Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Balochistan Political Leaders Attacked in Quetta and Panjgur; US Soldier Killed in Helmand

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  • A local leader of the BNP-Mengal was killed in a driveby shooting Quetta on Thursday; elsewhere, Balochistan health minister Rehman Saleh Baloch survived a rocket attack on his convoy while traveling through Panjgur. No claim of responsibility was reported in either attack.
  • An American soldier was killed in Helmand earlier this week while supporting a special operations unit advising Afghan commandos in the Nawa district, the Pentagon announced Wednesday.
  • Pakistan conducted a missile test of the short-range Nasr ballistic missile on Wednesday. The annual SIPRI Trends in Nuclear Forces report estimates that Pakistan currently possesses around 140 nuclear warheads, and has increased its nuclear fissile material production capabilities.
  • NDS chief Masoom Stanekzai met with Vice President Dostum in Turkey earlier this week and asked him to return to Afghanistan, a spokesman for Dostum said.
  • Imran Khan denounced police protocol given to Maryam Nawaz during her appearance before the Joint Investigation Team in the Panama Papers case on Wednesday. The JIT is scheduled to finalize and submit its report to the Supreme Court next Monday.
  • Pres. Ghani, Prime Minister Sharif, and the leaders of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan met in Dushanbe on Thursday for talks on the implementation of the CASA-1000 power project.
  • The Pakistani rupee dropped 3.1% in value against the dollar on Wednesday, the biggest single drop in nine years; while the State Bank appeared to welcome the devaluation, Finance Minister Dar said that the government was investigating the incident and suggested that a new State Bank chairman would be appointed later this week.

Pakistan — Security

  • Political Leaders Targeted in Balochistan Attacks: Malik Naveed Dehwar, a local leader of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal, was killed in a driveby shooting in Quetta on Thursday morning; another man accompanying him was also killed. No claim of responsibility has been reported. Separately, Balochistan health minister Rehman Saleh Baloch survived a rocket attack targeting his vehicle as he was traveling through the town of Panjgur on Thursday; no casualties were reported. Earlier on Wednesday, supporters of Paktunkhwa Milli Awami party member and provincial assembly member Manzoor Khan Kakar embroiled in a land dispute with an unidentified opposing group clashed in Quetta; two people were killed and nine injured. [ET] [The Nation]
  • Pakistan Conducts Missile Test: Chief of Army Staff Bajwa and other top military commanders observed a test firing of the “Nasr” short-range ballistic missile on Wednesday; military spokesmen quoted him saying that the missile would “put cold water on Cold Start”, the Indian military doctrine. Separately, the annual publication of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s Trends in Nuclear Forces report notes that Pakistan and India have both increased their military fissile material production capabilities, and estimates that Pakistan now possesses around 140 nuclear warheads. [AP] [ET] [The Nation]
  • Executions: A report by the Justice Project of Pakistan released Thursday finds that Pakistan has executed 465 people since the resumption of the use of capital punishment in December 2014; the report found no correlations between executions and a drop in crime. On Wednesday, the Sindh provincial government approved the referral of ten additional cases to the military court system, including the murder of singer Amjad Sabri in Karachi last year. [ET]
  • Journalist Receives Bail: On Wednesday, a Quetta judicial magistrate granted bail to Zafarullah Achakzai, a journalist working for the Quetta newspaper Qudrat, who was arrested in late June and charged with criticizing law enforcement agencies on social media. [ET]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Panama Papers Investigation: The Joint Investigation Team investigating the Panama Papers case is scheduled to present its final report to the Supreme Court on Monday; some sources tell the Express Tribune they believe the JIT may seek an additional 15 days to conduct further investigations. Speaking after Maryam Nawaz’s appearance before the JIT on Wednesday, special assistant to the prime minister Asif Kirmani questioned why the JIT had not recorded a statement from Qatari Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani; sources close to the sheikh tell The Nation he is ready to cooperate with the JIT but has not been contacted since his earlier written statements. Imran Khan denounced the police protocol given to Maryam during her visit to the JIT on Wednesday, saying that “Pakistan is a democracy not a monarchy and it is illegal to offer such protocol to a criminal”; a legal notice was filed against a police officer who appeared to salute her, causing “agony and mental shock to the public at large”. [The Nation] [The Nation] [Dawn]
  • Sindh Anti-Corruption Cases: Speaking on Wednesday, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah defended the government’s revocation of the authority of the National Accountability Ordinance in the province, saying that the government planned to strengthen the existing Anti-Corruption Establishment and appoint a new chairman for that body through the provincial assembly. The Sindh High Court has halted hearings on pending corruption cases under the NAO following the assembly’s vote on Monday.
  • Other Political Activity: The PPP held demonstrations around the country on Wednesday marking the 40th anniversary of the 1977 military coup that overthrew the government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto; in remarks on the occasion, former Pres. Zardari blamed the “martial mindset” for holding back Pakistan’s development. On Thursday, the Election Commission heard further arguments in a case accusing the PTI of improperly raising funds overseas; PTI lawyers focused their arguments on the petitioner’s ties to the PML-N. [The Nation] [Dawn] [ET]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Rupee Drops in Value Against the Dollar: The Pakistani rupee dropped 3.1% in value against the dollar on Wednesday, the biggest single devaluation in nine years and bringing it to its lowest level since December 2013. Finance Minister Dar suggested that the market had been “exploited” by “certain individuals, banks, and entities”, but the State Bank said in a statement afterwards that the new exchange rate “is broadly aligned with the economic fundamentals” and would help Pakistan manage its balance of payments and boost exports. Dar also signaled that a new governor of the State Bank of Pakistan would be appointed when Prime Minister Sharif returns from Tajikistan later this week; on Thursday, he said that the government would carry out an investigation into the rupee’s drop in value.
  • Polio Crisis: A new polio case was recorded in the Chaman area on Wednesday, the third case so far this year and the first to be found in Balochistan.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Khyber Paktunkhwa Governor Meets with Parachinar Victims [Dawn] [The Nation]
  • MQM’s Rauf Siddiqui Withdraws Bail Plea in Baldia Factory Fire Case [Dawn] [ET]
  • Peshawar Clerics Challenge Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee [ET]
  • Commentary: Pakistan’s Proxy Strategy Principal Cause of Mistrust for U.S. – “Pakistan’s commitment to this proxy strategy is the principal cause of mistrust and tension with the United States. It is not the only reason for instability in Afghanistan, but it is a main one, and it is the primary threat to peace with India, where the next terrorist outrage could always escalate into war.” [Daniel Markey, The Cipher Brief]

