Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: McMaster Proposes Reviving SRAP Inside NSC; Nawaz Makes Court Appearance

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Topline

  • National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster has proposed resurrecting the role of Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan inside the White House National Security Council, Politico reports.
  • Nawaz Sharif briefly appeared before an Islamabad accountability court on Friday; hearings were adjourned as the court considered a ruling from the Islamabad High Court consolidating three cases against Sharif into one. Separately, courts ordered a freeze of Finance Minister Dar’s assets and rejected requests from his lawyers that he be excused from attending hearings in person in his corruption case; he will reportedly undergo an angiography today to determine whether he needs heart surgery.
  • Low attendance in Pakistan’s national assembly on Friday led the government to defer a vote on legislation to reapportion directly-elected constituencies amongst the provinces based on provisional census figures.
  • The Afghan cabinet approved a draft budget for the 2018 fiscal year on Friday, setting an Afs 161 billion domestic revenue target.
  • Pakistan’s corps commanders met in Rawalpindi on Thursday to review internal security issues, the military said.

 

Pakistan — Security

  • Corps Commanders Meet: Chief of Army Staff Bajwa chaired a meeting of Pakistani military corps commanders in Rawalpindi on Thursday; the military’s spokesman reported that the “internal security situation, progress of ongoing counterterrorism operations and its projection to achieve enduring peace and stability were discussed”. [ET] [The Nation]
  • MWM Leader Abducted: The Nation reports that Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen central deputy secretary Nasir Abbas Shirazi was abducted by gunmen wearing police uniforms in Lahore on Wednesday evening; his brother accuses the police of refusing to register a case, and relatives say the kidnapping was in retaliation for a petition he brought seeking Law Minister Rana Sanaullah’s disqualification from office.

 

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Sharif Appears Before Court Again: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Marya Nawaz, and son-in-law Mohammad Safdar all appeared before an Islamabad accountability court on Friday; the hearing was adjourned shortly afterwards as the court considered an Islamabad High Court ruling on Nawaz’s petition seeking the consolidation of three separate corruption cases into a single reference. The next hearings have been set for Nov 7. Separately, the National Accountability Bureau petitioned the Islamabad High Court against Safdar’s release on bail. The Nation reports that Nawaz plans to launch a “mass contact campaign” later this month in Abbottabad. [Dawn] [Dawn] [The Nation] [The Nation] [ET] [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Other Corruption Investigations: During senate debate on Thursday, senators from the PPP and PML-N criticized the exclusion of the military and judiciary from the oversight of a new accountability law currently under negotiation; PPP senator Farhatullah Babar warned that “powers have been transferred to the people who consider themselves above the law”. An Islamabad accountability court rejected requests on Thursday from Finance Minister Dar’s lawyers to excuse him from appearing before the court on corruption charges, but denied a NAB petition seeking non-bailable warrants for Dar’s arrest; the court ordered Dar’s assets frozen. Dar’s representatives say he is undergoing an angiography to determine whether he will need heart surgery. Separately on Thursday, the NAB raided the offices of the Karachi Development Authority and arrested at least two officials there. [The Nation] [Dawn] [ET]
  • Other Political Activity: Low attendance in the national assembly on Friday led the government to defer a vote on draft legislation reapportioning national assembly seats based on new census data; the PPP and MQM both challenged the legislation. Speaking to reporters on Friday, PPP parliamentary opposition leader Khurshid Shah said that his party “saved Nawaz Sharif once for the sake of saving democracy from being derailed but he will not be saved now under any condition”. Imran Khan led a rally in Bahawalpur on Thursday, accusing the PML-N of neglecting the interests of farmers. [ET] [ET] [Dawn]

 

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Chinese Foreign Ministry Downplays CPEC Concerns Over Change in Government [Dawn]
  • Investigators Seek UK and UAE Assistance in Altaf Hussain Prosecution [Dawn]
  • North Waziristan Officials Urge Local Hiring by NGOs [ET]
  • PM Reviews Tax Reform Proposals, Including FBR ‘First Right to Buy’ [ET]
  • Pakistan Refuses to Apologize to Bangladesh Over Disputed Video [ET] [Dawn]
  • PM Touts LNG Terminals Work [ET]
  • Jamaat-e-Islami Protests Co-education [ET]
  • Jinnah’s Daughter Dina Wadia Passes Away at 98 [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]

 

Afghanistan — Security

  • Attacks and Operations: In a TOLO interview, residents of the Badakhshan district of Warduj accuse the government of lacking the will to retake control of the district, whose center the Taliban seized in fall 2015.

 

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • McMaster Proposes Shifting SRAP Role to NSC: Politico reports that National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster had proposed in September resurrecting the now-shuttered Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan office in the White House National Security Council rather than inside the State Department; former ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, former national security aide Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, and financier Stephen Feinberg are all mentioned as possible candidates for the special envoy role. Additionally, the piece includes an brief interview with Blackwater founder Erik Prince, and copies of slides used in July to advocate for his private contractor-based strategy led by a single “viceroy”.
  • Election Reforms: Members of the Mehwar-e-Mardum-e-Afghanistan party held a press conference in Kabul on Thursday, demanding the removal of all electoral commission members and the introduction of “fundamental reforms”. The party was launched in July and includes former NDS chief Rahmatullah Nabil and former National Security Advisor Rangin Dadfar Spanta as leaders, although neither appears to have participated in Thursday’s event. Separately, a spokesman for Chief Executive Abdullah said that “the unity government represents the public and it will complete its term in line with the law” and that “conditions specified by the Constitution for calling a loya jirga into session are currently not available”. [Pajhwok] [Pajhwok]

 

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Budget Planning: On Friday, spokesmen for the presidency announced that the cabinet had approved a draft budget for the 2018 fiscal year, with Afs 267.08 billion allocated for the general operational budget and Afs 90.6 billion allocated for the development budget. The budget sets an Afs 161.62 billion domestic revenue generation target.

 

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Army Prosecutors Recommend 14-Year Sentence for Bowe Bergdahl [WAPO]
  • Russian Company to Work on Paktia Dam Project [TOLO]
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Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Nawaz Returns to Pakistan to Face Court Hearings; Oil Tanker Bombing Kills 15 in Parwan

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Topline

  • Nawaz Sharif arrived in Islamabad on Thursday and was issued a summons by the National Accountability Bureau to appear before a court again on Friday. Meanwhile, the parliamentary committee debating revisions to Pakistan’s accountability laws agreed to exclude members of the military and judiciary from the NAB’s oversight.
  • At least 15 people were killed when a magnetic bomb was planted on an oil tanker in Parwan province on Wednesday; no claim of responsibility has been reported.
  • Pres. Ghani met with the UK ambassador to Pakistan on Thursday, telling him that “a proper roadmap containing specific targets and actions is needed for reconciliation with Pakistan”. Iranian and Pakistani foreign ministry officials met in Islamabad on Thursday and agreed on the need for a “credible political process owned and led by Afghanistan for an internal settlement”.
  • In an interview on Wednesday, Maryam Nawaz denied any divisions within the PML-N and dismissed earlier reports that she and Hamza Shehbaz had been directed to reduce their public profile and refrain from making official statements; she nonetheless said that “issuance of any policy statement was the sole prerogative of the party leadership”.
  • On Wednesday, the CIA released an archive of around 470,000 files seized from Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound.
  • MQM-Pakistan leader Farooq Sattar announced his party’s intentions to move ahead with a planned protest in Karachi scheduled for Nov 5, despite a lack of permission from the Sindh provincial government.

 

Pakistan — Security

  • CIA Declassifies Additional Bin Laden Files: On Wednesday, the CIA released an archive of approximately 470,000 files seized from Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound during the 2011 U.S. raid there; those include a handwritten personal journal and home videos, audio, and images. [WAPO] [Guardian] [LWJ]
  • Hafiz Saeed Detention: Attorney General for Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf Ali made closed-door arguments before the Lahore High Court on Wednesday for the continued detention of Jamaat-ud-Dawa leader Hafiz Saeed, which Saeed’s lawyers are challenging; hearings are continuing Thursday.
  • FATA Operations: Police in the Kurram Agency seized and defused a cache of landmines in the Kurram Agency on Wednesday. Another weapons cache was reportedly seized during an operation in South Waziristan.

 

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Corruption Investigations: Nawaz Sharif returned to Islamabad on Thursday; shortly after his arrival he was issued a summons to be appear before a National Accountability Bureau court tomorrow. On Thursday, the Islamabad High Court reserved judgement on Nawaz’s petition to combine the corruption cases against him into a single case. Finance Minister Dar did not return from London and missed another court hearing on Thursday; his lawyers say he is facing a heart ailment and needs treatment abroad. The court approved the seizure of Dar’s assets in Pakistan. Meanwhile, the parliamentary committee drafting a new accountability law agreed on Wednesday to exclude members of the military and judiciary from oversight; the PTI has proposed the exclusion of the prime minister and opposition party head from the NAB leadership appointment process. [ET] [Dawn] [The Nation] [The Nation] [The Nation] [The Nation] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • PML-N Divisions: In an interview on Wednesday, Maryam Nawaz denied that she had any disputes with elder party leaders and denied reports that she and Hamza Shehbaz had been directed not to make public statements, saying she had the “right to give [her] opinion”; she also said that “issuance of any policy statement was the sole prerogative of the party leadership”, however. Separately, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah denied that Shehbaz Sharif had been selected as the PML-N’s candidate for prime minister in the next general elections at Monday’s PML-N leadership meeting in London, and denied that there were any divisions within the party. [ET] [Dawn] [The Nation]
  • Other Political Activity: Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, MQM-Pakistan leader Farooq Sattar denied accusations of money laundering, and reiterated the party’s intention to hold a rally in Karachi on Nov 5 despite the Sindh government’s refusal to grant permission to the organizers. [ET] [Dawn] [The Nation]

 

Pakistan — Economics and Development

 

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Father of Ansar-ul Sharia Pakistan Leader Petitions SHC Over Son’s “Extra-Judicial Killing” [ET]
  • 16 Arrested in Punjab Operations [The Nation]
  • India Returns 13 Pakistani Prisoners [Dawn] [ET]
  • Ride-Sharing Apps Free Pakistani Women from Abuse, if They Can Pay [NYT]
  • Pakistan Dumps $21B Worth of Water in the Sea Each Year Due to Lack of Storage Systems [Dawn]

 

Afghanistan — Security

  • Tanker Explosion in Parwan: At least 15 people were killed and 27 wounded when two fuel tankers were destroyed with a magnetic bomb in Parwan province’s capital of Charikar on Wednesday. No immediate claim of responsibility was reported; Pres. Ghani has ordered an investigation into the incident. [TOLO] [Khaama Press] [Pajhwok]
  • Other Attacks and Operations: An Afghan Local Police commander from Kunduz was wounded in a bombing in the Khulm district in Balkh province on Wednesday; district police officials report that a magnetic bomb was planted on his vehicle. A roadside bombing in Ghazni wounded two police officers and a girl on Thursday.

