Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Media Coverage Restrictions in Place As Qadri Buried; Chinese Chief of Army Staff Visits Kabul

Topline

  • Restrictions have been placed on media coverage of protests held in the wake of Mumtaz Qadri’s execution; Reuters estimates that “tens of thousands” of supporters protested at funeral services on Tuesday. China’s chief of army staff visited Kabul on Monday for meetings with senior Afghan officials; he is reported to have pledged $70 million in new military assistance. Foreign advisor Sartaj Aziz led a Pakistani delegation in Washington on Monday for U.S.-Pakistan strategic dialogue talks; Aziz told reporters that Pakistan should not be blamed for Afghanistan’s problems. A police officer in Uruzgan killed four colleagues over Monday night; details are limited. Ministry of Interior officials say they are investigating the detention of the Sangin district police chief and several other officers by the Afghan National Army. Balochistan home minister Sarfaraz Bugti survived an attack on his convoy while traveling to the Sui district on Monday. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will reportedly visit Pakistan before the end of the month for talks focused on reviving the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project. Finance Minister Dar extended a tax amnesty program for traders by two weeks.

Pakistan — Security

  • Qadri Execution: Television coverage of protests in the wake of Mumtaz Qadri’s execution on Monday has been limited; ministry of information claimed credit for restricting the broadcasts in remarks to the senate later in the day. A heavy police presence was deployed for Qadri’s funeral on Tuesday; Reuters estimates a crowd of “tens of of thousands” of supporters. Speaking to reporters on Monday, Council of Islamic Ideology chairman Maulana Mohammad Shehrani said that “no one is above the law” and that “I respect Qadri’s religious sentiments but I respect Pakistan’s Constitution more”. [Dawn] [Dawn] [AJE]
  • FATA Operations: Military officials claimed to have killed a dozen militants linked with the TTP Sheheryar group in North Waziristan’s Shawal Valley area on Monday. On Tuesday, a roadside bombing killed a member of the Anti-Narcotics Force and injured three other people in the Mohmand Agency. [ET]
  • Intelligence Bureau Chief Tenure Extended: On Monday, Prime Minister Sharif approved a two-year tenure extension for Aftab Sultan, the director general of the Intelligence Bureau, who has held that position since Sharif took office.
  • Balochistan Home Minister Survives Attack: Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Ahmed Bugti’s convoy of vehicles was attacked by gunmen while en route between Dera Bugti and Sui on Monday; no casualties were reported, and there has been no reported claim of responsibity.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue: Foreign advisor Sartaj Aziz headed a delegation to Washington for strategic dialogue talks on Monday; speaking to reporters before talks began, he rejected the “tendency to blame Pakistan, in [a] somewhat simplistic fashion for most of the difficulties and challenges that engage Afghanistan”, and said that “our strategy to eliminate terrorist networks and defeat their extremist ideology is all-encompassing”. Aziz also insisted that the sale of F-16s to Pakistan would contribute to stability in the region.

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Iran Pipeline: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will visit Pakistan by the end of the month for talks on the revival of the Iran-Pakistan natural gas pipeline project, the Express Tribune reports; a special tax for gas infrastructure has been spent on bridging the budget deficit, however, living few funds to begin work on a liquefied natural gas pipeline linking to Gwadar.
  • Tax Revenues: On Monday, Finance Minister Dar approved a two-week extension to a tax amnesty program for traders; he said that 2,500 people had taken part in the program to date, contributing Rs 220 million in taxes, a tenfold increase over figures reported last week. [Dawn]
  • Privatization Plans: Prime Minister Sharif is reported to be “undecided” over plans for the new Pakistan Airways, which was set up in parallel to Pakistan International Airways last month; Finance Minister Dar and Privatization Commission Chairman Muhammad Zubair are reported to have objected to plans to make the new airline operational on its own, and proposed instead that it should be made a subsidiary of PIA. On Monday, a senate committee rejected the government’s plan to convert PIA to a limited company; the government is expected to convene a joint session of parliament to push the measure through.
  • Census Postponed: As reported yesterday, the first meeting of the Council on Common Interests in almost a year agreed to indefinitely delay the census count previously planned for March, citing the lack of available soldiers to provide security for the process. [Dawn] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Interior Ministry Vows to Crack Down on Banned Groups [Dawn]
  • Federal Team Criticizes Sindh Government Response in Tharparkar [Dawn]
  • Local PPP Leader Killed in Karachi [Dawn]
  • Rangers Ordered to Allow Family Meeting for Uzair Baloch [Dawn] [ET]
  • Army Officer Killed in Ghazi Airbase Helicopter Crash [Dawn] [ET]
  • Man Posing as ISI Officer Arrested in Islamabad [ET]
  • Punjab Governor Allocates Rs 2 Million for Karachi Bar Association [ET]
  • Prime Minister Orders Petrol Price Cut [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET] [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Chinese Chief of Army Staff Visits: General Fang Fenghui, China’s chief of army staff, visited Kabul on Monday, where he met with senior officials and pledged to provide further military and economic assistance to Afghanistan. A statement from the presidential palace said that Fenghui had pledged more than $70 million in new military aid. [TOLO]
  • Rogue Police: The provincial police chief of Uruzgan reported Tuesday that an Afghan police officer had killed four colleagues at a checkpost along the Uruzgan-Kandahar highway the previous evening; details are limited. On Monday, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior said that it was investigating reports that the Sangin district police chief and as many as 30 officers had been detained by the Afghan National Army, describing it as a “misunderstanding”.
  • Attacks and Operations: Military spokesmen in Baghlan claim to have inflicted “heavy losses” on Taliban forces in Baghlan, who they alleged were “being managed by Pakitstani generals” from across the border. Despite Saturday’s attack on a prominent pro-government militia leader, Kunar provincial governor Wahidullah Kalimzai rejected assessments that security was deteriorating in the province. On Monday, the NDS announced that it had disrupted a planned suicide car bombing attack in Kandahar city, arresting 26 people. [TOLO] [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Russian Envoy Visits: Pres. Ghani met with visiting Russian special envoy Zamir Kabulov on Monday; Kabulov said that “the only address for peace talks is the Government of Afghanistan”, and that the Taliban must hold talks with the government. [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Former Herat Governor Demands Investigation Into Kidnapping [TOLO]
  • Commentary: The Bidding War – “In a war waged by private contracting, the line between profit and profiteering can be hard to define.” [Matthieu Aikins, New Yorker]
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