabul on Tuesday; twelve other people, including six civilians, were injured. Officials indicate the bomb was triggered remotely; the Taliban claimed responsibility.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Parliament to Vote on Bilateral Security Agreement: The Wolesi Jirga will review and vote on the U.S.-Afghan Bilateral Security Agreement and Afghan-NATO Status of Forces Agreement beginning next week; transcripts of the two agreements are currently under review by parliamentary committees. [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Opium Cultivation: The Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction released a report on Tuesday criticizing U.S. efforts to contain opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, which have cost $7.6 billion over the past decade but which have made no effective dent in supply; cultivation reached a record high in 2013, according to the UN Office of Drugs and Crime surveys. [LAT] [SIGAR Report (pdf)]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Attorney General’s Office Seeks to Detain Kabul Bank Accused [TOLO]
  • Cabinet Appointments Still Under Review [TOLO]
  • Ministry of Interior Seeks to Recruit Additional 10,000 Female ANP Officers By Next Year [Khaama Press]
  • Afghani Decreases Against the Dollar as Central Bank Market Supply Dries Up [TOLO]
  • Commentary: Is the Afghan Unity Government a Roadmap for Negotiations with the Taliban? – “Negotiating a constitutional amendment to establish a mixed system risks combining the institutions of president and prime minister in such a way as to leave no authoritative mechanism to resolve conflicts between them.” [Barnett Rubin, South Asia Channel]
  • Commentary: A Fighting Season to Remember in Afghanistan – “While the ANSF appears capable of beating back most, though not all, Taliban offensives, there are cracks in the facade that bear watching.” [Jason Lyall, Monkey Cage]
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