 

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Regional Diplomacy: Pres. Ghani met with the British ambassador to Pakistan, Thomas Drew, in Kabul on Thursday; his office quoted him saying that “a proper roadmap containing specific targets and actions is needed for reconciliation with Pakistan”. The Iranian and Pakistani directors general for Afghanistan in the ministry of foreign affairs met in Islamabad on Wednesday and called for a “credible political process owned and led by Afghanistan for an internal settlement”. Speaking in the Pakistani senate on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif reiterated his remarks that U.S. policy in Afghanistan was “ineffective because it was influenced by generals who have been frustrated in the Afghan war” and called on the State Department to “take greater control of the American policy instead of relying on President Trump’s rejected approach to this problem.” Separately, a spokesman for JUI-S leader Sami-ul Haq insisted that peace in Afghanistan would not be possible without the withdrawal of U.S. forces. [ET]

 

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Demonstration Held to Protest Wolesi Jirga Vote on National ID Cards [Pajhwok]
  • Ministry of Communications and IT Accused of Breaking Government Recruitment Protocols [TOLO]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Shehbaz to Head PML-N Ticket in Next Elections; Suicide Bomber Targets Kabul Embassy Quarter

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Topline

  • Monday’s meeting of senior PML-N leaders reportedly reached an agreement that Shehbaz Sharif will be the party’s candidate for prime minister in the next general elections, and to reduce the profiles of Maryam Nawaz and Hamza Shehbaz.
  • A teenage suicide bomber detonated explosives in the Kabul diplomatic quarter on Tuesday, killing nine people and wounding more than twenty, all of them reported to be Afghan civilian bystanders; the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.
  • Pakistani parliamentary leaders met on Tuesday and agreed to keep the total number of directly-elected national assembly seats unchanged at 272; Punjab will cede nine seats (included two indirectly-elected reserved seats) to account for population shifts. Legislation is planned for this week in order to meet an Election Commission deadline. PTI vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi participated in the negotiations and indicated afterwards that the party had withdrawn its call for early elections.
  • Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor visited Ismail Khan in Herat on Tuesday and called for the formation of an interim government and the dissolution and reappointment of the Independent Election Commission.
  • Despite a Wolesi Jirga vote on Monday, officials in the Population Registration Office say they plan to move ahead with issuing national ID cards that include “nationality” and “ethnicity” categories.
  • Russian national security advisor Nikolay Patrushev visited Kabul on Tuesday and met with Pres. Ghani and National Security Advisor Atmar.
  • The head of Pakistan’s Atomic Energy Commission told Reuters that Pakistan was seeking to finalize a contract for a new 1,100-megawatt nuclear reactor by the end of the year, and is planning for the construction of another three or four reactors by 2030.

 

Pakistan — Security

  • US Relations: Speaking before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday evening, Sec. Tillerson said that the U.S. was “going to enter into an effort to have greater sharing of certain intelligence information” with Pakistan in order to test Pakistani claims that “if we provide them information they will act”. Tillerson also said that “Pakistan will find it in their interests to begin to disassociate these long-standing relationships that have developed over time with certain terrorist organisations”. In a separate VOA interview, Pakistani military spokesman Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor said that Chief of Army Staff Bajwa had told Tillerson in their meeting that “cooperation will take us forward; confrontation or coercion will not.” Pakistani senators criticized the U.S. policy in the region in debate on Tuesday. VOA Urdu reported that Pakistan returned five helicopters provided by the U.S. for counternarcotics operations under a “return or buy agreement”. The Pakistan Navy has ordered two 75m Swift Corvettes from the Louisiana-based Swiftships.
  • Army Planning Malakand Withdrawal: The Express Tribune reports that the Khyber Paktunkhwa provincial apex committee will meet on Wednesday to discuss the withdrawal of military forces deployed in the Malakand division, which includes the Swat district, and transfer of control over to civilian police forces.
  • Women Arrested in Chaman: Three women were arrested in Chaman on Monday after crossing the border with Afghanistan; provincial government officials said they had crossed illegally and had links to unspecified banned militant organizations. Baloch activists identified the women as the wife and children of Allah Nazar, the head of the Balochistan Liberation Front.

 

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Shehbaz Reportedly Tapped as Next PM Candidate: PML-N leaders meeting in London on Monday reportedly agreed that Shehbaz Sharif would be the party’s candidate for prime minister in the next elections assuming Nawaz Sharif remains ineligible for office. Geo reported that party leaders also agreed to reduce the profile of Maryam Nawaz and Hamza Shehbaz. [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Election Preparations: A meeting of parliamentary party leaders on Tuesday agreed to keep the number of national assembly constituencies unchanged at 272 but to reduce the number of seats from Punjab by nine (seven directly elected and two reserved) to account for population shifts, with Khyber Paktunkhwa, Balochistan, and Islamabad gaining five, three, and one seats respectively. National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq told reporters that legislation on the issue would be passed this week in order to meet Election Commission deadlines. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, PTI vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that the party had withdrawn its call for early elections. [Dawn] [The Nation] [The Nation]
  • Corruption Investigations: Former Sindh information minister Sharjeel Memon visited the Sindh assembly on Wednesday to take part in a debate that denounced his arrest by the National Accountability Bureau despite having received bail, accusing the NAB of a “double standard”. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, PPP leader Aitzaz Ahsan called on the NAB to place travel restrictions on Nawaz Sharif. On Wednesday, the NAB summoned Finance Minister Dar and his sons to submit asset details; Dar is currently in London. The NAB has also reopened investigations against PML-Q leaders Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Pervaiz Elahi, and has summoned them for questioning on Nov 6. [ET] [ET] [Dawn]
  • Other Political Activity: A small group of Tehreek Labaik Ya Rasool Allah protesters continue to block Jinnah Avenue in Islamabad with a sit-in despite earlier police warnings to disperse. PTI leaders in Khyber Paktunkhwa’s Hazara division denied reports of a possible electoral alliance with the PPP. The ‘Independent Group’ led by prominent lawyer Asma Jahangir won annual elections for the leadership of the Supreme Court Bar Association; Pir Kaleem Khursheed will be the new association president. [Dawn]

 

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • New Nuclear Plants Planned: Muhammad Naeem, the chairman of Pakistan’s Atomic Energy Commission, tells Reuters that work on two new nuclear reactors at the Karachi complex is 60 and 40 percent complete, and that they will come on line by 2020 and 2021. He said that contracts for another new reactor with a 1,100 megawatt capacity would be completed by the end of the year, and that Pakistan was seeking to build another three to four reactors by 2030 to reach a capacity of 8,800 megawatts by that time.

 

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Relocation of Karachi Central Prison Detainees Stalls [Dawn]
  • Two Police Officers Killed in Charsadda Raid [ET]
  • Additional Charges Filed Against MQM Leader Altaf Hussain [ET]
  • Bangladesh Protests Video on Pakistani Embassy Website [Dawn]
  • London Arbitration Court Orders Rs 14 Billion in Payments to Independent Power Producers [Dawn]
  • PM Abbasi Orders Review of Arms Licensing [The Nation]
  • Army-Sponsored Motor Rally Concludes in Quetta [Dawn] [ET]

 

Afghanistan — Security

  • Kabul Bombing: A teenage suicide bomber detonated his explosives inside the Kabul diplomatic neighborhood of Wazir Akbar Khan on Tuesday; at least seven people were killed and twenty or more injured in the blast, all of them Afghan civilians. Hospital officials reported Wednesday that nine people had been killed. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack through its Amaq News agency; the exact intended target of the bombing, which took place near several embassies and government offices, is unclear. Pres. Ghani has ordered an investigation into the attack. Separately, Kabul police seized a magnetic bomb; no arrest was reported. [WSJ] [AP] [Reuters] [Khaama Press]

 

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Noor Calls for IEC Dissolution, Interim Government: Speaking to supporters in Herat on Tuesday alongside Ismail Khan, Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor called for the dissolution and reappointment of the Independent Election Commission and introduction of “fundamental reforms”, and also called for the formation of an “interim government” between now and the next elections. Khan said that the unity government had been “imposed on the Afghan people” and warned of “massive fraud”. Separately, Hezb-e-Islami spokesman Amin Karim called for the formation of a “general council” to oversee the election process; a spokesman for Pres. Ghani said that the government “has the motivation to hold elections on time and transparently and will do all it can to hold the election”. A spokesman for the finance ministry said they were still waiting for a final budget request from the IEC. [Khaama Press]
  • National ID Cards: Despite the Wolesi Jirga vote on Monday rejecting Pres. Ghani’s executive decree amending the national population registration law, officials with the Population Registration Office say they will move ahead on plans to issue national ID cards that include ethnicity and nationality categories. Senators in the Meshrano Jirga criticized the lower house’s vote during debate on Tuesday, but did not vote on the issue. [Ariana News]
  • Russian Advisor Visits: Pres. Ghani met with Nikolay Patrushev, the Russian national security advisor, on Tuesday; Patrushev also met with Afghan National Security Advisor Hanif Atmar. Ghani’s office said that he emphasized “a stable Afghanistan is for the interest of the region and the Afghan government is committed to create an environment of cooperation in the region”. A delegation from the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry visited separately on Monday to discuss investment opportunities. [TOLO]

 

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • High Peace Council Delegation Meets with Hezb-e-Islami Representatives [Pajhwok]
  • ADB to Provide $887M in Poverty Reduction Grants Through 2020 [Pajhwok] [TOLO]
  • Bergdahl Provided ‘Gold Mine’ of Intelligence During Debriefing, Experts Testify [WAPO]
  • Interior Ministry Reports Rise in Human Trafficking Arrests [TOLO] [Pajhwok]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: PML-N Leaders Affirm Nawaz Leadership; Pentagon Classifying ANSF Data

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Topline

  • Following party leadership meetings in London, Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif, and PM Abbasi all insisted that the PML-N would continue under Nawaz’s leadership, and denied that there were any divisions in the party. Former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan indirectly criticized Nawaz in separate remarks to reporters, saying that his “personal interests are being prioritised over the party”.
  • Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction John Sopko tells the NYT that the Pentagon is classifying previously-released data on the size and casualties faced by the Afghan army and police.
  • Three Levies personnel were injured in a roadside bombing in Bajaur on Tuesday while providing security for a polio vaccination team.
  • The Sindh provincial government petitioned the Supreme Court on Monday to overturn a Sindh High Court ruling on the appointment of police chief A.D. Khawaja.
  • In a vote on Monday, the Wolesi Jirga rejected Pres. Ghani’s March 2016 decree amending Afghanistan’s population registration law to include ethnicity as a category.
  • The Kazakhstan Minister of Defense and Aerospace Industry met with Pres. Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah on Monday, offering defense in the security sector and satellite monitoring.

