- A team of Taliban suicide bombers targeted the Green Village compound, which houses a variety of foreign contractors and personnel; all the attackers were killed, with no other casualties reported. NDS officials note that attacks on Kabul have risen over the past year, despite an overall decline in the number of Taliban attacks. Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told a press conference on Wednesday that the government was ready to permit a large PTI rally planned for November 30 in Islamabad, but only so long as it remain peaceful; roughly 20,000 police officers are being called up to provide extra security. Tahirul Qadri returned to Pakistan after several weeks abroad on Thursday. Chief of Army Staff Sharif continued meetings with U.S. officials in Washington, telling an embassy audience that current military operations are targeting militant groups “without any discrimination”. Former Pres. Karzai told an Indian think tank audience on Wednesday that Afghanistan “would never allow” a proxy war between Pakistan and India on its territory. Russia’s defense minister has arrived in Islamabad for talks on defense cooperation.
Pakistan — Security
- COAS Visit: Speaking at a reception hosted by Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S. on Wednesday, Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif reiterated that Pakistan’s military operations in North Waziristan and the FATA were being carried out “against all hues and colors, and it is without any discrimination, whether it is Haqqani network or TTP or anything”. Sharif added that “Zarb-e-Azb is not just a military offensive but is a concept to defeat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. The anti-terror campaign is not restricted to Waziristan and Khyber tribal areas but covers the whole country”. Sharif met earlier with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Armed Services Committee, and Intelligence Committee, as well as National Security Advisor Rice. [Dawn]
- Russian Cooperation: Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu arrived in Islamabad for a day of meetings with Prime Minister Sharif and other senior officials, aimed at increasing defense cooperation between Russia and Pakistan.
Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- Protests Continue: Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that the government would not stop the PTI from conducting a large rally planned for November 30, provided that it remained a “peaceful political gathering”. Roughly 22,000 police officers have been recalled to duty to provide security, following the withdrawal of army forces from the capital. Meanwhile, Tahirul Qadri returned to Pakistan after several weeks of travel abroad, arriving in Lahore on Thursday; at a press conference held on arrival, he rejected a new government investigation into June clashes between Lahore police and Pakistan Awami Tehreek activists, and denied any rifts between his party and the PTI. [APP] [Dawn]
- Election Commissioner Appointment: Government and opposition sources tell Dawn that neither Prime Minister Sharif nor PPP opposition leader Syed Khurshid Shah are likely to be able to meet in person prior to the Supreme Court’s latest November 24 deadline for the appointment of a Chief Election Commissioner; Finance Minister Dar suggested that the two leaders might make an announcement after further talks by phone, however. Former Judge Tariq Pervez Khan is reported to be the top remaining contender after several other candidates withdrew or were rejected by opposition parties.
Pakistan — Economics and Development
- Energy Crisis: Speaking at a meeting of the cabinet committee on energy on Wednesday, Prime Minister Sharif suggested that the government planned to further reduce petroleum prices next month, and reiterated his commitment to resolving the country’s electricity woes. Speaking at a Thursday press conference, Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif reiterated the government’s commitment to developing a 1320-megawatt coal power plant in Thar by 2017. [APP] [Dawn]
Pakistan — Remainders
- UK Court Rules Pakistani Held by British Forces in Iraq Without Charge Has Right to Sue [NYT] [AFP]
- PPP Leader Acknowledges Deaths of Nearly 300 Tharparkar Children This Year [AFP]
- Finance Minister’s Intervention in IMF Talks Cleared Staff Concerns Over Reform Benchmarks [ET]
- Nawaz Sharif Meets with Kashmir Council in Muzzafarabad, Calls for Dialogue [Dawn]
- Asian Development Bank Pledges Financial Assistance for Balochistan [Dawn]
- Government Considering Rice Subsidy as Prices Fall [ET]
- Commentary: Can India and Pakistan Go Green? – “Both countries suffer from massive population densities, deteriorating environments, the fragmentation of habitats, huge burdens on infrastructure, limited capacities to deal with environmental issues, a largely insensitive governance structure, and a reluctant political class, all of which make it impossible for the environmental debate to assume a central role.” [Sanjay Upadhyay and Ahmad Rafay Alam, South Asia Channel]
Afghanistan — Security
- Taliban Attack Contractor Compound: On Wednesday evening, a team of Taliban suicide bombers attacked the Green Village, a compound in eastern Kabul reportedly used by security contractors, UN staff, the CIA, and other foreign personnel; it was the third attack on the site in as many years. One attacker died in a suicide car bombing at the facility’s gates, and the three others were killed in a shootout with security forces; no civilian or military casualties were reported. The Taliban confirmed responsibility for the attack. Earlier in the day, National Directorate of Security officials had noted that Taliban attacks in Kabul had increased 68%, even as overall attacks declined, suggesting a new strategy of targeting urban centers. [AJE] [TOLO]
Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- Tensions with Pakistan: Speaking at a think tank panel in New Delhi on Wednesday, former Pres. Karzai rejected suggestions from former Pres. Musharraf in an interview earlier this week that Pakistan would have to respond to alleged Indian efforts to create an “anti-Pakistan Afghanistan” with support for its own proxies. Karzai said such comments were “hurtful” and that “Afghanistan will not allow a proxy war between Pakistan and India”. Afghan legislators, meanwhile, condemned remarks by JUI-F leader Fazlur Rehman in meetings with Pres. Ghani last week, in which Rehman had called for the withdrawal of foreign forces and suggested insurgent actions were “defensive” in nature. Elsewhere, PPP opposition senators criticized statements by Pakistani Foreign Advisor Sartaj Aziz suggesting that Pakistan did not seek to target militant groups that were not a direct threat against the Pakistani state, demanding further explanation of his remarks. [Khaama Press]
- Mullah Omar Death Rumors: An otherwise unconfirmed report in Khaama Press, based on comments from the National Directorate of Security’s spokesman Hasib Seddiqi, claims that Mullah Omar has died and that the Taliban has split into three factions.
Afghanistan — Remainders
- Abdullah Abdullah Meets with Victim of Kabul Suicide Attack, Pledges to Prevent ‘Criminals’ from Attaining Power [TOLO]
- Report: Report of the Public Inquiry into Land Usurpation – “During the last decade, there have been many obstacles to fighting land usurpation. It appears that there has been no political will, insufficient legal provisions to prosecute usurpers, and a lack of security in some parts of the country.” [Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (pdf)]