Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Taliban and Afghan Government Officials Met in Qatar; Shia Mosque Bombed in Karachi

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Topline

  • The Guardian reports that high-level Taliban and Afghan government representatives have met in Qatar in September and October to discuss the possibility of peace talks; Pakistani officials are not reported to be involved in the process. A Shia mosque in Karachi was bombed on Monday, killing one boy and injuring at least 15 other people. Vice President Dostum denied that he was injured in an ambush in Faryab on Sunday. The PTI has shifted the date for its “shutdown” protest in Islamabad to November 2nd. Prime Minister Sharif was re-elected as the PML-N party president on Tuesday. The policing powers for the Sindh Rangers were extended on Monday, with little indication of a dispute between the federal and provincial governments as has been the case in the past. Afghanistan’s DABS electric utility released a list of senior government officials who had defaulted on their power bills, including Vice President Dostum and former vice president Karim Khalili.

Pakistan – Security

  • Karachi Shia Mosque Bombed: A teenage boy was killed and 15 other people were wounded when a bomb exploded outside a Shia mosque in Karachi’s Liaquatabad neighborhood on Monday evening. Police officials described the blast as an improvised explosive that had been thrown by unidentified attackers riding a motorcycle. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami splinter group has reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack.
  • Rangers Policing Powers Extended: On Monday, the Interior Ministry formally extended the policing powers of the Sindh Rangers in Karachi, at the request of the Sindh government, with little indication of the disputes that have stalled previous reauthorizations. Separately, former Karachi Senior Superintendent of Police Rao Anwar has reportedly met with PPP leaders in Dubai and is likely to be reappointed to his position, after being suspended in September for arresting a senior MQM leader without notifying the provincial government. [Dawn]
  • Security Meeting: Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif and Prime Minister Sharif met on Monday to discuss “matters pertaining to national and regional security”; no details of their conversations have been reported. [Dawn]
  • CNIC Crackdown: Dawn reports that as many as 2,000 people listed under the “Fourth Schedule” of the Anti-Terrorism Act as terrorist suspects have had their Computerized National ID Cards blocked, including several members of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat; ASWJ leader Ahmed Ludhianvi confirmed that he was among them, demanding that the action be reversed.
  • Daesh Arrests: Peshawar Counter Terrorism Department officials announced the arrest on Tuesday of two men charged with distributing pamphlets supporting the Islamic State.

Pakistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • PTI Changes Date of Islamabad Protest: On Monday, Imran Khan told reporters that the new date for the PTI’s “shutdown” protest in Islamabad would be November 2, reiterating demands for Prime Minister Sharif to “present himself for accountability, or he will have to resign”.  PTI leaders confirm their intention is to block access to government buildings but say they do not wish to disrupt commutes within the city. Speaking on Tuesday, Prime Minister Sharif accused the PTI of neglecting its responsibilities in Khyber Paktunkhwa, saying that its leaders were “only found on containers” during protests and that “we are the people who will continue building roads. You will keep wandering on the streets”. [Dawn] [ET]
  • Other Political Activity: Members of the PML-N’s General Council convened on Tuesday to re-elect senior party leaders, reaffirming Prime Minister Sharif’s role as president in order to meet the Election Commission’s requirement that parties conduct intra-party elections. Raja Zafarul Haq was elected PML-N chairman, and Sartaj Aziz, Sir Anjam Khan, Yakoob Khan and Changaz Marri were elected senior vice presidents; Pervaiz Rashid was elected finance secretary, and Ahsan Iqbal deputy secretary general. No secretary general has been elected, with Dawn reporting that former Khyber Paktunkhwa governor Sardar Mahtab Ahmed and advisor to the prime minister Amir Muqam are the top candidates for the position. Separately, Pak Sarzameen Party leader Mustafa Kamal accused Sindh governor Ishrat ul Ibad of corruption, and of stopping some MQM lawmakers from joining his party, accusing Ibad of seeking to retaliate against the PSP after failed talks for him to join as “patron-in-chief” of the party. [ET] [ET] [ET] [ET]

Pakistan – Economics and Development

  • CPEC Project: During a review of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor on Monday, interior ministry officials reported that they would finalize the terms of reference for a Special Security Division tasked with protecting CPEC projects within a week. In an interview with Iranian news on Monday, China’s ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong suggested that China “really look[s] forward to enhance our cooperation with Iran” as part of the CPEC and Belt and Road initiatives. [ET]

Pakistan – Remainders

  • Pilot Dies in PAF Mirage Fighter Jet Crash Near Karachi [Dawn] [ET]
  • Judicial Commission Delays Appointments of Lahore High Court Judges [ET]
  • Mohmand Elders Seek Reopening of Afghanistan Trade [Dawn]
  • AJK Cabinet Blocks Kashmir Council from Collecting General Sales Tax [ET]

Afghanistan – Security

  • Dostum Uninjured in Faryab Attack: Contradicting earlier remarks attributed to him on Monday, Chief Executive Abdullah’s office issued a statement on Tuesday saying that Vice President Dostum had not been hurt in an ambush on his convoy in Faryab the day prior. Dostum earlier denied suffering injuries, saying Abdullah’s remarks on Monday had been “inappropriate”. Reuters reports that five of Dostum’s guards were killed in the attack. [Pajhwok]
  • Militia Forces: In a statement on Monday, the Ministry of Interior indicated that it would either disarm or merge militia forces into the government security forces, without providing further details.
  • Other Attacks and Operations: A magnetic bomb in Kabul’s Taimana neighborhood on Tuesday targeted an advisor to deputy to the Chief Executive Officer Mohammad Khan; one person was reportedly wounded. No claim of responsibility has been reported. [TOLO] [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Taliban Talks: The Guardian reports that the Taliban and Afghan government representatives met in Qatar in September and October to discuss the possibility of peace talks; Mullah Abdul Manan Akhund, Mullah Omar’s brother, reportedly represented the Taliban side, and Afghan NDS chief Masoom Stanekzai represented the Afghan government. Taliban sources say a U.S. diplomat was present, but Pakistani officials were not; an aide to Pres. Ghani says that “we no longer think we need Pakistan and theTaliban think the same thing.” Anonymous western officials say that recent arrests of Taliban figures in Pakistan are an effort by the Pakistani intelligence service to “re-establish control over the process”. Separately, Mullah Manan Niazi, a spokesman for the Taliban splinter group nominally led by Mullah Mohammad Rasool, said that his faction was ready to hold peace talks if the government would “guarantee the exit” of foreign forces. [Reuters] [TOLO]

Afghanistan – Economics and Development

  • DABS Names Electricity Defaulters: On Monday, the electric utility Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat released a list of names of top government officials who had failed to pay their electricity bills, including Vice President Dostum, former vice president Karim Khalili, and parliamentary Abdul Rassoul Sayyaf, among others.

Afghanistan – Remainders

  • Former President Karzai Accuses US of Ignoring Terrorists Outside Afghan Borders [Khaama Press]
  • Children in Reform Center Call for Cases to Be Processed [TOLO]
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