 

Pakistan — Security

  • Bajaur Bombing Targets Polio Team: Three paramilitary Levies personnel were injured when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb while on patrol to provide security for a polio vaccination campaign currently underway in the Bajaur Agency on Tuesday; no claim of responsibility has been reported. [Dawn]
  • Sindh Police Chief Appointment: On Monday, the Sindh provincial government petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn the Sindh High Court’s verdict overruling the government’s removal from office of provincial police chief A.D. Khawaja.
  • Afghan Border Crossing: The military-run National Logistics Cell has submitted the sole bid for construction of new border crossing facilities at Torkham and Chaman, quoting a price of $480 million, against initial cost estimates of $168 million. The Asian Development Bank has provided a $250 million loan to support the project.
  • Tensions with India: The Pakistani and Indian Directors General for Military Operations spoke by hotline on Monday; the Pakistani military said that Pakistan had protested the “deliberate targeting of innocent civilians, including children” by Indian forces along the Line of Control. Separately, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry signaled that it would extend a block on UN sanctions sought by India against Maulana Masood Azhar, citing a “lack of consensus”.
  • Iranian Ambassador Meets Army Chief: Iran’s ambassador to Pakistan Mehdi Honardost met with Chief of Army Staff Bajwa on Tuesday to discuss regional security and border management, the military reported; details of their conversation were not reported. [Dawn] [The Nation]
  • Foreign Ministry Confirms Death of Two Chinese Nationals: On Monday, Pakistan’s foreign ministry confirmed the deaths of two Chinese nationals who were abducted from Quetta in May and reported deadly found dead shortly afterwards, an attack that was claimed by the Islamic State. [The Nation]

 

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • PML-N Leaders Deny Divisions: Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif, and PM Abbasi met in London on Monday and afterwards together told reporters that they would not accept Nawaz’s removal as leader of the PML-N, denying any divisions within the party; Nawaz also reiterated criticisms of the Panama Papers case that led to his disqualification from office, but said he would return to Pakistan in time for court hearings on Nov 3. The Express Tribune reports that the meeting took place at Abbasi’s request in an effort to mediate tensions between the two Sharif brothers. Speaking to reporters separately on Monday in Islamabad, former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan indirectly criticized Nawaz, saying that the “overwhelming majority of the party does not want a confrontation” and that “personal interests are being prioritised over the party”. In comments on Tuesday, Imran Khan denounced the PML-N meeting in London, saying that Nawaz was “desperate for NRO to avoid conviction on money laundering and save his Rs300 billion stashed abroad from being frozen”. [The Nation] [The Nation] [The Nation] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Corruption Investigations: On Tuesday, an Islamabad accountability court ordered the Securities and Exchange Commission to provide a record of shares held by Nawaz Sharif’s sons Hussain and Hassan and for those to be frozen while they remain under investigation; prosecutors also submitted asset records for the two brothers. Separately, National Accountability Bureau chief Javed Iqbal pledged to review the arrests of PPP leaders Asim Hussain and Sharjeel Memon in response to criticism from PPP leaders. [ET]
  • Islamabad Demonstrations: Islamabad city officials issued a warning on Monday to protestors affiliated with the Tehreek-e-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah ordering them to immediately disperse their ongoing sit-in on Jinnah Avenue.
  • Other Political Activity: National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq has called a meeting of parliamentary party leaders on Tuesday to discuss proposals for the delimitation of new constituency boundaries using provisional census data. The National Party has petitioned the Supreme Court against party registration requirements in the new electoral law that require a minimum of 2,000 registered supporters. In a Dawn interview, Karachi deputy mayor Arshad Vohra predicted that several more members of the MQM-Pakistan would join him in switching affiliations to the Pak Sarzameen Party. [Dawn] [Dawn]

 

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Exxon Pulls Out of LNG Terminal Project [Reuters]
  • Rawalpindi Corps Commander Appointed Head of ‘Mujahid Force’ Regiment [ET] [The Nation]
  • Sindh High Court Orders Investigation into Police ‘Encounter’ [ET]
  • Religious Affairs Minister Vows No Changes to Blasphemy Laws [Dawn]
  • Son of Sindh United Party Leader Found Dead Under Mysterious Circumstances [Dawn]
  • Man Sentenced to 14 Years for Acid Attack on Two Women [Dawn]
  • USAID Contributes $214M to Education, Health and Municipal Services in Sindh [Dawn]

 

Afghanistan — Security

  • Military Classifies ANSF Data: Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction John Sopko tells the NYT that the Pentagon has classified previously-public data on the size of the Afghan army and police forces, their equipment readiness, and their casualties; a spokesman for the U.S. forces in Afghanistan suggested that the action had been taken at the request of the Afghan government. The newest SIGAR quarterly report was released Tuesday.
  • Attacks and Operations: Speaking at Monday’s council of ministers meeting, Chief Executive Abdullah suggested that the government would have to consider the “indefinite” presence of foreign troops in the country as long as insurgent violence continued. The Guardian interviews a Taliban commander in Logar, who vows that additional U.S. troop deployments in Afghanistan “will not change the morale of our mujahedeen”, adding that “if the US changes its tactics of fighting, so do we.” In a TOLO interview, police officers in Kunduz complain of inadequate food rations. Khost provincial police officials claim that 35 Taliban fighters were killed in a special forces operation in the Nadershah Kot district on Monday evening. The NDS announced the arrest of three would-be suicide bombers in Jalalabad on Tuesday; provincial officials separately reported the seizure of an improvised explosive in a Jalalabad mosque on Tuesday. [Khaama Press] [Khaama Press]

 

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Wolesi Jirga Overturns Ghani Decree on Population Law: In a vote on Monday, the Wolesi Jirga rejected a March 2016 executive decree by Pres. Ghani amending the Population Registration Law to include “nationality” and “ethnicity” categories. [TOLO]
  • Kazakh Assistance: Beibut Atamkulov, the Kazakhstan Minister of Defense and Aerospace Industry, met with Chief Executive Abdullah on Monday and offered to cooperate in business, on energy development, on building of a railway line, and in the military and security [sector]”, Abdullah’s office announced. Atamkulov also met with Pres. Ghani; a presidential spokesman said that he had offered additional cooperation on satellite technology.
  • Taliban Talks: Pres. Ghani met with UN Sanctions Committee chief Kairat Umarov on Monday, telling him the Afghan government was open to negotiations with Pakistan and the Taliban. Speaking to a group of tribal elders in Nangarhar on Monday, High Peace Council secretary Akram Khpalwak said that “all regional and international partners except Pakistan” had given their support for peace and stability in Afghanistan.

 

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Additional Reporting on Taliban Warning on Kevin King Health [Guardian] [WSJ]
  • Kuchi Representatives Meet in Mazar-e-Sharif [TOLO]
  • Northern Officials Refuse to Register Assets [Pajhwok]
  • Railway Line Linking Uzbekistan and Iran Proposed [TOLO]
  • Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Officials Tout Chabahar Port as Karachi Alternative [TOLO]
  • National Procurement Commission Approves Afs 3.3 Billion in New Power Project Contracts [Khaama Press]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: PML-N Leaders Meet Again in London; US Servicemember Killed in Logar Helicopter Crash

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Topline

  • Top PML-N leaders, including Nawaz and Shehbaz Sharif and PM Abbasi, traveled to London on Monday to discuss the party’s strategy; anonymous accounts continue to report tension between Nawaz and Shehbaz over the former’s response to his disqualification, and the elevation of Maryam Nawaz as a potential successor. In a NYT profile, Maryam acknowledged that “people around me tell me I was meant for a certain role”, but subsequently denied that anyone but her father would lead the party.
  • A U.S. special operations soldier was killed and six others wounded when their helicopter crashed in Logar province on Friday; the Resolute Support mission said that the crash was not connected to insurgent activity, although the Taliban claimed to have shot down the helicopter.
  • The deputy governor of Kunar province was reportedly kidnapped in Peshawar on Friday; the Taliban denied involvement.
  • On Monday, the Taliban issued a statement warning that Kevin King, an American University of Afghanistan professor kidnapped last year, was in deteriorating health; the university called for his immediate release.
  • The NYT reports that the total value of Afghanistan’s opium economy roughly doubled in 2016, to as much as $3 billion, and that as much as half of the country’s opium poppy is now being processed into morphine or heroin in-country, boosting the share of revenue captured by the Taliban or other actors controlling production.
  • Speaking to reporters on Friday, acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice Wells said that “it’s up to [Pakistan] whether or not they want to work with us, and if they don’t … then we’ll adjust accordingly.”
  • Blackwater founder Erik Prince is continuing to pitch his proposal for the deployment of private military contractors to provide security and partner with Afghan security forces, Reuters reports.
  • The Sindh provincial cabinet met on Saturday to review a proposal regarding the appointment and transfer of police officials by the provincial police chief; that proposal was rejected and the cabinet reportedly decided to again seek the removal of current police chief A.D. Khawaja.
  • Karachi deputy mayor Arshad Vohra announced Sunday that he was quitting the MQM-Pakistan to join the Pakistan Sarzameen Party; MQM-P leader Farooq Sattar subsequently announced a rally in Karachi on Nov 5, but did not follow through on earlier threats that the party would resign in mass if more of its members were “forced” to switch affiliations.
  • In remarks on Sunday, Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor indicated he was “willing to nominate myself for the presidential election”. Separately, Independent Election Commission officials said Monday that next year’s scheduled parliamentary elections would have to be held using paper ballots and without a new digital voter roll.
  • The Election Commission of Pakistan met on Friday and set a seven-day deadline for the government to finalize legislation governing the use of provisional census data to redraw constituency boundaries ahead of the next general elections.
  • On Sunday, India announced that the first shipment of wheat from India through the Chabahar port in Iran to Afghanistan had been inaugurated; at least six more shipments are planned.

 

Pakistan — Security

  • Sindh Police Appointments: A meeting of the Sindh provincial cabinet on Saturday decided to again seek the removal of police chief A.D. Khawaja and the appointment of Sardar Abdul Majeed Dasti as his replacement, Dawn reports. Khawaja attended the meeting and presented proposals for set tenures for police officials and for appointments and transfers to be determined by the police chief, which the home minister rejected. Separately, Sindh police are planning the creation of two more special protection units dedicated to providing security at CPEC-related projects. [ET] [Dawn]
  • Former Aid to Dissident PTI MP Killed: Noor Zaman, a former personal secretary to dissident PTI national assembly member Ayesha Gulalai, was killed in a driveby shooting in Lakki Marwat on Sunday; no claim of responsibility has been reported, but his surviving family members accused members of a rival tribe. Zaman had filed corruption charges against Gulalai after her public accusations against Imran Khan of harassment. [Dawn]
  • Tensions with India: On Friday, Pakistani military spokesmen claimed that an Indian quadcopter drone was shot down along the Line of Control border in Kashmir. India has not commented on the report. Separately, Pakistan’s foreign ministry issued a statement objecting to the sale of any unarmed U.S. surveillance drones to India, as agreed to earlier this year. On Sunday, Pakistan freed 68 Indian fishermen detained on charges of violating Pakistan’s territorial waters. [AP] [ET] [ET]
  • Journalist Attacked: On Saturday, the interior ministry announced that an investigation had been ordered into Friday’s attack on journalist Ahmed Noorani; the Pakistani military spokesman issued a statement condemning the attack.
  • Train Bombing: At least six people were injured when a bomb derailed a Lahore-bound train in Balochistan Boland district on Friday; no claim of responsibility has been reported. [Dawn] [Reuters]

 

