Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Abdullah Spokesman Warns Against Cuts to His Share of Power; Pakistan Cautions Over US Refugee Ban

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Topline

  • Following further reports of negotiations between Pres. Ghani and Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor, a spokesman for Chief Executive Abdullah warned on Thursday that “no individual and no force would be allowed to undermine or move the political share of the CEO to someone else”. Pakistan’s foreign ministry responded cautiously to questions about new U.S. visa restrictions for seven other Muslim-majority countries, saying that “countries would be well advised to adopt policies that are not susceptible to be exploited as propaganda tools by entities wishing to see cracks in the coalition against extremism and terrorism along religious line”. Eight Faryab police were killed in an insider attack in the Almar district on Thursday, reportedly carried out by the outpost commander’s nephew. Pakistan’s interior ministry challenged the findings of a judicial investigation into last summer’s bombing of the Quetta Civil Hospital and the ministry’s response. A Pakistani parliamentary committee has proposed the replacement of the National Accountability Bureau with a National Accountability Commission, allowing for cases to be heard in regular district courts and eliminating the use of the plea bargain. On Thursday, the National Assembly passed a law allowing the Islamabad High Court to impose fees for frivolous litigation or adjournments. India has loosened visa restrictions for Afghan nationals, extending the duration of tourist visas to one year and business visas to up to five years.

Pakistan — Security

  • Quetta Hospital Attack Investigations: On Friday, lawyers representing the interior ministry filed a response in the Supreme Court challenging the findings of a judicial commission that had investigated and criticized the ministry’s handling of the attack last summer at the Quetta Civil Hospital.
  • Hafiz Saeed Detention: India’s foreign ministry spokesman brushed off Pakistani calls for India to provide more evidence against Jamaat-ud-Dawa leader Hafiz Saeed, saying on Thursday that “the concrete evidence that Pakistan establishment is looking for is already available in Pakistan. All they need to find is requisite political will”.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Visa Ban: In response to a question at a weekly Thursday press conference about new U.S. visa restrictions on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesman said that it was “every country’s sovereign right to decide its immigration policy,” but cautioned that “countries would be well advised to adopt policies that are not susceptible to be exploited as propaganda tools by entities wishing to see cracks in the coalition against extremism and terrorism along religious line”. [ET]
  • Anti-Corruption Reforms: The parliamentary committee reviewing accountability and anti-corruption laws has proposed the replacement of the National Accountability Bureau with a new National Accountability Commission, cutting the chairman’s tenure in office short by one year to a three-year term, allowing for regular district court s to hear corruption cases, and eliminating the use of plea bargain agreements. During Supreme Court hearings on Thursday, judges pressed NAB chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry over the use of a plea bargain agreement with former Balochistan finance secretary Mushtaq Raisani.
  • FATA Reforms: Members of the ‘All FATA Political Parties Alliance’, who support the FATA’s merger with Khyber Paktunkhwa, told a Peshawar press conference on Thursday that they would participate in a conference scheduled to take place in Islamabad on Feb 6 that is being organized by FATA parliamentarians to discuss proposed FATA reforms.
  • Legal Reforms: On Thursday, the National Assembly passed a bill, backed by the government and opposition, allowing for the Islamabad High Court to impose additional fines for frivolous litigation, false statements, or repeated unnecessary adjournment motions in court cases; the government is not liable for such costs. [ET] [ET]
  • Other Political Activity: Following a Sindh High Court ruling against the Sindh Chief Minister’s delegation of powers to advisors, three advisors and seven special assistants to the Chief Minister resigned on Thursday. In an interview on Thursday, defense minister Khawaja Asif argued that Finance Minister Dar’s 2000 money laundering confession had been recorded under duress while being detained by the Musharraf regime, and should not be taken as evidence in the Panama Papers hearings.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Man Killed by Islamabad Police After Failing to Stop at Checkpoint [Dawn] [ET]
  • Prime Minister Inaugurates Karachi-Hyderabad Highway [Dawn]
  • Chinese Firms Eye Pakistan Investments Amid CPEC Splurge [Reuters] [APP]
  • UK Media Watchdog Pulls ARY TV Broadcast Licenses [Dawn] [ET]
  • PEMRA Fines Samaa TV Over Election Commission Criticism [APP]
  • Parliamentary Committee Seeks Investigation into Misuse of OGDCL Fund [Dawn] [ET]
  • Sindh Assembly Mandates DNA Test in Rape Cases [ET]
  • Interior Minister Suspends Action Against Ridesharing Services [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Attacks and Operations: Faryab provincial police officials report that at least eight regular and local police were killed in an insider attack in the Almar district on Thursday night; of the victims were reportedly members of the same family, and the attacker was reported to be a nephew of the station commander. Islamic State fighters attacked a police checkpost in the Kot district in Nangarhar, killing at least one police officer. In Paktika province’s Yusof Khali district, unidentified gunmen killed a local cleric and his wife; no claim of responsibility has been reported. Helmand officials reported on Friday 18 Taliban fighters had been killed in ground and air operations in the Sangin district.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • National Unity Government Divisions: A spokesman for Chief Executive Abdullah warned on Thursday that “no individual and no force would be allowed to undermine or move the political share of the CEO to someone else”, following further reports on talks between Pres. Ghani and Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor. Abdullah met with a group on Thursday and backed constitutional reforms to change the Afghan political system, but said members of parliament should make the “final decision” on those proposals. [Ariana News]

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • India Loosens Visa Restrictions: On Friday, the Indian embassy in Kabul announced that it was extending the duration of tourists visas for Afghan nationals to one year, with individuals allowed to stay in-country for up to 90 days continuously. Business visas will have terms of up to five years, with a continuous stay of up to 180 days allowed for each visit. [Khaama Press]
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