Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Prime Minister Rejects Report on Civil-Military Tensions; Officials Trade Blame Over Kunduz

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Topline

  • In a statement on Monday, the prime minister’s office reiterated a rejection of last week’s Dawn News article reporting tensions between civilian and military officials over the continued protection of militant groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad. The report’s author, columnist Cyril Almeida, said he had been placed on the exit control list and barred from leaving the country. Afghan security officials traded blame for the deterioration of security around Kunduz; additional attacks are reported around the Farah provincial capital, and the Taliban have reportedly seized control of the Ghormach district in Faryab. Prime Minister Sharif filed a response with the Election Commission seeking the dismissal of a PTI petition for his disqualification from office; the PTI has sought Supreme Court hearings on a parallel petition within the next week. A negotiator for Hezb-e-Islami said that the group would send a delegation to the United States in the near future to discuss the removal of sanctions against Gulbuddin Hekmatyar; no date has been set.

Pakistan – Security

Pakistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Government Again Rejects Dawn Report on Civil-Military Dispute: On Monday, the prime minister’s office issued a third statement rejecting the contents of a Dawn News article published last week that reported disagreements between the military and civilian leadership over the need to crack down on militants previously protected by the security services. Monday’s statement, which followed a meeting between military and civilian officials, described the report as a “fabricated news story” that “risked the vital state interests through inclusion of inaccurate and misleading contents which had no relevance to actual discussion and facts”. The statement added that the “army and intelligence agencies shall continue to play a lead role in the fight against terrorism which is proceeding smoothly and without any discrimination whatsoever with complete consensus of all stakeholders”. The report’s author, Dawn columnist and editor Cyril Almeida, said in a Twitter post that he had been placed on the Exit Control List, barring him from leaving the country. [NYT] [Guardian] [Reuters]
  • Opposition Protests and Other Political Activity: In a response filed on Monday to the PTI’s petition before the Election Commission seeking his disqualification from office, Prime Minister Sharif sought the dismissal of that petition, arguing he had no connection to any offshore companies named in the Panama Papers. The PTI simultaneously appealed the Supreme Court to hear a parallel petition on Sharif’s disqualification within the next week. Pakistan Awami Tehreek leader Tahir-ul-Qadri left London for Canada on Monday without meeting with PTI leaders who were also visiting the city, and Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek has reportedly decided not to participate in the PTI’s October 30 sit-in in Islamabad. On Monday, the PML-N’s Central Working Party met to plan for intra-party elections in order to meet an Election Commission requirement that those be held; a general council meeting of the party will be held Oct 18 to hold the elections. [Dawn] [ET] [ET]
  • Tensions with India: In an interview on Sunday, Pakistan’s ambassador to India Abdul Basit argued that “rather than wasting time in isolating Pakistan, it is important to look at ways to integrate and connect with each other,” and that Indian efforts to isolate Pakistan diplomatically were bound to fail. Chinese vice foreign minister Li Baodong said Monday that “no country should pursue its own political gains in the name of counterterrorism”. A group of gunmen attacked and holed up in a compound outside of Srinigar on Monday, and Indian security forces are continuing to lay siege to the building as of Tuesday. [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [AP] [Dawn]
  • NGO Crackdown: Despite a push from the government to register and track the activities of non-governmental organization, the Express Tribune notes that the Khyber Paktunkhwa social welfare department lacks information on the activities of 4,253 local NGOs registered in the province.

Pakistan – Remainders

  • JUI-F Leader Reiterates Call for FATA Referendum [ET]
  • Chief of Army Staff Visits Kakul Military Academy [ET]
  • Posters Praising Army Chief Reappear in Karachi [ET]
  • Brother of Pakistan Sarzameen Party Local Leader Killed in Karachi [Dawn]
  • Auditor General Reports Rs 101 Million in National Assembly Account Irregularities [Dawn]
  • Karachi Municipal Corporation Health Department Owes Rs 350 Million [ET]
  • Lahore High Court Bars Sharif Family from Relocating Sugar Mills [Dawn]
  • Commentary: Pakistan’s Terror Problem and the Demise of Hope – “The threat of major military action—one that suffices to punish the Pakistani military but also poses risks of significant escalation—remains the most effective means available to India for inviting the kind of international censure that could force the Pakistani military to reconsider its links with jihadi terrorism.” [Ashley Tellis, Livemint]

Afghanistan – Security

  • Officials Trade Blame for Kunduz Insecurity: Speaking before the Meshrano Jirga defense committee on Monday, National Directorate of Security chief Masoom Stanekzai offered an apology to the people of Kunduz for the security services’ failure to prevent last week’s attack on the city, but suggested “we are in the final stages of the war”. Pres. Ghani criticized remarks by Kunduz governor Asadullah Omarkhil, who had blamed ANA deputy chief of staff Gen. Murad Ali Murad for the collapse of the city’s defenses; Murad suggested that he would disclose the names of “some elements which have played a role in the siege of Kunduz”. [Khaama Press] [TOLO]
  • Other Attacks and Operations: Taliban fighters have reportedly cut off road access to Farah city and have intensified attacks around the provincial capital. On Tuesday, the Taliban reportedly seized control of the Ghormach district in Faryab province. Security officials in Nangarhar claim that as many as 40 Daesh-affiliated fighters were killed in a U.S. drone strike in the Achin district on Monday. A bomb planted near a madrassa in Jalalabad exploded on Tuesday; no casualties were reported. [TOLO] [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Hezb-e-Islami Delegation to Visit US: Hezb-e-Islami negotiator Mohammad Karim Amin said on Sunday that the group would send a delegation to the United States, headed by Ghairat Baheer, Hekmatyar’s son-in-law to discuss the removal of sanctions against Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in the near future; he did not specify a timeframe. [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan – Remainders

  • Four More A-29 Light Attack Fighters to Be Transferred to Afghan Air Force [TOLO] [Khaama Press]
  • Ministry of Urban Development Resumes Work on $200M Housing Projects [Khaama Press]
  • Most Afghan Women Serve Sentences in Elders’ Homes, Not Prisons [Reuters]
  • Afghanistan’s Shiites Mark Ashura Amid Threats and Violence [AP]
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