Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: PTI Insists on ‘Unconditional’ Talks with Government; New U.S. Ambassador to Kabul Confirmed

Topline

  • As supporters carried out a day of mourning for the PTI activist killed in Faisalabad on Monday, party leaders said that they would only engage in negotiations in the government if it dropped any preconditions for talks. The death of an MQM district vice president in Sialkot has prompted Altaf Hussain to suspend the party’s Rabita Committee leadership in Karachi and London. Reuters reports that Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif has agreed to push the Afghan Taliban into talks with the Afghan government in exchange for U.S. assurances of support for action against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. The U.S. Senate confirmed Peter McKinley to succeed James Cunningham as ambassador to Kabul. Prime Minister Sharif and senior military leaders met on Tuesday to approve military planning for the eventual repatriation of families displaced by operations in North Waziristan. Pakistan State Oil has sent a “final warning” to Pakistan International Airlines to pay Rs 12.1 billion in dues or face fuel supply shut-off.

Pakistan — Security

  • FATA Operations: Pakistani military officials claim to have killed 11 militants in airstrikes in the Khyber Agency on Tuesday. Prime Minister Sharif chaired a meeting of senior military and civilian leaders in Islamabad on Tuesday to review operations in the FATA, concluding that “peace has been restored as a result of this operation and it’ll contribute towards ensuring peace in the entire region.” The meeting approved a “phased rehabilitation” of families displaced from North Waziristan, and gave the army the lead in establishing a “comprehensive strategy” following the model in Swat after operations in 2009. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • PTI Insists on ‘Unconditional’ Talks: PTI activists observed a “day of mourning” on Tuesday in the wake of activist Haq Nawaz’s death in Faisalabad the day prior; protestors blocked roads in parts of Islamabad and Rawalpindi for portions of the day. Former Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, who is accused by the PTI of fomenting the violence, filed cases against PTI leaders with the police, blaming them for “creating anarchy and instability” and PTI protests around his house on Monday. PTI spokeswoman Shireen Mazari told reporters on Tuesday that the party would not accept any pre-conditions on the resumption of negotiations and that further protest plans would continue until an agreement was reached. Prime Minister Sharif is expected to meet with advisors and senior political leaders on Wednesday to consider the resumption of talks; Imran Khan told a press conference on Wednesday that “in principle, we should not talk to the government” but that “we want to continue talks at the point where they broke off from.” PPP parliamentary opposition leader Khurshid Shah offered to serve as an intermediary in talks. Meanwhile, the Pakistani Awami Tehreek has announced that it will resume protests on December 17; it is unclear whether Tahirul Qadri will return from abroad to participate. [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • MQM Leader Killed, Leadership Overhauled: Bao Muhammad Anwar, the MQM district vice president in Sialkot, was killed by unidentified gunmen on Tuesday evening. MQM leader-in-exile Altaf Hussain was publicly critical of the response of the party’s Rabita Committee leadership body — whose membership he has replaced several times in the past few years — saying that “I don’t want this Rabita committee. I want brave people who are unafraid to give their lives, but not those who will sell their peoples land.” The Express Tribune reports that Hussain has suspended the committees in London and Karachi.
  • Election Complaints: National Assembly speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq will file a contempt of court petition in the Lahore High Court against the election tribunal judge who ordered a recount of ballots from his NA-122 constituency earlier this week, Dawn reports, complaining that the decision was made without hearing from him or any supporting witnesses. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Polio Crisis: Polio vaccination campaigns were suspended in Islamabad and parts of Lahore on Tuesday, with officials citing a lack of available police and concerns over security.
  • Energy Crisis: Pakistan State Oil has issued a “final notice” to Pakistan International Airlines, warning that it will suspend fuel supplies if the airline does not pay Rs 12.1 billion in dues by Thursday.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • US to Provide $11M for Karachi Police Surveillance Network [Dawn]
  • Malala Yousafzai to Accept Joint Nobel at Ceremony Today [NYT] [BBC] [BBC] [ET] [ET]
  • Sindh Chief Minister Seeks Probe Into Deaths of Sindhi Nationalists [Dawn]
  • Special Treason Court Extends Deadline for Expanded Prosecutions [Dawn]
  • Five More Dead in Tharparkar [ET]
  • Islamization of Khyber Paktunkhwa Textbooks Sparks Debate [AFP]
  • Federal Government Considering Collecting Agricultural Electricity Subsidy at Source [ET]
  • Pakistan and Iran Sign Five Memorandums of Understanding [ET]
  • Prime Minister Lifts Taxes on Solar Panel Imports [Dawn] [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Pakistan Relations: An anonymous Pakistani official source tells Reuters that in talks during his visit to Washington last month, Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif agreed to push the Afghan Taliban into talks with the Afghan government, provided the U.S. assist in targeting the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. In an oped published in Afghanistan’s 8AM newspaper, former Afghan National Security Advisor Rangeen Dadfar Spanta criticized the transfer of TTP commander Latif Mehsud from U.S. custody to Pakistan, saying that it represented a “clear breach of Afghanistan’s sovereignty.” [ET]
  • Detainee Releases: 62 prisoners were reportedly freed on Tuesday from Pul-e-Charki prison, following orders by former Pres. Karzai issued in August on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr; prison sources claim that most are affiliated with the Taliban. The Attorney General’s office says only 55 have been released, and “we can’t say clearly how many of them were Taliban”. [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • New U.S. Ambassador Confirmed: On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Peter McKinley, the current deputy ambassador to Afghanistan, to succeed Ambassador James Cunningham, who has held the position since 2012. McKinley is a career diplomat who previously served as ambassador to Colombia and Peru. Pres. Obama spoke with Pres. Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah by videoconference on Tuesday, thanking them for the “timely ratification of the Bilateral Security Agreement and NATO Status of Forces Agreement” and discussed future support for the Afghan national security forces.

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Bribery and Corruption: Marking International Anti-Corruption Day on Tuesday, analysts with the group Integrity Watch Afghanistan estimate that Afghans paid nearly $1.2 billion in bribes in 2014, and that more than 1.2 million acres of land have been seized illegally.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Made Rich by U.S. Presence, Many in Kandahar Now Face an Uncertain Future [NYT]
  • Pentagon Contractor Supreme Fined $389 Million for Overcharging on Afghan Supply Contract [WSJ] [Khaama Press]
  • Congress Considering 4,000 More Visas for Afghan Interpreters [Khaama Press]
  • Factory Owners Criticize Ban on Cargo Trucks in Kabul [TOLO]
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