Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Pakistan Summons Afghan Diplomat Over Bacha Khan Attack; Taliban Cut Kabul-Uzbekistan Power Link

Topline

  • Pakistan summoned the Afghan charges d’affaires on Tuesday to again urge the Afghan government to take action against militants based in Afghanistan that Pakistani officials blame for plotting the attack on the Bacha Khan University in Charsadda last week. A Taliban attack in Baghlan on Tuesday cut power lines linking Kabul and Uzbekistan; fighting is ongoing near the Baghlan provincial capital. Four members of an Afghan de-mining group were killed in an attack in Helmand’s Gereshk district on Wednesday. A spokeswoman for the European Commission warned of continued disputes over Pakistan’s implementation of an agreement negotiated last November for the repatriation of deportees from Europe, and of possible “positive and negative” incentives to ensure compliance. Afghan foreign minister Salahuddin Rabbani met with Chinese officials in Beijing on Tuesday, after which the Chinese foreign ministry issued statements reiterating support for an intra-Afghan peace process. The MQM held protests in Karachi on Tuesday seeking the withdrawal of restrictions on the broadcast of remarks by party leader Altaf Hussain. A leading representative of the traders’ community has threatened to quit the PTI over its opposition to the government’s tax amnesty plan for the trading sector. PIA office staffers went on strike on Tuesday in opposition to the government’s privatization initiative.

Pakistan — Security

  • Tensions with Afghanistan: The Pakistani foreign ministry summoned the Afghan charges d’affaires on Tuesday and again conveyed the message that “investigations have revealed that handlers of the terrorist act were operating from Afghan territory and used Afghan telecommunication network for planning and executing” the attack on the Bacha Khan University last week. The foreign ministry urged the Afghan government to “take action against the perpetrators of this heinous act of terrorism and extend cooperation to Pakistani authorities to bring them to justice at the earliest possible.” Pakistani interior ministry sources tell the Express Tribune that the government intends to increase “combat patrolling” by the Frontier Corps along the border with Afghanistan in order to reduce infiltration. [TOLO] [Khaama Press] [Dawn]
  • Counterterrorism Response: Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, PPP parliamentary opposition leader Khurshid Shah reiterated criticism of the the government’s implementation of the National Action Plan against terrorism, calling for an independent judicial investigation into the attacks on the Army Public School and Bacha Khan University, and criticizing the pace of case transfers to military courts and the delays in appointing National Counter-Terrorism Authority positions. In Peshawar, a makeshift bomb was discovered and defused near a school in the Bashirabad neighborhood. All army-run schools in Karachi have been closed through the end of the week, apparently due to security concerns, following a similar move by government schools in Punjab on Tuesday. A raid in Peshawar on Wednesday seized a large cache of weapons. [ET]
  • Mumbai Investigations: The Islamabad High Court dismissed a government plea seeking voice sample recordings from the Lashkar-e-Taiba suspects under investigation in connection to the 2008 Mumbai attacks, citing the “non-prosecution of the cases” by the Federal Investigation Agency.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • EU Complaints on Deportations and Readmissions: A spokeswoman for the European Commission told reporters on Tuesday that “there are still difficulties” with a deal reached in November for the readmission of Pakistani nationals being deported from Europe for lack of proper documentation, and said that “the Commission is currently examining possible incentives — positive and negative — so that this accord is applied properly”.
  • Other Political Activity: The MQM held citywide demonstrations in Karachi on Tuesday demanding the withdrawal of restrictions on the broadcast of remarks by party leader Altaf Hussain. A Karachi anti-terrorism court issued non-bailable arrest warrants for five MQM activists in connection to a case against Amir Khan, who has been charged with “harboring criminals” after his arrest during a raid on the MQM headquarters last spring. Dawn reports that Naeem Mir, general secretary of the All-Pakistan Anjuman Tajiran traders union, is considering splitting with the PTI after the party’s opposition against the government’s new tax amnesty program for the trading sector. Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid and other PML-N leaders accused the Election Commission of carrying out a lenient investigation into charges that the PTI was misusing party funds, and of unnecessary delays. [Dawn] [ET]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • PIA Strike: Pakistan International Airlines employees carried out a strike at the carrier’s offices around the country on Tuesday, reiterating that they would not accept a government privatization initiative and would not engage in mediation over the issue. Union employees have threatened to begin disrupting flight operations from next week. [Dawn]
  • LNG Investigations: The National Accountability Bureau has held two days of meetings and interviews with minister of petroleum and natural resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and the heads of the national gas distribution companies as part of investigations into possible malfeasance in the negotiation of contracts for the import of liquefied natural gas; Abbasi has denied any wrongdoing.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Six Militants Killed in Balochistan [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Navy Increases Surveillance at Gwadar Port [ET]
  • Monetary Policy Committee to Meet January 30 [ET]
  • PTI Seeks Public Accounts Committee Investigation on Smuggling [ET]
  • Commerce Ministry Seeks to Boost Iran Ties [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Taliban Attack Baghlan Power Line: At least one electricity transmission tower was destroyed and two damaged in Taliban attacks in Baghlan late Tuesday, cutting a power line that supplies Kabul with around 75 megawatts of electricity from sources in Uzbekistan; a spokesman for the national power company Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat said that Afghan security forces were de-mining the area and that service could be restored by Wednesday. Fighting is ongoing around the Baghlan provincial capital after Afghan security forces launched an operation there earlier on Tuesday. [TOLO] [Ariana News]
  • Other Attacks and Operations: Spokesmen for the ministries of defense and interior warn of a “heavy onslaught” for Taliban forces during this year’s fighting season, threatening an increase in airstrikes and army and special forces operations. A Taliban attack in Helmand’s Gereshk district killed at least four members of a de-mining group working in the area on Wednesday, according to the provincial governor; the Taliban have not confirmed responsibility. Tajikistan’s interior minister announced on Monday that Mullah Amriddin, the leader of a banned militant group Jamaat Ansarullah, had been killed in Afghanistan “during a special operation” six months prior. [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Chinese Diplomacy: Following meetings by visiting Afghan foreign minister Salahuddin Rabbani with China’s vice president Li Yuanchao and foreign minister Wang Yi, China’s foreign ministry issued a statement on Tuesday reiterating support for “the ‘Afghan-led and Afghan-owned’ reconciliation process” and voicing appreciation for “the move by the Afghan government to restart the negotiations with the Taliban,” which it said was “the right approach to achieve long-term stability in Afghanistan.”

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Media Watchdogs Call for Taliban to End Attacks [TOLO]
  • Kabul’s Car-Bomb Graveyard is a Monument to Years of Bloodshed [WAPO]
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