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • PML-N Divisions: The NYT interviewed Maryam Nawaz for a Saturday profile, in which she rejected corruption charges against herself and her father, and dismissed reports of divisions within the PML-N. Responding to a question about whether she saw herself as a future prime minister, she was quoted saying that “people around me tell me I was meant for a certain role”; she subsequently denied comments that appeared in the piece, not directly quoted, that “it was her family’s decision that she take the party’s reins”, insisting that her father remain the party’s leader. Speaking at a gathering on Saturday, former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan denied that he was seeking to lead the formation of a “forward bloc” within the party. The Express Tribune notes that Shehbaz Sharif has met with party leaders from Sindh, FATA, and Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir in the past week; anonymous party sources report that he and Nawaz Sharif remain split. A separate report indicates that both Nawaz and Shehbaz are due to return to London on Sunday, and will later return to Pakistan in time for Nawaz’s court hearing scheduled for Nov 3. Speaking to reporters upon his arrival on Sunday, Shehbaz said that “elections will be held on time and there are no differences in the party or family”; Dawn reports that some members of the PML-N leadership are seeking to press Nawaz to “adopt a more pragmatic approach” at least until senate elections next March. PM Abbasi is also in London for the meeting, and told reporters that there was “no rift among national institutions”. Finance Minister Dar is also in London, and missed court hearings scheduled for Monday, which his lawyers unsuccessfully sought to delay; bailable arrest warrants were issued by the court and a Nov 2 deadline set for his appearance. [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [The Nation] [The Nation] [The Nation]
  • US Relations: Speaking to reporters on Friday, acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia Alice Wells said that the U.S. was looking for signs of Pakistani cooperation on regional counterterrorism concerns “over the next few weeks and months”, saying that “it’s up to them whether or not they want to work with us, and if they don’t … then we’ll adjust accordingly.” Anonymous Pakistani diplomatic sources tell The Nation that Pakistan had told the U.S. not to impose “Indian demands” upon it. Meanwhile, Dawn reports that at least six U.S. senators have called for Pakistan’s designation as a “country of particular concern” over violations of religious freedom. Separately, a spokesman for Pres. Ghani said that the U.S. list of militants presented to Taliban was “similar to” a previous list presented by the Afghan government. In an interview with Russia Today, former Pakistani ISI chief Lt. Gen. Asad Durrani suggested that Pakistan, Iran, Russia, China, and Turkey were forming a “regional alliance” and “have started handling the foreign presence in Afghanistan in a coordinated manner”. [Dawn] [ET]
  • MQM Under Pressure: An MQM-Pakistan delegation met with Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Friday to discuss complaints over the arrest of party activists and the delayed return of party offices seized and sealed by the Sindh Rangers. On Sunday, Karachi deputy mayor Arshad Vohra announced that he was quitting the MQM-P to join the Pak Sarzameen Party. MQM-P leader Farooq Sattar subsequently announced plans to hold a protest rally in Karachi on Nov 5; last week, he had threatened mass resignations by the party if its legislators were “forced” to change affiliations, but the Express Tribune reports the party will instead seek to raise the issue again with PM Abbasi. New charges were filed on Saturday against Sattar and other party leaders in connection to remarks last August by MQM leader-in-exile Altaf Hussain. Separately, former MQM leader Hammad Siddiqui was reportedly arrested in the UAE on Friday in connection to the 2012 Baldia factory fire. [ET] [ET] [ET] [Dawn]
  • Elections and Other Political Activity: At a meeting on Friday, Election Commission officials set a seven-day deadline for the government to pass legislation and provide data to start a process of constituency delimitation based on new provisional census information. PML-N and ANP officials accused the PTI of rigging the results of the NA-4 Peshawar by-election; the Jamaat-e-Islami’s Peshawar president resigned following the party’s sixth-place finish. Imran Khan touted the PTI’s win while speaking at a rally in Upper Dir on Friday; he also headlined rallies in Mianwali on Saturday and Mandi Bahauddin on Sunday. ANP president Asfandyar Wali Khan led a rally in Balochistan’s Pishin district on Friday, pledging to “establish a Pashtun province comprising southern and northern Pashtun areas” following FATA’s merger with Khyber Paktunkhwa. [ET] [The Nation] [The Nation] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]

 

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Energy Production: PM Abbasi chaired a meeting on Friday to review power generation and demand, at which he ordered the “gradual retirement” or conversion of older power plants. Officials projected a 2,400-3,400 megawatt power surplus over the next three months. Separately, the Thar Coal Block II project is slated to begin electricity production by June 2019, with around 50% of the work on the project now reported to be completed. [The Nation] [Dawn]

 

Pakistan — Remainders

  • PML-N Lawyers Argue Mistakes in Asset Declarations Can’t Be Forgiven in Imran Khan Disqualification Petition Arguments [Dawn]
  • Newspaper Body Calls on Government to Restore Distribution in Balochistan [Dawn]
  • Two Militants Killed in Attack on Khyber Militia Checkpost [ET] [Dawn]
  • Frontier Corps Soldiers Killed in South Waziristan Bombing [Dawn]
  • Pakistan Seeking Credit Line from Turkey for T129 Helicopter Parts [The Nation]
  • Police Defuse Bomb Near Peshawar Madrassa [ET]
  • Pakistan Air Force Conducts ‘Counter-Terrorism Air Exercise’ with Turkish and Saudi Air Forces [Dawn]
  • “Safe Cities” CCTV Network to Be Set Up in Pakistan Ordinance Factory Complexes [Dawn]
  • Senate Seeks Answers for Forced Repatriation of Turkish Teachers [Dawn]
  • Rahim Yar Khan Man Sentenced to Life Imprisonment on Blasphemy Charges [Dawn]
  • State Bank May Step in as Pressure Continues on Rupee [ET]
  • New Bailout Package for PIA Under Consideration [Dawn]
  • Khyber Paktunkhwa Reports 561 Schools Reopened Since 2013 [ET]

 

Afghanistan — Security

  • Helicopter Crash Kills US Servicemember: A U.S. soldier was killed and six others were wounded when their helicopter crashed in Logar province on Friday; NATO’s Resolute Support mission said that the crash was not the result of enemy activity and that an investigation was under way. The Taliban issued a claim to have shot down the aircraft in a statement on Saturday. On Sunday, the Pentagon identified the soldier as Chief Warrant Officer Jacob Sims of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. [Reuters] [TOLO] [Khaama Press]
  • Kunar Deputy Governor Kidnapped in Peshawar: Mohammad Nabi Ahmadi, the deputy governor of Kunar province, was kidnapped in Peshawar on Friday; a spokesman for the provincial government said that the had gone on leave for medical treatment. The AP notes that Ahmadi is affiliated with Hezb-e-Islami. A spokesman for the Taliban denied involvement in the incident; no claim of responsibility has been reported. [Pajhwok] [Khaama Press] [Dawn] [ET]
  • Taliban Report Hostage in Poor Health: In a statement on Monday, the Taliban said that Kevin King, an American University of Afghanistan professor taken hostage last year, is seriously ill and in need of urgent medical attention, reporting that he was sometimes losing consciousness. The university responded with a statement calling for King’s immediate release. [Khaama Press] [AP]
  • US Strategy: Reuters reports that Blackwater founder Erik Prince is continued to present his proposal for the use of private security contractors in Afghanistan operating under a single “viceroy” official to the CIA and the Trump administration; the CIA declined to comment.
  • Abdullah Calls for Sanctions on Taliban: Kairat Umarov, the head of the UN monitoring committee overseeing sanctions on Al Qaeda and the Taliban, met with Chief Executive Abdullah in Kabul on Sunday; Abdullah issued a statement calling for the imposition of sanctions on individual Taliban leaders, including chief Haibatullah Akhunzada. [Ariana News]
  • Sectarian Violence: Speaking on Friday, second deputy to the chief executive Mohammad Mohaqiq denounced recent attacks on Shia mosques and called on the government to ensure security at mosques.
  • Attacks and Operations: At least nine Afghan police officers were killed in separate attacks on multiple checkposts in Ghazni province on Saturday. An attack on a police checkpost in Kunduz’s Khanabad district on Sunday killed at least thirteen police officers; Taliban fighters reportedly seized equipment and a Humvee. At least six police officers were killed in attacks on multiple checkposts in Zabul province on Sunday. Rival Taliban and ISIS fighters reportedly clashed in the Khogyani district in Nangarhar province on Saturday, leaving at least eight dead; on Monday, Nangarhar military officials reported that another ten ISIS and Taliban fighters had been killed in continued infighting. [AP] [AP] [Pajhwok] [TOLO] [TOLO] [TOLO] [Khaama Press] [Buzzfeed]

 

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Noor Signals Interest in Presidential Campaign: Speaking on Sunday, Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor reiterated criticism of the national unity government and said that he had rejected earlier offers of a ministerial appointment or leadership of the national procurement commission, adding that he was “willing to nominate myself for the presidential election”. [TOLO] [Khaama Press]
  • Election Preparations: Independent Election Commission deputy operations head Wasima Badghisi tells TOLO that the IEC will not be able to produce a digital voter list and that a paper ballot election is the “only option” for next year’s scheduled parliamentary and district elections.
  • Tensions with Pakistan: Speaking on Saturday, Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan Zahid Nasrullah Khan downplayed concerns over India-Afghanistan cooperation, saying that “our concern is to address our bilateral issues [between Afghanistan and Pakistan] because our relationship is extremely important”. Separately, trade union officials in the Kurram agency protested the continued closure of the border crossing with Afghanistan. [Khaama Press]
  • Kandahar Airport Commander Arrested: Col. Obaidullah Barakzai, the Kandahar airport commander, was arrested on charges of currency smuggling on Friday, Afghan border police officials announced.

 

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Heroin Production: The NYT reports that as much as half of Afghanistan’s opium production is now being processed in-country into either morphine or some form of heroin, allowing for easier smuggling and boosting profits for the Taliban and other actors who control the trade. In a statement, the Taliban denied involvement in the processing. The total opium economy doubled in value to around $3 billion in 2016, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
  • Indian Trade: On Sunday, India’s External Affairs Ministry announced that the first shipment of 1.1 million tons of wheat from India to Afghanistan through the Iranian port of Chabahar had been inaugurated; six more shipments are planned. On Saturday, Afghan officials announced that 981 tons of fresh and dried fruit had been exported by air cargo to India since mid-June.

 

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Senate Debate Ends in Brawl [TOLO] [Pajhwok]
  • 35 Health Facilities Remain Closed in Uruzgan [TOLO]
  • $250M Set Aside to Help Empower Women in Business [TOLO]
  • Cases of 1,850 Pul-e-Charki Inmates Remain Undecided [Pajhwok]
  • Government Plans Construction of Dams on Harirod River [TOLO]
  • Licenses of 817 Drug-Importing Companies Suspended [Pajhwok]
  • Minsitry of Urban Development Reports 21,000 Housing Units Built in Last Three Years [Khaama Press]
  • Commentary: Putting Peace Out of Reach – “Before senior officials on the National Security Council or at the Departments of State and Defense sign off on recommending Trump close the Doha office, they should consider the problems a closure would create.” [Sameer Lalwani and Stephen Tankel, US News and World Report]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Journalists Attacked in Islamabad and Turbat; ECC Deputy Protests Staff Firings

Topline
  • A reporter for The News was attacked by assailants with knives in Islamabad on Friday; he was hospitalized but is reported to be conscious and in stable condition. Separately, a grenade attack on a newspaper office in the Turbat district wounded eight people.
  • In a Washington Post interview, PM Abbasi suggested that talks with Sec. Tillerson earlier this week had “helped [the US] appreciate our point of view”; speaking in Geneva on Thursday, Tillerson said that the U.S. had made “specific asks” for Pakistani cooperation but “we’re not demanding anything”.
  • Afghanistan Electoral Complaints Commission deputy head Humaira Haqmal reiterated criticisms over the firing of five ECC staff last week, calling for an investigation by the Attorney General’s office.
  • The PTI retained its hold over the NA-4 Peshawar by-elections; women’s participation in the polls was reportedly low.
  • The Federal Investigation Agency indicted former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Zafar Hijazi on Friday on charges of tampering with records related to Sharif family businesses during the Panama Papers investigation.
  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters after a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council on Thursday that NATO officials had urged Russia to support the Afghan national unity government, and that “our analyses differ considerably but we all share the same interest in ensuring security and stability in Afghanistan”.
Pakistan — Security

