Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Sindh Assembly Restricts Rangers’ Detention Powers; NYT Reports on SEAL Detainee Abuse in Uruzgan


  • The Sindh provincial assembly passed a resolution on Wednesday extending the Ranger’s policing powers, but restricting their mandate to only focus on targeted killings, extortion, and other violence, and barring them from placing suspects charged with “financing or facilitating” terrorism under preventative detention if they were not “directly involved in terrorism” except with permission from the provincial government. The NYT reports in detail on a May 2012 incident in which several Navy SEAL personnel stationed alongside an Afghan Local Police unit in Uruzgan are reported to have beaten and abused a group of six Afghan detainees, one of whom later died. The WSJ reports that U.S. and UK special operations teams have been redeployed to Helmand, as fighting continues with the Taliban; Afghan security officials reported intense fighting in the Washir district on Wednesday. Pakistan’s foreign ministry said that it was “awaiting further details” on the Saudi-proposed alliance against the Islamic State; Dawn reports that Saudi Arabia had previously been given a “secret commitment” that the foreign ministry had not been informed of. Islamic State-affiliated militants in Nangarhar have reportedly established a “Voice of the Caliphate” radio station with reach to the provincial capital. The membership of the special committee tasked with nominating new members of the Independent Election Commission and Electoral Complaints Commission has been finalized and the committe will begin its work today, Afghan presidential spokesmen announced. Local elections were postponed in the Sanghar and Badin districts in Sindh. Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch’s resignation has been postponed over disputes within the coalition over control of the financial and planning ministries. Pres. Ghani has reportedly ordered officials to speed up the process of repossessing collateral held by Kabul Bank debtors, including former CEO Khalillulah Frozi.

Pakistan — Security

  • Saudi Military Alliance: In a statement on Wednesday, Pakistan’s foreign ministry confirmed that it would participate in a Saudi-announced alliance of Islamic countries against the Islamic State, but said that it was “awaiting further details to decide the extent of its participation in different activities of the alliance”. Although foreign ministry officials do not appear to have been consulted prior to the announcement, Dawn reports that “Saudi Arabia had been given a secret commitment regarding joining the alliance” by unspecified officials, and notes visits by Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif to Riyadh in October. [ET] [Dawn]
  • Seminaries Under Scrutiny: The Post notes that, despite other efforts by the Pakistani government to crack down on militancy in the wake of the attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar last year, its plans to more closely regulate the country’s seminaries and mosques have been largely ineffective. The Interior Ministry reported to parliament on Wednesday that 285 seminaries across the country were receiving funds from abroad, the majority located in Punjab, although the Post reports that data collection on madrassas in Khyber Paktunkhwa was suspended in September. The NYT notes Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz’s continued “untouchability”; a small group of civil society activists protesting outside the mosque were detained by police on Wednesday in apparent bid to avoid a confrontation.  Opposition lawmakers criticized the government’s implementation of the National Action Plan against terrorism during a joint session of parliament on Wednesday, and staged a walkout. [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Sindh Assembly Passes Resolution on Rangers’ Powers: On Wednesday, the Sindh Assembly passed a resolution that established additional conditions on the paramilitary Rangers’ policing powers, limiting them to focus on cases of “target killing, extortion, kidnapping for ransom, and sectarian killing”; the resolution also specifically requires approval from the provincial government for the use of preventative detention for any suspect “not directly involved in terrorism” who is under investigation for “financing or facilitating” terrorists, charges that were brought against senior PPP leader Asim Hussain. MQM, PTI, PML-F, and PML-Q opposition lawmakers protested the measure. Hussain’s detention by the National Accountability Bureau, to which his case was transferred last week, was extended by a week on Thursday. [ET] [Dawn]
  • Elections and Other Political Activity: The Election Commission postponed local elections that were planned to take place today in Sindh’s Sanghar and Badin districts, after violent clashes in Sanghar earlier this week. In Khyber Paktunkhwa, Laiq Muhammad Khan, a brother of the PTI’s provincial president, announced that he would be joining the PML-N. PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari ordered intra-party elections for party offices in at least five Khyber Paktunkhwa districts, although details on the schedule and procedure have not been announced. In Balochistan, Prime Minister Sharif is reported to have asked outgoing Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch to delay his resignation until the resolution of a dispute within the coalition over control of the finance and provincial planning ministries.

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • CPEC Projects: China’s state council for financing approved a $1.2 billion investment in the Thar coal field, with the goal of developing a 660 megawatt power plant on site and mining 3.8 million tons per year of coal. Previous agreements in October had reportedly been reached to double those outputs.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • UN Special Rapporteur Raises Concerns Over Electronic Crimes Bill [ET]
  • Putin Visit Not Yet Finalized [ET]
  • 360 FATA Schools Destroyed in 2015 [ET]
  • Military-Trained Police to Assume Prison Security Duties in Punjab [Dawn]
  • Prime Minister Rejects Aviation Advisor’s Resignation [Dawn] [ET]
  • President Hussain Attends Chinese Conference [APP]
  • Former Rawalpindi Bar Chief Petitions for Solo Musharraf Treason Trial [Dawn]
  • NAB Approve Seven New Inquiries [ET]
  • Senate Committee Demands Withdrawal of New Taxes [Dawn]
  • Khyber Paktunkhwa and FATA Plan Polio Vaccination Drive [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Detainee Abuse: The NYT reports in detail on an incident in Uruzgan’s Kalach district in May 2012 in which at least three Navy SEALs are reported to have beaten, abused, and tortured a half dozen suspects detained by an Afghan Local Police militia unit following an attack on a checkpost; one detainee died. A Navy criminal investigation documented the reports of abuse, but the SEAL command opted against a court martial process and cleared those involved, who have since received promotions.
  • Attacks and Operations: Helmand provincial officials report heavy clashes in the Washir district, with one source reporting that as many as 20 security personnel had been killed and another 20 captured in fighting with Taliban insurgents. The WSJ reports that the U.S. and UK have deployed at least four special operations teams to the province to support Afghan forces, and are participating in joint operations with Afghan forces. In Nangarhar, officials report that militants affiliated with the Islamic State have launched a “Voice of the Caliphate” radio station with reach throughout the provincial capital; the provincial governor tells TOLO that the station is broadcasting “from across the border”. [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Election Reforms: A spokesman for Pres. Ghani announced on Wednesday that the membership had been finalized for the selection committee to nominate members for the Independent Election Commission and Electoral Complaints Commission, and that the group would hold its first meeting on Thursday. The members were identified as Din Mohammad Gran, Mohammad Nadir Hotik, Lotfurrahman Sayed, Fahim Dashti, Naeem Ayoubzada, Zarqa Yaftali and Ahmad Zia Langari.
  • Kabul Bank Investigations: The presidency issued a statement on Wednesday indicating that Pres. Ghani had chaired a session on the recovery of loans from Kabul Bank, and ordered officials to “speed up the process” of reclaiming collateral from Khalillulah Frozi and other debtors.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • National Procurement Commission Approves 61 Contracts [Khaama Press]
  • Afghan Refugees to Europe Describe Flight from Conflict [AJE]
  • Afghanistan-Central Asia Dialogue Held in Mazar-e-Sharif [Khaama Press]

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