Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: PIA Union Leaders Call Off Strike; Ghani Appoints New Kunduz Governor

Topline

  • PIA union leaders called off their eight-day strike on Tuesday evening, suggesting that they had been “given enough assurance one of privatization” to end the protest, without providing details. PIA slashed its fares on Wednesday. Pres. Ghani has appointed for provincial peace council chief Asadullah Omarkhail as the governor of Kunduz, replacing acting governor Hamdullah Daneshi. Dawn reports that government officials are considering the creation of a “consultative forum” of military and civilian officials, modeled after the provincial apex committees, to oversee implementation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project. 19 more international NGOs have reportedly been cleared for registration in Pakistan, although their identities have not been announced. The head of Afghanistan’s High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption criticized the government for failing to release the findings of an investigation into the ‘Smart City’ housing project, which he said had uncovered evidence of multiple criminal violations of the law. World Bank president Jim Yong Kim visited Pakistan on Tuesday.

Pakistan — Security

  • CPEC Security: Dawn reports that a “consultative forum on the pattern of apex committees” is under consideration to ensure “trouble-free implementation” of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project, after Chinese officials have voiced concerns over domestic political divisions about the distribution of projects. Planning minister Ahsan Iqbal said he was unaware of such plans.
  • More NGOs Registered: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan chaired a meeting on Tuesday to give final registration approval to 19 international non-governmental organizations operating in Pakistan; formal approval is expected within a week. The list of applicants was not reported.
  • FATA IDPs: Military officials at Tuesday’s meeting of the Khyber Paktunkhwa provincial apex committee, also attended by Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif, are reported to have expressed concern in the slow repatriation of displaced FATA residents, over 170,000 of whom remain displaced. Only 15-20% of the Rs 10 billion in appropriations for relief and resettlement has reportedly been spent.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Khyber Paktunkhwa Governor: Dawn reports that defense secretary retired Lt. Gen. Mohammad Alam Khattak, a former Southern Corps commander and FATA Corps inspector general, is the likely nominee to succeed outgoing Khyber Paktunkhwa governor Sardar Mehtab Ahmad Khan.
  • Local Elections: The Sindh High Court heard further arguments in a case challenging PPP-backed amendments to the Sindh local government law that call for indirect elections for mayors and other officials to be held through a public show of hands.
  • Doctors’ Protest: Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Imran Khan indicated that he would seek a legal case against PML-N leader Amir Muqam, charging him with “inciting” doctors to strike at the Hayatabad Medical Complex. Several other partial strikes were carried out at hospitals throughout the province.

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • PIA Union Announces End to Strike: The Joint Action Committee of Pakistan International Airlines announced an end to their eight day-long strike on Tuesday evening, calling on employees to “work with full dedication and pay no heed to anyone trying to disrupt flight operations”. Union leader Sohail Baloch told a press conference that a “kind friend advised us to call off the strike”, without elaborating. Baloch said that he would meet with Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif later Tuesday evening. He suggested that the committee “has been given enough assurance on the issue of privatisation”, again without elaborating, and would “prove that we can revive” PIA. The Express Tribune notes division within the union leadership over continuation of the strike; the Pakistan Air Lines Pilot Association earlier announced that it would no longer participate, and regular flight operations had started to resume on Monday. Senate hearings have been scheduled for Wednesday to discuss the future of the airline. The Competition Commission of Pakistan told the senate finance committee that it would finalize a report on high fares charged by other airlines during the strike within the next week; PIA announced a reduction in fares of up to 50% on Wednesday, “in order to facilitate its valued customers and stabilise the unrealistic rise in airfares caused by the recent strike”. [ET] [Dawn]
  • World Bank President Visits: World Bank president Jim Yong Kim arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday for a two-day visit; he met with Prime Minister Sharif and Finance Minister Dar, issuing a statement calling for Pakistan to “step up to a higher level of growth and opportunity for all its people” by “strengthening the role of the private sector for job creation, accelerating energy reforms, making improvements at the community level for health and education, and ensuring anti-poverty measures are effective at reaching the poor.” [Dawn]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Gilgit Baltistan MWM Leader Jailed [ET]
  • Two Killed in Gujranwala Training Jet Crash [Dawn] [ET]
  • Five Pakistanis Arrested in Thailand for Involvement in Fake Passport Ring [AFP]
  • Security Exercises Spark Panic at Rawalpindi and Charsadda Schools [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Khyber Paktunkhwa Anti-Corruption Chief Warns Against Changes in Law [Dawn]
  • National Accountability Bureau Refers Asim Hussain to Judicial Remand [Dawn]
  • Khyber Paktunkhwa Government Defends Prisoner Access Restrictions in Court Challenge [Dawn]
  • Government to Form Committee to Consider OGRA Nominee [ET]
  • Supreme Court Refuses to Transfer Case on Former Chief Justice’s Vehicle from IHC [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • New Kunduz Governor Named: On Tuesday, Pres. Ghani announced the appointment of Asadullah Omarkhail, the former head of the Kunduz provincial peace council, as the new governor for the province. Hamdullah Daneshi, the former deputy governor, had been serving in an acting capacity since the removal of governor Omar Safi following the Taliban attack on the city last September. Ghani met with Kunduz provincial leaders in conjunction with the announcement of Omarkhail’s appointment; he highlighted the importance of ongoing military operations in Baghlan as a precursor to fully securing Kunduz from Taliban infiltration. [TOLO]
  • Smart City Scandal: High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption chairman Mohammad Hassan Fakhri criticized the government’s failure to release the findings of an investigation into the ‘Smart City’ scandal involving the recruitment of former Kabul Bank CEO Khalillulah Frozi in partnership with the Ministry of Urban Development Affairs, saying that the investigation had found instances of violations of the procurement law, the anti-corruption law, and the Constitution.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Mass Media Commission Welcomes New Mass Media Law [TOLO]
  • Kabul Police Announce 318 Arrests [TOLO]
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