  • Attacks on Journalists: Ahmed Noorani, a reporter for The News who had covered the Panama Papers case, was attacked by assailants wielding knives in Islamabad on Friday; he and his driver are reported to have suffered head injuries but were hospitalized and reported to be conscious and in stable condition. In Balochistan, a grenade attack on a newspaper agency office in the Turbat district wounded at least eight people, including a police officer; newspaper delivery had been suspended in Quetta earlier this week after reported threats by separatist militant groups against the press. [AP] [The Nation]
  • ANP Leader Killed in Balochistan: A local ANP leader in Balochistan’s Harnai district, Abdur Razzaq, and his brother were killed in an explosion while traveled to Pishin on Friday; district officials indicated that a bomb may have been planted in their car. No claim of responsibility has been reported. [Dawn] [The Nation] [AP]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • US Relations: Speaking before the national assembly foreign affairs committee on Thursday, Foreign Minister Asif reiterated criticism of the U.S. effort in Afghanistan, but acknowledged that “the US still feels Pakistan is using the Taliban against it in Afghanistan”. In a Washington Post interview, PM Abbasi insisted that his meeting with Sec. Tillerson earlier this week “helped [the US] appreciate our point of view”, saying that “Pakistan is not a problem for Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a problem for us.” Speaking in Geneva in Thursday, Tillerson said that the U.S. had provided “specific asks” to Pakistan on cooperation, without providing further details, but said “we’re not demanding anything”. Speaking at a press briefing on Thursday, China’s foreign ministry said that “Pakistan has made important contributions to world peace and maintaining regional stability” and “the international community should recognise efforts made by Pakistan in counter-terrorism”. [ET] [The Nation]
  • NA-4 Elections: Unofficial results from Thursday’s by-election in the NA-4 Peshawar constituency indicate that the PTI retained the seat, with its candidate Arbab Amir securing around 45,700 votes; the ANP and PML-N were roughly tied for second place, followed by the PPP. Turnout of registered voters was reported to be low, although press reports suggest higher participation in urban areas; the observer group FAFEN reported that fewer than 14% of women registered to vote participated in the polls. [The Nation] [Dawn]
  • Corruption Investigations: A Federal Investigation Agency court indicted former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Zafar Hijazi on Friday for the alleged tampering of records related to investigations against Nawaz Sharif and the Sharif family’s Chaudhry Sugar Mills business. He pled not guilty; hearings have been set for Nov 10. Speaking after a court appearance on Thursday, Maryam Nawaz insisted that her father was innocent of corruption charges, and said accountability laws were being applied selectively to target the Sharif family. Separately, National Accountability Bureau chairman Javed Iqbal defended the NAB’s arrest of former Sindh information minister Sharjeel Memon. The NAB is also reported to have sought restrictions by the interior ministry on National Bank of Pakistan president Saeed Ahmad’s travel outside Pakistan. [ET] [The Nation] [The Nation] [ET]
  • Religious Parties Rally in Islamabad: A few hundred activists led by the Sunni Tehreek held a rally in Islamabad on Thursday, marching down the Islamabad Expressway and giving speeches at China Chowk.
  • Other Political Activity: Speaking at a convention on Thursday in Lahore, Imran Khan unveiled the PTI’s manifesto for the next general elections, pledging to address poverty and “introduce economic justice and social justice”. Speaking to supporters in Dubai on Thursday, former Pres. Musharraf called for the formation of a “national government” of technocrats. Speaking to PPP supporters in Lahore on Thursday, former Pres. Zardari criticized both PML-N and PTI rivals. [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [The Nation]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • PM Defends LNG Contract: Speaking in the senate on Thursday, PM Abbasi defended the negotiation of the Qatari liquefied natural gas import agreement, which he led as petroleum minister, saying that Pakistan had obtained some of the cheapest prices in the world for the deal.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Government Revives Plan to Relocate GHQ from Rawalpindi to Islamabad [ET]
  • Senate Human Rights Committee Expressed Concern Over Enforced Disappearances [Dawn]
  • Lahore Court Dismisses Petition Against Mohammad Safdar’s Remarks on Ahmadis [Dawn]
  • Military Telecom Company Receives Committee Approval for Commercial Operations [Dawn]
  • Social Media Brings Pakistan’s Persecuted Women Rare Justice [Guardian]
  • Pakistan’s Youthful Population Creates Education Challenges [Reuters]
  • Senate Condemns Indian Actions in Kashmir [Dawn]
  • Army Chief Observes Air Exercises [Dawn] [ET]
  • Imam-e-Kaaba Meets with PM Abbasi [ET]
Afghanistan — Security

  • Attacks and Operations: The AFP reports that security was light at the Imam Zaman mosque in Kabul last week prior to the bombing that killed dozens of people, and notes an uptick in sectarian attacks by the Islamic State targeting the Shia community in Afghanistan. Paktika provincial police officials report that as many as 19 Taliban fighters were killed in an airstrike in the Wazi Khwa district on Wednesday night; army officials report that another four Taliban fighters were killed after they attacked a checkpost in the Zirok district. Wardak police officials report that seven Taliban fighters were killed in a joint US-Afghan special forces raid in the province, including Qari Noor Aqa, identified as the Taliban military commission chief for the province.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Election Preparations: Deputy head of the Electoral Complaints Commission Humaira Haqmal reiterated criticisms over the firing of five ECC staff last week, accusing the ECC leadership of “sabotaging” the upcoming parliamentary elections and “carrying out a coup”; she called for an investigation by the Attorney General’s office. In a statement on Thursday, U.S. Special Charges d’Affaires Hugo Llorens said that Pres. Ghani had assured Sec. Tillerson in their meetings this week that “his government is firmly committed to implement reforms under the Afghanistan-U.S. Compact, including holding credible and inclusive parliamentary elections in 2018 and presidential elections in 2019”.
  • Regional Diplomacy: Speaking in Brussels following a NATO-Russia Council meeting on Thursday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that “our analyses differ considerably but we all share the same interest in ensuring security and stability in Afghanistan”, and emphasized that Russia should support the National Unity Government. [TOLO]
  • Karzai Visits Iran: Former Pres. Karzai visited Tehran on Friday, where he met with Iranian leaders and criticized U.S. counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan, calling on the U.S. to negotiate with other regional powers to resolve the issue.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • MEC Report Finds Corruption in Ministry of Education [TOLO]
  • Commentary: The Man Who Thought He Could Fix Afghanistan – “To get something done in Afghanistan, you need to know Scott Guggenheim. But even the ultimate fixer isn’t sure anyone can solve the country’s problems.” [May Jeong, Politico]

Topline
  • Speaking in the senate on Wednesday, Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaj Asif insisted that Pakistan “would not compromise on our sovereignty” and laid blame on insecurity in Afghanistan on the Afghan government and on the U.S., which he said must “accept their defeat [and] their failures in Afghanistan”. Asif also indicated that the U.S. delegation to Pakistan this week had presented a list of 75 militants, with the Haqqani network at the top, but said that they were now based in Afghanistan and that “none of the militants are Pakistanis”.
  • Nawaz Sharif remains in Saudi Arabia and did not appear before an accountability court on Thursday, leading to the issuance of a bailable arrest warrant against him; the next hearings have been set for Nov 3. Separately, Imran Khan appear before the Election Commission of Pakistan to offer a formal apologize for past critical statements, leading the ECP to drop contempt of court charges against him.
  • The U.S Air Force has contracted for an additional six A-29 light attack aircraft for the Afghan Air Force, with delivery scheduled for next year.
  • NATO and Russian officials are scheduled to meet today in Brussels to discuss issues related to Afghanistan, as well as the conflict in Ukraine.
  • Aasim Saeed, one of five Pakistani bloggers detained earlier this year, gave a BBC interview in which he alleged that he had been tortured by the Pakistani security services while in custody; he is now seeking asylum in the UK.
  • Pakistan’s defense secretary Zamirul Hassan Shah told a senate defense committee on Thursday that the death of TTP Jamaat-ul-Ahrar leader Omar Khalid Khorasani had not been confirmed, and that a photo released by the JuA in their statement reporting his death had been a fake.
  • Voting is currently underway in Peshawar for the vacant NA-4 constituency. At a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, the government decided to raise in parliament the question of whether to increase the number of national and provincial assembly seats based on new provisional census figures.
  • In an apparent reference to complaints by former NDS chief Rahmatullah Nabil that current NDS chief Masoom Stanekzai had called on him to halt his political activities, Chief Executive Abdullah said Wednesday that “government organizations should not be used to threaten political movements”.
  • Today’s update is experimenting with a slightly revised email format. Any feedback is welcome.
Pakistan — Security

