Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Ghani and Sharif Discuss Badaber Attack; Mullah Akhtar Mansour Issues Eid Message

Topline

  • Pres. Ghani spoke to Prime Minister Sharif by phone on Monday, reiterating his condolences over the Badabar airbase attack and a pledge that Afghanistan would not allow its territory to be used for attacks against Pakistan. Mullah Akhtar Mansour issued an Eid message on Tuesday, calling for unity amongst the Taliban and saying that intra-Afghan peace talks would require the withdrawal of international military forces. Indian and Pakistani brigadier generals met in the Poonch sector along the Line of Control on Monday, where they reiterated a commitment to “exercise restraint” and reduce tensions. Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif approved nine new death sentences and one life sentence issued by the military courts system. Ten Afghan soldiers were killed in an insider attack in Jawzjan province; a roadside bombing killed five police in Balkh’s Dawlat Shah district, including the district police chief. The Election Commission of Pakistan issued a ban on the appointment or transfer of government officials in Sindh and Punjab until the completion of local government elections; the third phase of polling has been set for December 3. Pakistan is open to pursuing another IMF loan package, finance ministry officials suggested on Monday.

Pakistan — Security

  • Ghani Phones Sharif Over Badaber Airbase Attack: Pres. Ghani spoke by phone with Prime Minister Sharif on Monday evening to convey his “heartfelt condolences” over the deaths in Friday’s attack on a Pakistan Air Force base in Peshawar’s Badaber area, and to reiterate an earlier public statement that “Afghanistan will never allow its land to be used against Pakistan by anyone”. Ghani earlier rejected Pakistani reports that the attack had been planned and organized by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan militants sheltering in Afghanistan, and his call followed a meeting of senior Pakistani officials on Monday to review the incident. Anonymous Pakistani officials suggest that Pakistani diplomats will “share all evidence of the attack” during an upcoming visit to Kabul, but “won’t lodge any protest during their visit”; Dawn reports that Pakistani intelligence officials are hesitant to share intelligence with their Afghan counterparts, however. An Afghan national was arrested near the Charsadda border crossing on Tuesday in connection to the attack, but no details have been released. Air Chief Marshall Sohail Aman visited the Badaber base on Monday to praise the response of PAF airmen and commemorate those killed. [TOLO] [Khaama Press] [APP]
  • India Border Tensions: Brigadier generals from India and Pakistan’s respective border security forces met in the Poonch sector on Monday and reiterated a commitment to “exercise restraint” and reduce cross-border exchanges of fire; it is the first brigadier-level meeting in a year. Elsewhere, Karachi police arrested a man working for the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board, who they accused of working for Indian intelligence. [ET]
  • Nine More Death Sentences Issued: On Monday, Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif approved death sentences for nine men convicted behind closed doors under the military court systems; a tenth man has received a life sentence. Charges were brought in connection to a 2013 attack on senior military officers in Swat, sectarian attacks in Mastung, the Bannu jailbreak, and other incidents; the convicts were variously identified as members of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or Harkatul Jihad-e-Islami. On Tuesday, Lahore prison officials postponed the hanging of Abdul Basit, who was convicted in 2009 for murder and who has been paralyzed by tubercular meningitis while in prison. [ET] [Reuters] [Reuters] [WAPO] [BBC] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Another Eyewitness Killed: Ishtiaq Awan, a police sub-inspector who had been scheduled to serve as an eyewitness implicating Tahir Minhas, the prime suspect in the attack on Karachi’s Ismaili community in Safoora Goth, in a 2010 shooting of a police officer, was killed by unidentified gunmen near his home in Hyderabad on Monday.
  • Military Promotions: Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif approved promotions of four major generals to the rank of lieutenant general on Tuesday, including Asim Bajwa, head of the military’s Inter-Services Public Relations; Bajwa is expected to retain commander over the press wing. Additionally, newly-promoted Lt. Gen. Amir Riaz will assume command as Quetta Corps Commander, and Lt. Gen. Sadiq Ali as Lahore Corps Commander; Lt. Gen. Ikramul Haq, who already held the rank will take the Gujranwala Corps Commander position, and Lt. Gen. Malik Zafar Iqbal will assume command of the Rawalpindi Corps.