Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: No Nuclear Agreement During Sharif Visit; NATO to Keep Forces in Afghanistan Past Years End

Topline

  • Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhary said that Pakistan would not sign any agreement with the United States to restrict its nuclear program during Prime Minister Sharif’s visit this week, and defended Pakistan’s production of “low-yield, tactical weapons” as a necessary response to Indian military doctrine. Germany, Turkey, and Italy are among the NATO allies expected to keep their current forces in Afghanistan past the end of the year, Reuters reports. The Pentagon acknowledged Monday that an armored vehicle carrying U.S. personnel breached the Doctors Without Borders hospital facility in Kunduz during investigations last week. Eleven passengers were killed in a bus bombing in Quetta on Monday; no claim of responsibility has been reported. Former Taliban deputy foreign minister Abdul Rahman Zahid has reportedly been detained in Dubai for the past month. Vice President Dostum will “coordinate” the response to the Taliban’s takeover of the Ghormach district in Faryab, according to interior ministry spokesmen. Two ministers from the Quami Watan Party were inducted into the Khyber Paktunkhwa cabinet on Tuesday as the party rejoined the provincial government; the provincial information minister has been removed to make room for the additional ministers in the cabinet. PTI officials continue to allege that voter lists in Lahore were manipulated for the NA-122 by-polls, and for upcoming local government elections. The Election Commission of Pakistna is expected to postpone the third phase of local government elections in Sindh and Punjab until December 3rd.

Pakistan — Security

  • Nuclear Talks: Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhary said that Pakistan would not sign any agreement with the United States over its nuclear program during Prime Minister Sharif’s visit this week. Chaudhary said that “our nuclear programme is one dimensional: stopping Indian aggression before it happens. It is not for starting a war. It is for deterrence,” attributing the need for “low-yield, tactical weapons” as a response to Indian military doctrine that he suggested had “created a space for war”. Speaking to the press briefly in London while en route to the U.S., Prime Minister Sharif said that “we will protect the national interests of Pakistan during my meetings with US leadership” and that “we should not forget who the prime minister was in 1999 when we became a nuclear power.”
  • Quetta Bombing: Eleven passengers were killed and nearly two dozen injured when a bomb exploded on a bus traveling from Quetta to the town of Saryab on Monday. No claim of responsibility has been reported. A police officer was killed in a driveby shooting on the Saryab road on Tuesday, although it is unclear if the two cases are related. Elsewhere in Balochistan, the Frontier Corps reported that they had killed three Balochistan Republican Army militants in operations in Panjgur, and two security personnel were killed in a roadside bombing near Harnai. [Dawn] [ET] [AP]
  • Counterterrorism Operations: The Express Tribune reports that pprosecutors in the Safoora bus bombing case, in which 45 members of the Ismaili community were killed in Karachi earlier this May, have resigned from the case, citing an absence of security from the government. On Monday, the Khyber Paktunkhwa Counterterrorism Department announced the arrest of a Nowshera man claiming to be a spokesman for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and Al Qaeda. [ET]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Quami Watan Party Rejoins Khyber Paktunkhwa Coalition: On Tuesday, the Quami Watan Party formally rejoined the governing coalition in Khyber Paktunkhwa, ending a 20-month split with the PTI. QWP parliamentary leader Sikander Khan Sherpao and general secretary Ansia Zeb Tahirkheli were sworn in as cabinet ministers; Sherpao will hold the home and tribal affairs and irrigation ministries, while Tahirkheli will take the mines and labor ministries. Mushtaq Ghani, the provincial information minister, was removed from his position to make room for the added cabinet members, as constitutional amendments restrict its size to 15 members. [Dawn]
  • Elections: PTI Punjab organizer Chaudhry Sarwar called for an “all-parties conference” — minus the PML-N — to be held October 22 to address the party’s complaints regarding changes to the voter lists in the NA-122 by-election in Lahore. Shafqat Mahmood, the PTI organizer for Lahore, says that he is receiving additional complaints from union council candidates in Lahore that voter lists in their constituencies do not reflect accurate registration information. On Monday, the Election Commission issued a modified schedule for local elections in Islamabad; November 30 remains the polling day. The ECP reportedly plans to push back the third phase of local elections in Punjab and Sindh to December 3, in light of Muharram observances. The parliamentary committee on electoral reforms has agreed to introduce an amendment restricting the powers of caretaker governments; the committee also considered options for electronic voting, and will make a final decision at a meeting next month. [ET] [Dawn]
  • Karachi Operations: In a statement on Monday, the Sindh Rangers accused the “militant wing of the MQM” of threatening local TV channels and cable operators to “restore fear and terror” in Karachi, which the Rangers vowed “will not be allowed to happen”.

