Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: UK Police Cast Doubt on Purported MQM Confession of Indian Aid; UN-Run LOTFA Program Extended

Topline

  • UK police spokesmen raised doubts as to the validity of documents leaked to the Pakistani press earlier this week that purport to show confessions by senior MQM leaders acknowledging support from India. A U.S. soldier was wounded following yesterday’s suicide attack in Kabul, in what the NYT reports appears to have been clashes with protesting crowds as U.S. and Afghan forces sought to secure the bomb site. Afghan and Pakistani border forces exchanged fire on Wednesday, leaving at least six injured; details are limited. The Afghan Ministry of Interior confirmed the 18-month extension of the UN-managed Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan policy salary program, which Pres. Ghani had sought to transfer to Afghan government control. Several senior northern leaders, including Chief Executive Abdullah, met on Tuesday to discuss the U.S. special forces raid on a weapons depot controlled by commander Jan Ahmad in Parwan. Pakistan’s Federal Board of Revenue missed its revised tax collection target for the outgoing fiscal year, preliminary figures indicate; on Tuesday, Pres. Mamnoon Hussain extended the National Finance Commission revenue-sharing formula between the federal and provincial governments for another year. Four presidential nominees, including the head of the Central Bank and acting defense minister Masoom Stanekzai, were presented to the Afghan parliament for confirmation on Wednesday.

Pakistan — Security

  • Cross-Border Clash: Afghan and Pakistani border security forces exchanged fire at a checkpost near the Angoor Adda area of South Waziristan on Wednesday, injuring at least six Pakistani personnel injured, Dawn reports; details of the incident are otherwise limited.
  • Displacements: The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports 218,887 families remain displaced by conflict in North and South Waziristan and the Khyber Agency, most of them from North Waziristan; repatriation has largely been halted during Ramazan, although the repatriation of around 100 families to North Waziristan is scheduled to begin today. Separately, the Khyber Paktunkhwa government reportedly plans to expel around 7,000 Afghan refugees living near the Peshawar airport.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • ‘Confession’ Document Not Official Document, UK Police Say: On Tuesday, a spokesman for the London Police told the BBC Urdu news service that documents leaked to the Pakistani press earlier this week that purport to show confessions by a senior MQM leader, Tariq Mir, confirming Indian assistance to the MQM, “were not official documents of record”. On Tuesday, the government formed a three-member Joint Investigation Team to investigate the 2010 murder of former MQM leader Imran Farooq; a UK police team is in Islamabad interviewing three suspects arrested by Pakistan earlier this summer. [ET] [Dawn] [ET] [ET]
  • Election Complaints: During continued arguments on Tuesday before the special judicial commission on electoral rigging, PTI lawyers laid blame on the Election Commission for “planned and systemic rigging” in the 2013 general elections. Imran Khan reiterated the charge in a press conference on Tuesday, accusing the ECP and the National Database and Registration Authority of a “collective cover-up”. [ET] [ET] [ET]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Tax Revenues: Provisional figures indicate that the Federal Board of Revenue missed the tax revenue collection target for the outgoing fiscal year, which had been revised downward from initial budget targets three times, coming in Rs 25 billion short of the Rs 2.065 trillion target. Collections nonetheless increased by over 14% as compared to the previous fiscal year. Separately on Tuesday, President Mamnoon Hussain formally approved the extension of the current National Finance Commission revenue-sharing formula for another year.
  • Prime Minister Visits Karachi: Prime Minister Sharif visited Karachi on Wednesday, where he met with Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah; although previous reports had suggested that Sharif’s trip was primarily focused on political issues regarding the MQM and PPP, initial reports suggest that Sharif and Shah’s discussions focused primarily on the Green Line Rapid Transit System and a water supply project for the city.
  • Pakistan on FATF Watchlist: At a meeting of the international Financial Action Task Force, Indian officials sought increased scrutiny of Pakistan, citing the continued fundraising activities of Jamaat-ud-Dawa and its charitable wing, the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation. Pakistan was removed from the FATF’s “grey list” of terrorist financiers in February, but was placed under monitoring following the most recent session.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Commentator Zaid Hamid Reportedly Sentenced to Eight Years and 1,000 Lashes in Saudi Arabia [ET]
  • Family Members of Baloch Liberation Front Leader Among Those Killed in Awaran [ET]
  • Death Sentences for Three Linked to April 2010 NATO Tanker Attack [ET]
  • Prime Minister Rejects Petroleum Price Hike [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn]
  • Sindh Sacks 1841 ‘Ghost Teachers’ [Dawn] [ET]
  • BISP Spending Falls 5% Short of Allocations [ET]
  • State Bank Transfers Foreign Exchange Transfer Rules for Students and Patients [Dawn]
  • Air Indus Suspended for Safety Violations [Dawn] [ET]
  • Peshawar Bans Meat Exports to Afghanistan [Dawn]
  • Asian Development Bank Approves $220M in Infrastructure Rebuilding [ET]
  • Report: Pakistan’s Interminable Energy Crisis: Is There Any Way Out? – “Pakistan is convulsed by power shortages that at times have approached 50 percent of national demand. And yet the country’s energy problems are arguably rooted more in shortages of governance than of pure supply.” [Michael Kugelman, Woodrow Wilson Center]