Afghanistan — Security

  • US Soldier Killed in Helmand: The Pentagon announced Wednesday that a U.S. soldier, Pfc. Hansen Kirkpatrick, had been killed in an indirect fire attack in Helmand’s Nawa district on Monday; two other servicemembers were also wounded. He is the eighth American casualty in Afghanistan so far this year; the Post notes that Kirkpatrick, a mortarman who was not a member of the special forces himself, had been detailed to a unit training and assisting Afghan commando forces in Helmand. Buzzfeed notes that the Pentagon’s announcement of Kirkpatrick’s death several days later represents a shift in policy, as no preliminary report of the attack had been made on Monday prior to the full identification and notification of family members. [NYT] [WSJ]
  • Other Attacks and Operations: Kunduz provincial council members continue to express alarm over the security situation in the capital; provincial police chief Abdul Hamid Hamidi insists that security forces have repelled all Taliban attacks. Unidentified militants attacked a mosque in Nangarhar’s Chaparhar district on Thursday, taking three people hostage and killing three others. Nangarhar provincial police officials reported that a commander of the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Islam had been killed in an airstrike in the Nazian district on Wednesday; four other militants were also killed. Insurgents in Faryab attacked police checkposts in the Qaisar district over Wednesday night; officials say seven were killed.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Government Reaches Out to Opposition Leaders: Khaama Press reports that National Directorate of Security chief Masoom Stanekzai met with exiled Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum in Ankara on Tuesday, a week after Dostum joined with leaders from the Jamiat-e-Islami and Hezb-e-Wahdat-e-Islami to form the “Coalition for the Rescue of Afghanistan”. A spokesman for Dostum said that Stanekzai had asked him to return to Afghanistan; no further details of their conversation have been disclosed. Hezb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar said Thursday that the opposition coalition “should have been established inside Afghanistan” and called for unity amongst Afghanistan’s parties.
  • CASA Talks in Tajikistan: Pres. Ghani and Prime Minister Sharif met in Dushanbe with Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon and Kyrgyzstan Prime Minister Sooronbay Jeenbekov on Thursday, where they held talks on the CASA-1000 power project. Speaking earlier on Wednesday, Sharif said that “Pakistan desires peaceful resolution of all outstanding issues, including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute with India”. [TOLO] [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • ICC Delays Decision on Afghan War Crimes Investigation [Reuters]
  • Attorney General’s Office Finalizing Dawi Corruption Case [TOLO]
  • Jawzjan Officials Say ISIS in Darzab Destroying Schools [TOLO]
  • Afghan Ministry of Energy and Water Rebuffs Iranian Complaints Over Dam Construction [Khaama Press] [TOLO]

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