Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Son of Sindh High Court Chief Kidnapped in Karachi; Taliban Kidnap Passengers in Helmand

Topline

  • The son of the chief justice of the Sindh High Court, himself also a lawyer, was kidnapped in an upscale Karachi neighborhood on Monday; police say they suspect he is being held in an effort to force the release of militant prisoners. Taliban fighters kidnapped 27 passengers traveling through Helmand’s Gereshk district on Tuesday. The Islamic State’s Afghanistan chapter also issued a claim of responsibility for Monday’s attack on Nepali guards in Kabul, following a previous Taliban claim. At a press conference on Monday, opposition lawmakers said they were at an impasse with the PML-N government over the terms of reference for an investigation into the Panama Papers, and said they would not participate in further talks. Former Karachi mayor Mustafa Kamal announced the organizational structure of his new Pakistan Sarzameen Party on Monday, with himself as party chairman. Hezb-e-Islami leaders have made additional demands for the withdrawal of U.S. forces and an end to the U.S. security cooperation agreement in their negotiations with the Afghan High Peace Council, which Afghan officials say they will not accept, stalling a prospective peace agreement.

Pakistan — Security

  • Son of Sindh High Court Chief Justice Kidnapped: Owais Ali Shah, a lawyer and the son of Sindh High Court Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, was kidnapped in an upscale Karachi neighborhood on Monday, police reported. Police have introduced checkpoints in the city as part of their search for him; the Rangers have arrested 11 suspects in connection with the kidnapping. Police officials said that they believed the younger Shah had been kidnapped in an effort to negotiate the release of militant prisoners, although no public claim of responsibility has been reported as of this writing.
  • Military Courts Appeal: On Monday, the Supreme Court reserved judgement in five more appeals against death sentences issued by the military courts system; lawyers for the defendants argued that they had been denied their basic rights and called for retrials. [Dawn]
  • Deportations: On Monday, Pakistan deported an American woman, identified as Krystle Keehn, after she was found to be flying in to Islamabad without a valid visa. Meanwhile, ten Pakistani nationals were taken into Federal Investigation Agency custody after they were deported from Turkey.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Panama Papers Deadlock: At a press conference on Monday, opposition leader said that they remained deadlocked with the government over terms of reference for an investigation into the Panama Papers; PPP leader Aitzaz Ahsan insisted that the investigation should include “direct or immediate family members” of those named in the Panama Papers leak, that Prime Minister Sharif and his family should be the first to be investigated, and that the onus should be on those named to prove that their assets are legitimate. Opposition leaders said they would boycott future meetings of the parliamentary committee on the Panama Papers investigation, although MQM and ANP representatives did not attend Monday’s press conference. [Dawn]
  • Other Political Activity: Former Karachi mayor Mustafa Kamal announced the organizational structure of the Pakistani Sarzameen Party on Monday, naming himself as chairman of the party’s Central Executive Committee and fellow founder Anis Kaimkhani as president. Kamal also indicated plans to establish local level chapters and student, labor, and lawyers’ wings. The PPP commemorated the birthday of Benazir Bhutto, with former Pres. Zardari issuing a statement rejecting “obscurantist elements [who] are increasingly suppressing women”. [ET] [ET] [ET]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Four Policemen Injured in Peshawar Attack [ET]
  • Ahmadi Doctor Killed in Karachi [Dawn] [ET]
  • Interior Minister Blames Poor Relations with India on ‘Hindu Extremist Organizations’ [Dawn] [ET]
  • Petitioner Challenging Jamaat-ud-Dawa Courts Cites Fear for Safety [ET]
  • Chief of Army Staff Meets German Counterpart [Dawn] [ET]
  • Six Afghan Nationals Arrested in Karachi [ET]
  • Council of Islamic Ideology to Review Alternative Women’s Protection Bill [ET]
  • Khyber Paktunkhwa Seeks to Generate 1000 Megawatts Through Hydro and Solar Projects [ET]
  • Report: Multidimensional Poverty in Pakistan – “There are stark regional disparities in poverty across Pakistan. The proportion of people identified as multidimensionally poor in urban areas is significantly lower than in rural areas – 9.4% and 54.6%, respectively.” [Ministry of Planning]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Helmand Kidnapping: Taliban fighters ambushed a group of buses and cars in Helmand’s Gereshk district on Tuesday, kidnapping as many as 60 people, although they later released all but 27. A spokesman told the AP that “there will be an investigation and we will find out if they are government employees and if so, they will be hand over to the Taliban judicial officials to decide on their fate”. The provincial police chief said that search operations were underway for the hostages. [TOLO] [Khaama Press] [Reuters]
  • Rules of Engagement: The WSJ reports on how U.S. special forces embedded with Afghan forces are grappling with restrictions on their engagement with the Taliban, and the complicated process of review that must proceed decisions to carry out strikes on suspected Taliban fighters.
  • Other Attacks and Operations: Khaama Press reports a claim of responsibility by the Islamic State’s Afghanistan chapter for Monday’s suicide bombing targeting a group of Nepali guards working for the Canadian embassy in Kabul; the Taliban previously claimed responsibility for the attack. In Helmand, army officials claim to have killed 12 Taliban fighters in operations in the Nad Ali district. Elsewhere, the Ministry of Defense reported killing 18 Taliban militants in airstrikes in Faryab’s Garziwan district on Tuesday. TOLO reports that Khalil Andarabi, the police chief of Wardak province, is under investigation after his family members were linked to Qari Zahir, a Taliban spy chief who was arrested while traveling to Kabul for medical treatment.
  • Tensions with Pakistan: Pakistan has completed work on a 1,100 kilometer-long trench along the Balochistan-Kandahar border, officials tell the Express Tribune, saying that they now plan to extend the trench for the entire 2,400 kilometer length of the Balochistan border. [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Hezb-e-Islami Talks: The AP, citing Afghan High Peace Council sources, reports that Hezb-e-Islami has made additional demands as part of a prospective peace agreement with the government, demanding a cancellation of the security agreement with the U.S., a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign forces, and that an agreement be signed by the Afghan state rather than the current unity government; HPC officials say they will not accept the additional demands, and Hezb-e-Islami sources acknowledge that talks are deadlocked.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Over 3600 Afghan Nationals Repatriated from Europe Since Start of 2016 [Khaama Press]
  • Journalists Accuse Government of Failing to Provide Security [TOLO]
  • Nearly 99% of Afghanistan’s Hindus and Sikhs Have Left In Past Three Decades [TOLO]
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