Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Ghani Chairs Meeting on Dostum Abuse Charges; Sharif’s Office Disputes Musharraf Remarks

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  • In a statement on Tuesday, the prime minister’s office rejected recent comments by former Pres. Musharraf in which he attributed his disputes with Nawaz Sharif to an order in the 1990s to fire two major generals; Musharraf also attributed his exit from Pakistan earlier this year to assistance from former Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif, which the prime minister’s office did not respond to. Pres. Ghani chaired a meeting of the National Security Council to review a report from the attorney general into allegations of abuse against Vice President Dostum; a spokesman for the president said that the meeting had taken “necessary decisions”, without specifying what those were. Prime Minister Sharif arrived in Bosnia on Tuesday for talks with his counterpart on trade and investment. TOLO reports that the Red Cross staffer kidnapped in Kunduz on Monday is a male Spanish national. Reuters interviews Masroor Nawaz Jhangvi, the son of the founder of Sipah-e-Sahaba who won election to the Jhang Provincial assembly seat earlier this month. At least 154 law enforcement personnel were killed in Balochistan this year, the Express Tribune reports, a decline from last year. The PML-N government introduced draft legislation on electoral reforms in the national assembly and inquiry commissions in the senate. The Wolesi Jirga voted on Wednesday to reject the government’s draft budget for the coming fiscal year. Top government officials are reported to have objected to proposals from the finance minister to exempt the Lahore Orange Line metro project from taxes by classifying it as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Pakistan — Security

