Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Northern Alliance Leaders Reunite; India and Pakistan Continue Cross-Border Firing

Topline

  • Afghanistan and Pakistan marked the Eid ul Fitr holiday; news is light. On Friday, Vice President Dostum, First Deputy Mohaqiq, Balkh governor Atta Noor Mohammad, and Foreign Minister Rabbani met in Mazar-e-Sharif where they announced a joint effort to combat the insurgency in northern Afghanistan and criticized peace outreach to the Taliban. On Monday, as many as ten Afghan National Army soldiers were killed in an errant U.S. helicopter airstrike on their outpost in Logar province. Pakistani and Indian border security officials traded accusations that the other had initiated more cross-border firing along the Line of Control in Kashmir; at least five Indian civilians were reportedly wounded on Saturday. One of the two MQM leaders detained in a raid by the Rangers on MQM headquarters in Karachi on Friday has been freed, but the other remains in custody; party leader Altaf Hussain has threatened to begin a hunger strike in protest of the Rangers’ continuing crackdown on the MQM. U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Dempsey visited Kabul on Sunday; in meetings, Pres. Ghani offered for Afghanistan to serve as a “regional hub” in operations against Daesh.

Pakistan — Security

  • Border Tensions with India: On Friday, Pakistani military officials formally protested what it described as Indian ceasefire violations with the United Nationals Military Observer Group; sources on both sides also accuse the other of stalling visa permissions for diplomatic officials. Pakistani military spokesman accused Indian Border Security Forces of continued firing across the Line of Control on Saturday morning; Indian forces accuse Pakistani forces of firing first, injuring five civilians. A traditional exchange of sweets between rival guards at the Wagah border, which had been made in past years to mark the first day of Eid ul Fitr, was suspended. In a statement on Sunday, the Pakistani foreign ministry “expressed its deep concern at the unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian Security forces at the [Line of Control] and the offensive posture adopted during the past few days”, and Pakistan’s ambassador to India expressed hope that relations would improve. [AP] [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn]
  • Quetta Bombing: Two people were killed in a suicide bombing near the Sardar Bahadur Khan Women’s University in Quetta on Friday; the bomber was stopped by a guard before entering the Hazara Town neighborhood. Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif paid tribute to the guard, Talib Hussain, in a statement on Sunday. [ET]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • LNG Pipeline: In a Voice of America interview last week, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that construction would begin in October on a liquefied natural gas terminal in Gwadar, 85% of whose $2 billion cost of construction is being financed by China. The LNG facility includes plans for a 700 kilometer pipeline to other parts of the country, which Abbasi express hope will be linked into the prospective Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline as soon as sanctions on Iran are lifted.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Gilgit Activists Face Sedition Charges [AJE]
  • Railway Investigation Attributes Gujranwala Crash to Over-Speeding [Dawn]
  • Supreme Court Continues to Scrutinize National Accountability Bureau Investigations [Dawn]
  • Police Officer Killed in Swabi Shooting [Dawn] [ET]
  • Election Commission Moves to Fill Reserved Seats for Women After Khyber Paktunkhwa Local Government Polls [ET]
  • Complaints Registered Against Punjab Constituency Delimitation [Dawn]
  • Thar Braces for More Drought [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Northern Alliance Leaders Reunite: On Friday, acting Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor, foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani, First Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum, and First Deputy to the Chief Executive Mohammad Mohaqiq all attended an Eid ceremony in Mazar-e-Sharif, where they announced a joint effort on the part of the Jamiat-e-Islami, Junbish-e-Milli, and Islamic Unity parties to combat insurgents in northern Afghanistan. Noor criticized recent peace efforts with Pakistan, saying that “negotiations must be held in consultation with the people of Afghanistan and their political parties” and warned that “the process could be used to legitimize terrorist groups backed by foreign powers”. Dostum, who earlier visited Faryab and pledged to personally lead operations from the front line, said that “we support the negotiations, but we will not remain unaware of the situation … we also have the ability to put pressure and we will not remain silent.” Details of the new initiative are limited, but reports indicate that Mohaqiq also made veiled references to militia rearmament while peaking to supporters in Kabul on Saturday. [TOLO] [Khaama Press] [TOLO]
  • ANA Soldiers Killed in Friendly Fire: As many as ten Afghan soldiers have been killed in an errant strike by U.S. military helicopters on their outpost in the Baraki Barak district of Logar province on Monday. Local army commanders tell the Post the attack took place during the daytime while the outpost was flying the Afghan national flag, and the provincial governor tells the Guardian there was no active combat at the time; U.S. officials said they were investigating the incident. [NYT] [BBC] [AP] [AJE] [TOLO] [Pajhwok]
  • Other Attacks and Operations: A roadside bombing in the Gozara district in Herat province killed at least six police officers on Friday. Another bombing on Friday was planted near a mosque in Balkh’s Sholgar district on Friday, killing at least three people and wounding fourteen others. No claim of responsibility has been reported. [AFP] [TOLO] [TOLO] [TOLO]
  • Dempsey Visits: U.S. Joints Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey visited Kabul on Sunday, where he met with Pres. Ghani to discuss U.S. support for the Afghan national security forces. USA Today reports that Ghani offered Afghanistan’s services as a “regional hub” to target Daesh militants. Dempsey welcomed Afghanistan as a “credible and willing partner” but said it would be too early to determine what resources might be committed in the event that the U.S. pursues the offer. [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Karzai Influence Persists After Exit from Office [WAPO]
  • Former Taliban Finance Minister Motasim Welcomes Murree Talks [ET]
  • Ministry of Defense Claims Four Out of Ten Insurgents in Afghanistan Are Foreigners [Khaama Press]
  • Senior NDS Officials Visit Frontline Soldiers [TOLO]
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