Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Pakistani Politicians Denounce Indian Actions in Kashmir; Afghan and US Forces Defend Kunduz

Topline

  • Pakistani political leaders met and pledged unity in their condemnation of India’s ongoing crackdown in Kashmir, and denouncing India’s “blatantly false” claims of conducting a cross-Line of Control strike last week. India and Pakistan’s national security advisors spoke by phone on Monday in an effort to “deescalate the situation”. Continued exchanges of fire were reported at the Line of Control on Tuesday; Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif visited the Mangla ‘Strike Corps’ on Monday to review military preparedness. Further internal and external security reviews by civilian and military leaders are ongoing today. Afghan forces are battling to retake control of Kunduz city on Tuesday; Taliban fighters reportedly entered the city’s main city square on Monday, but have since been pushed back. U.S. advisors are reportedly on the ground to defend the provincial governor’s office, and a U.S. helicopter is reported to have carried out an overnight strike. Fighting was also reported around the Baghlan provincial capital on Sunday, with the Taliban moving to block the Baghlan-Kunduz highway. Taliban fighters are also reported to have taken control of the Khanshin district in Helmand, after killing the Nawa district police chief and taking control of that district yesterday. Ahead of this week’s Brussels donor conference, Afghanistan and the EU are reported to have signed an agreement for Afghanistan to accept all Afghan nationals deported from Europe if their asylum claims are rejected.

Pakistan – Security

  • Tensions with India: No bodies were recovered from Monday’s attack at the Indian army base in Baramulla and all of the gunmen are reported to have escaped, contradicting earlier reports that at least two had been killed. Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif visited the Mangla ‘Strike Corps’ on Monday to review military preparedness, joined by the Lahore, Gujranwala, and Peshawar corps commanders and the director general of military operations. Continued exchanges of fire were reported at the Line of Control early Tuesday morning; no casualties have been reported. Opposition party leaders joined in an all-parties conference on Monday, issuing a joint statement afterwards voicing support for “the Kashmiri peoples’ right to self-determination”, criticizing “unprovoked Indian aggression” and “brutal atrocities”, and rejecting Indian claims of a surgical strike across the Line of Control as “blatantly false”. On Monday, a spokesman for India’s Congress Party called on the Indian government to “expose Pakistan’s denial” and provide evidence of the strike. National Security Advisor Nasser Khan Janjua spoke by phone with his Indian counterpart on Monday in an effort to “de-escalate the situation”. Imran Khan did not attend the all-parties meeting, and vacationed with family instead; the PTI was represented by Shah Mehmood Qureshi instead. During a meeting on Monday, Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S. Jalil Abbas Jilani presented a ‘dossier’ on Indian actions in Kashmir to U.S. Special Representative Richard Olson. Demonstrations were held against India in Muzaffarabad and Kotli on Monday. At a meeting on Monday, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority announced new restrictions on the broadcast of Indian content, and on Tuesday PEMRA announced it would suspend without notice channels who violated the restrictions. [The Hindu] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn]
  • National Action Plan Review: National Security Advisor Janjua briefed top civilian and military leaders at a meeting on Tuesday to review the National Action Plan against terrorism; details are limited as of this writing. A meeting of the National Security Committee to review tensions with India will follow. [ET] [ET]

Pakistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Opposition Protests and Other Political Activity: Parliamentary committee debate on the government’s draft bill governing an investigation into the Panama Papers was deferred on Monday after Law Minister Zahid Hamid skipped the committee session. The Lahore High Court returned a Pakistan Awami Tehreek seeking the disqualification from office of Punjab provincial Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, directing the PAT to petition the Election Commission first. The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation passed a resolution on Monday demanding that mayor Waseem Akhtar be allowed to participate in proceedings, despite his being jailed. [ET] [ET]
  • Judicial Complaints: On Monday, Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali rejected a petition brought by the Pakistan Bar Council, which had sought publication of the number of complaints against high court judges, citing confidentiality provisions of the Supreme Judicial Council. [Dawn] [ET]

Pakistan – Economics and Development

  • Development Spending: The government released Rs 110.4 billion in spending under the Public Sector Development Program during the first quarter of the 2016-17 fiscal year, Ministry of Planning officials reported, or around 13.8% of the total annual appropriation.

