Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Pakistan Bans Coverage of Jamaat-ud-Dawa Activities; Chinese Vice President Visits Kabul

Topline

  • Pakistani media regulators have imposed a ban on press coverage of the activities of militant organizations, specifically Jamaat-ud-Dawa and its charitable wing, amid new reports of the group’s active earthquake relief response. Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao visited Kabul on Tuesday, where he signed cooperation agreements on security, reconstruction assistance, and education. Pakistani officials tell Voice of America that the planned repatriation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan will begin at the end of this year and will likely be completed within the next two years; a cabinet meeting on the issue is planned for this week. PTI leaders denounced the results of the local elections in Punjab on Monday, alleging the ruling PML-N had used the police and election staff to control the outcome; in Sindh, opposition parties echoed such allegations against the PPP. The Supreme Court of Pakistan rejected an earlier PTI petition seeking the removal of the Election Commission’s leadership. At a conference in Islamabad on Monday, all major political parties endorsed a proposed amendment that would merge the FATA with Khyber Paktunkhwa province. Two Indian army soldiers were reportedly killed in an exchange of fire across the Line of Control in Kashmir on Monday.

Pakistan — Security

  • Ban on Coverage of Militants: On Monday, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority issued orders to Pakistan’s broadcasters warning them not to cover the activities of any banned militant organizations — to specifically include Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the group’s Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation charitable wing — at the risk of their broadcasting license. The move follows recent reports Jamaat ud Dawa is actively involved in earthquake relief efforts in Khyber Paktunkhwa, despite statements from officials suggesting that they would be barred from doing so.
  • Indian Border Clashes: Indian officials report that two army soldiers were killed by Pakistani firing across the Line of Control in Kashmir in the Gurez sector on Monday; Pakistani officials have not commented on the incident.
  • FATA Attacks and Operations: Muhammad Zaman Mehsud, a local journalist originally from South Waziristan, was shot and subsequently died of his injuries on Tuesday in the Tank district of Khyber Paktunkhwa. No claim of responsibility has been reported. Separately, a pro-government tribal elder was killed and three of his associates, including two sons, were wounded in a roadside bombing in Bajaur Agency on Tuesday. [Dawn] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Elections: At a press conference on Monday, PTI advisor Ejaz Chaudhry denounced Saturday’s local government elections as “a fraud”, alleging that police and polling staff had supported PML-N candidates and worked to ensure the PTI’s defeat. PPP leaders celebrated their victories in Sindh on Monday, where opposition parties have charged that the election was “not at all” free or fair. Earlier on Monday, Chief Justice Jamali rejected a PTI petition seeking the dismissal of Election Commission members on grounds of negligence, citing a lack of supporting evidence. The ECP has ordered a report on code of conduct violations by the Sher Ali family in Faisalabad. Clashes continue between PTI and PML-N activists over the outcome of the election, with one PML-N party member reportedly killed in Dijkot on Monday. [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]
  • FATA Reform: An all-parties conference hosted in Islamabad on Monday by the Jamaat-e-Islami endorsed a proposed amendment by FATA lawmakers to merge the tribal agencies into Khyber Paktunkhwa, with the PML-N, PPP, PTI, and other parties all backing the move. [Dawn] [ET]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Earthquake Relief: Prime Minister Sharif visited Timerghara in Lower Dir and Khar in the Bajaur Agency on Monday, where he reiterated pledges that the government would distribute relief assistance to families affected by last month’s earthquake before the onset of winter. The distribution of compensation payments began on Monday. The Express Tribune reports that restrictions are being placed on local and international NGOs carrying out relief work in Shangla and other affected areas, although district officials say that they have issued clearances to “almost everyone”. [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Rangers Announce ‘Next Phase’ of Karachi Operation [Dawn] [ET]
  • Ten Injured in Shaheen Air Crash Landing in Lahore [Dawn] [ET]
  • Chief Justice to Address Senate [Dawn]
  • Khyber Paktunkhwa National Accountability Arrests Nine on Embezzlement Charges [Dawn] [ET]
  • JUI-F Suspends Balochistan Assembly Opposition Leader’s Party Membership [Dawn]
  • Prime Minister Seeks Explanation for Loss of UN Human Rights Council Seat [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Border Security Talks: U.S. and NATO forces commander Gen. John Campbell held talks with Pakistani Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif in Rawalpindi on Monday to discuss border security and coordination; details of their discussion are limited.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Cooperation Agreements Signed with China: Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao visited Kabul on Tuesday, where he met with Pres. Ghani and oversaw the signing of three cooperation agreements on security, reconstruction assistance, and education. Although details of their discussions are limited, China has pledged to provide four security scanners, to support the construction of 10,000 apartments for the families of Afghan security personnel, and to provide 1,500 scholarships for Afghan students. [TOLO]
  • Refugee Repatriation: Speaking to Voice of America on Monday, Pakistani officials affirmed their intention to repatriate the 1.5 million registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan starting at the end of the year, but suggested that “we will be sending them in a phased program, which is likely to take something under two years”. A cabinet decision on the process is expected to take place this week. Meanwhile, the Post examines Afghan refugees’ path to Europe through Iran, where refugees report heavy abuses and arbitrary detention by Iranian guards.
  • Taliban Talks: Speaking to reporters on Monday, Pakistani foreign advisor Sartaj Aziz said that “right now I don’t think the time is opportune” for talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, saying that “consensus among stakeholders” was required for talks to be successful. [ET]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Kerry Reassures Afghanistan’s Neighbors Over U.S. Troop Drawdown [Reuters]
  • Ministry of Interior Investigates Report of Assault on Police by Member of Parliament [TOLO]
  • Pakistan Donates Planeload of Wheat [Dawn]
  • Report: Reaching Boiling Point: High School Activism in Afghanistan – ” The ban on political activities in high schools appears ineffective and anachronistic: indeed, hindering
  • concern for political matters at the doorstep of high schools is not viable in practice.” [Antonio Giustozzi and Ali Mohammad Ali, AREU (pdf)]
  • Report: DOD’s Compressed Natural Gas Filling Station in Afghanistan: An Ill-Conceived $43 Million Project – “There is no indication that TFBSO considered the feasibility of achieving the station’s broader objectives or considered any of the potentially considerable obstacles to the project’s success before beginning construction.” [SIGAR (pdf)]
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