Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Pakistan Criticizes US-India Nuclear Ties; Afghan Parliament Rejects 10 Out of 19 Ministers

Topline

  • Following the conclusion of Pres. Obama’s visit to India on Tuesday, Pakistan’s foreign ministry criticized proposals for India to enter the Nuclear Suppliers Group and UN Security Council, warning against the destabilization of strategic balance in South Asia. The Afghan parliament voted to confirm eight out of eighteen ministers and the head of the National Directorate of Security, rejecting the rest. Parliament also voted to approve a modified 2015 fiscal year budget, but reportedly placed freezes on funds for the Chief Executive Officer’s staff pending parliamentary approval of that office. Prime Minister Sharif huddled with senior advisors on Tuesday to consider a range of national issues. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has begun hearing challenges to the 21st amendment introducing military courts. The Islamabad High Court will hear an appeal from Mumtaz Qadri, the former bodyguard who killed Punjab governor Salman Taseer in 2011, against his death sentence.

Pakistan — Security

  • FATA Operations: Military officials reported killing as many as 92 militant suspects in airstrikes carried out in the North Waziristan and Khyber Agencies on Tuesday; officials indicated that a least a dozen of the dead were foreigners, primarily Uzbek nationals. No independent confirmation of these reports is available. Chief of Army Staff Sharif visited the Mohmand Agency on Tuesday, where he vowed to never abandon these areas without fully restoring them to functional normalcy”. [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Military Courts: On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard a petition filed by the Lahore High Court Bar Association challenging the introduction of military courts through the 21st Amendment, requesting responses from the attorney general and the four provincial advocates general by the next hearing, scheduled for February 12. On Tuesday, the national Pakistan Bar Council indicated that it would file another petition challenging the courts, and called for a symbolic protest on January 29. [ET]
  • Taseer Murder Case: On Tuesday, the Islamabad High Court agreed to hear a three-year old appeal filed by Mumtaz Qadri, the bodyguard who assassinated former Punjab governor Salman Taseer in 2011 after his advocacy for changing the country’s blasphemy laws, and was sentenced to death in October 2011. Dawn reports that a team of as many as 90 lawyers appeared at the court to defend Qadri, headed by Khawaja Mohammad Sharif, a former chief justice of the Lahore High Court. The federal government has yet to appoint a lawyer to lead the case.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • India Relations: In a statement issued on Tuesday following the conclusion of Pres. Obama’s visit to India, the Pakistani foreign ministry objected to proposals to induct India into the international Nuclear Suppliers Group, and also voiced opposition to granting India a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. The statement warned that “the operationalization of Indo-US nuclear deal for political and economic expediencies would have a detrimental impact on deterrence stability in South Asia” and said that “Pakistan values its relations with the United States and expects it to play a constructive role for strategic stability and balance in South Asia.” Prime Minister Sharif called the Pakistani ambassador to New Delhi, Abdul Basit, back to Islamabad on Wednesday for consultations in the wake of the Obama-Modi meetings. [NYT] [LAT] [ET] [ET] [Dawn]
  • Leadership Huddle: Prime Minister Sharif convened a meeting of senior PML-N party leaders and aides in Murree on Tuesday to consider responses to the national energy crisis, the upcoming senate elections, and the implementation of the National Action Plan for counterterrorism, among other issues. [ET] [Dawn]
  • Deal Reached on Quetta Mayor: On Tuesday, the PkMAP, National Party, and PML-N reached an agreement to nominate Dr Kaleemullah Khan of the PkMAP as the mayor of Quetta, with Younus Lehri as deputy mayor. A coalition of JUI-Nazriati, ANP, and Hazara Democratic Party have put forward rival candidates; a vote by local councilors will be held on January 28. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • National Accountability Bureau Leadership Shakeup Following Retirements [Dawn]
  • Arrested Islamic State Recruiter Claims Funded Routed Through United States [ET]
  • Musharraf Blames Kayani for Delay in Action Against Taliban [Dawn]
  • Anti-Charlie Hebdo Protestors Storm Bannu Christian School [AFP]
  • Claims of Rangers Raid on Karachi Citizen Police Liaison Committee Reversed [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • ANP Pushes Regional Language Bill [Dawn]
  • Khyber Paktunkhwa Teachers Receive Firearms Training [ET]
  • Karachi Electric Signs Deal with CMEC on $1 Billion Coal Power Plants [ET]
  • Textile Policy Still Unfinished [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Attacks: A bomb inside a police checkpost at the Islam Qala road in Herat exploded on Wednesday, killing one female police officer and wounding another officer; no claim of responsibility has been reported and investigations are ongoing. A bomb planted on a motorcycle in a Kandahar marketplace wounded four police officers and four civilians on Wednesday; no claim of responsibility has been reported. [TOLO] [TOLO]
  • Arrest in Swedish Journalist’s Killing: The National Directorate of Security announced on Wednesday that it had arrested a commander of the ‘Mahaz-e-Fedayeen’ (Suicide Front), identified as Nooruallah aka Farooqui. The group has been linked to the assassination of Swedish radio journalist Nils Horner in March 2014, and to the assassination of the Logar provincial governor in October 2013.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Cabinet Confirmation Votes: On Wednesday, the Wolesi Jirga voted on eighteen ministerial nominees and the head of the National Directorate of Security, rejecting nine out of the 19 overall candidates. Nominees for the ministries of defense, economy, higher education, education, communications, public works, water and energy, commerce and industry, transport and aviation, and borders and tribal affairs were all rejected by parliamentarians for failing to clear a majority. TOLO lists the voting tallies. Earlier, a majority of the lower house of parliament voted to exclude Najeeba Ayubi, minister of women’s affairs, from consideration on the grounds that she lacked documentation showing a bachelor’s degree. [Khaama Press]
  • Taliban Talks: In comments to the Express Tribune, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed previous reports that a Taliban delegation had visited China last fall, but maintained that the visit was undertaken to maintain “good relations with the world,” not to seek assistance in mediating talks with the Afghan government.

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Budget Approved: On Wednesday, the Wolesi Jirga approved a revised draft national budget for the 2015 fiscal year, which officially began December 22, 2014.The budget was revised downward to total Afs 436.17 billion, split between an Afs 283.48 operating budget and Afs 152.68 development budget. Approximately 70% of the budget will be funded through foreign assistance and the rest through domestic revenues. In approving the draft, members of parliament suspended funds for the offices of the Chief Executive Officer and the president’s economic advisor, pending approval of those offices by parliament.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • USAID Suspends IRD, Largest Contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan [WAPO]
  • Pentagon Disputes Decision Made in Bergdahl Case [WAPO]
  • Ghani Sets Up Complaints Hotline [Khaama Press]
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