Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Turkey Pushes to Close Gulen-Linked Schools; Afghan Forces Take Control of Haska Mina District

Topline

  • Turkey’s foreign minister visited Islamabad on Tuesday, reiterating demands that Pakistan shut down a network of schools linked to exiled opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen. Afghan security forces report that they have taken control of areas of Nangarhar’s Haska Mina district; 500 new Afghan Local Police members have reportedly been appointed to secure the area. National Assembly speaker Ayaz Sadiq told reporters on Monday that PPP leaders had agreed to meet with the government again to discuss investigations into the Panama Papers leaks; Imran Khan and the PTI remain committed to a nationwide protest movement beginning August 7. Afghanistan’s foreign ministry condemned Pakistan’s construction of a new border gate facility at the Torkham crossing. Russia’s special envoy on Afghanistan said that Russia was open to renewed cooperation with NATO on Afghanistan, but saw no “practical steps” from NATO in that regard. A coalition of religious met in Quetta on Monday and agreed to form a new alliance, headed by Council on Islamic Ideology chairman Maulana Muhammad Khan Sheerani, dedicated to preventing inter-sectarian conflict. Kabul’s acting mayor signed four agreements with a Lebanese firm, covering transportation and road improvements, Kabul River clean-up, and other municipal development projects.

Pakistan – Security

  • Rangers Policing Powers Extended: As noted yesterday, on Monday new Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah authorized the extension of the Rangers policing powers in Karachi for another 90-day period; speaking to prior to that move, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had told a press conference that the Rangers would stay in Sindh regardless of the provincial government’s actions. He also disputed the PPP’s position that their powers were restricted to Karachi.
  • CNIC Re-Verification: Speaking at Monday’s press conference, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar said that around 2.6 million computerized national ID cards had been verified by the National Database Registration Authority over the past month, and that 23,000 people had been identified as foreign nationals. Nisar said that those living illegally in the country would face punishment after August 31.

Pakistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Turkish Foreign Minister Visits: Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu visited Islamabad on Tuesday, reiterating demands that a network of schools affiliated with exiled opposition leader Fethullah Gulen be shut down. Pakistani’s foreign ministry spokesman said that “authorities in both the countries are in touch with each other to address Turkish concerns” while also avoiding disruption of students’ academic activities. [ET]
  • Tensions with India: A joint session of parliament on Monday suspended other items on the agenda to focus on criticism of Indian actions in Kashmir, with opposition members also criticizing the government for lacking a defined policy response. The AP reports that Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s charity wing, the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation, has assembled an aid convoy bound for Indian Kashmir, and plans a sit-in if it is barred from crossing the border. [ET] [Dawn]
  • Opposition Campaigning: National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq told reporters on Monday that government and PPP opposition leaders had agreed to another meeting of the parliamentary committee tasked with reaching an agreement on investigations into the Panama Papers leaks. The PTI continues to plan for nationwide protests against the government beginning August 7. Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal announced plans for an “economic long march” beginning August 11, showcasing government development efforts. [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Religious Parties Unite Against Sectarianism: Leaders of several religious parties, including the JUI-F, JUI-S, Jamaat-e-Islami, Majlis Wahdat-ul-Muslimeen, and others, met in Quetta on Monday and agreed to form the Ittehad Millat Islamia Mahaz alliance, dedicated to promoting inter-sectarian harmony. Maulana Muhammad Khan Sheerani, the chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology, has been elected the group’s chairman. [ET]
  • Other Political Activity: Former Sindh home minister Zulfikar Mirza filed a Supreme Court petition challenging provisions in the 2013 Sindh Local Government Act, seeking to further postpone indirect elections for reserved seats and the election of mayors and council chairmen. The court has agreed to hear the challenge but rejected Mirza’s plea to postpone the results. The PPP is debating options to replace senator Saeed Ghani, who has taken a position as labor advisor to the Sindh chief minister. [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn] [ET]

Pakistan – Economics and Development

  • No Need for Further IMF Aid, Dar Says: In a Dawn interview, Finance Minister Dar reiterated that Pakistan would not seek a new assistance package from the IMF after it concludes its current loan agreement in September.

Pakistan – Remainders

  • ‘Fake Media Team’ Seeking Travel to US Arrested in Rawalpindi [Dawn]
  • Plea Against Wife of Chief Justice’s Appointment to Federal Shariat Court Dismissed [Dawn] [ET]
  • Senate Committee Raises Concerns Over Slow Pace of Work on CPEC ‘Western Route’ [Dawn]
  • Slow Progress on Dasu Hydropower Project [Dawn]
  • Emerging Market Investors Hunt for Returns in Pakistan [WSJ]

Afghanistan – Security

  • Attacks and Operations: In Nangarhar, Afghan security forces report that they have seized control of areas of the Haska Mina district, including a former residence of Daesh leader Hafiz Saeed. The provincial governor has appointed 500 new Afghan Local Police members to the area. A Taliban ‘special forces commander’ leading insurgent operations in Kunduz’s Chardara district was arrested in Baghlan on Monday, provincial police reported. Senior Afghan military officials, and U.S. commander Gen. John Nicholson, visited Kunduz on Tuesday to review the security situation. Helmand officials report that the Taliban shadow governor for the Nad Ali district was killed in a U.S. drone strike on Monday; fighting is still ongoing in the district. The Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries reported that Monday’s attack on the Northgate Hotel in Kabul inflicted $2 million in losses and damages on eight private companies located near the site of the truck bombing that struck the hotel. [WSJ] [TOLO] [Khaama Press]
  • Border Dispute with Pakistan: In a statement on Tuesday, Afghanistan’s ministry of foreign affairs reiterated condemnations of Pakistan’s unilateral construction of a border gate at the Torkham crossing, saying that it was “reviewing options to prevent violations by Pakistan along the Durand Line”. Pakistani officials reportedly plan to hold a formal inauguration of the new gate facility on August 8, delaying a ceremony previously planned for Monday.
  • Russian Assistance: Russian special envoy Zamir Kabulov told the RIA Novosti agency on Monday that Russia was open to renewed cooperation with NATO on common concerns in Afghanistan, but said that “we do not see practical steps from NATO yet”.

Afghanistan – Economics and Development

  • Kabul Development Agreements Signed: Acting Kabul mayor Abdullah Habibzai signed four agreements with the Lebanese firm Khateeb and Alami on Monday, which will conduct work to clean the Kabul River, construct bridges, roads, and dedicated bus lanes, and design and supervise other construction projects. Officials said that the projects would provide 100,000 jobs; a total price tag for the projects was not announced. [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan – Remainders

  • Indian Woman Seeking to Join Afghan Militant Group Arrested [Khaama Press]
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