  • Blogger Says He Was Tortured: In a BBC interview, Aasim Saeed, one of five bloggers detained in January and later released, said that he was tortured by the Pakistani security services while in detention for making critical comments against the military. He has applied for asylum in the UK. Separately, the Supreme Court has begun hearings on missing persons in Pakistan, ordering the interior ministry to provide a “detailed report” on all detainees currently being held.
  • JuA Leader’s Death Not Confirmed: Despite previous reports that the TTP Jamaat-ul-Ahrar had confirmed the death of the group’s leader Omar Khalid Khorasani in a U.S. drone strike in Paktia, Defense Secretary Zamirul Hassan Shah told the senate defense committee on Thursday that Khorasani’s death had not been confirmed, and that a photo of him issued with the statement on his death had been a fake.
  • Sindh Police Chief Appointment: Dawn reports that the Sindh provincial government plans to discuss new appointments for the Sindh provincial police chief at a cabinet meeting on Saturday; the Sindh High Court overturned a previous effort to remove police chief A.D. Khawaja in September.
  • Mashal Lynching Case: The deputy prosecutor in the lynching case of Abdul Wali Khan University student Mashal Khan was reported to have resigned from the legal team, citing “personal reasons”; Zafar Abbas denied that he had resigned, however. The Khyber Paktunkhwa government separately announced on Wednesday that it would assume the costs for private legal counsel hired by Khan’s father. [ET]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • US Relations: Speaking in the senate on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Asif said that Pakistan’s leadership had told Sec. Tillerson during his visit to Islamabad this week that “there will only be room for improvement if Washington accepts their defeat, their failures in Afghanistan”. Asif insisted that Pakistan would “not compromise on our sovereignty”, saying that “we are ready to help the US in Afghanistan but we would not become anyone’s proxy”. Asif also laid blame for insecurity in Afghanistan on the Afghan government, and said that “any Indian role in Afghanistan would not be acceptable to Pakistan”. Asif said that the U.S. delegation had presented a list of 75 militants that it was demanding action against, with the Haqqani network “on the top of the list”, but said that Hafiz Saeed was not on the list and “none of the militants are Pakistanis”. Speaking at Thursday’s weekly press briefing, a Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman said that Tillerson’s visit would “pave way to strengthen bilateral relations between Islamabad and Washington”. [WAPO] [Dawn] [The Nation] [ET] [ET]
  • Arrest Warrants Against Sharif: Nawaz Sharif did not return to Pakistan on Thursday and did not attend hearings at an Islamabad accountability court, prompting the court to issue a bailable warrant for his arrest; lawyers for Nawaz had sought to delay the hearing by a week. Maryam Nawaz and her husband Mohammad Safdar did appear before the court; the next hearings have been scheduled for Nov 3. Party sources tell Dawn that Nawaz met with members of the Saudi royal family on Wednesday, and he has since extended his stay in the kingdom. Other PML-N sources tell the Express Tribune there is confusion within the party ranks over calls for Shehbaz Sharif to assume the PML-N leadership, which Shehbaz has not publicly commented on. [AP] [Reuters] [The Nation] [ET]
  • ECP Drops Contempt Charge Against Imran: Imran Khan appeared in person before the Election Commission on Thursday and submitted a formal written apology over remarks he had made criticizing the ECP; the ECP subsequently closed the contempt of court case against him. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court continued hearings on assets held by PTI leader Jahanghir Tareen. [ET] [ET] [The Nation]
  • Elections and Other Political Activity: Voting is under way as of this writing for the NA-4 Peshawar by-election, previously held by dissident PTI national assembly member Gulzar Ghan, who passed away in August. His son Asad Gulzar is contesting the seat on the PPP ticket, and faces challenges from the PTI and PML-N as well. Initial reports from Dawn suggest high turnout in urban areas; around 6,700 police and army soldiers have been deployed to provide security. At a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, the government agreed to introduce legislation in the national assembly proposing an increase in the number of national and provincial assembly seats on the basis of provisional census data; Dawn reports the cabinet is divided over whether or not to increase the number of seats and will instead defer to the larger parliament to develop a consensus. The ECP has scheduled a meeting to discuss census and constituency delimitation planning for Friday. [The Nation] [The Nation] [ET] [Dawn] [The Nation] [ET] [ET] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • CPEC Planning: Pakistan will host the next meeting of the Joint Cooperation Council for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project in Islamabad on Nov 21; speaking after a prepatory meeting on Wednesday, Minister for Interior and Planning Ahsan Iqbal said that a long-term plan for CPEC would be approved at the meeting, and would be made public afterwards.
  • Bond Issue: The Express Tribune reports that bids opened on Tuesday for new dollar-denominated Euro and Sukuk bonds that the finance ministry is hoping to raise around $2 billion in order to shore up foreign exchange reserves; interest rates on the bonds were not reported.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Federal Government Planning ‘Final Phase’ Operation to ‘De-Weaponize’ Karachi [ET]
  • Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Attends CVE Conference in Washington [ET]
  • Sniper Who Attacked Pakistani Forces Killed in Afghanistan [ET]
  • Parliamentary Panel Rejects Judicial Commission Recommendations on Lahore High Court Judges’ Appointments [ET]
  • Hungary Detains Pakistani Migrant Accused of Murder [Reuters]
  • Sindh Home Minister to Investigate Edhi Foundation Property Dispute [APP] [Dawn] [ET]
  • Government Planning Journalists’ Protection Bill [ET]
  • Public Accounts Committee Seeks Details on Petroleum Ministry Security Payments to Rangers [Dawn]
  • Senate to Investigate Sale of PIA Aircraft [Dawn]
  • Report: The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: Barriers and Impact – “Support for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Chinese investment in the country is almost unanimous in Pakistan. The country’s political parties and regions, however, have been deeply divided on the subject of equitable distribution of and control over CPEC projects.” [Arif Rafiq, USIP]
Afghanistan — Security

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • NATO-Russia Talks: NATO and Russian diplomats will meet in Brussels today for talks on Ukraine and Afghanistan; the NATO-Russia Council last met in July. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, NATO Military Committee chief Petr Pavel said he had not seen “hard evidence” of Russian support for the Taliban; Russia has rejected those allegations.
  • Abdullah Criticizes Alleged NDS Interference: Speaking at a gathering on Wednesday, Chief Executive Abdullah insisted that “government organizations should not be used to threaten political movements. And if a smallest sign of this happens, then it is against all the commitments that we have made to the people of Afghanistan and it must not be allowed”. Although he did not refer to either explicitly, Abdullah’s remarks are reported as coming in response to complaints by former NDS chief Rahmatullah Nabil that current NDS chief Masoom Stanekzai had warned him to curtail his political activities. [Ariana News]
  • Indian Relations: Afghanistan’s ambassador to India Shida Mohammad Abdali tells Pajhwok that Afghanistan is seeking Indian assistance to organize regional diplomatic meetings with Russia, China, and Iran, and said that “India has the main role and it can be a bridge for Afghanistan’s partnership with the US”. Secretary of Defense Mattis met with Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on the sidelines of an ASEAN conference in Manila on Wednesday, and told reporters afterwards that they had discussed “supporting Afghanistan in its efforts to return peace to the area”; he did not provide further details.
  • Election Planning: Speaking at a conference on Wednesday, Independent Election Commission deputy head Wasima Badghisi called for the disbursal of budget allocations to the IEC, and suggested that alternatives to an electronic voting system would need to be considered given time and financial constraints. UN deputy special representative Pernille Kardel told the forum that “the international community supports continued efforts by Afghanistan to explore the use of biometric voter registration (BVR) for the presidential election of 2019, potentially through a partial BVR pilot for the parliamentary elections in 2018.”
  • Refugee Repatriation: Germany expelled 14 Afghan nationals whose asylum applications were denied; they arrived in Kabul on Wednesday. Eleven of those expelled were reported to have criminal records.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Violence is So Bad in Parts of Afghanistan that Red Cross Clinics are Shutting Their Doors [WAPO]
  • MPs Accuse Colleagues of Forcibly Entering National Archives [TOLO]
  • Indian Wheat Shipment Arrives Via Chabahar Port [TOLO]
  • Commentary: CIA-Proxy Militias, CIA Drones in Afghanistan: ‘Hunt and Kill’ Déjà vu – “Afghan militias, operating outside an Afghan government chain of command, have been used by international forces, especially US Special Operations Forces (SOF) and the CIA since 2001. It has often been debatable who was running whom.” [Kate Clark, AAN]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Tillerson Meets Pakistani Leaders; Ghani Says No CPEC Participation if Access to India Blocked

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Topline

  • Secretary Tillerson met with top Pakistani civilian and military leaders in a joint meeting on Tuesday; in remarks before their meeting, PM Abbasi said that Pakistan had “produced results” and was “looking forward to moving ahead with the U.S. and building a tremendous relationship”. The U.S. embassy said that Tillerson had “reiterated President Trump’s message that Pakistan must increase its efforts to eradicate militants and terrorists operating within the country”.
  • Pres. Ghani concluded a brief visit to New Delhi on Tuesday, meeting with PM Modi and other officials. In remarks at an Indian think tank, he said that Afghanistan would not participate in CPEC if it was not allowed to connect through to India, and that Afghanistan would not accept a “Pakistan-managed peace process”.
  • Nawaz Sharif may return to Pakistan today, although some reports suggest that his return will be delayed as late as January. PM Abbasi met with Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday amidst tensions between the Nawaz and Shehbaz camps of the party.
  • At least two women were reportedly killed, and a third girl succumbed to injuries, from cross-border firing by Indian forces in Kashmir.
  • Russia’s embassy in Afghanistan issued a statement on Tuesday protesting remarks by Pres. Ghani implicating Moscow in providing support for the Taliban, admonishing Afghan officials not to “follow along with the anti-Russian hysteria fanned by some Western media”.
  • The Sunni Tehreek and other religious parties are planning a rally in Islamabad on Thursday to protest changes, later reversed, to the candidate oath regarding the finality of Mohammad’s prophethood.