Pakistan – Remainders

  • Former Sindh Local Government Secretary Arrested on Corruption Charges [ET]
  • Jamaat-e-Islami Rallies for Blocked CNICs [ET]
  • Lawmakers Call for Action on FATA Reforms [ET]
  • Khuzdar District Council Chairman Survives Attack [ET]
  • Rally Held for Missing Baloch Activist [Dawn] [The News]
  • Former MQM Commander Confesses to ‘Target Killing’ [ET]
  • Commentary: The Lines That Have Been Crossed – “Strategically, Pakistan must now account for potential Indian retaliation where the intensity is uncertain — anywhere from “doing nothing” to higher intensity military action around the LoC — and this is perhaps the most enduring implication of the strike.” [Vipin Narang, The Hindu]

Afghanistan – Security

  • Afghan Forces Seek to Restore Control in Kunduz: Taliban fighters entered or came close to the main Kunduz city square on Monday, with fighting forcing many government officials to relocate to the provincial airport and leading Medecins Sans Frontieres and the UN to evacuate staff. By Tuesday, Afghan forces claimed to have retaken control of the city center and to have pushed the Taliban out of the area, although insurgent spokesmen claimed that fighting was still ongoing and that Taliban fighters remained present at positions inside the city. The provincial police chief, Gen. Qasim Jangalbagh, claimed that at least 25 Taliban fighters had been killed. A spokesman for the Ministry of Defense denied that any checkpoints had been abandoned. Reuters reports a U.S. helicopter conducted an overnight strike “to defend friendly forces”, and a spokesman for the NATO Resolute Support mission said that U.S. special forces and airpower were “in position and prepared to assist”. The NYT reports that U.S. military advisors were deployed for the defense of the governor’s compound, and reports repeated Taliban attacks at the police headquarters continuing through Tuesday. Vice President Dostum visited the Ministry of Defense in Kabul to “take charge of operations”. Fighting was also reported on the outskirts of the Baghlan provincial capital of Pul-e-Khumri beginning Sunday night, and the Taliban are reported to have blocked the Kunduz-Baghlan highway. [WSJ] [Khaama Press] [Pajhwok]
  • Other Attacks and Operations: Following the collapse of the Nawa district to Taliban control, heavy fighting was reported in the Khanshin district beginning Monday night, with some accounts indicating that the Taliban had seized control of the area. A Lashkar Gah police district chief tells the AP that twelve of his men were killed in an attack on a checkpost on Monday. Nangarhar provincial officials claim to have killed more than fifty Islamic State-affiliated fighters in operations in the Achin district. [TOLO] [TOLO] [TOLO]

Afghanistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Brussel Conference: Ahead of this week’s Brussels donors conference, The Guardian reports that EU and Afghan government officials signed an agreement on Sunday, which has not been made public, which commits Afghanistan to readmitting any Afghan citizens deported involuntarily from Europe if their application for asylum is rejected. More than 196,000 Afghans applied for asylum last year, the second-largest such population. The EU has committed to provide $1.1 billion in annual assistance to Afghanistan through 2020. Separately, the World Food Program’s deputy country director for Afghanistan warned that the agency needs an immediate $66 million infusion to provide assistance during winter. [TOLO]

Afghanistan – Remainders

  • Two Tunisian Men Detail Abuses at Former CIA ‘Black Site’ in Afghanistan [Reuters] [Guardian]
  • Interior Minister Acknowledges ‘Distance’ Between Public and Police [TOLO]
  • Report: Update on Kabul Bank: What Has Been Achieved So Far? – “Much less progress has been made since the initial burst of effort. Since October 2014, only 29.1 million USD of “buddy loans” has been recovered in cash, and repayment agreements amounting to 32.7 million USD have been signed with the debtors.” [Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (pdf)]
  • Commentary: The Economic Disaster Behind Afghanistan’s Mounting Human Crisis – “Donors and Afghan state agencies must urgently tackle an economic crisis building up since 2014, when foreign troops started leaving and political instability worsened. The starting point must be a socio-economic assessment of just how big the problems are.” [International Crisis Group]
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