Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: 12 Killed in Mansehra Rescue Helicopter Crash; Massive Truck Bomb Strikes Kabul

Topline

  • At least twelve people were killed in a Pakistani military air ambulance helicopter crash in Mansehra, while carrying relief supplies to Gilgit. At least eight people were killed and as many as 400 injured in a major truck bombing near an Afghan National Army base in Kabul early Friday morning; most injuries appear to have been minor, and no claim of responsibility has yet been reported. Taliban leaders continue to meet in Quetta to mediate disputes over Mullah Akhtar Mansour’s leadership succession; two deputies of Qatar political office leader Tayyab Agha followed him in resigning on Thursday. A Predator drone strike in North Waziristan on Thursday killed as many as seven militant suspects. Pakistan has formally protested cross-border firing violations by Indian forces in Kashmir. In a ruling on Thursday, the Supreme Court appears to have struck down the requirement that Pakistani legislators follow party direction in votes on constitutional amendments. The Afghan electoral reform commission is preparing to share the results of a public opinion survey on reforms and recommendations for implementation with the presidency. Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah pushed back on the Federal Investigation Agency and Rangers’ anti-corruption investigations in the province on remarks on Thursday.

Pakistan — Security

  • Rescue Helicopter Crash Kills 12: All twelve people on board were killed when a Pakistani army air ambulance helicopter crashed in the Mansehra district in Khyber Paktunkhwa on Thursday evening. The helicopter was carrying relief supplies from Rawalpindi to Gilgit; bad weather appears to have been the cause of the crash. [Reuters] [AP]
  • Predator Strike: As many as seven suspected militants were killed in a U.S. Predator drone strike in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan on Thursday evening; sources tell the Express Tribune that the house was linked to the Haqqani network. [Dawn]
  • Tensions with India: On Thursday, Pakistani military officials formally protested to the UN Military Observers Group over Indian border firing earlier this week, which officials say killed three civilians and wounded 22 others. Meanwhile, the Indian press has reportedly contacted the father of a gunman arrested in Udhampur, Kashmir earlier this week, who confirms his son’s Pakistani origins — which the National Database and Registration Authority and Pakistani foreign ministry had earlier refuted — and warns that “the Lashkar[-e-Taiba] is after us”. Indian officials indicate they will discuss the spike in cross-border violence during national security advisor-level talks scheduled for later this month. [Dawn]
  • Seminaries Under Scrutiny: The Punjab police Counter-Terrorism Department led search operations at multiple madrassah seminaries across the province on Thursday, and have arrested at least 14 students from Lahore, seven in Chiniot, and 18 in Gujranwala.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Supreme Court Removes Restrictions on Constitutional Amendments: On Thursday, Judge Jawwad Khawaja issued a ruling that apparently struck down a portion of Article 63A of the Constitution, which allows for the disqualification from office of parliamentarians who vote against the direction of their party leadership in certain votes; Khawajja held that such restrictions could not be placed on constitutional amendment votes. [ET]
  • Karachi Crackdown: Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah complained about the anti-corruption drive being carried out by the Sindh Rangers, suggesting that other agencies were better suited to pursue such investigations; Shah also complained that the Federal Investigation Agency was overstepping its authority. Meanwhile, the MQM is facing renewed criticism for letters it is reported to have sent to the Indian embassy, asking officials there to “raise your voice for the safeguard and protection of human values/rights particularly in Karachi.” Some MQM leaders suggest that the letters were sent en masse to all consulates in Pakistan; party leader Farooq Sattar told a press conference Thursday that no help had been sought from Indian officials and that any message “must have been a technical or judgment error”. Speaking to supporters on Thursday, Altaf Hussain warned that “conspiracies are being hatched in Islamabad to form a new MQM”, saying that “the army generals are after me now”; at the same time, he insisted that he respected and supported Pakistan’s armed forces and police. The Sindh Assembly passed a resolution on Friday condemning Hussain’s recent statements. [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Supreme Court Seeks Provincial Reports on NGO Operations [Dawn]
  • FIA to Complete Asghar Khan Case Investigation by December [Dawn]
  • Lyari Gang Leader Reportedly Killed at Iranian Border Last Year [Dawn] [ET]
  • Eleven Killed in Militant Attack on Khurram Agency Patrol [Dawn] [ET]
  • In Major Push, Sindh Land Records Computerized [ET]
  • ECP to Take Action Against Former Additional Secretary Who Alleged Rigging [Dawn]
  • PTI Leaders Meet Before Return to Parliamentary Session on Monday [Dawn]
  • FIA Adds Money-Laundering Charge to Case Against Axact [ET]
  • Pakistan’s Population Estimated to Reach 300 Million by 2050 [ET]
  • Savings Mobilization Rises in FY2014-15 [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Massive Truck Bomb Hits Kabul: A large truck bomb detonated in Kabul’s Shah Shaheed neighborhood around 1:00 AM on Friday, near an Afghan National Army base. No claim of responsibility has been reported as of this writing for the blast, one of the most powerful to hit the capital city in years, and the first major incident in Kabul since the Taliban succession crisis last week. At least eight people have been killed; the injury toll has been reported to be as high as 400 civilians living in the surrounding apartments, most reported to be minor wounds from shattering glass. ANA officials have not disclosed their casualty details. Pres. Ghani visited victims of the blast on Friday, and said that a cabinet session would be dedicated to investigating the incident. [WSJ] [Reuters] [Guardian] [AJE] [TOLO]
  • Taliban Divisions: Anonymous Afghan government sources speaking to TOLO confirm accounts that a large group of Taliban members and senior clerics are meeting in Quetta to mediate between new Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour and his rivals. The AFP reports that Mansour met with Mullah Omar’s brother Mullah Abdul Manan on Wednesday, seeking his acceptance of his leadership. Speaking to Reuters on Thursday, Maulana Sami-ul Haq said that he was also seeking to mediate between Mansour and Omar’s family. Following Qatar political office leader Tayyab Agha’s resignation on Monday, two of his deputies, Aziz Rehman and Mawlawi Nek Mohammad, have also reportedly resigned. The Taliban formally announce Muhammad Abbas Stanekzai’s replacement of Agha as leader of the Qatar office on Thursday. Speaking in the Pakistani National Assembly on Friday, Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Asif refuted reports that Mullah Omar had died in Pakistan. [TOLO] [Khaama Press] [NYT]
  • Border Tensions with Pakistan: Pakistani military forces have fired at least 25 rockets across the border into Kunar and Nangarhar since the start of the week, Afghan border security officials reported Thursday; no casualties were reported.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Election Reforms: The special electoral reform commission will submit the findings of a survey on public attitudes regarding reforms to the presidency “very soon”, TOLO reports, along with recommendations based on those suggestions.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Ministry of Defense Reiterates Need for Air Support [TOLO]
  • Commentary: Seize Upon the Taliban Split – “The potential for Pakistan and India to come together over Afghan peace is fueled by recognition of the ISIS threat.” [Anatol Lieven and Rudra Chaudhuri, NYT]
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