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Elections: Following a meeting on Monday, Election Commission officials announced a ban on appointments or transfers of government officials in Sindh and Punjab prior to the holding of local government elections; with elections scheduled to take place in phases through December, the ban is expected to remain in place for several months. Chief secretaries of the two provinces attended the meeting and protested the impact on government operations; ECP officials are reported to have agreed to “review the rules and get back to them”. Concerns were also raised over security for the polls during the month of Muharram. Additionally, the ECP announced the schedule for the third phase of local elections; the deadline for nominations will be October 7, and polling will be held December 3. [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Corruption Investigations: The National Accountability Bureau plans to file new references against the former Sindh secretary of Minorities Affairs, the former Balochistan Development Authority minister, and the former BDA chairman, among others, Dawn reports. On Monday, the Sindh High Court suspended the five-year sentence of PPP provincial assembly member Ali Nawaz Shah, agreeing to hear his appeal. [ET]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Pakistan Open to New IMF Program: Speaking with bond investors in London on Monday, Finance Secretary Waqar Masood Khan suggested that the current government would consider seeking a second IMF program when the current one expires next September, noting declines in foreign investment of as much as $5 billion, which he attributed to security issues. [Reuters]
  • Energy Crisis: On Monday, Water and Power Ministry officials pushed back against a report from the Auditor General of Pakistan that found widespread irregularities in the power sector totaling Rs 980 billion, laying blame on the preceding government and claiming improvements in capacity utilization, load-shedding, and circular debt. PTI leader Imran Khan seized on the report, demanding arrests of those involved in the misappropriations. [Dawn] [ET]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Balochistan Chief Minister Pledges to Renew Negotiations with Dissidents After Eid [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Jamaat-e-Islami Voices Support for FATA Merger with Khyber Paktunkhwa [Dawn]
  • Mehsud Jirga Voices Concern Over Civilian Deaths in South Waziristan Operations, Repatriation Process [ET]
  • Punjab Police Plan Crackdown on Sectarian Materials [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Suspect Arrested in Murder of Journalist Aftab Alam [Dawn]
  • Investigating Pakistan’s ‘Mobs for Hire’ [BBC]
  • Prime Minister Departs for UN General Assembly Summit [Dawn]
  • Competition Commission Joins Investigations into Private School Costs [Dawn]
  • Finance Minister Dar Meets with Predecessor and Critic [ET]
  • Gilgit Baltistan Lawyers Challenge Taxation of Residents of ‘Disputed Territory’ [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Security Concerns: Acting minister of defense Masoom Stanekzai visited Nangarhar’s Kot district on Monday, where he said that “we should change the strategy of war,” and that he would “direct the security officials to stand alongside the people and not to leave them alone”. Members of parliament debated the security situation on Monday, expressing concern over insurgent attacks in the north and northeast. [TOLO]
  • Attacks and Operations: At least ten Afghan soldiers were killed in an insider attack at their checkpost in Jawzjan province’s Qush Tepah district. Afghan officials tell Reuters that the Taliban are increasingly stealing military Humvees and using them to conduct surprise attacks on their outposts, or to supplement attacks in the field; the exact number of vehicles seized is unclear, however, and the interior ministry only acknowledges nine lost since the start of the year. On Tuesday, the district police chief of Balkh’s Dawlat Shah district was killed in a roadside bombing; four others were also killed. [AP] [TOLO] [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Mansour Issues Eid Address: Taliban commander Mullah Akhtar Mansour issued a message on Tuesday ahead of the Eid ul Azha holiday, in which he reiterated calls for unity amongst the Taliban, saying that “the creation of different groups … is the last conspiracy of the invaders for continuation of the American proxy war in Afghanistan.” Mansour suggested an openness to resuming peace talks with the government, saying that “the problem of the Afghans can be resolved through intra-Afghan understanding”, but only on the condition of the withdrawal of foreign military forces and the revocation of “all military and security treaties with the invaders”. Mansour also pledges support for NGOs and charity organizations “carried out for the well-being and prosperity of our people”, and urges Taliban fighters to avoid civilian casualties. [AFP] [BBC] [Mansour Address on Taliban Website]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • US Outrage and Resignation Over Afghan Security Partners’ Rape of Boys [NYT]
  • Australian Coroner Faults Command Over 2012 Insider Attack [AFP]
  • Ghani Advisors Yet to Start Duties Due to Lack of Salaries and Job Descriptions [Pajhwok]
  • Ministry of Mines and Petroleum Pledges to Involve Private Sector in TAPI Project [TOLO]
  • Report: Trends in Radicalization Across Unregistered Madrassas in Afghanistan – “With the rapid proliferation of unregistered madrassas in Afghanistan, there is a growing concern within the government of Afghanistan and international community that these schools are loci for radical Islamic ideologies, cultivating a generation of radicalized Afghan youth.” [AISS (pdf)]
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