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Energy Infrastructure Projects: Dawn reports that the government has replaced the managing director of the Nandipur Power Project for the second time in as many weeks, replacing Shahid Sohail, described as a close aide of his predecessor, with resident engineer Shahzad Akbar. [Dawn] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • PILDAT Survey Suggests Nawaz Sharif Most Popular Leader, Armed Forces Most Trusted Institution [Dawn] [ET]
  • Christian Faith Healer Arrested on Blasphemy Charges in Sargodha [AFP]
  • Foreign Nationals Freed in Anti-Narcotics Raid [ET]
  • PML-N Lawmakers Lambast Own Government Over PIA Excesses [Dawn]
  • Government and Cellular Companies at Impasse Over Five SIM Limit [Dawn]
  • Commentary: What Do We Know About Osama Bin Laden’s Death? Quite a Lot, Actually – “The reality is that there is remarkable agreement across antagonistic governments, credit-hungry security agencies and fiercely competitive news organizations on the most salient facts: that bin Laden was killed in a raid by U.S. Special Operations forces conducted without the cooperation or awareness of the Pakistani government after a decade-long CIA manhunt.” [Greg Miller, WAPO]

Afghanistan — Security

  • NATO Force Levels: In an interview with Reuters, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Philip Breedlove says that “several of our largest contributors have already communicated with us that they will remain in their current posture” in Afghanistan; although Breedlove did not provide further details, other sources indicate that Germany, Turkey, and Italy intend to keep their current force levels in place as part of the Resolute Support training mission. The three countries currently maintain roughly 850, 500, and 760 troops in-country, respectively.
  • Kunduz Investigations: A Pentagon spokesman acknowledged on Monday that an “armored vehicle carrying U.S. personnel” broke through the gate at the damaged Kunduz hospital formerly operated by Doctors Without Borders / Medecins Sans Frontieres. MSF officials have accused the U.S. forces of damaging evidence and of entering unilaterally; Pentagon officials said that “they should have coordinated ahead of time, and they’re going to make it right and make sure that that gate is repaired.” The results of the Pentagon’s investigation into the extent of civilian casualties in the October 3 airstrike on the hospital is expected to be released this week, but the broader investigation into the decision-making that led to the strike is still ongoing.
  • Former Taliban Minister Arrested: Abdul Rahman Zahid, the former Taliban deputy foreign minister, was reportedly arrested upon arrival in Dubai last month; Pajhwok reporting suggests that Zahid may have been arrested after increased interaction with the Afghan government, at the behest of Pakistani and UAE intelligence.
  • Other Attacks and Operations: A spokesman for the Afghan interior ministry said Tuesday that 18 police were still missing after the Taliban took control of the Ghormach district center in Faryab on Sunday, including the district police chief. Taliban spokesmen said they had detained the police. Interior Ministry officials suggest that Vice President Dostum will “coordinate” operations to retake the district. Police officials in Logar’s Kharwar district claim that a U.S. airstrike and raids by Afghan forces killed 20 Taliban fighters over Monday night, seizing an arms cache in the process. The NDS announced the arrest of five “associates” of the Taliban shadow governor for Takhar on Monday, who were charged with carrying out assassinations, planting landmines, and burning down schools. [TOLO] [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Cost of War Estimate: A report by the Afghan NGO Equality for Peace and Democracy released Monday estimates that ongoing conflict in Afghanistan costs the country the equivalent of $9 billion annually. [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Ahmad Zia Massoud Charges Nepotism in Ministry of Defense Appointments [TOLO]
  • Health Minister Accuses Unspecified Officials of Involvement in Drug Dealing [TOLO] [Khaama Press]
  • Herat MPs Accuse Government of Discrimination [Pajhwok]
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