  • Balochistan Conflict: Speaking at the Frontier Corps headquarters in Quetta on Tuesday, Southern Command chief Lt. Gen. Amir Riaz said that more than 700 security personnel had been killed and around 2,000 wounded in Balochistan “while fighting for the stability of the country”, but Dawn’s report is not clear on what time frame he was referring to. Riaz also called on India to join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project instead of conducting subversive activities against Pakistan. The Express Tribune reports that 153 law enforcement personnel were killed in 88 terror attacks in the province this year, a decline from last year; the number of personnel injured remained near-constant, at 311. [ET]
  • FATA Operations: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan visited the town of Landi Khotal in the Khyber Agency on Wednesday, telling accompanying reporters that “as of now no terrorist networks exist in Pakistan” and that Pakistan would “control all traffic from Afghanistan” by 2020. [Dawn]
  • Intelligence Oversight: Auditor General of Pakistan Rana Assad Amin testified before the Public Accounts Committee on Tuesday that he had no authority to audit the use of a secret service fund used by the ISI and Intelligence Bureau.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Government Pushes Back Over Musharraf Remarks: In a statement on Tuesday, the prime minister’s office responded to former Pres. Musharraf’s recent comments in a television interview in which he suggested that former Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif had allowed him to leave the country by “keeping the government from pressuring the courts”. While not responding directly to that charge, the prime minister’s office rejected the suggestion by Musharraf that Prime Minister Sharif had, in the 1990s, ordered him to fire two senior major generals, saying that Musharraf’s comments were “utterly baseless, malicious, untrue, and concocted”. [ET] [Dawn]
  • Prime Minister Visits Bosnia: Prime Minister Sharif arrived in Bosnia on Tuesday for talks with his counterpart Denis Zvizdic; at a joint press conference on Wednesday, the two prime ministers pledged to strengthen ties in “trade, business, investment, and education”. [ET]
  • Government Inquiry Commission Bill Introduced in Senate: Law Minister Zahid Hamid introduced the government’s draft legislation on public inquiry commissions, coming a few days after the Senate passed PPP-proposed legislation on the same subject; the government’s draft has been referred to committee. National assembly speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq prorogued the current session on Tuesday in the face of continued PTI protests over the Panama Papers. [ET] [ET] [Dawn]
  • ASWJ Leader Elected: Reuters interviews Masroor Nawaz Jhangvi, the son of Sipah-e-Sahaba founder Haq Nawaz Jhangvi who was elected to a Punjab provincial assembly seat from Jhang in polls earlier this month; Jhangvi insists that he “consider[s] everybody to be human, and I want peace in Jhang and in Punjab”, but stopped short of disavowing previous sectarian remarks.
  • Elections and Other Political Activity: Finance Minister Dar introduced new electoral reform legislation in the national assembly on Tuesday, which increases the administrative and financial powers of the Election Commission, increases the election expenses cap for national and provincial assembly campaigns, and requires parties seeking registration to have at least 1,000 members. [ET]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • CPEC Projects: The Express Tribune reports that during a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet on Tuesday, several top officials, including the head of the Federal Board of Revenue and the Privatization Commission chairman, objected to a government proposal to exempt the Lahore Orange Line metro project from taxes by giving it preferential status under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project. [Dawn]
  • Regulatory Authority: Speaking on Tuesday, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah objected to government proposals to give administrative control over five independent regulatory authorities to their respective ministerial counterparts.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Committee Formed for Disbursal of Punjab Local Government Funds [ET]
  • Pakistan Navy Tests Anti-Ship Missile [ET]
  • Former Khyber Paktunkhwa Mines Minister Denounces PTI Leadership [ET]
  • Peshawar High Court Issues Contempt Notice Over Payment of Compensation to Tirah Valley Bombing Victims [ET]
  • Judge Dismiss Acquittal Plea by AXACT Chief [Dawn]
  • Law Ministry Opposes Amendments to Complaints Procedure Against Judges [Dawn]
  • Former Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Under Investigation [ET]
  • Current Account Deficit Widens to $2.6 Billion [ET]
  • Report: ‘As Good as Dead’: The Impact of the Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan – “This report documents cases which illustrate the broad scope for human rights violations and abuses, in order to highlight the need for urgent repeal of the laws and – until their repeal – the need for effective procedural safeguards to be put in place.” [Amnesty International]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Red Cross Kidnapping: TOLO reports that the Red Cross staffer kidnapped in Kunduz’s Khan Abad district on Monday is a male Spanish national. A spokesman for the Red Cross said that “we are doing our best to discover what precisely happened, and to secure his safe and unconditional release as quickly as possible”.
  • Al Qaeda Targeted: In a statement on Tuesday, Pentagon officials said that they had determined that an Oct 23 airstrike near Kunar, which was previously reported to have killed Al Qaeda commander Faruq al-Qahtani, also killed Bilal al-Utabyi and Abd-al-Wahid al-Junabi, Qahtani’s deputy and a senior explosives expert, respectively.
  • Attacks and Operations: Helmand officials say they have cleared six kilometers outside the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah in operations over the past two days; police commanders say they inflicted “heavy casualties” on the Taliban but were unable to provide precise figures. A bomb reportedly went off near the parliament building in Kabul on Wednesday, but no casualties have been confirmed.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Dostum Abuse Investigations: A spokesman for Pres. Ghani said Wednesday that the president had chaired a meeting of the National Security Council which had “reviewed and took necessary decisions” based on a report from the attorney general into abuse allegations against Vice President Dostum, but offered no further details. [Khaama Press] [TOLO]
  • Hezb-e-Islami Commander’s Release: TOLO reports that former Hezb-e-Islami commander Zardad Faryadi was released from the UK on the basis of a letter of guarantee from Second Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danish, and that his release was not related to the broader peace agreement with Hezb-e-Islami; a spokesman for Danish rejected that report, however.

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Wolesi Jirga Rejects Budget: In a vote on Wednesday, the Wolesi Jirga rejected the government’s draft budget for the coming fiscal year; the Meshrano Jirga had approved it last month.
  • ADB Grant Signed: The Ministry of Finance signed an agreement with the Asian Development Bank for a $415 million grant to expand electrification in Afghanistan, including the construction of a sub-station in Baghlan that will connect to Turkmenistan’s power network. [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • 1,000 Afghans Who Worked with British Forces Resettled in UK [TOLO]

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