- A delegation led by the head of the Punjab Rangers has arrived in New Delhi for biannual border security talks with the Indian Border Security Force; Indian officials report that two of their soldiers were wounded in an exchange of firing on Wednesday. An unconfirmed Khaama Press report claims that Mullah Mansour Dadullah has joined the ISIS Khorasan affiliate, and that ISIS fighters are reinforcing Dadullah’s forces in his clash with Taliban fighters in Zabul. The Taliban have retaken control of several Faryab villages that had been “cleared” during Vice President Dostum’s visit to the province last month, officials report. Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif presided over a meeting of Pakistani corps commanders on Tuesday, ahead of a meeting of the central apex committee to review national counterterrorism activities scheduled for Thursday. The Election Commission of Pakistan has extended the deadline until the end of the month for candidates in the first phase of local government elections in Sindh and Punjab to register a party affiliation. Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission says that it will suggest a date for parliamentary elections to Pres. Ghani next week, a task Ghani had earlier tasked the electoral reform commission with considering. Chief Executive Abdullah and other officials marked the death anniversary of Ahmad Shah Massoud in ceremonies on Wednesday. Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau is investigating the import of liquefied natural gas from Qatar earlier this year.
Pakistan — Security
- Border Talks: A delegation headed by Punjab Rangers Director General Maj. Gen. Umar Farooq Burki has arrived in New Delhi for bi-annual talks with Indian Border Security Force officials on cross-border ceasefire violations, smuggling, and other border security concerns. Speaking on Tuesday, foreign advisor Sartaj Aziz accused Indian officials of pursuing an “anti-Pakistan policy” and suggested that there was no use in holding dialogue unless discussions included the status of disputed Kashmir. On Wednesday morning, Indian officials accused Pakistan of violating the ceasefire and firing in the Kupwara and Poonch districts of Jammu and Kashmir, wounding two soldiers. [ET] [ET]
- Corps Commanders Meet: Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif presided over a meeting of corps commanders in Rawalpindi on Tuesday, reviewing operations in Waziristan and border security with India and Afghanistan. Anonymous sources tell the Express Tribune that the military officials also discussed expanding counterterrorism operations to urban areas in order to target militant financiers; a meeting of the central apex committee is planned for Thursday to review national counterterrorism efforts.
- GEO Technician Killed: Unidentified gunmen attacked a GEO News satellite van in Karachi’s Bahadurabad neighborhood on Tuesday evening, killing technician Arshad Ali Jaffery and wounding the driving. No claim of responsibility has been reported for the attack. [Guardian]
- FATA Attacks: Six members of a pro-government militia were found dead in the Khyber Agency on Tuesday after they had earlier been kidnapped by Lashkar-e-Islam. Five bodies had previously been dumped in the Qamar Khel area on Monday; the AFP reports that as many as 20 militia members were kidnapped, rather than 11 as initially reported, and the status of the remaining hostages is unconfirmed.
Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- PPP Tensions: Prime Minister Sharif is “unable to understand” former Pres. Zardari’s recent public criticism of the PML-N, according to attendees’ accounts of a meeting with PML-N Sindh chapter leaders in Islamabad on Tuesday; Sharif is quoted as committing to “burying the politics of the 90s” but also to “taking the ongoing Karachi operation to its logical conclusion”. Speaking at a meeting on Tuesday, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan denied that the PML-N government had any role in pushing the investigations against former Prime Minister Gilani, which he noted began during the PPP government’s tenure. Following a meeting of senior PPP leaders in Dubai on Tuesday, former information minister Qamar Zaman Kaira acknowledged that “the party’s workers are upset and the policy of reconciliation has proved detrimental for the PPP”, and denied that the party would form an alliance with any other parties for the local government elections in Sindh and Punjab.
- Election Administration: On Tuesday, the Election Commission approved an extension in the deadline to submit party affiliation tickets for candidates contesting the first phase of local government elections to September 30.
