Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Soldiers and Civilians Killed in Kashmir Clashes; Kabul Police Officials Suspended

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Topline

  • The Indian army reported on Tuesday that three of its soldiers had been killed, one of whose body was reportedly “mutilated”; a spokesman for the Pakistani foreign ministry said that a claim that Pakistani soldiers had been involved was a “blatant attempt to malign Pakistan”. Indian army officials say it is unclear if the attackers were soldiers or militants. Heavy fire across the Line of Control on Wednesday left at least ten civilians and three Pakistani soldiers dead; the Pakistani military claimed to have killed seven Indian soldiers in response. Several police officials in Kabul’s sixth police district have been suspended following Monday’s attack on a Shia shrine. Prime Minister Sharif will chair a cabinet meeting on Wednesday to consider Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif’s successor, as well as tensions with India and the status of Afghan refugees. The PTI has tapped lawyer Naeem Bokhari to head its legal team in the Panama Papers case before the Supreme Court. The Peshawar High Court froze an interior ministry order expelling Turkish expatriate staff working for the PakTurk schools network and agreed to hear a petition challenging the order, although the deadline for those staff to leave the country was earlier this week. The UN and EU welcomed Tuesday’s appointment of new Afghan election commissioners.

Pakistan – Security

  • Soldiers Among Casualties in Latest Exchanges of Fire with India: On Tuesday, the Indian army said that three of its soldiers had been killed in an attack in the Kupwara district in Indian Kashmir. One Indian security source described as a “sneak attack by Pakistani soldiers” across the Line of Control, although Indian army officials tell the NYT it is unclear whether the attackers were soldiers or militants. One of the soldiers was said to have been “mutilated”; a spokesman for Pakistan’s foreign ministry said that the claim that Pakistani soldiers had been involved was a “blatant attempt to malign Pakistan”. On Wednesday, Pakistan’s military spokesman reported that nine people were killed when a passenger bus was struck by Indian cross-border fire in the town of Lawat, and that another civilian had been killed in Nakyal. Later on Wednesday, the military reported that three Pakistani soldiers had been killed in a continuing exchange of fire, claiming that seven Indian soldiers had also been killed. Speaking in the senate on Tuesday, foreign advisor Sartaj Aziz said that the government had formed a “high-level committee” including military intelligence officials and representatives from the ministries of defense, interior, and information, to formulate a “doable and sustainable India-Kashmir policy”; the committee is chaired by Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry. [Dawn] [Reuters]
  • Military Leadership Transition: Prime Minister Sharif will hold a cabinet meeting on Wednesday at which he is expected to discuss the appointment of outgoing Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif’s successor and the next chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. The cabinet meeting will also discuss India-Pakistan tensions, the status of Afghan refugees, and the government’s Panama Papers legal strategy, the Express Tribune reports. General Sharif continued farewell meetings with military officials around the country; in a visit to Quetta on Tuesday, he said that “the people of Balochistan have clearly rejected foreign sponsored terrorists and helped the state in busting their network” and that “the tide has turned” against them. [ET]
  • Peshawar Bombing: Three Frontier Constabulary personnel were killed and seven injured when their vehicle struck an IED in Peshawar’s Bashirabad neighborhood on Tuesday; no claim of responsibility has been reported.

Pakistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Panama Papers Investigation: The PTI has formed a new four-member legal team to argue the party’s case against the government over the Panama Papers, to be headed by lawyer Naeem Bokhari. Lawyer Babar Awan is another member of the team, whose role the Express Tribune reports has provoked controversy within the party. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, PPP parliamentary opposition leader Khurshid Shah criticized Imran Khan for dividing the opposition by pursuing unilateral protest strategies against the government. [ET]
  • Peshawar High Court Freezes Turkish School Deportation Order: On Wednesday, a Peshawar High Court bench agreed to hear a petition challenging the government’s decision to cancel visas for Turkish expatriate staff and families working for the PakTurk school network. The court ordered a freeze on the order while it hears the case, although the original deadline from the interior ministry for Turkish staff to leave the country was Nov 20. [Dawn]
  • Other Political Activity: On Tuesday, the Sindh High Court ruled that Sindh law advisor Murtaza Wahab’s appointment had illegal and that as an advisor he could not be delegated executive authority by the government. PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari appointed Asim Hussain as the party’s Karachi president, despite his months under arrest. The Islamabad High Court heard arguments for PTI leader Jahangir Tareen’s disqualification from office on Tuesday. [ET] [ET] [ET]

Pakistan – Economics and Development

  • Tax Amnesty for Real Estate: National Assembly finance committee chairman Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh announced Tuesday that the government was planning to lower taxes on real estate transactions and establish an amnesty program to bring reported property values in line with actual values; the Federal Board of Revenue opposed the plan. [Dawn]
  • Polio Crisis: A new polio case was recorded in Sindh’s Badin district on Tuesday, World Health Organization officials report.

Pakistan – Remainders

  • Twelve Pakistani Fishermen Detained by Iran [Dawn]
  • Bodies of Karachi Airport Attackers Exhumed [Dawn] [ET]
  • Five Sentenced to Death Over 2014 Kot Radha Rishan Lynching [Dawn]
  • Cable Operators End Strike and Resume Service [Dawn]
  • Commentary: Pak-US Relations in the Trump Era – “Our internal dysfunctions are coming at a price – a total lack of preparedness for the challenges being posed by the rest of the world.” [Mosharraf Zaidi, The News]

Afghanistan – Security

  • Police Officers Suspended After Kabul Attack: Speaking at the swearing-in ceremony for new election commissioners on Tuesday, Second Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danish accused Kabul police officials of negligence for failing to prevent Monday’s attack on the Baqir-ul-Olom mosque. Ministry of Interior officials say that the police chief, head of intelligence, head of the criminal department, and head of the anti-terrorism department in Kabul’s sixth police district have been suspended after the attack, and that a delegation has been formed to investigate the incident. [Khaama Press] [TOLO]
  • Attacks and Operations: An Afghan Air Force airstrike near the Helmand capital of Lashkar Gah on Wednesday killed at least eight militants, Ministry of Defense officials report.

Afghanistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Election Reforms: The UN and EU welcomed the appointment of new election commissioners on Tuesday, calling for a “transparent and inclusive electoral process that can restore public confidence in future elections” and the preparation of a “credible electoral timetable”. [TOLO]
  • Women’s Appointments to Ulema Council Proposed: Speaking at a ceremony on Wednesday to mark the international day for the elimination of violence against women, Women’s Affairs minister Dilbar Nazari said that the ministry was planning to nominate ten women to the Afghanistan Ulema Council. [TOLO]

Afghanistan – Remainders

  • Transparency International Warns of Political Interference in Anti-Corruption Criminal Justice Center [TOLO]
  • China Increases Funds for Kabul Housing Project [Khaama Press]
  • Commentary: Carnage in Ghor: Was Islamic State the Perpetrator or Was it Falsely Accused? – “There is no credible evidence of an actual IS presence in Ghor or of links between IS and the particular group that killed the villagers.” [Borhan Osman, AAN]
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