Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: CPEC Authority Formed as Khan and Bajwa Visit China; Ghani Says No Repeat of Unity Government

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Topline

  • PM Khan and Chief of Army Staff Bajwa visited Beijing on Tuesday for meetings with their Chinese counterparts. Prior to their departure, Pres. Alvi issued an executive ordinance forming a new ‘CPEC Authority’ to oversee the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which will have budget autonomy and immunity from prosecution for its leadership, among other powers of coordination and oversight.
  • In an interview with Der Spiegel, Pres. Ghani ruled out a return to the national unity government structure, saying that “we do not have time for a months-long power struggle … a government with two heads as we had in the last five years will not succeed.” In comments to Reuters, members of Chief Executive Abdullah’s campaign team said that they would only “accept defeat if the election is clean and only biometrically verified votes are counted”.
  • US Senators Chris Van Hollen and Maggie Hassan met with PM Khan and Chief of Army Staff Bajwa on Monday following an earlier visit to Muzaffarabad. Separately, leaders of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front threatened an indefinite sit-in if police in Azad Jammu and Kashmir did not lift restrictions on their attempted march to the Line of Control border.
  • At least a dozen people were killed in a bombing in Jalalabad on Monday targeting a bus carrying army recruits, and on Tuesday a bombing at Ghazni University wounded more than twenty people. No claim of responsibility has been reported for the former attack, and the Taliban denied responsibility for the latter.

 

Pakistan — Security

  • Kashmir Tensions: Senators Chris Van Hollen and Maggie Hassan met separately with PM Khan and Chief of Army Staff Bajwa on Monday; Khan was quoted telling the delegation that “the international community must also take cognizance of the grave consequences of Indian actions for regional peace and stability and should act immediately.” Also on Monday, leaders of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front called on the Azad Jammu and Kashmir to remove restrictions on their march to the Line of Control border, threatening an indefinite sit-in otherwise. [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • FATF Scrutiny: Anonymous Pakistani finance ministry sources tell the Express Tribune that China, Malaysia, and Turkey have agreed to support Pakistan at next week’s meeting of the Financial Action Task Force plenary session in Paris and to block its blacklisting. The Nation reports that Pakistan will form a new real estate regulatory body to scrutinize money laundering or terrorism financing in that sector.

 

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • China Visit: PM Khan and Chief of Army Staff Bajwa both traveled to Beijing on Tuesday for meetings with their Chinese counterparts; the military’s chief spokesman said that the Chinese military leadership had “supported Pakistan’s principled stance on Kashmir issue, and appreciated sane Pakistani approach in the interest of peace”. Speaking at a trade event, PM Khan credited Pres. Xi for his anti-corruption efforts, and said that “I wish I could follow President Xi’s example and put 500 corrupt people in Pakistan in jail”. On Monday, Pres. Alvi issued an executive ordinance ordering the formation of a dedicated CPEC Authority and granting tax concessions in the Gwadar port ‘Free Zone’. The Express Tribune notes that the CPEC Authority’s leadership will have autonomous control over its budget and are immune from prosecution. [The Nation] [The Nation] [ET] [Dawn]
  • Corruption Investigations and Other Legal Battles: In a filing on Monday, the Supreme Judicial Council, which is headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, disputed the jurisdiction of a Supreme Court bench appointed by Khosa to hear a challenge by Judge Qazi Faez Isa against disciplinary charges brought against him in the SJC, which maintains that its proceedings are immune from judicial review. [Dawn] [The Nation] [The Nation] [The Nation]
  • Other Political Activity: Speaking to reporters on Monday after a visit to his father in jail, PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that “the PTI government should not remain in power by the end of this year” and suggested that the PPP could be “compelled” to join the JUI-F’s planned protest march this month “if the government continued to resort to its brutal tactic[s]”. PkMAP chairman Mehmood Khan Achakzai voiced conditional support for the JUI-F protests on Monday, saying it would support the march but “it shouldn’t be for de-seating of the PM.” Top JUI-F leaders are meeting again on Tuesday to discuss plans for the march. Separately, Election Commission officials tell Dawn they have registered 4.5 million additional female voters in the past two years. [ET] [ET] [The Nation] [Dawn] [Dawn]

 

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Musharraf Treason Trial to Resume Hearings Oct 24 [Dawn] [ET]
  • Finance Ministry Refuses Guarantee for Defaulting Pakistan LNG Limited [ET] [The Nation]
  • Sindh Government Approves $1.6B Plan to Overhaul Karachi Water and Sewerage Board [ET]
  • Over 130,000 High Net-Worth Individuals Served Tax Notices [Dawn]

 

Afghanistan — Security

 

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Elections: In an interview with Der Spiegel, Pres. Ghani ruled out another national unity government formation after the elections, saying “we do not have time for a months-long power struggle this time. Afghanistan needs a government that tackles the major challenges we face — mainly the peace process and improving the livelihoods of every Afghan. We need to proceed, and a government with two heads as we had in the last five years will not succeed in this scenario.” Ghani downplayed concerns over low election turnout. At a press conference on Monday, members of Chief Executive Abdullah’s campaign team called for an early announcement of election results by the Independent Election Commission, and predicted a first-round victory. Members of the Abdullah team tell Reuters they will only “accept defeat if the election is clean and only biometrically verified votes are counted”. TOLO notes an apparent slowdown in the transfer of digital results data to the IEC, which IEC officials said was temporary. The Afghan Analysts Network offers additional election-day observer reporting from Zabul. [Khabarnama] [TOLO]
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