Pakistan — Security

  • Tensions with India: Pakistani officials in the Jhelum district in Azad Jammu and Kashmir reported Tuesday that two women were killed and five others injured in cross-border shelling by Indian forces; additionally, a girl in an exchange of fire last week reportedly succumbed to her injuries in a Rawalpindi hospital. Pakistani formally protested the incident. In a separate statement, Pakistan’s foreign ministry dismissed the appointment by India’s home ministry of a former director of India’s Intelligence Bureau as a negotiator in Jammu and Kashmir, suggesting that it was not “sincere and realistic”. [Dawn] [ET]
  • MQM Leader Killed: Unidentified gunmen killed an MQM-Pakistan leader in Hyderabad, Dr. Naushad, in a driveby shooting near his home on Wednesday; no claim of responsibility has been reported. [ET] [The Nation]
  • Balochistan Security: At a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the Balochistan provincial government approved the formation of a 1000-member elite police force tasked with counterterrorism missions.
  • Press Freedom: A meeting of the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors issued a statement on Tuesday expressing concern over press freedom in Balochistan; newspaper deliveries have reportedly been halted in Quetta in response to threats from militant organizations.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Tillerson Visits Pakistan: Secretary of State Tillerson arrived in Islamabad on Tuesday and held a joint meeting with senior Pakistani civilian and military leaders, including PM Abbasi and Chief of Army Staff Bajwa. The AFP notes that Tillerson was in country for less than four hours, and was greeting with minimal protocol. In remarks before the press prior to their meeting, Abbasi said that “we have produced results. And we are looking forward to moving ahead with the U.S. and building a tremendous relationship”. Tillerson said that Pakistan was “important regionally to our joint goals of providing peace and security to the region and providing opportunity for greater economic relationship as well”. Anonymous Pakistani sources tell The Nation that Tillerson “was straightforward in telling us that the only way out for Pakistan is to accept new policies of the US” and reiterated U.S. support for Indian engagement in Afghanistan. The U.S. embassy issued a statement saying that Tillerson had “reiterated President Trump’s message that Pakistan must increase its efforts to eradicate militants and terrorists operating within the country”. On arriving in India on Wednesday, Tillerson expressed concerns that “extremist groups” could pose a threat to the “stability and security of the Pakistani government”. The Pakistani senate has summoned Foreign Minister Asif for a briefing on Wednesday on the meeting with Tillerson; Chairman Raza Rabbani accused Tillerson of “acting like a viceroy”. In a BBC interview, Asif said that there a “huge trust deficit” between Pakistan and the United States. [WAPO] [AP] [AFP]
  • PML-N Divisions: PM Abbasi met with Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday evening, the Express Tribune reports; details of the meeting are limited but it is reported to have focused on divisions within the party over Nawaz Sharif’s continued leadership and the response to corruption cases against the Sharif family. Separately, Maryam Nawaz denied reports that she had reached out to PML-N senator Sardar Zulfiqar Khosa, who earlier indicated he was planning to quit the party and join the PPP. Nawaz will reportedly return to Pakistan on Wednesday, although The Nation reports that it will be delayed by his wife’s deteriorating health in London and that he will not return to Pakistan until January.
  • Corruption Investigations: The National Accountability Bureau submitted a report to the Supreme Court on Tuesday on its progress in pursuing corruption cases against the Sharif family. A NAB team returned from London after seeking information from UK authorities on Sharif family properties in the UK; they were reportedly told to use a “government-to-government channel” instead. Lawyers for Nawaz Sharif filed an Islamabad High Court petition seeking a joint hearing of corruption cases against his family rather than separate cases; separately, the IHC agreed to hear a petition challenging his election as part chief of the PML-N. During parliamentary committee debate on Tuesday, the Jamaat-e-Islami joined the PTI and MQM in challenging draft accountability legislation that would apply to members of the military and judiciary. [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Social Media Controls: Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said that the Federal Investigation Agency had been tasked with creating a “framework for social media monitoring in consultation with all stakeholders”, saying that “we have a responsible and democratic social media having space for the people to express their viewpoints, but not to spread anarchy.” Separately, Pakistan Telecommunications Authority officials told a national assembly committee on Tuesday that they were working to form a committee to monitor and block “blasphemous” content on the internet. [The Nation]
  • Protests Over Candidate Oath: The Sunni Tehreek and other religious parties are preparing to hold a rally in Islamabad on Thursday to protest changes, later reversed, to the oath taken by candidates for office affirming the finality of Mohammad’s prophethood; heavy police security was deployed starting on Tuesday evening. In his remarks on Tuesday, Interior Minister Iqbal downplayed the significance of the change, saying that “there is no difference of opinion when it comes to the matter of Khatm-e-Nabuwwat so this issue shouldn’t be misused for political gains”.
  • MML Challenges Registration Decision: In an Islamabad High Court petition on Tuesday, lawyers for the Jamaat-ud-Dawa-affiliated Milli Muslim League challenging the Election Commission’s decision not to register the party, insisting that “none of the office-bearers of the party is associated with any proscribed or banned organization”.
  • Other Political Activity: On Tuesday, the Islamabad High Court suspended an Election Commission arrest warrant against Imran Khan over his refusal to appear before the ECP in a contempt case; the IHC will hear arguments in the case on Nov 7. Separately, the PTI accused Chief Election Commissioner Sardar Mohammad Raza of using a “luxury” SUV and demanded an investigation into his assets. On Wednesday, the ECP restored the status of 32 parliamentarians suspended for failing to submit asset details. Elsewhere, talk show host Aamir Liaqat will join the PTI, after earlier quitting the MQM last August. [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Peshawar High Court Seeks Details on Clemency for Former TTP Spokesman [Dawn]
  • Three Suspects Arrested in Peshawar [ET]
  • Swabi Police Deny Terrorism Connection in Journalist’s Murder [ET]
  • Karachi Police Arrest Suspect in Parveen Rehman Murder [Dawn]
  • Khyber Paktunkhwa Chief Minister Warns of Protests if Hydroelectric Profits Not Released [ET]
  • Pakistan Borrows $1.4B During First Quarter of Fiscal Year [ET]
  • Abandoned Pakistani Consulate Facility in Washington Faces $70k in Tax Liabilities [AP]
  • New Islamabad Airport May Not Open Until Next Year [APP]
  • Commentary: ‘One Last Chance’ for Pakistan – “The tide is clearly turning. It’s up to Pakistan’s national security establishment to recognize this, and to begin to act on this recognition.” [Michael Krepon, Arms Control Wonk]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Attacks and Operations: On Tuesday evening, nine Afghan soldiers were reportedly killed on an attack on their checkpost in Farah province’s Pusht Road district; fighting was reportedly heavy and Afghan air force planes responded to the attack. Elsewhere, Afghan army officials claimed that the Taliban shadow district governor for Faryab’s Ghormach district was killed in a clash between rival Taliban factions on Tuesday. Herat officials report that an airstrike struck a large gathering of Taliban forces in the Chest Sharif district on Tuesday; details are limited but as many as 300 Taliban are reported to have gathered in the area prior to the strike. A former Hezb-e-Islami provincial leader, Maulvi Hanif Shah, was killed along with two of his family members in an attack in the Zazai Ayub district in Paktia on Tuesday; no claim of responsibility has been reported. [Pajhwok]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Ghani Concludes India Visit: Pres. Ghani met with PM Modi and other Indian leaders in New Delhi on Tuesday before returning home to Kabul; a joint statement said that Ghani and Modi had “reviewed Afghanistan-India strategic cooperation and said the results of their cooperation are positive and they will continue working together for shared goals and peace”. India also agreed to “extend further assistance depending upon the needs of the Afghan defence and police forces.” The Afghan journalists’ association Nai criticized Ghani for not taking members of the press along with him on this and other trips. During a speech at an Indian think tank on Tuesday, Ghani said that Afghanistan “would like a push factor from Pakistan vis-a-vis the Taliban, not a Pakistan-managed peace process”, and also said that Afghanistan would not join the CPEC project if Pakistan refused to permit connectivity between Afghanistan and India. [Pajhwok] [Dawn] [India Foreign Ministry Statement]
  • Russia Objects to Ghani Remarks: In a statement on Tuesday, Russia’s embassy in Kabul responded to remarks attributed to Pres. Ghani during his visit to Paktia last week, in which he accused Pakistan and Russia of providing support to the Taliban; the Russian embassy said that those charges were “unacceptable” and “urge[d] Afghan leaders not to follow along with the anti-Russian hysteria fanned by some Western media”. [Pajhwok]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • For Those Tasked with Finding Bowe Bergdahl, Deep Resentment Remains [WAPO]
  • Kabul Police Round up Drug Addicts [AP]
  • Wolesi Jirga Approves Mid-Year Budget Amendments [TOLO]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Tillerson Makes Bagram Stop, Arrives in Pakistan; Maryam Nawaz Insists No Divisions in PML-N

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Topline

  • Sec. Tillerson made a stopover at the U.S. military base in Bagram on Monday to meet with Pres. Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah; as of this writing, he is just reported to have landing in Pakistan. In remarks on Monday, Tillerson said that the U.S. was looking to engage with “moderate voices within the Taliban”, and also that the U.S. had made “some very specific requests” to Pakistan on action it should take to crack down on militant groups.
  • On Tuesday, Pres. Ghani traveled to India for meetings with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and other Indian leaders; Tillerson is expected to also travel to India today.
  • Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Maryam Nawaz insisted that the PML-N was united and that she had no rivalry with her cousin Hamza Shehbaz. Nawaz Sharif is expected to return to Pakistan on Tuesday; on Tuesday, Maryam announced that her mother Kulsoom Nawaz had been re-hospitalized.
  • The National Accountability Bureau has opened corruption investigations against Pubjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif. On Monday, the senate voted to reinstate requirements that party leaders be eligible for elected office, but the PML-N is expected to block that amendment in the national assembly.
  • In her first public remarks since the family’s rescue and return to Canada, Caitlan Coleman told the Toronto Star that she believed they had been held captive in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and said that she was forced to undergo an abortion after her husband Joshua Boyle rejected demands from their captors that he “work for” the Haqqanis.
  • The Election Commission of Pakistan rejected a PTI petition on Tuesday that sought to de-seat dissident national assembly member Ayesha Gulalai.
  • The deputy head of Afghanistan’s Electoral Complaints Commission, Humira Haqmal, split with commission chief Adul Aziz Aryai, denouncing the firing of five ECC staffers on Monday.

Pakistan — Security

  • Coleman Says Family Was Held in Pakistan: In her first public remarks since the family’s rescue and return to Canada, Caitlan Coleman tells the Toronto Star that her family had been held in Pakistan for “more than a year” by the time of their rescue, but also disputed U.S. officials’ comments suggesting that they had been held by the Haqqanis inside Pakistan for the entirety of their captivity. Coleman also said that she had been forced to undergo an abortion while in captivity after her husband, Joshua Boyle, had refused to “work for” the Haqqanis.
  • Peshawar High Court Hears Petition on Ehsanullah Ehsan Trial: At a hearing on Tuesday, the Peshawar High Court held that the government’s initial response to a petition seeking the trial of former TTP and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan was insufficient, and ordered the government to submit a detailed response.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • PML-N Under Pressure: In an interview on Monday, PM Abbasi said that he was “100% sure that elections will be held in 2018” and on schedule, vowing to “complete our developmental schemes and set a sound future course and direction for the next government”. Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Maryam Nawaz insisted that the PML-N was “united and will remain so” and said she would take on any role “given to her by the party”. On Tuesday, Maryam announced that her mother Kulsoom Nawaz had been re-hospitalized. Nawaz Sharif is expected to return to Pakistan today after a visit to Saudi Arabia on Monday. On Monday, the senate voted, 49-18, to amend the new elections law to reinstate requirements that political party heads be eligible for elected office; the PML-N is expected to block the amendment in the national assembly. [Dawn] [Dawn] [The Nation] [The Nation] [Dawn]
  • Corruption Investigations: On Monday, the National Accountability Bureau opened an investigation into corruption allegations against Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif in connection to the Multan Metro Bus project. On Tuesday, Islamabad High Court dismissed a second petition from Finance Minister Dar challenging his indictment on corruption charges; the NAB is seeking court approval to freeze Dar’s assets. Former Sindh information minister Sharjeel Memon was arrested on corruption charges on Monday after he was denied bail by the Sindh High Court; after a court appearance on Tuesday, he was remanded to judicial custody through Nov 4. At Supreme Court hearings on Tuesday, judges sought additional financial records for PTI leader Jahangir Tareen’s purchase of a residence in the UK. A parliamentary committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday to discuss PTI objections to a new draft accountability law. [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [The Nation]
  • Other Political Activity: On Tuesday, the Election Commission rejected a petition by Imran Khan seeking the de-seating of dissident PTI national assembly member Ayesha Gulalai, who publicly accused Imran of harassment earlier this summer. In a press conference after the decision, Gulalai accused Imran of “always spreading anarchy and chaos”. Imran denounced the ruling as “unconstitutional”. Separately, the official campaign period for the NA-4 Peshawar by-election will close Tuesday evening. [ET] [ET] [The Nation] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • LNG Talks: Pakistani officials tell the Express Tribune that Pakistani negotiators are seeking a reduction in tolling fees for the proposed Karachi-Lahore gas pipeline to be constructed by Russia; Pakistan is also negotiating for a government-to-government sale of Russian LNG.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Bodies of Two Ansar-ul Sharia Pakistan Militants Returned to Families [Dawn]
  • Sindh Chief Minister Warns Against Sale of Pakistan Steel Mills Land [Dawn]
  • FBR Banks Heavily on Withholding Taxes to Meet Revenue Target [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Tillerson Makes Afghanistan Stopover: Secretary of State Tillerson made an unannounced stop in Kabul on Monday, where he met with Pres. Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah at the U.S. airbase in Bagram; it was his first visit to the country since taking office. In remarks that were released after he had departed the country, Tillerson said that the U.S. was “looking to engage” with “moderate voices among the Taliban… and have them engage in a reconciliation process leading to a peace process and their full involvement and participation in the government.” Tillerson is arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday for talks with civilian and military leaders; in his remarks on Monday, he said that the U.S. had made “some very specific requests” to Pakistan “in order for them to take action to undermine the support that the Taliban receives and the other terrorist organisations receive in Pakistan,” adding that “this is a conditions-based approach, and so our relationship with Pakistan will also be conditions-based”. [NYT] [AP] [AP] [Reuters] [Pajhwok] [TOLO] [Khaama Press] [ET] [Tillerson Remarks Transcript]
  • Ghani Visits India: Pres. Ghani arrived in India on Tuesday for meetings with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and other top officials. [Pajhwok] [TOLO]
  • Election Planning: Deputy Electoral Complaints Commission head Humira Haqmal denounced the firing of five ECC staffers at a press conference on Monday, saying the move was a “tribal coup” aimed at eliminating Pashtun representation in the commission; in a separate press conference, ECC chief Abdul Aziz Aryai insisted that the dismissals were justified.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Ex-NDS Chief Nabil Accuses Current Chief of Threatening Him Over Political Activities [Khaama Press]
  • Kabul Welcomes the Warlord Who Once Shelled its Citizens [Guardian]
  • Ex-Wardak Police Chief Convicted on Corruption Charges [Pajhwok]
  • Afghan Ambassador Meets Sami-ul Haq [ET]
  • Pakistani Parliamentary Delegation Meets Ghani [Khaama Press]
  • Wolesi Jirga Approves Amendments to Current Fiscal Year Budget [Pajhwok]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Scores Killed in Friday Mosque Bombings; Nawaz and Shehbaz Camps Divided Within PML-N

