Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: MQM Activists Released, But Senior Leader Charged; Taliban and Women MPs Meet in Norway

Topline

  • The Rangers have released 38 MQM party workers detained in earlier raids, but have transferred the case of party leader Amir Khan, accused of “harboring criminals” at party headquarters, to the Karachi police for prosecution. A meeting of the Sindh provincial apex committee on Thursday agreed to prioritize crackdowns on sources of terrorist financing, officials said afterwards. Taliban representatives “in individual capacity” and several female members of parliament and the Afghan High Peace Council met in Norway earlier this week for informal talks, officials on both sides confirmed. Eight of the ten men reported in April to have been convicted in connection to the 2012 shooting of Malala Yousafzai were in fact acquitted for lack of evidence, the BBC reports. The Taliban and forces claiming allegiance to Daesh continue to clash in Nangarhar. Imran Khan again professed willingness on Friday to hold re-elections in the disputed Khyber Paktunkhwa local government polls; the Election Commission is reportedly considering conducting polls in Sindh and Punjab in phases. Finance Minister Dar unveiled the annual economic survey of Pakistan on Thursday and is due to present the government’s budget for the next fiscal year later today. Pres. Ghani has named Masooma Muradi governor of Wardak province, the first woman to be appointed to the position.

Pakistan — Security

  • Karachi Tensions: Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah presided over a meeting of the civil-miltiary Sindh provincial apex committee on Thursday, reviewing the implementation of the National Action Plan against terrorism and the ongoing Karachi operation. Provincial information minister Sharjeel Memon said afterwards that the meeting agreed to crack down on terrorist financing as well as the hawala money transfer system. Meanwhile, MQM leader-in-exile Altaf Hussain reiterated allegations that Rangers and police had tortured and killed party activists in extrajudicial detention. On Thursday, the Rangers transferred the case of party leader Amir Khan to Karachi police; he was charged with “harboring criminals” at party headquarters. On Friday, 38 other MQM party workers were freed who had been arrested earlier during the raid on party headquarters in March and subsequent operations. Elsewhere, in Sindh High Court testimony Karachi police senior superintendent Rao Anwar repeated his allegations that MQM activist Rehan Tahir, arrested in April, had received training and support from Indian intelligence. [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • No Nuclear Transfers: Speaking at a think tank gathering in Washington on Thursday, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said that past reports that Pakistan would transfer nuclear arms or technology to Saudi Arabia were “unfounded and baseless” and said that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal was “a deterrence that we develop in response to a threat perception that we have from our east. That’s it.” [ET] [Dawn]
  • Malala Convictions: The BBC reports that eight of the ten men reportedly convicted in April in connection to the 2012 attack on Malala Yousafzai were in fact freed for lack of evidence against them. The two convicted were charged with shooting Yousafzai and her companions, although previous reports had suggested that the gunmen had fled to Afghanistan, and details of the closed-door trial in April were limited.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

Pakistan — Economics and Development

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Focus of Investigations into Attack on Karachi Ismailis [AFP]
  • ASWJ Central President Aurangzeb Farooqi Arrested in Taxila [Dawn]
  • United Baloch Army Commander Surrenders in Quetta [Dawn]
  • Four Police Injured in Dera Ismail Khan Bombing [Dawn]
  • Prime Minister Sets Rules for Petroleum Imports to Resolve PSO-PNSC Dispute [ET]
  • Pakistan’s Pace of Executions Alarms Rights Groups [NYT] [Guardian]
  • China Defends Economic Corridor Project, Criticizes Indian Oil Exploration in S. China Sea [ET]
  • Chief of Army Staff Makes Four-Day Sri Lanka Visit [Dawn] [ET]
  • Prime Minister Inaugurates Metro Bus Project [AFP]
  • Commentary: What Bin Laden Taught Us About Jihad in Pakistan – “[The Abbottabad documents] demonstrate a pattern of duplicity, obfuscation and negligence found in Pakistan’s own official report on the matter of bin Laden in Pakistan as far more credible than one of complicity and conspiracy between a global jihadist group like al Qaeda and the Pakistani security apparatus.” [Thomas Lynch, War on the Rocks]

Afghanistan — Security

  • ISIS in Afghanistan: The NYT reports on clashes over the past month between Taliban and fighters pledging loyalty to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in Nangarhar province, where Afghan National Army officials reported on Thursday that ten Taliban fighters were ambushed and beheaded in the Achin district. That account has not been independently confirmed. While fighting is ongoing in Nangarhar, the NYT notes that the Taliban appear to have crushed a similar ISIS splinter group in Farah in May.
  • Other Attacks: As many as six people were killed, including three Afghan National Police officers, and four wounded in a suicide bombing attack on a police checkpost in the Helmand capital of Lashkar Gah on Thursday. [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Talks in Norway: The Norwegian foreign ministry confirmed on Thursday that they had hosted talks earlier this week between Taliban representatives “expressing their own opinions” and participating in an individual capacity and “a number of political officials and members of civil society, including women”. The Taliban confirmed participation in a statement on Friday, saying that they “wanted to hear suggestions and views from every Afghan and also to convey their own policies to others” but that the discussions did not amount to peace talks. The names of Taliban participants have not been disclosed; lawmakers Shukria Barekzai and Fawzia Koofi were reportedly in attendance, as well as Hawa Alem Nuristani and Sedigheh Balkhi, two female members of the High Peace Council. Another member of the Afghan High Peace Council, Ismail Qasimyar, initially said that “we are not aware of any meetings in Norway”, but a spokesman for Pres. Ghani issued a statement on Friday saying that “we appreciate these are nongovernment talks, they are not representing the government of Afghanistan.” [AP]
  • Government Appointments: On Friday, the Independent Directorate of Local Governance announced the appointment of Masooma Muradi, the first female governor appointed to Maidan Wardak province. Muradi previously campaigned on the ticket of former foreign minister Zalmay Rassoul as a candidate for second vice president. [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Karzai Continues Criticism of NDS-ISI Agreement [Khaama Press] [RFE/RL]
  • MPs Discuss Election Problems as Parliamentary Term Nears Expiration [TOLO]
  • More Teachers Join Kabul Strike [TOLO]
  • Russian Ambassador Expresses ‘Growing Concern’ Over Northern Insecurity [TOLO]
  • US Army Corps of Engineers to Partner with 28 Local Companies on Projects [TOLO]
  • Commentary: The Failed Pilot Test: Kunduz’s Local Governance Crisis – “The governor, a Pashtun appointed by President Ghani, does not get along with the police chief, a Tajik appointed from the Abdullah camp for ‘balance,’ nor with his deputy, a long-serving mujahed. The largest bone of contention is the control of the militias – old ones and planned ones.” [Bethany Matta, AAN]
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