Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: MQM Leader’s Criticism of Rangers Draws Fire; Over 1 Million Afghans Displaced, UN Reports

Topline

  • Several police cases have been filed against MQM leader-in-exile Altaf Hussain following his criticism of the Rangers in remarks on Sunday; Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that Hussain had “crossed all limits” and suggested that he would pursue action against Hussain through British authorities. The number of internally displaced people in Afghanistan has risen to as many as a million people, UN officials tell the Post, the highest level since the international intervention began in 2001. Fresh attacks and bombings were reported in Kabul, Baghlan, and Faryab, among other parts of the country. India and Pakistan will revive a Track II dialogue process, foreign advisor Sartaj Aziz told reporters on Monday. A spokesman for Gulbuddin Hekmatyar denied reports last week that he had directed his fighters to back the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’s local affiliate in its conflict with the Taliban. Karachi Electric is under pressure from federal and provincial officials follow last week’s back-to-back power outages.

Pakistan — Security

  • Arrest in Gilgit: On Monday, Gilgit-Baltistan police arrested an unidentified man and seized a cache of more than a dozen Kalashnikov rifles and other small arms, which they suggested were being stockpiled for an attack meant to “push the region into anarchy before the commencement of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project”. No other details were reported.
  • Quetta Shooting: Two members of the Balochistan Constabulary were killed in Quetta on Monday evening; no claim of responsibility has been reported. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • India-Pakistan Talks: Speaking at a press conference on Monday, foreign advisor Sartaj Aziz said that India and Pakistan had agreed to revive a Track II dialogue process “to explore ways of resolving issues that have been lingering on for a long time and need to be resolved in order to give peace a chance”; he did not offer further details, although Dawn suggests that most discussions of the disputed Kashmir region would take place as part of this informal dialogue, rather than through the formal diplomatic process. [ET]
  • MQM Under Fire: Speaking on Monday, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan lambasted MQM leader Altaf Hussain’s criticism of the Rangers the day prior, saying that he had “crossed all his limits” and that “our patience is over… the time has come to formally talk to the British government about him.” The Rangers’ commanders also met on Monday to review security operations in Karachi and Hussain’s speech. MQM rivals have filed legal charges against Hussain for “promoting enmity” and “conducting public mischief”, among other charges, in at least four different police jurisdictions in Sindh. Speaking to supporters on Monday, Hussain brushed off the charges and professed his willingness to die for the MQM. Meanwhile, the Rangers have transferred three key suspects in the murder of former MQM leader Imran Farooq to the Federal Investigation Agency’s custody, and an anti-terrorism court approved the 90-day detention of Ruknuddin, an MQM sector-in-charge in the Landhi neighborhood. [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Energy Crisis: The senate committee on finance will hold a meeting on Wednesday to review the privatization of Karachi Electric, following back-to-back power outages over the past week that brought heavy criticism from the public and political leaders. PPP legislators have also accused the prime minister and the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority of “failing to hold K-Electric to account” for continuing outages and have called for debate in the national assembly on the issue. On Monday, Sindh information minister Sharjeel Memon said that the provincial government was “seriously mulling legal action against K-Electric for its deteriorating performance,” accusing the distributor of failing to invest its profits into new infrastructure. Separately, the Express Tribune reports that the government is planning to deregulate the consumer pricing of compressed natural gas. [Dawn] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Chief of Army Staff Visits Lahore Corps Headquarters [ET]
  • Karachi Police Officers Accused of Criminal Linkages [ET]
  • NAB Refuses to Investigate Musharraf-Era Land Grants [The News] [Dawn]
  • Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Suspect Charged with Murder of Shia Scholar in Karachi [Dawn]
  • Minister Ziaullah Afridi Challenges Arrest [Dawn] [ET]
  • Model Ayaan Ali Granted Bail [AP] [Dawn]
  • Iranian Delegation Pledges Support for Energy Infrastructure [APP]
  • Remittances Rose 16.5% to $18.4 Billion in 2014-15 Fiscal Year [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Displacement: UN officials tell the Post that nearly a million Afghans have been displaced from their homes by conflict to other parts of the country, around 3% of the total population, and a record high since the international intervention began in 2001. Last year saw the highest number of newly-displaced people since 2001, at around 180,000, as attacks spread to previously secure northern regions of the country. Pakistani expulsions of Afghan refugees and military operations along the eastern border have also contributed to an influx of around 225,000 people.
  • Attacks and Operations: Two small bombings at public squares in Kabul on Monday evening left a taxi driver wounded; no claim of responsibility has been reported, and there are no further reports of casualties. A bombing at a mosque in the Baghlan provincial capital of Pul-e-Khomri during iftar dinner organized by the acting governor on Monday evening has wounded at least 29 people, including some local officials. Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor issued a statement criticizing the government security response in the wake of the bombing. Officials in Faryab report that Taliban fighters have seized control of as many as 40 villages; local militia unit leaders have been demanding additional support from the regular Afghan security forces. A local lawmaker tells RFE/RL that only two military checkposts out of thirty remain in government hands after the past week’s fighting, and that “dozens” had been killed on both sides. NDS officials announced the death of Ami Jan Kochi, identified as a Taliban shadow governor for Laghman province, following continuing operations in Nangarhar’s Achin district. [Pajhwok] [Khaama Press] [Khaama Press] [TOLO] [TOLO] [TOLO]
  • Hekmatyar Denies Daesh Statements: A spokesman for Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hizb-e-Islami faction tells Reuters that reports in the Afghan press last week that Hekmatyar had called on supporters to back the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’s local affiliate in its conflict with the Taliban was false.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Abdullah Visits Badakhshan, Blames Previous Government for Leaving Behind ‘Corrupt System’ [TOLO]
  • Afghan Returnees From Iran Bring Drug Problems Back Home [AFP]
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