Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: MQM Leaders Arrested After Attack on ARY News Offices; Fighting Continues Around Kunduz


  • Top MQM leaders were arrested and the party’s Karachi headquarters sealed after party supporters attacked the offices of ARY News on Monday evening, in a clash which followed an address by party leader-in-exile Altaf Hussain in which Hussain denounced the media for failing to cover the MQM’s week-long hunger strike over the alleged extrajudicial detention and killing of party activists. Hussain issued an apology statement on Tuesday; treason charges have been filed against him, and several MQM leaders remain in detention. MQM leader Farooq Sattar was released on Tuesday and in a press conference that is ongoing as of this writing, broke with Hussain, saying that the MQM “should operate from Pakistan”, seeking to disassociate the party from the violence and from comments by Hussain that described Pakistan as a “cancer”. Fighting continues around Kunduz, with the highway to Baghlan still blocked and the Taliban reported to have made probing attacks on the Kunduz city airport. Approximately 100 U.S. advisors have been deployed to Lashkar Gah to provide advisory support for the Afghan police; districts in Sar-e-Pul and Faryab are reportedly under Taliban threat. India’s finance minister will skip a ministerial SAARC meeting in Islamabad this week, and officials have raised doubts as to whether Prime Minister Modi will attend the summit in November. India will deliver the fourth of four Mi-25 helicopter gunships to Afghanistan soon, after securing additional parts from Russia; Afghan National Army chief of staff Gen. Qadam Shah Shaheem will visit New Delhi this week to seek additional military aid. Prime Minister Sharif chaired another security review meeting on Tuesday, following a meeting of a committee reviewing the National Action Plan on Monday that was chaired by National Security Advisor Nasser Khan Janjua. TOLO reports that the Afghan government is considering replacing the multi-member single non-transferrable voting system for parliamentary elections with new single-member districts. China’s Shanghai Electric announced on Monday that it was exploring negotiating a stake in Karachi’s K-Electric power utility.

Pakistan – Security

  • Security Review: There was no official readout of Monday’s inaugural meeting of a new oversight committee on the National Action Plan against terrorism, chaired by National Security Adviser Nasser Khan Janjua; the Express Tribune reports that the meeting highlighted a lack of progress on multiple fronts, including banned groups who continue to operate under new names and terrorism financing. Prime Minister Sharif chaired another review meeting with top aides on Tuesday.
  • FATA Operations: In a statement on Monday, the Pakistani military’s public relations arm said that “security forces have occupied passes and are now consolidating their positions up in high mountains in Rajgal” as part of ongoing operations in the Khyber Agency, and had seized multiple weapons caches.
  • Lawyers Protest Quetta Attack: Members of Pakistan’s bar associations staged protests around the country on Monday, charging the government and security agencies with failing to identify and take action against those responsible for the attack on the Quetta Civil Hospital earlier this week. [ET] [ET]

Pakistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • MQM Leader Arrested, Offices Raided and Shut Down:  MQM leaders met separately with federal information minister Pervaiz Rashid and Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Monday, reiterating their complaints that the party was being targeted for extrajudicial killings and detentions; a spokesman for Shah said that the “PPP government is against political victimisation and will not support any criminals irrespective of their party affiliation.” Later that evening, following an address to supporters by MQM leader-in-exile Altaf Hussain in which he accused the media of failing to cover the party’s hunger strike over the past week, party activists attacked the offices of ARY News in Karachi’s Saddar neighborhood, clashing with police; one person was killed, and five people were injured in the brawl. MQM leaders issued contradictory claims afterwards that accused the police of firing unprovoked on the crowd, or that the protestors were not in fact MQM activists but “masked men”; the police accused the MQM of firing first. The Sindh Rangers raided the MQM’s Nine Zero headquarters after the clash, seizing weapons and arresting top party leaders Farooq Sattar and Khawaja Izharul Hasan, among others, and sealing the offices afterwards. Karachi Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Naveed Mukhtar met with the Sindh Rangers leadership on Tuesday to review the arrests; MQM leaders Shahid Pasha, Kunwar Naveed Jamil, and Qamar Mansoor were all transferred to police custody. Pakistan Sarzameen Party leader Mustafa Kamal seized on the incident, reiterating criticisms of Hussain; Prime Minister Sharif and other political leaders also condemned the attack. Dawn quotes Hussain describing Pakistan as a “cancer for the entire world” during his remarks; on Tuesday, treason charges were filed against him. Hussain issued an apology statement on Tuesday, attributing his comments to “severe mental stress over extra-judicial arrests and precarious condition of my workers sitting at the hunger strike camp”. Irum Farooque, an MQM provincial assembly legislator, resigned from the party on Monday. Sattar was released on Tuesday, and in a press conference that is ongoing as of this writing, broke openly with Hussain’s leadership for the first time, saying that “it would be better for MQM to operate from Pakistan until Altaf Hussain’s health issues are not resolved, as such statements push MQM into isolation”, and saying that the party “totally disassociates[s]” itself from Monday’s violence and from Hussain’s remarks on Pakistan. [AP] [Reuters] [ET]
  • India to Skip SAARC Conference: Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley will not attend a meeting of the SAARC regional association to be held in Islamabad this week, and officials suggest that Prime Minister Modi may not attend the heads of state summit scheduled to take place in November. [ET]
  • Other Political Activity: The PTI opposition staged a walkout from the Punjab assembly on Monday, accusing the government of failing to take action after the murders of two PTI party members and reiterating Imran Khan’s call for a paramilitary operation in the province. Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah told reporters there was no need for an operation by the Rangers, dismissing suggestions that the number of targeted killings had increased. [Dawn] [ET] [ET]

Pakistan – Economics and Development

  • Shanghai Electric Bids for K-Electric Stake: A spokesman for China’s Shanghai Electric Power company said in a statement on Monday that the company had begun “preliminary work” on acquiring a stake in the K-Electric power utility in Karachi, but said negotiations had not yet begun and the size of the stake had yet to be determined.

Pakistan – Remainders

  • Prime Minister to Chair Meeting on FATA Reforms [ET]
  • Baloch Liberation Army Commander Linked to Attack on President’s Son Killed [ET]
  • Sindh Police Plan Punishments for 545 Police Officials [Dawn] [ET] [ET]
  • Two ASWJ Members Killed in Karachi [Dawn]
  • WAPDA Chairman Resigns Over Kalabagh Dam Remarks [Dawn]
  • Punjab Finance Minister Seeks Greater Share of Hydroelectric Profits [ET]
  • Irsa Cuts Sindh and Punjab Water Shares [Dawn]
  • Capital Development Authority Chief Removed [Dawn]
  • Pakistani Vessel Detained in South Africa Over Unpaid Pakistan Steel Mills Dues [Dawn] [ET]

Afghanistan – Security

Afghanistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Electoral Reforms: TOLO reports that the government is considering electoral reforms that would replace the current multi-member, single non-transferrable vote system for parliamentary elections, with a single-member district and new constituency boundaries.

Afghanistan – Remainders

  • AISS Survey Suggests Majority Favor Change in Presidential System [TOLO] [Khaama Press]
  • Abdullah Meets Businessmen, Hears Complaints on High Crime Rate [TOLO]

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