- White House officials are considering a post-2014 Afghanistan force of as few as 5,000 U.S. troops, Reuters reports. Separate attacks on police in Khyber Paktunkhwa’s Charsadda and Peshawar districts killed at least nine people on Tuesday; there was no claim of responsibility in either case. A judicial commission has been appointed to investigate the shooting of GEO TV anchor Hamid Mir; Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif visited ISI headquarters on Tuesday in a show of support, after Mir’s supporters accused the intelligence agency of being behind the assassination attempt. The Afghan Independent Election Commission says it has processed more than 90% of ballot tally sheets and is prepared to announce the total preliminary results on Thursday.
Pakistan — Security
- Attacks On Khyber Paktunkhwa Police: Separate bombings in the Charsadda district and Peshawar on Tuesday killed at least nine people and wounded several dozen more. In the first incident, a bomb struck a police vehicle traveling through the Charsadda market place, killing three bystanders and wounding thirty. In Peshawar, a group of unidentified gunmen ambushed a police patrol, killing five officers and a civilian. No claim of responsibility has been reported in either incident. [AJE] [Dawn] [Dawn]
- Mir Shooting Aftermath: Prime Minister Sharif visited Karachi on Monday to review security operations there in the wake of Saturday’s assassination attempt on GEO News anchor Hamid Mir; he met with Mir at the Karachi hospital where he is recovering and vowed to find those responsible for the attack. On Monday, Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani appointed a three-member judicial commission to investigate the shooting. Meanwhile, Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif visited ISI headquarters on Tuesday for a show of support for the intelligence agency, which Mir’s brother and other GEO TV officials have accused of being responsible for the attack. [Dawn] [Dawn]
- UNICEF Employees Freed: Two Pakistani national employees of UNICEF who went missing last Thursday and were believed to have been kidnapped were recovered in a police raid on Monday; details were otherwise limited, and the kidnappers are reported to have been absent from the site. [Reuters]
Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- Jamaat-e-Islami Plans ‘Peace Jirga’: With government-TTP peace talks apparently stalled, the Jamaat-e-Islami’s FATA chapter head has announced plans to hold a “peace jirga” on May 1, in conjunction with Maulana Samiul Haq of the JUI-S.
- PPP-MQM Coalition: Anonymous MQM party officials claim that the PPP and MQM are preparing to finalize a coalition government agreement in Sindh, after several months of negotiations; no final agreement has yet been announced. [Dawn]
Pakistan — Economics and Development
- Development Spending Cuts: The government has disbursed only around 50% of funds budgeted for the Public Sector Development Program over the first nine and a half months of the fiscal year, Dawn reports, in an apparent effort by the government to curtail expenditures and keep fiscal deficit targets.
Pakistan — Remainders
- Pakistan Mulls Tighter Controls on Madrassas [AJE]
- Pakistan Test-Fires Hatf III Short Range Ballistic Missile [Dawn]
- Prime Minister’s Advisor on Aviation Reportedly Blocking PIA Privatization [ET]
- Sharif to Seek Pipeline Penalty Waivers During Iran Visit [ET]
- Musharraf Skips Hearing in Bugti Murder Case [Dawn]
- MQM Senator Mustafa Kemal’s Resignation Belatedly Accepted [Dawn] [ET]
- Prime Minister Sharif Inaugurates New Guddu Power Plant Turbines [APP]
Afghanistan — Security
- U.S. Force Levels May Drop Below 10,000: Reuters reports that White House officials have resumed deliberations on a long-term force presence in Afghanistan after the conclusion of a bilateral security agreement with the next president, and are considering an agreement that would retain “possibly less than 5,000 U.S. troops” past 2014, much lower than the levels sought by U.S. military commanders.
- Sayyaf Observer Killed: Esmatullah, also known as Malem Tor, a veteran mujahedeen commander and provincial peace council member who had served as a poll observer for Abdul Rassoul Sayyaf’s presidential campaign, was killed outside his home in Logar province’s Mohammad Agha district on Monday. The Taliban denied involvement. [RFE/RL] [Khaama Press]
Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- Vote Count: Independent Election Commission spokesmen said Monday that 93% of polling station results sheets have been processed and audited thus far, and total preliminary results will be announced on April 24. Speaking at a press conference on Monday, presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani called on the IEC to stop the release of partial vote figures, which have showed him running second to Abdullah Abdullah, arguing that “this only confuses the public’s perceptions”. [Khaama Press]
Afghanistan — Remainders
- Afghanistan Calls on Iran to Stop Execution of Afghan Nationals [Khaama Press] [TOLO]
- Commentary: The Taleban Rant and Take a Harder Line on Peace – “Their response has been characterised by incoherence and distress, with Taleban statements rejecting elections as “anti-Islamic and western concept”, insisting there had been an “overwhelming popular boycott” and criticising the “widespread fraud”.” [Borhan Osman, AAN]