Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Taliban Attack German Consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif; Inquiry Begins on Leaked Dawn Report

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Topline

  • The Taliban attacked the German consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif on Thursday evening with a suicide truck bombing; at least seven people have been killed and129 wounded, although German Foreign Ministry officials say that none of their staff were hurt. The Taliban claimed responsibility, say the attack was revenge for a U.S. airstrike in Kunduz last week. The commission investigating a Dawn article documenting civil-military disputes held its first meeting on Thursday; the PTI has objected to the commission’s leadership. The Federal Investigation Agency submitted a confessional statement from a key suspect in the 2010 death of former MQM leader Imran Farooq, implicating another MQM leader Muhammad Anwar as well as two accomplices. The Afghan electoral selection committee has released the list of names of nominees it submitted to the government for consideration as appointees to the Independent Election Commission and Electoral Complaints Commission. New Sindh governor Saed-uz-Zaman Siddiqui was sworn into office on Friday. Pakistan’s trade deficit grew during the first four months of the fiscal year, although a drop in remittances rebounded somewhat in October.

Pakistan – Security

  • Confessional Statement in Imran Farooq Murder: On Thursday, the Federal Investigation Agency submitted to an Islamabad anti-terrorism court a confessional statement made by Khalid Shamim, a key suspect in the 2010 murder of ex-MQM leader Imran Farooq. In the statement, Shamim accused another MQM leader, Muhammad Anwar, of directing the killing, and confessed to carrying it out with two accomplices, Kashif Kamran and Mohsin Ali. [Dawn]

Pakistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Civil-Military Tensions: The Press Council of Pakistan held a meeting on Thursday, unanimously calling on the government to drop its probe into the leak to Dawn of accounts of a dispute between civilian and military leaders last month. The inquiry held its first meeting on Thursday, at which Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan submitted an initial set of documents. The PTI has objected to the inquiry commission’s membership and reportedly plans to table a senate resolution seeking the removal of retired judge Aamer Raza Khan as its chief.
  • New Sindh Governor Sworn In: Former judge Saeed-uz-Zaman Siddiqui took the oath of office as Sindh governor on Friday, replacing former governor Ishrat ul Ebad. PML-N Sindh leader Nehal Hashmi described Ebad’s departure as “the last remains of terrorism departing the Governor’s House”; a spokeswoman for the government said Hashmi’s statement did not represent the views of the government or PML-N, and he later attempted to retract those remarks. Speaking at a farewell ceremony, Ebad announced his intention to write a memoir. Separately, Karachi mayor Waseem Akhtar renewed his bail request on one of two remaining cases against him where he has not been cleared for release. [ET] [ET]
  • Opposition Protests and Other Political Activity: Usman Dar, the PTI candidate who had challenged the 2013 election results in the NA-110 constituency won by PML-N Khawaja Asif, told the Express Tribune that he “was not given a fair opportunity to plead my case”, but a party spokesman said that the PTI would accept yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling in favor of Asif. PTI party leaders held an event for party activists in Lahore on Thursday, praising their participation in last week’s abortive sit-in in Islamabad.

Pakistan – Economics and Development

  • Economic Indicators: A new World Bank report projects that Chinese investment in Pakistan will help spur a 5.4% GDP growth rate in Pakistan in 2018; the government has set a target of 5.7% growth. New statistics for the July-October period indicate that the trade deficit grew 22% year-on-year, to $9.3 billion, as exports fell to $6.43 billion and imports grew to $15.8 billion. Remittances grew in October, up 1.2% from the previous year, reversing a decline in September; overall, remittances remain down 3.82% year-on-year for the first four months of the fiscal year. On Thursday, the Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet rolled over for an additional two years Rs136.5 billion in debts taken on in order to retire circular debt in the power sector, which the government had previously hoped to pay off through proceeds from the privatization of the Islamabad, Lahore, and Faisalabad electricity distribution companies.
  • CPEC Project: Khyber Paktunkhwa Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak met with federal Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Thursday, continuing to press for more investments along the ‘western route’ of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Azad Jammu and Kashmir president Masood Khan also indicated that he would seek investment through CPEC in the region.

Pakistan – Remainders

  • ‘Civil Patrol Force’ Launched in Peshawar [Dawn]
  • FIA Arrests NADRA Officer Over Issuing CNIC to Sharbbat Gula [Dawn] [ET]
  • Interior Minister Meets Saudi Ambassador to Discuss 2011 Killing of Diplomat [Dawn]
  • Lawyers Seek Action on Charges of Illegal Appointments at Islamabad High Court [Dawn]
  • Pakistan Ratifies Paris Climate Change Agreement [AP]
  • Cash-Starved Khyber Paktunkhwa Seeks Loan from Pension Funds [Dawn]
  • Prime Minister Inaugurates Islamabad Motorway Exchange [Dawn]
  • PPP Senator Calls for Elimination of Bank Notes, Following Indian Example [Dawn]

Afghanistan – Security

Afghanistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Electoral Reforms: On Thursday, the electoral selection committee released the list of nominees it had prepared for appointment to the Independent Election Commission and Electoral Complaints Commission; TOLO reports the list, but has no biographical details on any of the candidates. Pres. Ghani will select seven for appointment to the IEC and five for appointment to the ECC.

Afghanistan – Remainders

  • Former Interior Minister Daudzai Criticizes Government, Calls for ‘Secure Strategic Partnership’ with US [TOLO]
  • High Office of Oversight Threatens Action Against Officials Who Fail to Register Assets [TOLO]
  • Wakhan District Residents Seek Assistance in Badakhshan Capital [TOLO]
  • Commentary: What Can Afghans Expect from President Trump? – “The president-elect and his camp’s lack of foreign policy experience and, apparently, knowledge or memory of the continuing US ‘mission’ in Afghanistan is frightening.” [Thomas Ruttig and Kate Clark, AAN]
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