Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Pakistani Officials Reject Critical Polio Report; China Pledges $327M in Xi-Ghani Talks

Topline

  • Pakistani federal health officials defended the government’s response from a scathing report by the international Independent Monitoring Board on polio, and rejected a proposal to shift responsibility for vaccination to the National Disaster Management Authority. Pres. Ghani held talks in Beijing with Chinese Pres. Xi Jinping, who pledged roughly $327 million in assistance through 2017 for Afghanistan. The Supreme Court of Pakistan rejected three petitions challenging the 2013 general elections, referring complaints to the electoral tribunals. A grenade attack on a Shia worship center in Karachi killed an infant and wounded at least even people. Renewed cross-border fire in Kashmir killed one Pakistani civilian on Tuesday. Pakistani Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif will visit the U.S. in mid-November. Salary supplements for at least 56 district governors have not been paid this year, the Afghan Independent Directorate of Local Governance reports.

Pakistan — Security

  • Indian Border Clashes: A Pakistani civilian was killed in renewed cross-border artillery fire near the Line of Control in Kashmir, Pakistani military officials report. [Dawn]
  • Sectarian Attacks: A grenade thrown into a Shia worship center in Karachi on Tuesday evening injured at least seven people, mostly women and children, and killed an infant. The Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen party condemned the attack and demanded tightened security through the month of Muharram. No claim of responsibility has been reported. Separately in Islamabad, the capital administration has banned ten clerics noted for their sectarian messaging from entering the city during Muharram. [ET]
  • Karachi Airport Attack Arrests: Karachi police report that they have arrested four suspects, identified as members of Al Qaeda and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, who provided logistical support to militants taking part in the June attack on the Karachi airport.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • U.S. Relations: As briefly noted on Sunday, Pakistani Army Chief of Staff Raheel Sharif will visit the U.S. beginning November 16, the first such trip since 2010. He is expected to meet with senior Pentagon officials for talks focused on the extension of Coalition Support Fund support, and the ongoing operations in North Waziristan. On Tuesday, Special Representative Daniel Feldman held talks with Gen. Sharif and with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who renewed calls for a permanent halt to the use of Predator drone strikes in Pakistan. In a roundtable with local press, Feldman suggested that relations with Pakistan were shifting “from assistance-based to trade”, although he did not provide details on steps in that regard. Feldman urged the Pakistani government to engage with the new Afghan administration, and backed the normalization of Pakistani-India ties.
  • Election Disputes: On Wednesday, the Supreme Court issued a ruling rejecting three pending petitions seeking to void the outcome of the 2013 general elections, concluding that complaints regarding the outcome should be directed to electoral tribunals. Separately, the National Database and Registration Authority has verified the thumb impressions of all but 179 votes cast in NA-154 Lodhran, one of four constituencies that the PTI had originally demanded a recount for. Out of roughly 218,000 votes cast, roughly 20,000 were found to have been cast with invalid Computerized National ID Cards. Speaking in Islamabad on Tuesday, Imran Khan said that the PTI would hold “daily protests” in front of the Election Commission to protest inaction against the party’s fraud complaints.
  • PTI Resignations: PTI legislators refused to meet individually with National Assembly speaker Ayaz Sadiq to confirm their intent to resign from the assembly; Sadiq had set an October 29 deadline for those discussions, but party members insist they will only attend en masse. Jamaat-e-Islami and PPP mediators renewed calls for negotiation between the government and the PTI on Wednesday and urged the government not to accept the PTI resignations.

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Polio Crisis: Seven new polio cases were reported from around the country on Tuesday, bringing Pakistan’s national total to 227 new cases so far this year. Sair Afzal Tarar, the federal health minister, tells the Express Tribune that Pakistan will formally protest a recent harshly critical report by the Independent Monitoring Board on polio, which described Pakistan’s vaccination campaign as a “disaster”. Tarar insisted that “Pakistan is serious about eradicating polio and knows what is doable to achieve the set target”, and rejected the report’s proposal to shift responsibility for vaccination to the National Disaster Management Agency. Prime Minister Sharif sent messages to the four provincial governments on Tuesday urging them to “redouble their efforts” to vaccinate against polio during the upcoming winter low transmission season. [ET] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Finance Minister Presents ‘Economic Roadmap’ [Dawn]
  • Prime Minister Urges Resolution of PPP-MQM Feud [ET] [ET]
  • Coastal Pakistan Braces for Cyclone Nilofar [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Corruption Case Filed Against Former PM Ashraf Over Son-in-Law’s Appointment [Dawn] [ET]
  • National Assembly Fails to Recoup Salaries of Disqualified Legislators [ET]
  • Suicide Rising in Malnutrition-Stricken Tharparkar [ET]
  • EU Urges Moratorium on Capital Punishment [ET]
  • Report: Resetting Pakistan’s Relations with Afghanistan – “By recalibrating relations toward economic ties and seeking solutions to the presence of millions of Afghan refugees on its soil, Pakistan could engage more constructively with its neighbour.” [ICG]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Ghani Seeks Chinese Assistance: Pres. Ghani met with his counterparter Xi Jinping in Beijing on Tuesday, who expressed an interest in a “new era of cooperation” in a welcoming ceremony speech. A joint declaration on Wednesday indicated that China would pledge 2 billion yuan, or roughly $327 million, for Afghanistan through 2017. China has previously committed roughly $250 million in aid to Afghanistan since 2001, and has negotiated major oil and mining projects in Amu Darya and Aynak. The Chinese foreign ministry also indicated that Ghani had “expressed the readiness and staunch support from the Afghan side in China’s fight against East Turkistan Islamic Movement terrorist forces” in his conversations with Xi. [TOLO] [Khaama Press] [Khaama Press] [AP]
  • Provincial Council Protests: A group of legislators demanded the imposition of travel bans on Independent Election Commission members, calling for their investigation and prosecution in connection to allegations of fraud in this year’s elections. Wakil Samad, a losing provincial council candidate, has reportedly blockaded the Ghorband-Bamiyan road in Parwan to protest the announced results.
  • London Conference: UK PM Cameron spoke with Pakistani PM Sharif on Tuesday by phone and invited him to attend the upcoming London conference on Afghan assistance; a specific date for the meeting has not been announced.

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Fiscal Crisis: The head of the Independent Directorate of Local Governance’s finance department tells TOLO that at least 56 district governors have not received special incentive scaled-up salary payments for the past year, which the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission attributes to the government’s ongoing budget shortfalls. [TOLO]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • SIGAR Audit Finds U.S.-Supported Overhaul of Pul-i-Charki Prison Incomplete [WAPO] [Foreign Policy]
  • Two Killed, 15 Wounded in Herat Attack [TOLO] [AJE]
  • Commentary: On the Road Through Beijing (and Kathmandu): The New Afghan Leadership’s Attempts to Engage with Asia – “This can be seen as part of an emerging diversification of the Afghan foreign relations by the new political leadership in Kabul, trying to slowly move away from the country’s over-dependence on its US-led, mainly Western allies and international organisations such as the UN, towards emerging and dynamic Asian powers.” [S. Reza Kazemi, AAN]
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