- PTI to Contest NA-122 Appeal: On Tuesday, the PTI formally petitioned the Supreme Court to become a party to former National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq’s case challenging an election tribunal verdict that ordered a re-election in the NA-122 Lahore constitutency. [Dawn]
Pakistan — Economics and Development
- LNG Import: National Accountability Bureau officials have reportedly begun investigations into the import of liquefied natural gas from Qatar by Pakistan State Oil earlier this year; no government-to-government purchase agreement has been negotiated at this stage, and the Express Tribune reports that the federal government is now reluctant to give after-the-fact approval to spot purchasing of the gas.
- Tax Protests: Multiple factions of the All Pakistan Anjuman-i-Tajiran traders’ union have joined in another strike call on Wednesday to protest the imposition of withholding taxes on banking transactions for individuals for fail to file income taxes; union officials say they are already planning another strike action and march on Islamabad for October 7 if their demands to withdraw the tax are not met.
- Polio Crisis: Two new polio cases were registered in FATA’s Khyber Agency on Tuesday, bringing the national total to 32 so far this year, ten of which are from FATA.
Pakistan — Remainders
- Punjab Preparing Legislation Regulating Charities [Dawn]
- Rangers Release MQM Leader Qamar Mansoor on ‘Humanitarian Grounds’ [Dawn] [ET]
- Prime Minister Reviews Nuclear Assets [Dawn]
- President Approves Plan for Swat Cantonment [Dawn]
- Weapons Cache Seized in Balochistan Near Afghan Border [Dawn]
- Lahore High Court Reinstates Sui Northern Gas Managing Director [Dawn]
- Bar Associations to Skip Retirement Ceremony for Chief Justice Khawaja [Dawn]
- Former Chief Justice’s Son Challenges Tax Assessment [Dawn]
- Khyber Paktunkhwa Assembly Speaker Spars with Assembly Secretary [Dawn]
- Families of 64 Victims of Baldia Factory Fire Yet to Receive Compensation [Dawn]
Afghanistan — Security
- Taliban Infighting: Khaama Press cites a purported spokesman for the Islamic State’s Khorasan affiliate who claims that Mullah Mansour Dadullah and Mullah Omar’s brother Mullah Abdul Manan have both joined the Islamic State, and that ISIS fighters have joined Dadullah in Zabul to counter forces sent by Mullah Akhtar Mansour to crack down on Dadullah’s challenge to his leadership. No other sources currently corroborate the report. A spokesman for Chief Executive Abdullah told reporters on Tuesday that Dadullah’s recent claims that Mansour had been installed by Pakistani intelligence “are worth consideration,” noting that “we have learned from the past that war in Afghanistan ensures strangers’ benefits therefore the Afghan Taliban should lay down their arms and join the peace process”. In Nangarhar, Taliban fighters are reported to have conducted house searches in the Chaparhar district, searching for Daesh members. [AP]
- Attacks and Operations: Faryab provincial officials report that multiple villages in the province that were previously reported to have been “cleared” of Taliban fighters during Vice President Dostum’s high-profile sweep through the province last month are now back in Taliban control, including a key arms market in the Qaisar district. Elsewhere, two Afghan National Army soldiers were killed in a roadside bombing in Kabul’s Kalakan district on Wednesday. [TOLO] [AP]
Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- Election Reform: On Tuesday, the Independent Election Commission announced that it would suggest a date for parliamentary elections to Pres. Ghani next week. The IEC has publicly disputed the authority of the parallel electoral reform commission, which Ghani had earlier tasked with exploring options for the elections’ scheduling. The IEC has particularly objected to a reform proposal that would establish a new committee to appoint IEC commissioners.
- Massoud Death Anniversary Marked: On Wednesday, Chief Executive Abdullah addressed a gathering commemorating the start of Martyr’s Week and the anniversary of the death of commander Ahmad Shah Massoud. Abdullah vowed to “defend our sovereignty”, and said that the national unity government was working to address the needs of the public; Pres. Ghani also addressed the gathering by video link, pledging to support the families of martyrs and urging national unity. Former mujahadeen leader Abdul Rasool Sayyaf denounced the Taliban during his remarks, calling for a jihad against the group, and warned against Pakistani intervention in Afghanistan. [Khaama Press] [TOLO]
Afghanistan — Remainders