Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Jamaatul Ahrar Threatens India Attacks; TFBSO Supported Iranian Investments in Afghanistan

Topline

  • The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s Jamaat-ul Ahrar faction spokesman warned on Wednesday that the group was prepared to carry out attacks against India, following this weekend’s bombing of the Wagah border crossing. Prime Minister Sharif met with Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif and with outgoing ISI director general Zaheerul Islam on Wednesday. The Pentagon’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations sought to receive sanction waivers to allow for the indirect support of Iranian business investments in Afghanistan, the WSJ reports. Russia has completed the delivery of the last 30 Mil Mi-17V-5 military transport helicopters to Afghanistan. Prime Minister Sharif chaired a meeting of provincial and federal officials on Wednesday, vowing to vaccinate all Pakistani children from polio within the next six months. A spokesman for Pres. Ghani suggested that cabinet appointments would be finalized with the next ten days. The Supreme Court of Pakistan held hearings on petitions seeking Prime Minister Sharif’s disqualification from office; hearings will continue November 10.

Pakistan — Security

  • TTP-Jamaat ul Ahrar Threats India Attacks: On Wednesday, the TTP-Jamaat-ul Ahrar faction’s spokesman, who earlier claimed responsibility for the weekend attack at the Wagah border crossing, claimed that the group was prepared to carry out attacks in India as well. Spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan reaffirmed the group’s claim of responsibility for the Wagah bombing, saying the group had targeted Pakistani security services.
  • Military Meetings: Prime Minister Sharif met with Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif on Wednesday to review the national security situation, including the Wagah attack and ongoing operations in North Waziristan; details of their discussions are limited. Sharif also met separately with outgoing ISI director general Lt. Gen. Zaheerul Islam, who will be succeeded upon retirement by Lt. Gen. Rizwan Akhtar on November 7.
  • India Tensions: Indian defense minister Arun Jaitley told Indian reporters on Wednesday that Pakistan must make a “conscious choice” as to whether or not it wanted to “speak to the Government of India or … to those who want to break India”, a reference to Kashmiri separatist leaders. Jaitley added that “India would like to normalise the relationship. But whether Pakistan wants to normalise the relationship depends on Pakistan”. On Tuesday, three children were killed when a mortar shell exploded in a village in the Narowal area. [ET]
  • Arrests in Christian Couples’ Murders: Punjab police have arrested as many as 44 suspects in connection to a mob attack on a Christian couple accused of desecrating the Quran. Officials say the attack was not organized by any particular sectarian group; the NYT notes a dispute over money between the couple, who worked as brick kiln laborers, and their employer. A statement by Prime Minister Sharif condemned the attack and ordered “no mercy” for those involved. [AJE]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Sharif Disqualification Hearing: The Supreme Court held further hearings on Wednesday on two petitions brought by representatives of the PTI and PML-Q seeking Prime Minister Sharif’s disqualification from office over alleged false remarks made during parliamentary hearings regarding the role of military mediators in the standoff with opposition protestors earlier this summer. Judge Jawwad Khawaja insisted that the court would act in accordance with the constitution regardless of whether or not that resulted in the prime minister’s dismissal; hearings have been adjourned until November 10. [ET]
  • Facebook Censorship: In the first six months of the year, the Pakistani government sent Facebook 1,773 requests to restrict content, up ten times from the preceding six months. After India and Turkey, Pakistan sent the third largest number of requests for content restriction of any country. [ET]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Polio Crisis: Prime Minister Sharif chaired a meeting of the Polio Steering Committee in Islamabad on Wednesday, which was attended by chief ministers from all four provinces. Sharif vowed that polio “will not be tolerated” and pledged to personally supervise a campaign to vaccinate all children of Pakistan within the next six months. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Security Relaxed as Ashura Ends Without Violence [ET]
  • Five Killed in Tirah Valley Operations [Dawn]
  • Four Suspects Arrested as Sikh Pilgrims Gather for Celebrations [ET]
  • Government Official Killed in Multan [Dawn]
  • Chinese Foreign Ministry Officials Back Resolution of India-Pakistan Tensions [APP]
  • Twelve Afghan Nationals Freed in Balochistan’s Chaghi District [Dawn]
  • 20% Import Duty Imposed on Wheat [Reuters]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Russia Completes Helicopter Delivery: Russia completed the delivery of a final batch of thirty Mil Mi-17V-5 military transport helicopters to Afghanistan, officials announced this week, part of a batch of 63 helicopters delivered in total since an agreement was signed with the US Department of Defense in 2011.
  • Detainee Transferred: On Tuesday, Irek Ilgiz Hamidullin, a former Russian tank commander who had subsequently joined the Taliban and was captured by U.S. forces in 2009, appeared in a Virginia courthouse where he was indicted on a dozen terrorism-related charges. Hamidullin had been held at the Bagram military detention center since capture; he is the first such detainee to be transferred to the U.S. court system. [AJE]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Cabinet Appointments: Presidential spokesman Nazifullah Salarzai told reporters on Tuesday that discussions over cabinet appointments are being “fast-tracked,” and said that announcements would be made within the next ten days, before the end of a 45-day deadline set by Pres. Ghani.

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Exemptions Sought for Iranian Investment: The WSJ reports that the Pentagon’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations has in the past two years sought sanctions special exemptions to indirectly assist Iranian businesses in establishing Afghanistan’s first pharmaceutical company and to develop four mines, part of broader efforts to promote investment in the country and a case of tentative outreach by the administration to Iran within a larger sanctions regime. Those efforts were ultimately unsuccessful, and the task force’s mandate will expire this year.
  • Chinese Trade: Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries head Atiqullah Nasrat told reporters on Tuesday that during recent Beijing visits, Pres. Ghani and Chinese officials agreed to support a trade and transit route linking Afghanistan’s narrow Wakhan corridor with western China, and that a Chinese delegation will visit Afghanistan soon to begin assessments.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Herat’s Shindand District Headquarters Attacked [TOLO] [Khaama Press]
  • Legislators Criticize Contracting of Afghan Satellite [TOLO]
  • Ghani Pledges Justice for Victims of Badakshan Gang Rape [BBC]
  • Report: Biannual Report to Congress on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan, October 2014 – “The Taliban continued to test the ANSF, but failed to achieve its objectives, including disrupting both the first and second round of the Afghan presidential elections.“ [U.S. Department of Defense (pdf)]
  • Interview: Abdul Raziq Defends Tactics Against Taliban – “All the efforts towards peace are a waste because we can’t have peace in our homeland unless we stop Pakistan from interfering in our country.” [RFE/RL]
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