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Topline

  • Scores of people were killed and wounded in separate suicide bombing attacks on mosques in Kabul and Ghor on Friday; the Kabul bombing targeted a Shia mosque and was claimed by the the Islamic State, while the attack in Ghor appeared to target a former Taliban commander. On Saturday, a suicide car bomb struck a bus carrying Afghan army trainees in Kabul, killing at least fifteen. The attacks capped a deadly week; Pres. Ghani traveled to Paktia on Sunday to meet with the families of victims of last week’s attack in Gardez.
  • Nawaz Sharif departed for Saudi Arabia on Monday; he is due to appear in court on Oct 26 in Pakistan. Divisions have widened between the Nawaz and Shehbaz Sharif camps inside the PML-N; federal minister Riaz Hussain Pirzada reiterated his calls for Shehbaz to assume leadership of the party on Monday.
  • Pres. Ghani will visit India on Tuesday, on a trip that coincides with the arrival of U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson. On Sunday, Ghani issued a decree barring the transit of Pakistani trucks carrying goods for export through Afghanistan, requiring that those goods be offloaded to Afghan trucks instead.
  • The NYT reports that the CIA is ramping up its paramilitary activities in Afghanistan, partnering with Afghan militia units and U.S. Special Operations Forces, and will increasingly target the Taliban.
  • Sindh Rangers and Karachi police reportedly killed eight Ansar-ul Sharia Pakistan militants, including the group’s leader Abdullah Hashmi, in a raid on Saturday; the group had been linked to an attack last month on MQM leader Khawaja Izharul Hassan.
  • Pres. Ghani fired the secretary general of the Independent Election Commission on Saturday, citing “corruption and poor performance”; on Sunday, the Electoral Complaints Commission announced that five of its staff had also been fired.
  • On Saturday Nawaz Sharif called for investigations into the reported detention by the Federal Investigation Agency the day prior of two PML-N social media activists, charged with publicly criticizing the army and judiciary.
  • Another drone strike was reported near the Paktia-Kurram border on Friday, killing twelve unidentified militants.
  • Pakistan’s ambassador to India met with Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj last week; Pakistan’s foreign ministry denied that they had discussed the case of accused India spy Kulbhushan Jhadav.
  • Imran Khan and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari led separate rallies in Sehwan and Peshawar on Sunday. The Election Commission of Pakistan has sent to notices to all of Pakistan’s 352 registered political parties warning them of disqualification if they failed to submit monetary deposits and proof of membership.

Pakistan — Security

  • Karachi Operations: The Sindh Rangers announced that eight militants affiliated with the group Ansar-ul Sharia Pakistan were killed in a joint operation with the Sindh police Counter-Terrorism Department on Saturday evening; one of those killed was identified as the group’s leader, Abdullah Hashmi, who was previously reported to have been arrested in September. The group had previously claimed responsibility for the attempted assassination of MQM leader Khawaja Izharul Hassan in September. On Saturday, the Sindh police reported the arrest of two Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan militants in Karachi and the seizure of explosive materials. [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [AP]
  • Drone Strikes: Another drone strike was reported near the Paktia and Kurram Agency border on Friday, the fifth strike to hit the area in the last week; Dawn reports that twelve unidentified militants were killed. [ET] [The Nation]
  • Punjab Security: The Punjab Home Department has sought a two-month extension in the deployment of paramilitary Rangers within the province, The Nation reports. [ET]
  • Balochistan Security: Balochistan Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri met with Southern Command chief Lt. Gen. Asim Bajwa on Friday to discuss security in the province, follow last week’s attacks on laborers in Gwadar and Mastung. The Frontier Corps conducted raids in the Mastung area on Friday, which military spokesmen said killed one militant suspect and led to the arrest of seven others. On Sunday, one man was killed and another injured in a land mine explosion in the Kohlu district. [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Chinese Threat Warning: Copies of a letter from the Chinese embassy to Pakistan’s interior ministry leaked on Saturday indicate that Chinese authorities are seeking the arrest of a Uyghur man accused of sneaking into Pakistan and plotting an assassination attempt against Chinese Amb. Yao Jing. [Dawn] [The Nation]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • PML-N Divisions and Legal Battles: The Express Tribune notes widening divisions between PML-N camps led by Nawaz and Shehbaz Sharif. Federal minister Riaz Hussain Pirzada called for Shehbaz to assume leadership of the party last week; Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider warned that “anyone who disassociates himself from [Nawaz] and lets him down will have no future”. Pirzada reiterated his statement on Monday. On Monday, Nawaz departed London for Saudi Arabia; he is due to appear in court on Oct 26. In the Supreme Court, PML-N lawyers challenged new filings by Imran Khan in the disqualification petition against him. The PTI has meanwhile filed counter-suits with the Election Commission seeking an investigation of the PML-N and PPP’s fundraising. Hearings continued on Monday in the corruption case against Finance Minister Dar. On Friday, Lahore High Court Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah heard arguments on petitions challenging the new electoral law; in his remarks, Shah suggested that “the Constitution empowered citizens to vote for a person of their own choice whether a defaulter or a disqualified person”. [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [ET] [The Nation] [The Nation]
  • Nawaz Calls for Investigation into Social Media Crackdown: In a statement on Saturday, Nawaz Sharif condemned the “suppression of voice of dissent”, calling for the release of PML-N social media activists reported to have been detained over criticisms of Pakistan’s judiciary or armed services. Two men were reportedly detained by the Federal Investigation Agency on Friday; broader arrests were reported in May and January. [Dawn]
  • PM Visits Turkey: PM Abbasi held meetings in Istanbul on Friday and Saturday on the sidelines of the D-8 summit; Abbasi also told reporters that Pakistan was negotiating the purchase of T-129 attack helicopters from Turkey, but provided no details. He participated in a test flight of the helicopter on Sunday. [ET]
  • Talks with India: Pakistan’s ambassador to India, Sohail Mahmood, reportedly met with India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj last week to discuss bilateral relations; Pakistan’s foreign ministry denied that the two had discussed the case of accused Indian spy Kulbhushan Jhadav. Separately on Friday, the Islamabad High Court dismissed a petition from India’s embassy to Pakistan seeking the release of an Indian man arrested in 2008 and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment in 2012. [ET] [The Nation]
  • Election Preparations: The Election Commission has sent notices to all 352 registered political parties in Pakistan, warning that their registrations will be revoked if they fail to submit required party membership information and a Rs 200,000 fee. On Friday, the ECP restored the standing of 29 assembly members who had been suspended from office for failing to submit asset statements. On Monday, the senate is scheduled to consider an opposition bill to restore restrictions on heads of political parties who do not qualify for elected office. [The Nation]
  • Other Political Activity: The PTI has formed a committee to select candidates for the next elections in Sindh, headed by Imran Khan and other top party leadership; committees for Punjab and Khyber Paktunkhwa candidates had already been announced. Imran Khan led a rally in Sehwan on Sunday, vowing to hold former Pres. Zardari and other PPP leaders accountable and oust the incumbent PPP government. Former ANP provincial president for Khyber Paktunkhwa Farid Toofan announced that he was joining the PTI on Saturday. PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari led a rally in Peshawar on Sunday ahead of by-elections scheduled to take place Oct 26, denouncing both PTI and PML-N rivals. In remarks to supporters in Lahore on Saturday, former Pres. Zardari accused the Sharif brothers of plotting his murder and of “betrayal”, and called for their arrest. MQM-Pakistan leader Farooq Sattar said that his party would collectively resign from parliament if its members continued to be switch their affiliations to the Pak Sarzameen Party led by Mustafa Kamal, which he said they were being forced to do. The PML-F convened a meeting of Sindh opposition parties on Sunday and afterwards announced plans to formally register the “Grand Democratic Alliance” as a party to challenge the PPP. [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [ET] [ET] [ET] [The Nation] [The Nation] [The Nation] [The Nation]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Economic Indicators: State Bank of Pakistan figures released Friday indicate that Pakistan’s current account deficit for the July-September period rose 117.3% year-on-year, to $3.55 billion.
  • Project Loans: The Express Tribune reports that $16.6 billion in low-interest project loans approved by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and China have yet to be disbursed. Dawn reports the government is negotiating for a $425 million loan from the World Bank to support power sector transmission upgrades.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Journalist Missing Since August 2015 Returned [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn]
  • Bodies of Two Police Constables Found in Buner District [Dawn]
  • Chairman of Joint Chiefs Hayat Visits Washington [Dawn]
  • IED in Lower Dir; No Casualties Reported [ET]
  • PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar Resigns from Defense Committee [Dawn] [ET]
  • Police Detain 50 in Connection with Karachi Knife Attacks [Dawn]
  • 70 Students Arrested at Quaid-e-Azam University [Dawn] [ET]
  • Mosque Caretaker in Kasur Accused of Blasphemy [ET]
  • Sindh Government Seeks to Circumvent SHC Order on Officials Serving After Plea Bargains [ET]
  • Seven Killed in Quetta Coal Mine Collapse [Dawn]
  • Army Helps Resolve Akhorwal Coal Mine Dispute [ET]
  • Govt Mulls Shutting Down PTV World [ET]
  • 12 Children Under Five Die in Tharparkar in Two Days [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Ghani to Visit India: Pres. Ghani will visit India on Tuesday for a one-day visit, coinciding with a visit to the region by U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson, Khaama Press reports; it is unclear if Ghani and Tillerson will meet while there. The Nation reports that Tillerson will also visit Pakistan on Tuesday. [WSJ]
  • Relations with Pakistan: Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan Omar Zakhilwal met with Pakistani Chief of Army Staff Bajwa on Friday; Pakistani military spokesmen quoted Bajwa condemning recent attacks in Afghanistan and vowing that “such attacks shall not deter our resolve and commitments for peace in the region”. [Pajhwok]
  • IEC Secretary General, ECC Staff Fired: On Saturday, Pres. Ghani fired Imran Mohammad Warimach, the secretary general of the Independent Election Commission, citing concerns over “corruption and poor performance”; he had been appointed to the position in March. On Sunday, the Electoral Complains Commission announced that five commission secretariat members had been sacked after they were accused of not doing their work. [Pajhwok]

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Pakistan Transit Trade: On Sunday, Pres. Ghani issued a decree barring the entry of Pakistani trucks into Afghanistan, requiring that Pakistani exports passing through Afghanistan be offloading onto Afghan-owned trucks; Pakistan had instituted the same requirement on Afghan exports passing through its territory. Meanwhile, Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industry officials complained that Pakistan had hiked import tariffs for Afghan (and other) goods last week.
  • Tax Agreement: Pajhwok reports that the Afghan and US governments have reached an agreement, not yet finalized, on the payment of $52 million to resolve disputes over unpaid taxes by U.S. contractors operating in the country dating back to 2015.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Russia Accused of Supplying Taliban [Guardian]
  • Demonstrators in Helmand Call for Deputy Governor and Provincial Attorney’s Removal [Pajhwok]
  • Taliban Dispute Claims that American-Canadian Couple Were Held in Pakistan [ET] [TOLO]
  • First Batch of Afghan Pilots Complete Black Hawk Helicopter Training [Khaama Press]
  • In Kabul, First Evening Soccer Match in Nearly Four Decades Defies Taliban Attacks [WAPO]
  • National Procurement Commission Approves Afs 1.3 Billion in New Contracts [Khaama Press]