Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Arrest Order Issued for Dostum Bodyguards; Pakistan Test-Fires MIRV-Capable Missile

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Topline

  • The Afghan Attorney General’s office has issued arrest warrants for nine bodyguards for Vice President Dostum after they ignored three summons to respond to allegations of abuse and kidnapping by former Jawzjan governor Ahmad Eschi; Dostum himself, who has also ignored those summons, has not been charged. Pakistan test-fired a surface-to-surface missile on Tuesday, which the military said was capable of carry multiple independently-targeted warheads. Zabul provincial officials report that Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al-Alami, Al Qaeda, and Daesh fighters are all present in the Khak-e-Afghan and Day Chopan districts. Panama Papers hearings continued before the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The ANP, Awami Workers Party, and other civil society groups announced the formation of a coalition dedicated to protesting what they said was the unequal distribution of development projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. A spokesman for Chief Executive Abdullah raised concerns over reports that the interior ministry was proposing the use of an ID “booklet”; plans for an electronic National ID card remain stalled.

Pakistan — Security

  • Parachinar Attack Aftermath: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan spoke by phone with Khyber Paktunkhwa governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra on Tuesday after a planned flight to Parachinar in the Kurram Agency was delayed due to weather; Nisar said he had ordered an investigation by the National Counter Terrorism Authority into security lapses prior to the weekend attack on a marketplace in Parachinar. Separately, six Frontier Constabulary personnel were wounded in a roadside bombing in Khyber Paktunkhwa’s Tank district on Monday; no claim of responsibility was reported.
  • Missile Test: On Tuesday, the Pakistani military announced the test of an ‘Ababeel’ surface-to-surface missile, with a range of up to 2,200 kilometers and the capability for multiple warheads.
  • NGO Crackdown: On Monday, the Lahore High Court agreed to hear an appeal from the South Asian Partnership-Pakistan, one of the NGOs that had been reportedly ordered by the interior ministry to halt operations on charges of carrying out “anti-state activities”. Hearings have been set for Jan 27.
  • Military Courts: Anonymous opposition leaders tell the Express Tribune they are not opposed to an extension of the military court system but that “it is [the government’s] responsibility, not ours”, and say the PML-N must first reach unanimity among its members and allies.
  • Panjgur Attack: At least seven or eight Frontier Corps personnel were wounded in ambush in Balochistan’s Panjgur district on Monday; no claim of responsibility was reported. [ET]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Panama Papers Hearings: In hearings on Monday, the Supreme Court bench hearing arguments in the Panama Papers case cautioned that they could only issue a disqualification order on the basis of evidence, not expectations, and urged political parties to wait for the court’s verdict in the case “instead of fighting it out in the media”. The presiding judges pushed back in several instances to arguments from Jamaat-e-Islami lawyers, who concluded their arguments on Tuesday. Judge Asif Saeed Khosa said that the prime minister could be summoned to testify, but only after hearing arguments from his children’s lawyers. On Monday, a German newspaper that had led the initial reporting of the Panama Papers documents shared images of documents, previously released, linking Maryam Nawaz to one offshore holding company; Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb said that linking Maryam to the Panama Papers was “a conspiracy against the wives and daughters of Pakistan”. [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • US Relations: In a Washington Times interview, former Pres. Zardari called on Pres. Trump to appoint a high-level envoy for South Asia, calling for “confidence-building between the different countries in the region and meaningful actions” on extremism.
  • Other Political Activity: On Monday, the Election Commission issued a contempt notice against Imran Khan for his criticism of the ECP; he has been summoned to appear on Feb 21 to testify on this issue and pending charges that the PTI improperly received funding from overseas.

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • CPEC Project Protests: Members of the Awami Workers Party, the ANP, and a number of civil society organizations announced the formation in Peshawar of the “Corridor Front”, a coalition protesting what they say is the unequal distribution of development projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor; the group criticized chief minister Pervaiz Khattak for compromising with the federal government prior to the most recent meeting of the Joint Cooperation Committee in Beijing.
  • Prime Minister Inaugurates Multan Metro Bus: On Tuesday, Prime Minister Sharif inaugurated a new metro bus service in Multan, initially involving 35 buses at a cost of Rs 28 billion. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Former Army Chief Reportedly Receives 90-Acre Land Allotment in Lahore [The News]
  • Islamabad High Court Orders Response in Missing Persons Case [Dawn]
  • 69 Pakistanis Held on Terrorism Charges in Saudi Arabia [ET]
  • FATA Locals Not Consulted on Reforms, PkMAP Leader Complains [Dawn]
  • Tribal Leaders Protest Bifurcation of Kohistan District [ET]
  • Lal Masjid Leader Acquitted of Death Threats Against Activist [ET]
  • Two Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Suspects Arrested in Bahawalpur [Dawn]
  • Foreign Office Says No Objections to Russian Firms’ Construction of LPG Plants [ET]
  • Complaints Raised on Keyal Khwar Hydropower Project Bidding [Dawn]
  • ADB Approves $197M Loan for Post-Flood Highway Rehabilitation [APP]
  • Fuel Oil Share of Electricity Production Rose in December [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Foreign Fighters: Zabul provincial governor Bismillah Afghanmal tells RFE/RL that members of the Pakistani sectarian terrorist splinter group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al Alami are sheltering in the Khak-e-Afghan and Day Chopan districts; police officials say that more than 300 families are present in the area. On Tuesday, a spokesman for the Zabul provincial governor claimed that nearly 80 Al Qaeda and Islamic State fighters had been killed in U.S. airstrikes in the two districts over the past four days. [Khaama Press]
  • Attacks and Operations: Baghlan officials say that two policemen who had been captured by the Taliban in the Barak district broke out of their cell and killed five Taliban fighters in their escape. [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Attorney General Orders Arrest of Dostum Guards: On Monday, the Afghan attorney general’s office ordered the arrest of nine of Vice President Dostum’s bodyguards in connection to the reported abduction and abuse of former Jawzjan governor Ahmad Eschi in November, after they refused to respond to three summons to respond to the allegations. Vice President Dostum had also been summoned, but has not been charged at this time. Dostum and his advisors maintain he has constitutional immunity and can only be removed through a two-thirds vote in parliament; a spokesman for Pres. Ghani said that “this is not a political matter but a legal case and will be dealt transparently and according to the Afghan law”. [NYT] [Guardian]
  • National ID Disputes: A spokesman for the ministry of interior told TOLO on Monday that the government was planning to shift from plans to issue an a single-page paper ID to a “booklet”, which a spokesman for Chief Executive Abdullah insisted would not be a substitute for an electronic National ID card; spokesman Mujib Rahman Rahimi complained that Pres. Ghani was delaying the implementation of the e-NIC.
  • German Deports Migrants: Germany deported a group of 26 Afghan nationals whose asylum claims had been rejected, some after living in Germany for several years; they arrived in Kabul on Tuesday and will subsequently be transferred to their home provinces.
  • Attorney General Clears 1500 from ‘Blacklist’: On Monday, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s office announced that it had cleared more than 1500 people had been “blacklisted and banned unnecessarily” in recent years by various government institutions, including the Attorney General’s office; no further details were reported.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Afghans Hope — and Worry — that Trump Will Shake Things Up [WAPO]
  • Karzai Backs US-Russia Cooperation on Afghanistan [Khaama Press]
  • EU Envoy Holds Talks with Pakistani Foreign Advisor [TOLO]
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