Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Karachi Corps Commander Meets Sindh Chief Minister; Ghani Defends Pakistan Outreach


  • Karachi Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Naveed Mukhtar met with Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah on Thursday and is reported to have reached an agreement that Shah will be consulted on high-profile corruption investigations going forward, in exchange for an agreement to extend the Rangers’ policing authorities in Karachi. Karachi police withdrew charges against PPP aide Asim Hussain on Thursday, saying they had no evidence that he had supported the treatment of militant suspects at a hospital he runs, as alleged by the Rangers; on Friday, he was transferred to the custody of the National Accountability Bureau for corruption investigations. Massoud Andarabi has succeeded Rahmatullah Nabil as acting chief of the NDS intelligence service following Nabil’s resignation on Thursday; Pres. Ghani held a press conference on Friday to defend his outreach to Pakistan and participation in this week’s Heart of Asia conference in Islamabad. An Indian court has agreed to pardon David Headley and to allow him to testify on behalf of prosecutors regarding his role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks; anonymous diplomatic sources suggest that Pakistan’s prosecution of Mumbai suspects will be a determining factor in the resumption of talks between India and Pakistan. Pakistan test-fired an intermediate-range nuclear-capable ballistic missile on Friday. Nangarhar NDS officials report that at least four people were killed, including one officer, when a woman detonated a suicide vest after a vehicle under NDS surveillance, reportedly carrying a group of Russian nationals, including children, was stopped in Jalalabad on Thursday evening.

Pakistan — Security

  • TTP Leader Arrested: The Peshawar police Counter Terrorism Department reportedly arrested Muhammad Zahir Shah, identified as the head of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s Darra Adam Khel chapter, during a raid on Thursday.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Karachi Operation: Karachi Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Naveed Mukhtar met with Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah on Thursday for a one-on-one meeting reported to have focused on the renewal of the lapsed mandate to grant the paramilitary Rangers policing powers in Karachi. The Express Tribune reports that an “understanding” was reached, and that Shah had agreed to extend the Rangers’ power in exchange for guarantees that he would be consulted before any arrests against “high-profile personalities”. Some provincial assembly members report that the PPP had been preparing to criticize the Rangers’ operations during assembly debate. On Friday, PPP leader Asim Hussain was transferred to the National Accountability Bureau’s custody for corruption investigations; during testimony on Thursday before an anti-terrorism court, Karachi police reported that they had “no terror-related evidence” that Hussain was supporting the treatment of militants at a hospital he runs, as the Rangers have alleged, and that they were withdrawing charges. Asim stated that he “would rather die than give a statement under duress.” [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn]
  • India-Pakistan Tensions: Anonymous diplomatic sources tell Dawn that Pakistan’s progress in prosecuting suspects in connection to the 2008 Mumbai attacks “would be a major obstacle” in determining the pace at which India and Pakistan restart their Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue, as agreed to on Wednesday. Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj is due to discuss the agreement before the Indian parliament today. On Thursday, an Indian court approved a conditional pardon for David Headley, allowing him to testify as a witness for the prosecution regarding his role in supporting the attacks; he was sentenced by a U.S. court after pleading guilty in 2013. PTI and JUI-F leaders were critical of the government over the wording of the joint statement during parliamentary debate on Thursday, but some leaders in Pakistani-administered Kashmir welcomed the agreement to resume talks. Imran Khan traveled to New Delhi on Friday to attend a conference on bilateral relations, and some reports suggest he will meet with Prime Minister Modi. On Friday, Pakistan’s military spokesmen announced the test-firing of an intermediate-range nuclear-capable ballistic missile. [AP]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Cellphone Services Suspended in Islamabad and Rawalpindi During Friday Prayers [Dawn]
  • Official Results Still Awaited from Local Government Polls [Dawn]
  • Imran Khan Calls for Compensation to US Drone Strike Victims [AFP] [ET] [Dawn]
  • Over 70 Arrested from Afghan Refugees’ Camp [ET]
  • Baloch National Front Holds Strike in Parts of Balochistan [Dawn]
  • BNP-Mengal Chief Meets with Imran Khan, Plans Opposition Conference on CPEC [Dawn]
  • Federal Water and Power Ministry Holds Meeting with Provinces on Water Pricing [Dawn] [ET]
  • National Assembly Passes Child Abuse Legislation [APP]
  • Commentary: Pakistan is Winning its War on Terror – “Over the past year, Pakistan has quietly made some important, costly, and under-appreciated strides in its counter-militancy efforts. Individually, none are groundbreaking, but together they point in a more promising direction for Pakistani society, regional stability, and the U.S.-Pakistan relationship.” [Sameer Lalwani, Foreign Policy]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Nangarhar Bombing: A suicide bombing in Jalalabad on Thursday evening killed four people, including at least one National Directorate of Security officer. Details are sketchy, but TOLO reports that NDS officials were pursuing a vehicle carrying several Russian nationals, and that a woman stepped out of the car and detonated a suicide vest near the NDS vehicle; three of the dead are reported to be children. [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • NDS Chief Resigns Over Pakistan Outreach: As reported yesterday, NDS Chief Rahmatullah Nabil resigned on Thursday, and has been succeeded by Massoud Andarabi as acting chief of the intelligence agency. Nabil posted his resignation letter to Facebook, and said that Ghani had made “frequent verbal demands to quit my job” and pressured him to quit; he reiterated criticisms of Pakistan and the Ghani administration’s outreach to it this week. Ghani’s office said that he was “not in favor of changes in this security department during the current situation, but he respected Mr. Nabil’s demand [to resign] and approved it.” Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Ghani defended his efforts at this week’s ‘Heart of Asia’ conference in Islamabad, saying that Pakistan had committed to “act against groups that don’t want to lay down arms” and that his government’s relations were not about trust but rather “interests and benefits”, adding that “we should choose a moderate level in our relations with other countries.” Ghani described the Taliban as being divided and said that “we will embrace those who want peace, but we will fight those who work for others. This is our clear message.” On Thursday, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who headed the U.S. delegation at the Heart of Asia conference, met with Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif in Islamabad; Pakistani military spokesmen said that both “reiterated the need of early resumption of reconciliation process to achieve lasting peace in Afghanistan”. [NYT] [Khaama Press] [Khaama Press] [AJE] [BBC] [TOLO]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Baghlan Officials Claim Daesh Settling in Barkah District [TOLO]
  • Bowe Bergdahl Gives First Interview in New ‘Serial’ Series Dedicated to His Case [WAPO] [NYT]
  • Report: Report on the Inquiry Into the Department of Defense’s May 2014 Transfer to Qatar of Five Law-of-War Detainees in Connection with the Recovery of a Captive U.S. Soldier – “The transfer of the Taliban Five violated several laws, including the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014. The constitutional arguments offered to justify the Department of Defense’s failure to provide the legally-required notification to the Committee 30 days in advance are incomplete and unconvincing.” [HASC Majority Report (pdf)]

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