Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Turkish Teachers Expelled Ahead of Erdogan Visit; Parliament Continues Cabinet Confidence Votes

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  • Pakistan’s interior ministry has ordered the expulsion of roughly 450 Turkish teachers and their family working for the PakTurk school network, which the Turkish government has accused of being connected to Turkish exile leader Fethullah Gulen. At least seven people were killed in two bombings in Kabul on Tuesday and Wednesday, the latter targeting Afghanistan’s VIP security agency and claimed by the Islamic State. Turkish President Erdogan arrives today for a two-visit to Pakistan. In Supreme Court hearings on Tuesday, judges criticized the quality of evidence presented by PTI lawyers and expressed skepticism over a new letter from PML-N lawyers from a former Qatari prime minister that purports to document the origins of the Sharif family’s London properties. The Wolesi Jirga approved three cabinet members in confidence votes on Wednesday. In an audio interview with AFP, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar refuses to apologize for alleged war crimes

Pakistan – Security

  • Military Meetings: Prime Minister Sharif and Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif observed military exercises carried out by the Pakistan army and air force in Bahawalpur on Wednesday; the prime minister said in a statement that the exercise “establishes that Pakistan is ready to confront any ambitious and reckless move by its enemies,” adding that “he situation at the border remains sensitive due to India’s grave violation of the ceasefire agreement.” On Tuesday, General Sharif met with tribal elders in North Waziristan, touting the successes of Operation Zarb-e-Azb and reviewing the repatriation of displaced residents. [ET] [Dawn]
  • Afghans Arrested: A group of 62 Afghan nationals, including women and children, were arrested in Balochistan on Tuesday on charges of traveling without legal documents.

Pakistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Turkish Teachers Face Expulsion as Erdogan Visits: Turkish President Erdogan is due to arrive in Pakistan on Wednesday for a two-day visit, including an address to a joint session of parliament that the PTI reaffirmed on Tuesday its legislators would not attend. On Tuesday, the Interior Ministry abruptly ordered Turkish teachers and their families working at the PakTurk International Schools and Colleges network to leave the country; the organization has been linked to Turkish exile opposition leader Fethullah Gulen, although school officials deny any connection. Erdogan welcomed the move in remarks prior to his departure. The Turkish government has been pushing for action against the schools since this summer’s abortive coup; Dawn reports that one proposal had involved the school being taken over by a pro-Erdogan NGO. PakTurk Schools chairman Alamgir Khan filed an Islamabad High Court petition on Wednesday seeking a stay of the action. [Reuters] [ET] [ET] [Dawn]
  • Panama Papers Investigation: At Supreme Court hearings on Tuesday, court judges challenged the quality of evidence submitted by the PTI against Prime Minister Sharif and his family, which included a large mass of newspaper clippings. Lawyers for the prime minister meanwhile filed a letter from former Qatari prime minister Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber Al Thani , who attested that the Sharif family properties in London were the proceeds of an investment by Prime Minister Sharif’s father. Judges also challenged that account; the prime minister has previously described the properties as having been purchased with the proceeds of the sale of Jeddah Steel Mills. [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [ET] [Dawn]
  • Regional Diplomacy: Foreign advisor Sartaj Aziz told a PTV interviewer that he would attend the ‘Heart of Asia’ regional conference on Afghanistan in India next month in an effort to “defuse the tension”; no official meetings have been scheduled with Indian diplomats. [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET] [ET]
  • Other Political Activity: Karachi mayor Waseem Akhtar received bail in the last case against him on Wednesday, and was released from jail after being imprisoned since July. In a Dawn interview, former Pres. Musharraf said he had no interest in joining or leading the MQM, but professed his desire to “do something for the betterment of the Mohajir community.” [ET] [Dawn] [ET]

Pakistan – Remainders

  • Khyber Paktunkhwa Details 5,362 “Fourth Schedule” Suspects [ET]
  • Pakistan Navy Escorting CPEC Cargo Shipment [Dawn] [ET] [ET]
  • Sindh Governor Remains Hospitalized [ET]
  • Around 950 Khyber Paktunkhwa Officials Face Termination Over NAB Plea Deals [Dawn]
  • Outgoing Council of Islamic Ideology Chairman Complains Council Recommendations Ignored [Dawn]
  • Gas Supply to Punjab and Khyber Paktunkhwa Industry Curtailed [Dawn]

Afghanistan – Security

Afghanistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Cabinet Crisis: On Wednesday, the Wolesi Jirga held votes of confidence for the ministers of refugees and repatriation, economy, and public health; all received votes in support. Ghani aide Nader Nadery tells the Post that “this is a power struggle between branches of government, driven by political and financial interests, but it will not affect long-term issues”; some analysts speculate to the NYT that the presidency is encouraging the dismissals to remove ministers that it no longer wishes to retain, although Ghani advisors rejected that assessment. [Khaama Press]
  • Hekmatyar Refuses to Apologize: In audio remarks to the AFP, Hezb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar refused to apologize for alleged war crimes, saying “those upon whom war is imposed, who have resisted the invaders, defended themselves and defended the country” had no need to apologize. Mohammad Karim Amin, the chief HIG negotiator, tells the AFP that he had been contacted by dozens of low-level Taliban commanders since the government signed a peace deal with the group. [TOLO]

Afghanistan – Remainders

  • Attorney General Vows to Bring Senior Officials to Trial for Corruption [TOLO] [Ariana News]

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