Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: PPP Expected to Name New Sindh Chief Minister; Operation in Kot District Targets ISIS

Topline

  • The PPP is expected to name Sindh provincial finance minister Murad Ali Shah as the province’s new chief minister; home minister Sohail Anwar Siyal is also expected to be replaced. Afghan special forces and army units, backed by U.S. airpower, are reported to have ousted ISIS fighters from Nangarhar’s Kot district, killing an ISIS military commander in the process. In a Reuters interview, an ISIS commander threatens further attacks on the Hazara minority community, linking the recent Kabul bombing to Hazara support for Shiite forces in Syria. Pakistan’s national security advisor Nasser Khan Janjua is reportedly seeking Iranian cooperation to curtail Indian intelligence operations in Iran. The PPP’s Kashmir president announced that the party would produce a white paper documenting charges of election rigging in the recent legislative assembly elections within a month. Pakistan is holding separate border security talks in Kabul with Afghan and US forces and with Indian Border Security Forces in Lahore today.

Pakistan – Security

  • Iran Cooperation: The Express Tribune reports that National Security Advisor Nasser Khan Janjua’s visit to Tehran this week is focused in part on seeking cooperation from Iran to prevent Indian intelligence agencies from using it as a base to carry out operations inside Pakistan. [Dawn]
  • National Action Plan: In a briefing on Monday, National Counter Terrorism Authority chief Ihsan Ghani reported that 1,808 alleged terrorist had been killed in operations undertaken since the formation of the National Action Plan, most of which took place in the FATA. 142,335 suspects have been arrested, of which only around 5,600 were reported to be terrorists or members of banned militant organizations.

Pakistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Sindh Shakeup: PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is expected to announce Tuesday that Murad Ali Shah – currently the provincial finance minister – will become the new chief minister in Sindh, replacing Qaim Ali Shah (no relation). The Express Tribune reports that home minister Sohail Anwar Siyal will also be replaced, with provincial assembly speaker Agah Siraj Durrani named as a potential replacement. Former Sindh chief minister Liaquat Ali Jatoi, leader of the Awami Ittehad Party, held a press conference on Monday, denouncing the choice of Murad Ali Shah. Separately, a police team has been tasked with investigating Waseem Akthar, the MQM’s candidate for Karachi mayor who was arrested last week. [Dawn]
  • India-Pakistan Talks: Speaking during a senate committee hearing on Monday, defense minister Khawaja Asif said that dialogue between India and Pakistan was “not possible in the present circumstances”, given tensions over Kashmir. An Indian Border Security Force delegation arrived in Lahore on Monday for biannual talks with the Pakistan Rangers.
  • Other Political Activity: Outgoing Azad Jammu and Kashmir prime minister and PPP regional chapter chief Chaudhry Abdul Majeed held a press conference on Monday, rejecting the outcome of the recent elections and announcing the party’s plans to investigate alleged election rigging and to produce a white paper report within a month. On Monday, the PTI filed a petition with the National Accountability Bureau against Prime Minister Sharif and his family, seeking the reopening of recently closed corruption cases against them. Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Imran Khan promised to strengthen local government bodies and to cut discretionary funds for provincial assembly members. The four new Election Commission members were formally notified on Tuesday; the PTI accused the government and PPP-led opposition of ignoring their preferences for the nominees in Khyber Paktunkhwa and Punjab. [ET] [ET]

Pakistan – Economics and Development

  • Energy Crisis: Speaking in a national assembly committee on water and power hearing on Monday, minister Khawaja Asif told members from Sindh that the government would waive as much as half of the province’s Rs. 70 billion in overdue electricity bills if it were able to pay back the remainder in installments. [ET] [ET]
  • IMF Talks: Pakistani finance officials will hold a final round of talks with the IMF to review the implementation of reform benchmarks under the $6.6 billion Extended Fund Facility loan program, beginning Wednesday in Dubai; the Express Tribune notes that chronic circular debts within the power sector remain the major unresolved reform priority.

Pakistan – Remainders

  • Army Chief Visits Egypt [APP]
  • Punjab Chief Minister Visits Beijing [ET]
  • Government Considering Options to Close Down PakTurk Foundation School Network [Dawn]
  • Pro-Military ‘Move on Pakistan’ Party Chief Sent to Jail [ET] [Dawn]
  • Supreme Court Upholds Devolution of Federal Public Health Facilities to Sindh [ET]
  • Polio Vaccination Drive Underway in Sindh; IMB Concerned Over Leadership Change [ET] [Dawn]
  • Gwadar Airport Groundbreaking to Start This Year [ET]

Afghanistan – Security

  • Nangarhar Operation Targets ISIS: Afghan special forces commandos and army forces announced on Tuesday that they had cleared Nangarhar’s Kot district of ISIS-affiliated insurgents over the course of four days of fighting, killing at least 122 fighters in the process. A spokesman for the provincial governor suggested that those deaths had all occurred in the past 24 hours, and said that Saad Emarati, identified as the Daesh deputy military commander in Afghanistan, was among those killed. No ANSF casualties were reported; a U.S. military spokesman confirmed that it was providing air support to the operation. Speaking at the council of ministers meeting on Monday, Chief Executive Abdullah said that Saturday’s attack in Kabul was “aimed at sparking ethnic tensions among the Afghan people”. In a rare comment to reporters, a Daesh commander identified as Omar Khorasani tells Reuters that the group will continue attacks on members of the Hazara minority “unless they stop going to Syria and stop being slaves of Iran”. [TOLO] [Khaama Press] [TOLO]
  • Border Security Talks: A Pakistani delegation will arrive in Kabul on Tuesday to hold bilateral talks over border security and cooperation, and tripartite talks with the U.S. military. Pakistani officials tell the Express Tribune they plan to impose new travel document requirements at other border crossings, including Chaman in Balochistan.
  • Other Attacks and Operations: The director of women’s affairs in Ghazni, Shukuria Wali, survived a driveby shooting in the provincial capital on Tuesday; a revenue officer accompanying her was killed. No claim of responsibility has been reported. The NDS arrested a would-be suicide bomber in Logar accused of targeting a Kabul girl’s school. [TOLO]

Afghanistan – Remainders

  • USAID Pledges $100M for Afghan Agriculture [TOLO]
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