Afghanistan — Security

  • LOTFA Program Extended: On Tuesday, the Ministry of Interior announced that the UN-run Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan, which pays for Afghan National Police salaries, would be extended for another 18 months, to allow for time to transition control over the program to the Ministry of Interior. Pres. Ghani had in December set a six-month deadline for transfer over the policy salary program to the Afghan government.
  • Kabul Bombing Aftermath: At least one American soldier was wounded in the wake of yesterday’s suicide bombing targeting a NATO convoy near the Kabul Airport, whose victims were all Afghan civilians. The NYT reports that the blast sparked a crowd of angry demonstrators, and that the wounded soldier was stabbed while setting up a cordon; American and Afghan security forces on the scene reportedly dispersed the crowd with aerial firing, although other accounts claim that civilians were killed in the clash, and that the stabbing was carried out in revenge. U.S. officials say the incident is under investigation.
  • Attacks and Operations: Military operations continue in Takhar’s Khawaja Gar district, where the district governor says only two villages now remain under Taliban control. On Wednesday, the former district governor of Nangarhar’s Ghanikhil district was killed by unidentified gunmen; no claim of responsibility has been reported. U.S. drone strikes targeting two “insurgent hideouts” in Nangarhar’s Lalpur district reportedly killed 14 Taliban fighters. [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Northern Leaders Meet: Chief Executive Abdullah, Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor, former NDS leader Amrullah Saleh, and other veteran anti-Soviet mujahedeen from the north met on Tuesday to discuss the recent U.S. raid on a weapons depot owned by commander Jan Ahmad in Parwan, demanding a “serious investigation” of the incident.
  • Appointment Confirmations: On Wednesday, Second Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danish formally introduced four presidential nominees for parliamentary confirmation – Masoom Stanekzai as minister of defense, Khalilullah Sediq as head of the Central Bank, and Anisa Rassouli and Sayed Yousaf Halim as members of the Supreme Court. [Khaama Press]
  • Parliamentary Status: During debate on Wednesday, some members of the senate called for the government to specify a date for Wolesi Jirga elections, warning that they would not accept Pres. Ghani’s extension of the lower house’s term or the Wolesi Jirga’s authority until the election schedule is specified.
  • Kabul Bank Dues: A spokesman for the Attorney General’s office warned on Tuesday that the government would seize property and pursue individuals who continue to default on their debts to Kabul Bank; officials say they have recovered $268 million out of over $900 million in missing funds.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Baghlan General Charged with Drug Trafficking [Reuters] [TOLO] [Khaama Press]
  • Former Afghan Soldier Who Fled Training Exercise Granted Asylum [Reuters]
  • Afghan Air Force Pilot Reported Suspended Over Complaints on Social Media [TOLO]
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