- Islamabad police and Oil and Gas Development Company Ltd workers clashed in Islamabad as the latter sought to march on parliament to protest the government’s privatization plans; opposition senators denounced the government’s response. A Predator drone strike in South Waziristan killed four militant suspects on Thursday. A new SIGAR quarterly report notes that the Pentagon now classifies its assessments of the combat capabilities of Afghan security service units. Pakistani military spokesmen complain that Afghanistan is not taking action against Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan fighters on their territory. Pakistan’s National Assembly speaker said he would refer the question of PTI legislators’ resignations to the Election Commission after a standoff over the legislators’ individual confirmation of their intent to resign on Wednesday. The Pakistani Supreme Court has given the government until November 13 to name a Chief Election Commissioner; an Election Commission request to delay local elections in Sindh and Punjab was rejected. The Afghan Supreme Court has established a special tribunal to re-hear the Kabul Bank case. Iran-Pakistan talks on their prospective natural gas pipeline focused on the import of Liquified Natural Gas through Oman as an alternative, the Express Tribune reports.
Pakistan — Security
- Predator Strikes: A Predator drone strike was reported in South Waziristan’s Barmal area on Thursday, killing at least four militant suspects, including one Arab national identified as “Adil”. The Pakistani foreign ministry condemned the strike as a violation of Pakistani solidarity at the ministry’s standing Thursday press briefing. [AFP]
- FATA Operations: Military officials say that twenty-one militants and eight soldiers were killed in ground operations in Khyber Agency’s Spin Qamar area on Wednesday. At least 18,000 people have been displaced by the current fighting in Khyber. [AP]
Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- Clashes Between Police and OGDCL Workers: Dozens of people were injured in a clash between Islamabad police and workers for the Oil and Gas Development Company Ltd on Wednesday, who rallied near parliament to protest the government’s decisions to privatize a 10% share in the company. At least two dozen workers were arrested. Opposition senators criticized the government response in speeches on Thursday, calling for Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan’s removal and denouncing the privatization policy. [ET]
- PTI Standoff: National Assembly speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and 25 PTI legislators faced off on Wednesday, as the party refused to accept Sadiq’s demand that legislators individual confirm their intention to resign from their seats. Afterwards, Sadiq indicated that he had “no option but to involve the Election Commission of Pakistan to resolve the issue”. PTI Vice President Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who led the delegation, reiterated to reporters afterwards that the PTI had resigned from its seats, accusing the government of “continuing to practice the politics of horse trading.” An anonymous ECP official told reporters on Wednesday that the commission has no role to play in determining legislators’ resignation status, and that it could only take action once a vacancy has been confirmed. Opposition mediators have urged the government not to accept the resignations. Separately, Islamabad police registered cases against PTI demonstrators who rallied outside ECP offices on Tuesday. Police have also re-established shipping container barriers around the PTI’s sit-in site, which they say is part of broader Muharram security measures in the capital. [The Nation] [Dawn] [The Nation]
- Elections: Responding to requests for further delays by the government and PPP opposition, the Supreme Court extended its deadline for the appointment of a Chief Election Commissioner until November 13. The court rejected the notion that the parliamentary committee on electoral reforms should be allowed to complete its work first before the appointment is made. At the hearing, the Election Commission of Pakistan also requested a 6-9 month delay in local elections in Sindh and Punjab, to allow for the delimitation of constituencies; this was also rejected. [Dawn]
Pakistan — Economics and Development
- Polio Crisis: Four new cases of polio were recorded on Wednesday, bringing the nationwide total so far this year to 231. A meeting on Thursday of national and provincial health officials echoed the federal health ministry in rejecting the International Monitoring Board’s recommendation that the National Disaster Management Authority be tasked with leading polio vaccination efforts.
- Energy Crisis: Pakistani and Iranian officials agreed to “look for a middle ground” that would allow them to resume work on the Iran-Pakistan natural gas pipeline, Pakistani petroleum minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told the Express Tribune after meetings earlier this week. Anonymous sources indicate that the Pakistani delegation expressed an inability to proceed with the project as long as U.S. sanctions remain in place; an alternate proposal was reportedly raised to convert Iranian gas into Liquified Natural Gas for import via Oman. The cabinet Economic Coordination Committee slashed taxes on LNG imports on Wednesday. [ET]
Pakistan — Remainders
- Pakistan Delivers Formal Protest to India on Latest Border Exchange [Dawn] [ET]
- Prime Minister Directs Relief Supplies for Ongoing Thar Famine [Dawn] [ET]
- Balochistan Frontier Corps Seizes Explosives Cache [Dawn]
- MQM Draws Back Criticism of PPP’s Khurshid Shah [ET] [Dawn] [ET]
- Maryam Nawaz Appointment to Head Youth Loan Program Challenged in IHC [Dawn]
- Petroleum Price Reduction Expected [Dawn]
Afghanistan — Security
- ANSF Assessments Classified: TIME notes that a new SIGAR quarterly report to Congress, released Thursday, has criticized the Department of Defense for classifying its capability assessments of Afghan military units, which were previously made public in the Pentagon’s biannual progress reports on Afghan operations. ISAF officials did not respond to requests for comment.
- Border Tensions: Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Pakistan’s chief military spokesman accused the Afghan government of failing to take action against Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan militants sheltering on its side of the border, including TTP chief Maulana Fazlullah.
Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- Kabul Bank Trial: On Wednesday, the Afghan Supreme Court overruled a lower court’s rejection of the Attorney General’s reopening of the Kabul Bank case, and announced that it would hold a special trial for the case. No major new arrests have taken place in the case since Pres. Ghani’s inaugural orders to reopen the issue; a spokesman for the attorney general’s office suggested that action would take place within two weeks.
- Supreme Court Appointments: In a speech at a university in China on Thursday, Pres. Ghani indicated that he would appoint a female judge to the Afghan Supreme Court, who would be the first such appointee. He did not indicate when that appointment might take place.
Afghanistan — Remainders
- Ghani Emphasizes Economic Linkages in Beijing Speeches [TOLO]
- Report: Quarterly Report to Congress, October 2014 [SIGAR (pdf)]
- Commentary: Provincial Council Results Creaking Under the Weight of Manipulation – “As in previous elections, the outcome as a result has become at best random, at worst heavily manipulated and unreliable – and in reality probably somewhere in between.” [Martine van Bijlert, AAN]