Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Awais Ali Shah Freed at Army Checkpoint Stop; Afghan Refugee Attacks German Train Passengers

Topline

  • Awais Ali Shah, the son of the Sindh High Court Chief Justice who was kidnapped in Karachi in June, was rescued after his captors’ vehicle was stopped at a military checkpoint in the Tank district on Monday; the military’s spokesman identified the hostage takers as “a TTP splinter group with some Al Qaeda elements”. An Afghan refugee in Germany attacked train passengers with an ax on Monday before being killed by police; the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack. Taliban fighters attacked the Salang pass on Tuesday, but are reported to have retreated after a brief engagement. The Azad Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly speaker, Sardar Ghulam Sadiq of the PPP, has been disqualified from contesting Thursday’s elections by an AJK High Court ruling. Pakistnai police filed charges against the brother and murdered of social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch on Monday, becoming a complainant to the case. The Wolesi Jirga has finalized its nominees for a conference committee with the Meshrano Jirga to debate Pres. Ghani’s electoral reforms decree; an MP tells TOLO that the lower house’s nominees are opponents of the decree. The National Accountability Bureau issued an arrest warrant for former Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Kayani’s brother, Kamran Kayani, in a Lahore Defense Housing Authority land scam; Kamran is believed to be living abroad. The treason court hearing charges against former Pres. Musharraf suspended hearings indefinitely after he failed to appear before the court; his assets have been ordered frozen.

Pakistan – Security

  • Awais Ali Shah Rescued in Military Operation: Early Tuesday morning, Pakistan’s chief military spokesman announced that Awais Ali Shah, the lawyer and son of the Sindh High Court Chief Justice who was kidnapped in Karachi in June, had been freed in a military operation in the Tank district in Khyber Paktunkhwa. Three of his captors were killed. Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, military spokesman Lt. Gen. Asim Bajwa said that Shah had been discovered in a vehicle that had refused to stop at a military checkpoint, and identified the hostage-takers as “a TTP splinter group with some Al Qaeda elements”, without elaborating. SHC Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah was reunited with his son Tuesday morning, telling reports that he gave “all credit to the army” for his rescue. [Dawn] [ET] [AP] [Dawn]
  • State Becomes Complainant in Qandeel Baloch Murder: On Monday, police filed “non-compoundable” charges in a First Information Report against Waseem Azeem, the brother and murderer of social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch, becoming a complainant to the case; doing so will prevent the family from pardoning Waseem and allowing for a settlement of the case. Baloch’s father has previously indicated he wants his sons prosecuted for the murder. Police are also investigating her elder brother, Aslam Azeem. [Reuters] [ET] [Dawn]
  • FATA Attacks and Operations: Seven people were killed in a roadside bombing in the Upper Dir district on Monday; Khan Muhammad, a local pro-government militia leader, was among those killed, although police reported that Malik Mutabar Khan, another militia leader who was not present, was the intended target. The AP identifies another victim as Adil Khan, a former nazim and Jamaat-e-Islami leader. Elsewhere, Mohmand Agency officials ordered a suspension of privileges for the Dadokhel tribe, charging them with failing to enforce security in their area. [Dawn] [ET] [ET]

Pakistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Kashmir Tensions: The senate passed a unanimous resolution on Monday protesting recent violence in Indian-administered Kashmir; PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari wrote an open letter to UN Secretary general Ban Ki-Moon on Monday calling on him to intervene and bring a halt to an Indian crackdown in Kashmir. Today, Pakistan will commemorate Accession Day, marking the anniversary of a 1947 conference that had sought Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan at Partition. Meanwhile, the Azad Jammu and Kashmir High Court ruled that AJK legislative assembly speaker Sardar Ghulam Sadiq of the PPP was disqualified from contesting Thursday’s elections, on charges that he had drawn a double salary as an advisor and legislative assembly member from 2008-2011.  [Dawn] [ET] [ET]
  • Corruption Investigations: On Monday, the National Accountability Bureau announced the issuance of an arrest warrant for Kamran Kayani, a brother of former Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, in connection to a land purchase scam in Lahore’s Defense House Authority. Kamran is believed to be out of the country. Separately, a PML-N-led coalition in the senate blocked by a one-vote margin a PPP amendment that would curtail NAB investigations at the provincial level; the PTI and PML-Q joined the PML-N in voting against the measure.  [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn]
  • Musharraf Treason Trial: The special court hearing treason charges against former Pres. Musharraf ordered on Tuesday that his property be confiscated and bank accounts frozen after he failed to return to the country for hearings after departing in late February; the court ruled that the trial could not proceed without Musharraf’s presence, and adjourned indefinitely. [Dawn]
  • Refugee Repatriation: UN, Pakistani, and Afghan officials are meeting this week in Murree beginning Tuesday to discuss the future repatriation of the estimated 3 million registered and unregistered Afghan refugees living in Pakistan; Pakistani sources suggest that the year-end deadline for their repatriation will not be extended further. [Dawn]
  • Other Political Activity: Opposition party leaders plan to meet Tuesday to discuss a response to the Panama Papers leaks, but PTI leader Imran Khan and PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will not attend, the Express Tribune reports. Ruling party leaders castigated Imran Khan over his remarks suggesting that a military coup in Pakistan would be welcomed by the public as an alternative to continued PML-N rule; former PPP prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said that the PML-N would be responsible if a coup took place. Khan continued to lead rallies ahead of the polls in Kashmir on Monday. In Karachi, former mayor Mustafa Kamal announced the formation of the new Pakistan Sarzameen Party’s youth wing.  [WAPO] [ET] [Dawn]

Pakistan – Remainders

  • MQM Leaders Arrested in Connection to Asim Hussain Case [Dawn] [ET]
  • FATA Tribunal Receives Records from Shakil Afridi Case [Dawn]
  • Peshawar High Court to Hear Three Military Court Sentence Appeals [Dawn]
  • JUI-F Leader Backs Saudi Arabia as Nuclear Power [ET]
  • Interior Ministry Seeking Extradition of British National [ET]
  • Tarbela Extension Project Acceleration Plan ‘No Longer Physically Possible’ [Dawn]
  • Gilgit Baltistan Judges and Lawyers Protest Over Court Registrar’s Suspension [Dawn]

Afghanistan – Security

  • Afghan Refugee Killed After Attack in Germany: A teenage Afghan who had been living in Germany with a foster family while seeking asylum attacked passengers on a train in Bavaria with an ax and knife on Monday, injuring at least four; he was subsequently killed by police. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, although authorities indicated they had not found evidence of direct communication. [WSJ] [AFP]
  • Attacks and Operations: In comments to Reuters, the Taliban’s chief spokesman refuted suggestions that the pace of insurgent attacks had slowed in the wake of the U.S. strike that killed Mullah Akhtar Mansour in May, attributing a slowdown to the Ramadan fasting period. On Tuesday morning, a group of Taliban fighters attacked the Salang Pass tunnel, wounding one motorist, before fleeing the scene. Officials in Helmand claim to have killed 30 Taliban fighters in operations in the Sangin and Marjah district. Fighting is ongoing in Kunduz’s Qala-i Zal district on Tuesday; details are limited, but army officials claim to have killed eight fighters. [Khaama Press] [TOLO] [Khaama Press] [AJE]

Afghanistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Electoral Reforms: On Monday, the Wolesi Jirga finalized its nominees for a conference committee with the upper house of parliament over Pres. Ghani’s electoral reform decree, which was rejected by the lower house. One parliamentarian tells TOLO that the Wolesi Jirga’s nominees are those opposed to the decree, suggesting deadlock with the upper house. Pres. Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah met separately with UN Special Representative Tadamichi Yamamoto on Monday to discuss election preparations.

Afghanistan – Remainders

  • Pakistani Officials See No Upturn in Ties with Kabul [ET]
  • 110 Kabul Municipality Employees Barred from Leaving the Country Over Corruption Investigations [TOLO]
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