Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Ghani Orders Dismissed Ministers to Continue Work; Sharif Family Files Supreme Court Response

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Topline

  • Afghanistan’s parliament voted to dismiss another cabinet minister in a vote on Tuesday; on Monday, Pres. Ghani ordered ministers to continue their work despite the no-confidence votes, and said that he would seek a Supreme Court ruling upholding their continued appointment. Prime Minister Sharif and his daughter submitted documents on their business assets before the Supreme Court on Tuesday; despite internal complaints, Imran Khan reaffirmed the PTI’s plans to boycott a joint session of parliament for visiting Turkish Pres. Erdogan this week. Pres. Ghani met with representatives of the UN sanctions committee to discuss the de-listing of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar; he called for current Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhunzada to be added to the sanctions blacklist. The chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court issued a report on Monday suggesting that she may initiate investigations into alleged war crimes by U.S., Afghan, and Taliban forces in Afghanistan. Pakistani government officials may extend the deadline for Afghan refugees to leave the country into 2018, but Dawn quotes sources who say an announcement will not be made so as to continue pressure on refugees to repatriate. Prime Minister Sharif chaired a meeting to review tensions along the Line of Control with India on Tuesday.

Pakistan – Security

  • Tensions with India: Pakistan’s foreign ministry made a formal protest with India’s ambassador on Monday after an exchange of fire across the Line of Control the previous evening left seven Pakistani soldiers dead. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Sharif chaired a meeting of senior civilian aides to review the security situation in Kashmir, describing the escalation of tensions there as a “threat to regional peace and security” and vowing that Pakistan would be “fully capable of defending our soil against any belligerence”. Waqar Noor, a member of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly, tells the AP that “thousands” of villagers have fled their homes in the wake of continued shelling; AJK prime minister Raja Farooq Haider suggested that the government might have to shelter up to half a million people, but said current preparations were for around 50,000 displaced. [Dawn]
  • Interior Minister Visits UK: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan met with his UK counterpart Amber Rudd in London on Monday, where he suggested that Pakistan could seek assistance in dealing with “cyber terrorism”.

Pakistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Panama Papers Investigation and Opposition Protests: On Tuesday, Prime Minister Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz submitted documents to the Supreme Court regarding their overseas business assets; his sons Hassan and Hussain Nawaz failed to submit materials before the court, seeking additional time to reply. The Express Tribune notes that the Sharif family replaced their lawyer before the court on Monday, and are now being represented by Akram Sheikh. PTI leaders say that Imran Khan has agreed to reconsider the party’s plan to boycott a joint session of parliament for visiting Turkish President Erdogan on Nov 17; PTI Vice President Shah Mehmood Qureshi led a delegation to meet with the Turkish ambassador on Monday. PTI legislators will meet on Tuesday; Dawn reports complaints from the group that the party leadership has not consulted them on recent strategy. On Tuesday, however, Imran Khan announced that the PTI would continue its boycott, saying “we welcome the Turkish president to Pakistan but at the same time, we do not want to endorse a prime minister who has broken the country’s law and has engaged in corruption”. [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [Dawn]
  • Refugee Repatriation: Dawn reports after a meeting of parliamentary party representatives and Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch on Monday that the government will likely extend the repatriation deadline for Afghan refugees to 2018, but quotes anonymous sources who say the government will not announce a decision to that effect in order to continue pressure for repatriation. Khyber Paktunkhwa Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak told reporters that “there has to be a deadline”; PTI Vice President Shah Mehmood Qureshi told reporters that the deadline would be extended until the end of 2017.
  • Other Political Activity: Public banners in Karachi on Monday called for former Pres. Musharraf to take a leading role in the MQM; leaders of both the MQM’s Pakistan and London factions dismissed their significance. [Dawn] [ET] [ET]

Pakistan – Remainders

  • Petroleum Ministry Seeks to Block OGRA Gas Rate Hike [Dawn]
  • Investigation Begins Into Khuzdar Shrine Bombing [Dawn] [ET]
  • College Professor Killed in Lahore [Dawn]
  • Chief of Army Staff Visits Waziristan [ET]
  • 15 Arrested in Karachi Raids [ET]

Afghanistan – Security

  • Ghani Seeks Sanctions on Taliban Leader: On Monday, Pres. Ghani met with UN representatives and formally requested that current Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhunzada be added to the UN sanctions blacklist for Al Qaeda and Taliban figures. The meeting also discussed the removal of sanctions on Hezb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, which will be reviewed by the full sanctions committee in New York at an unspecified future date. [Khaama Press]
  • International Criminal Court Plans Investigation: In a report on Monday, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said that U.S. military forces and the CIA may have committed war crimes, including torture, at secret detention facilities in Afghanistan, with the allegations primarily centered on conduct in 2003-2004. The report also notes allegations of torture on the part of Afghan security services and war crimes against civilians by the Taliban. No final decision on an investigation was announced, although analysts tell the NYT they believe the report presages such a move. A State Department spokesman said that the US did not believe an investigation was “warranted or appropriate.” [AFP]
  • Attacks and Operations: A spokesman for the Parwan provincial governor said Monday that the suicide bomber in last week’s attack at Bagram airbase had been an employee on the base, and had previously been a Taliban member who had taken part in a reintegration process four years ago. On Tuesday, the NDS announced that it had arrested 14 Taliban members planning operations in Kandahar. [TOLO]

Afghanistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Ghani Orders Ministers to Continue Work as Parliament Continues No-Confidence Votes: Pres. Ghani held a cabinet meeting on Monday, ordering ministers to continue their work despite no-confidence votes by parliament, saying he would appeal for a Supreme Court ruling to halt their dismissals. On Tuesday, the Wolesi Jirga continued to hold hearings, voting to dismiss Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdul Razaq Wahidi, but supporting the ministers of agriculture, counter-narcotics, and energy. [TOLO] [TOLO] [Pajhwok] [TOLO]
  • Russia to Hold Talks: Russian envoy Zamir Kabulov told the Russian press on Monday that Moscow would host a conference on Afghanistan between Russia, China, and Pakistan in December.

Afghanistan – Remainders

  • Reporters Without Borders Calls for Journalist Security as Precondition for Taliban Talks [TOLO]
  • Afghan Money Exchangers Concerned Over Indian Currency Move [TOLO]
  • Bergdahl Court Martial Delayed Until May [WAPO]
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