Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Panama Papers Hearings Adjourned Until January; Secretary Carter Visits Kabul

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Topline

  • After the PTI objected to the formation of a separate investigation commission, the Supreme Court of Pakistan adjourned hearings on Panama Papers until the first week of January, after the retirement of Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter arrived in Kabul on Friday, where he told a joint press conference with Pres. Ghani that “America is, and will remain, committed to a sovereign and secure Afghanistan”. The former chief of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s Kurram faction was killed by his own bodyguard in a shooting on Thursday. Minister of States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch said that the government’s FATA reform plan calls for the merger of the tribal agencies with Khyber Paktunkhwa province, without a public referendum. The Pakistani military announced the promotion of seven major generals to the lieutenant general rank on Friday.

Pakistan — Security

  • FATA Attacks and Operations: Fazal Saeed Haqqani, the former Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan chief in the Kurram agency, was reportedly killed by his own bodyguard in a shooting on Thursday. Haqqani had split from the TTP after the death of Hakimullah Mehsud and formed his own faction; no claim of responsibility was reported. Separately, the Frontier Corps said that its forces engaged in a firefight on Thursday with a group of militants seeking to infiltrate Kurram from Afghanistan, killing one man and seizing arms and ammunition. Elsewhere, two TTP militants were arrested in Swat. [Dawn]
  • Military Promotions: On Friday, the military announced the promotion of seven major generals to the rank of lieutenant general, including the current heads of the Balochistan Frontier Corps, the Sindh Rangers, the Pakistan Military Academy, and the Frontier Works Organization. Chief of Army Staff Bajwa visited the National Counter Terrorism Training Center in Pabbi on Friday to observe joint drills with Chinese forces. [ET]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Panama Papers Investigations: On Friday, the Supreme Court adjourned hearings on the Panama Papers until the first week of January, after the retirement of presiding Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali. PTI lawyers told the court, and Imran Khan told a press conference on Thursday, that the PTI was opposed to the formation of a separate commission to investigate their charges against Prime Minister Sharif and his family. [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]
  • PPP Opposition: Former prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani has been appointed the head of a five-member PPP committee tasked with preparing a protest strategy if the party’s reform demands on the government are not met by Dec 27; the Express Tribune reports that some party leaders are advocating an alliance with the PTI to challenge the PML-N in Punjab.
  • FATA Reforms: Minister of States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch tells Dawn that the final report of the government commission on FATA reforms led by Sartaj Aziz has proposed merging the tribal agencies with Khyber Paktunkhwa province, without a referendum prior to doing so, as sought by the JUI-F and PkMAP parties. Tribal jirgas held in Mohmand and Bajaur on Thursday objected to a merger.
  • Fatemi Visits US: Special assistant to the prime minister on foreign affairs Tariq Fatemi met with members of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday; a readout from the SASC meeting said that Chairman McCain “appreciated Pakistan’s efforts to eliminate terrorist outfits from the region and assured the SASC’s continued support in realising the common objective of defeating terrorism”. [ET]
  • MQM Activists Arrested: At least five MQM activists affiliated with the party’s London faction were arrested in a clash with the Sindh Rangers as they attempted to stage a rally in Karachi’s Liaquat Ali Khan square on Friday. [ET] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Engine Failure, Pilot Error Under Debate as Causes for PK-661 Crash [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Sindh High Court Orders Uniform Guidelines for Providing Security to Politicians [ET]
  • Bomb Targets Rangers Vehicle in Hyderabad [Dawn]
  • Hazara Man Killed in Quetta [Dawn]
  • Lawyers Strike Stalls Qandeel Baloch Case [AFP]
  • Musharraf Given One Month to Surrender in Judges’ Detention Case [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Carter Visits Kabul: Outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter made an unannounced visit to Kabul on Friday, where he will meet with U.S. troops at Bagram Airbase and with Afghan leaders. Speaking at a news conference alongside Pres. Ghani on Friday, Carter stressed that “America is, and will remain, committed to a sovereign and secure Afghanistan”. [AP] [AFP] [TOLO] [TOLO] [TOLO]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Russia Confirms Relations with Taliban: In comments on Thursday, Russia’s ambassador to Afghanistan Alexander Mantytskiy confirmed that “we have ties with the Taliban to ensure the security of our political offices, consulates and the security of central Asia”, urging “peace and national reconciliation … under the leadership and ownership of the Afghans”.

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Germany Pledges Assistance: On Thursday, the German government announced a pledge of Afs 5 billion in assistance to support rural development, infrastructure, agriculture, and road construction.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Rockets Seized Outside Kabul [Khaama Press]
  • Ghani Inaugurates Second Phase of Darul Aman Palace Reconstruction [TOLO]
  • Military Plane Loses Door Over Kabul, Injuring Woman [TOLO]
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