Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: NSA Janjua to Head Counterterrorism Review; Dadullah Nephew to Lead Splinter Group

Topline

  • National security advisor Nasser Khan Janjua has been tasked with leading a committee to oversee the implementation of the National Action Plan against terrorism; the government has reportedly also approved the creation of additional Frontier Corps units for the Khyber Paktunkhwa-Afghanistan border. Pakistan’s military announced new deployments in the Khyber Agency on Tuesday. Pakistani officials said that remarks by Indian Prime Minister Modi on Monday in which Modi cited “expressions of gratitude” from Balochistan “prove[d] Pakistan’s contention” that India was interfering in the province. The AP reports that the Taliban splinter group led by the late Mullah Mansoor Dadullah has named Mullah Emdadullah Mansoor, his nephew, as the group’s new leader. Fighting continues in Helmand around the provincial capital, and in Baghlan. The Pentagon announced the transfer of 15 former Guantanamo Bay inmates to the UAE on Monday, including three Afghan nationals. Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif approved death penalty sentences for 11 military court convicts, all described as members of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. A spokesman for Pres. Ghani announced that an electoral reform decree had been finalized, and would be issued soon following cabinet review. The PTI is due to meet on Tuesday to plan the next steps of its protest campaign against the government.  The Express Tribune reports a $1.5 billion Saudi grant made to Pakistan in 2014 has gone unused, as the government has failed to establish a new development finance institution meant to capitalize on the funding.

Pakistan – Security
National Action Plan Review: At another high-level meeting of top civilian and military aides on Monday, Prime Minister Sharif tasked National Security Advisor Nasser Khan Janjua with overseeing an “implementation committee” for the National Action Plan against terrorism; the federal interior secretary, director general of the National Counter Terrorism Authority, and provincial representatives will also form the committee. The government has also reportedly approved the creation of additional Frontier Corps units in Khyber Paktunkhwa dedicated to cross-border security management. Separately, a petition was made against Paktunkhwa Milli Awami Party chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai, seeking his disqualification from office by the Election Commission for his comments criticizing Pakistan’s security agencies for failing to prevent the recent attack in Quetta; the ECP has sought a response from Achakzai by September 1.
Khyber Operations: On Tuesday, Pakistan’s top military spokesman announced the deployment of additional military forces to reinforce positions and prevent cross border infiltration in the Khyber Agency’s Rajgal Valley, located north of the Tirah Valley region. [ET]
Military Courts: On Tuesday, Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif approved death sentences for 11 men convicted in the military court system, all identified as former Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan members. [ET]

Pakistan – Politics and Diplomacy
Tensions with India: Monday’s meeting of top military and civilian officials also reviewed security concerns with India, noting an exchange of fire across the Line of Control on Sunday. Indian Prime Minister Modi’s independence day remarks included a reference to “people of Balochistan, Gilgit [and] Pakistan-occupied Kashmir” who he suggested had “thanked me [and] expressed gratitude”. Pakistani foreign advisor Sartaj Aziz said that Modi’s remarks “proves Pakistan’s contention that India through its main intelligence agency RAW has been fomenting terrorism in Balochistan”, adding that Modi was “trying to divert world attention” from ongoing conflict in Indian Kashmir. [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [Times of India]
Opposition Protests: The PTI’s core leadership committee is due to meet today to discuss future plans for the party’s accountability campaign against the government, which Imran Khan did not clarify during a rally in Islamabad; PTI legislator Arif Alvi tells the Express Tribune that the PTI is prepared to attend a meeting of the parliamentary committee on Panama Papers investigations and “give a last chance to the government”. On Monday, the PTI filed a petition with the national assembly speaker, seeking Prime Minister Sharif’s disqualification from office; Awami Muslim League leader Sheikh Rashid filed a parallel petition on Tuesday.

Pakistan – Economics and Development

  • Saudi Assistance: The Express Tribune reports that a $1.5 billion Saudi grant announced by the government in early 2014, which was allocated to a new “Pakistan Development Fund Ltd” entity that was set up as an independent development finance institution, remains unutilized. The government has held talks with the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and Ex-Im Bank of China to become equity partners in the PDFL.

Pakistan – Remainders

  • JUI-F Leader Speaks Out Against ‘Forced Repatriation’ of Afghan Refugees [Dawn]
  • MQM Nominee to Contest Hyderabad Mayoral Election [ET]
  • Pakistan and Tajikistan Discuss Energy and Trade Ties [APP]
  • Ministry of Water and Power Proposes Cut in Solar and Wind Tariffs [ET]

Afghanistan – Security

  • Taliban Splinter Faction Names New Leader: The AP reports that the “Mahaaz-e-Dadullah”, a Taliban splinter faction formerly led by Mullah Mansoor Dadullah in Zabul, has named Mullah Emdadullah Mansoor, his nephew, as the group’s new leader.
  • Attacks and Operations: The Islamic State’s ‘Amaq news agency claimed responsibility for a bombing on Monday in Kabul, which they claimed had killed senior U.S. military officials; NATO spokesman said there was “no truth” to the claim, noting that three Afghan army soldiers and civilians were wounded instead. Afghan forces fighting in Helmand tell TOLO they need more reinforcements and air support in their fight against the Taliban in the Chah Anjir area on the outskirts of Lashkar Gah. Security officials in Baghlan say they are preparing to retake control of the Dahana-e-Ghori and Baghlan-e-Markzai districts “in the near future”. On Tuesday, the ministry of interior announced the arrest of a Taliban commander described as leading a “special forces” group in Kunduz, following the group’s attack on a checkpost in the Chardara district. In total, the ministry of defense reported Monday that operations were ongoing in fifteen provinces. [TOLO] [TOLO] [Khaama Press] [WAPO]
  • Gitmo Transfers: On Monday, the Pentagon announced the transfer of 15 Guantanamo Bay inmates to the UAE, the largest single transfer to take place under the Obama administration, bringing the detainee population down to 61. Three of the transferred detainees are Afghans, including a man identified as Obaydullah who was arrested in 2002 on charges of planting land mines, which were later withdrawn. The WSJ notes that the Pentagon’s special envoy for the prison’s closure testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in June that 14 Afghan detainees who had been previously repatriated, all during the Bush administration, had subsequently joined combat operations against U.S. servicemembers in Afghanistan; overall, approximately 21% of detainees repatriated under the Bush administration and 4.5% of detainees transferred under Obama are reported to have reengaged in hostile activity. [Guardian] [AFP]
  • Air Force Shortages: Reuters notes the shortfall in available pilots for the still-nascent Afghan Air Force, even it is called on to play a greater role in combat and transport missions for Afghan forces around the country.

Afghanistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • National Unity Government Divisions: At a press briefing on Monday, the State Department’s spokeswoman said that the U.S. “had seen” Chief Executive Abdullah’s criticisms of Pres. Ghani, saying that “we remain supportive of a government of national unity, and we encourage both President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah to work together to pursue these common goals”. In a statement on Monday, Pres. Ghani’s office announced that a new presidential decree on the electoral law had been finalized and would be issued soon after cabinet review; Abdullah had cited delays in implementing electoral reforms as a major complaint. [TOLO]

Afghanistan – Remainders

  • Iranian Envoy Denies that Mullah Akhtar Mansour Was Hiding in Iran [Dawn]
  • Bergdahl Lawyers Allege General Overseeing Court-Martial Destroyed Letters Connected to Case [WAPO]
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