Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: UN Observers Visit Kashmir Border; Northern Leaders Say Not Seeking to Undermine Govt

Topline

  • UN observers visited villages near Sialkot on Monday in response to Pakistani protests against Indian cross-border artillery fire. Vice President Dostum and Deputy Mohammad Mohaqiq insist that their recent meeting in Mazar-e-Sharif calling for joint operations against insurgent forces in northern Afghanistan was undertaken in coordination with the national unity government, and is not meant to undermine the regular armed forces. The Sindh Rangers have reportedly arrested the general secretary of the Pasban party on Monday; the MQM continues to threaten to conduct a leadership hunger strike against the Rangers’ operations. The U.S. military has offered condolences for Afghan soldiers killed in a friendly fire strike in Logar on Monday, and pledged a joint investigation. A spokesman for Chief Executive Abdullah welcomed the appointment of a new electoral reforms commission and said his priority remained the removal of those officials accused of corruption in the 2014 presidential elections. Balochistan tribal leaders met with the exiled Khan of Kalat in London to seek his return to the political process. Flooding has been reported in northern Pakistan and parts of Punjab.

Pakistan — Security

  • Border Tensions with India: Members of the UN Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan conducted a fact-finding visit to villages near Sialkot on Monday which Pakistan military officials say have been most affected by the recent uptick in cross-border artillery fire at the Line of Control, inspecting damages and meeting with injured villagers. Separately on Monday, Indian 16 Corps commander Lt. Gen. KH Singh, who commands forces in Jammu, reiterated that responsibility lay with Pakistan for firing first, and told the Indian press that “there are certain elements across the border who want to create trouble on the Line of Control… we have to give them certain unexpected damage to so that they don’t repeat it in future.” [Dawn] [ET]
  • Balochistan Conflict: A delegation of senior Balochistan tribal leaders has met with the exiled Khan of Kalat, Mir Ahmed Suleman Daud Khan, in London, appealing for him to return to the province and rejoin the political process; Khan declined the request, calling on the state to “stop atrocities against the Baloch without any pre-condition”. Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch nonetheless welcomed the meeting and indicated that he would seek further negotiations with the Khan. Meanwhile, nine militant suspects were killed in Frontier Corps search operations in the Awaran and Khuzdar areas of Balochistan on Monday. [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • NGO Crackdown: The National Assembly committee on states and frontier regions has called a hearing on Friday to review the activities of international and national non-governmental organizations working in the FATA.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Karachi Crackdown: Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah insisted that the provincial government had been under no pressure to renew the Rangers’ policing mandate in Karachi, and that legislation approving the extension would be passed in the provincial assembly within 60 days. Meanwhile, MQM party officials claim that Altaf Hussain is preparing to begin a hunger strike outside the UK prime minister’s office, joined by senior party leaders; the MQM is apparently waiting for “permission from British authorities” to begin the strike. At least five MQM national assembly members are reportedly in hiding, facing arrest on hate speech charges after they attend the broadcast of Hussain’s speech condemning the Rangers’ operations in Karachi. Separately, the Rangers arrested the general secretary of the Pasban party on Monday on unspecified charges; one son was arrested with him and another son has reportedly been missing since June. The Rangers have not confirmed the arrest, and Pasban leaders alleged that they were being targeted for their legal challenge against the creation of military courts and call for the creation of a separate province for Karachi. [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Local Elections: The presidential ordinance setting constituency delimitation boundaries in Islamabad for local government elections has expired, the Express Tribune notes, requiring new legislation to empower the Election Commission to replicate the process before polls are held. Final approval of legislation governing the polls is still pending national assembly approval, expected after Eid. [Dawn] [ET] [ET]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Flooding: At least four children have been killed and 46,000 acres of land submerged under floodwaters near Sirki, Punjab after an embankment was breached last week. Residents complain that the government has taken no steps to provide relief during the Eid period. Flooding is also reported in Chitral and parts of Kashmir, where Prime Minister Sharif ordered expedited relief efforts. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Tariq Fatemi Meets with US State Department Officials [Dawn] [ET]
  • Political and Military Leaders’ Condolences Fail to Solace Parents of Army Public School Victims [Dawn]
  • Security Official Injured in Attack on Tirah Valley Checkpost [ET]
  • Anti Narcotics Force Seizes 746 Kilos of Heroin in Balochistan [ET]
  • Weapons Seized At Charsadda Border [ET]
  • Sindh Seeks to Replicate Punjab Rescue Service in Karachi [Dawn]
  • Musharraf Close to Acquittal in Bhutto Murder Case, Lawyer Says [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Northern Alliance Reunites: Following meetings on Friday with Vice President Dostum, Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor, and foreign minister Salahuddin Rabbani that saw a pledge to unit in a joint operation against the Taliban insurgency in the north, Second Deputy Mohammad Mohaqiq insists that he remains supportive of the national government in an interview with TOLO, and that militia groups will only be supported “within the framework of the national unity government’s strategy”. A spokesman for Dostum also insists that his actions “are taken in coordination with the presidential palace”, and said that Dostum had given a one-week deadline for Taliban fighters in northern Afghanistan to join the peace process.
  • Friendly Fire: In a statement on Tuesday, the U.S. military offered its condolences for the deaths of at least seven Afghan National Army soldiers killed in an errant coalition helicopter strike on their outpost in Laghman province, pledging a “transparent, timely, and thorough” joint investigation. Pres. Ghani issued a statement of concern following the incident, insisting that foreign forces should “exercise utmost care during their operations to avoid harming Afghan forces and civilians”. [TOLO]
  • Peace Committee Member Killed: Salih Mohammad Hotak, a member of the Maidan Wardak provincial Peace Council, was killed by unidentified gunmen in Kabul on Tuesday. Hotak is originally from the Nerkh district in Wardak, and now serves as a mullah in a mosque in the Paghman district in Kabul. No claim of responsibility has been reported.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Electoral Reform: Shah Sultan Akifi, the new head of the special commission on electoral reform, said Monday that his top priorities would be amending the election law, and evaluating and redefining the duties of the electoral administration agencies. Akifi said that his commission would officially be inaugurated soon, and that he wants “the practical work to be started as soon as possible”. A spokesman for Chief Executive Abdullah welcomed the appointment of the commission and said that Abdullah’s priority was that “those involved in electoral fraud or [who] helped organized it must step down”.
  • Taliban Talks: A spokesman for the High Peace Council said Monday that preparations were underway for the second round of talks with Taliban representatives later this month. The Ministry of Interior’s spokesman expressed hope that the talks could lead to a reduction in insurgent violence.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Members of Parliament Call for Government End Use of Caretaker Officials [TOLO]
  • More Multi-Million Dollar Buildings Built and Barely Used by U.S. Military [WAPO]
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