Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: No Decisions Yet on Next Army Chief; Taliban Reject Saudi Ulema Conference

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Topline

  • Speaking in an interview on Tuesday, Defense Minister Khawaja Asif said that the government had made “no decision or consultation” on the appointment of a new Chief of Army Staff. Firing continued across the Line of Control on Tuesday, with at least three Pakistani civilians and one Indian soldier reported killed. In a statement on Tuesday, the Taliban called on Islamic scholars around the world not to take part in a Saudi-hosted ulema conference planned to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, the exact date for which has not been announced. A negotiator for Hezb-e-Islami accused unspecified “groups, circles and figures” with delaying the implementation of a peace agreement with the government. Prime Minister Sharif has reported appointed retired judge Saeeduz Zaman Siddiqui as the governor of Sindh, replacing long-serving governor Ishrat-ul-Ebad. The retired judge tapped to head an investigation into the leak of accounts of civil-military dissension may not do so; the Pakistan Awami Tehreek filed a Lahore High Court petition challenging his appointment. Afghanistan’s finance minister presented a draft budget for the coming fiscal year to the Afghan senate on Tuesday; the lower house of parliament will hold hearings in the coming week of ministers who have failed to spend their budget during the outgoing fiscal year.

Pakistan – Security

  • Firing Continues at Line of Control: At least three Pakistani civilians and one Indian soldier were killed in exchanges of fire across the Line of Control on Tuesday, with four other Pakistani civilians also reported to have been injured. On Wednesday, Pakistan made another formal diplomatic protest over the ceasefire violations. On the Indian side, Kashmiri leaders met in Srinagar on Tuesday to discuss the ongoing crackdown there. [Dawn] [ET]
  • Counterterrorism Response: On Tuesday, the Peshawar High Court ordered the National Database and Registration Authority to complete the verification of computerized national ID cards and remove restrictions on individuals who complain their cards have been blocked within two months. In Punjab, officials have reportedly dropped plans to install tracking anklets on individuals listed under the ‘Fourth Schedule’ of banned terrorist organizations, due to costs.
  • Balochistan Conflict: Two policemen were killed in a shooting in the Naseerabad district on Tuesday; no claim of responsibility was reported.

Pakistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • No Decision on Next Army Chief: Speaking in an interview with Dawn on Tuesday, Defense Minister Khawaja Asif said that “no decision or consultation for the appointment of new army chief has been done yet,” adding that he “give[s] credit to Pakistan Army over completion of eight years of democratic system”. Separately, PML-N senator Mushahidullah Khan told a press conference on Tuesday that retired judge Aamer Raza Khan may not chair an investigation into the leak of an account of civil-military tensions published in Dawn last month; the Pakistan Awami Tehreek filed a petition with the Lahore High Court earlier in the day challenging Khan’s appointment.
  • New Sindh Governor Appointed: On Wednesday, Prime Minister Sharif reportedly appointed retired judge Saeeduz Zaman Siddiqui as the governor of Sindh, replacing long-serving governor Ishrat-ul-Ebad, who has held the position since 2002. Siddiqui confirmed his appointment in comments to the press. Separately, the MQM’s Pakistan-based faction denied suggestions that former Pres. Musharraf might join the party after a meeting between Musharraf and MQM leader Khawaja Izharul Hasan in Dubai. [Dawn] [ET]
  • Panama Papers Investigation: A Senate committee debating draft legislation to set the terms of reference for an investigation into the Panama Papers split along party lines on Tuesday, with the MQM joining the PML-N in a vote to refer the question of whether or not to proceed with a vote on a PPP draft bill to Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani. Government representatives had argued that with the matter pending before the Supreme Court, the legislation was moot. Meanwhile, the PML-N is reported to be planning to challenge the PTI’s hold over its Punjab chapter in the wake of the collapse of the PTI’s Islamabad sit-in plans last week. [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn]

Pakistan – Economics and Development

Pakistan – Remainders

  • Prime Minister Sharif Offers Congratulations to President-Elect [Dawn]
  • Saudi Air Chief Meets with Chiefs of Air, Army Staff [APP]
  • National Geographic ‘Afghan Girl’ Deported [Dawn] [ET] [Reuters] [Guardian]
  • Sindh Seeks Recovery of Funds from NAB [ET]
  • China and Pakistan Sign MOU on Corruption [ET]
  • Karachi Municipal Corporation Seeks Dues from K-Electric [ET]

Afghanistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Taliban Oppose Ulema Conference: In a statement on Tuesday, the Taliban called on the “noble scholars of the Islamic World” not to participate in a Saudi-sponsored conference on the situation in Afghanistan, which Chief Executive Abdullah had announced during a visit to Riyadh last month; no date has been announced for the conference. The Taliban accused the Afghan government of “want[ing] to present the sacred Jihad in Afghanistan which is on the brink of success as unlawful bloodshed which opposes the texts of Shariah and defames the name of Jihad”. [TOLO]
  • Hezb-i-Islami Negotiator Complains of Delays: Karim Amin, a lead negotiator for the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbbuddin, tells TOLO that the delay in implementing the peace agreement with the government “is not from our side”, saying that “we hear that there are a number of groups, circles and figures that are trying to challenge the peace process in Afghanistan”.

Afghanistan – Economics and Development

  • Budget Planning: Minister of Finance Eklil Hakimi presented a draft budget for the coming fiscal year to the upper house of parliament for approval on Tuesday, which allocates Afs 287 billion for the operating budget and Afs 178 billion for the development budget. The Wolesi Jirga meanwhile plans to summon ministers who have failed to expend the current year’s budget for hearings beginning Saturday.

Afghanistan – Remainders

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