Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: PML-N Sweeps Majority of Seats in Kashmir Elections; Fighting Continues in Kunduz Districts

Topline

  • Unofficial results indicate the PML-N has swept the legislative assembly elections in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, winning as many as 40 out of the 53 seats. Fighting continues in at least two Kunduz districts, with contradictory reports over the degree to which the Taliban have gained control. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan spoke with the head of the Sindh Rangers on Thursday and reportedly suggested that the federal government might unilaterally authorized an extension of the Rangers’ policing authority in Sindh. An associate of the Sindh Home Minister, Asad Kharal, was reportedly handed over to Rangers’ custody on Thursday, after his arrest and then released by the Sindh police prompted a showdown between the Rangers and the provincial government. Prime Minister Sharif chaired a meeting of the National Security Council on Friday, which reiterated condemnations of Indian crackdowns in Kashmir. Four more A-29 light attack airplanes were transferred to the Afghan Air Force in a ceremony on Friday. China’s ambassador to Pakistan told journalists on Thursday that China is “satisfied with the pace of implementation” of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Pakistan – Security

  • Security Review: After arriving in Islamabad on Thursday, Prime Minister Sharif chaired a meeting of top civilian aides and military officials on Friday to review internal and external security concerns; Sharif met separately with Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif beforehand. Official readouts of the meeting reiterated condemnations of Indian crackdowns in Kashmir; in a statement on Thursday, India’s foreign ministry called on Pakistan to “stop inciting and supporting violence and terrorism in any part” of India. Speaking in the senate on Thursday, foreign advisor Sartaj Aziz said that a joint session of parliament would be called on the issue. [ET] [Dawn] [ET] [ET]
  • Pakistan – Politics and DiplomacyPreliminary Results Suggest PML-N Win in Azad Jammu and Kashmir: Unofficial results from the legislative assembly elections held in Pakistani-administered Azad Jammu and Kashmir and the at-large national constituencies for Kashmiri refugees indicate that the PML-N is set to win as many as 40 of the 53 seats, defeating rivals from the PPP, PTI, and Muslim Conference. Overall voter turnout was reported at around 40-50; there were only a few reports of limited violence at the polls, with a heavy security presence in place. [Reuters] [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Karachi Crackdown: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan spoke with the head of the Sindh Rangers on Thursday and directed him to withdraw VIP security details from top Sindh politicians, criticizing the Sindh provincial government’s delay in authorizing an extension of the Rangers’ policing powers and suggesting that the federal government might issue such an extension unilaterally. In a separate statement, the Rangers touted 533 arrests made elsewhere in Sindh outside Karachi since 2013. On Thursday evening, Asad Kharal, the associate for Sindh Home Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal whose arrest by the Sindh Rangers and then release by the Sindh police has sparked a renewed confrontation, reportedly surrendered himself to police and was transferred to the Rangers’ custody late Thursday evening. Separately, the Sindh High Court dismissed a bail application from Pakistan Sarzameen Party president and former MQM leader Anis Kaimkhani. [ET] [ET]
  • Honor Killing Amendment Passes Committee: A joint parliamentary committee unanimously approved two bills on Thursday that would bar the family of a victim of an “honor killing” from pardoning the murdered, and require the use of DNA tests in rape cases, setting the stage for a vote in the full parliament within the coming two weeks. [ET] [Dawn]
  • Other Political Activity: No agreement was reached between government and opposition representatives on nominees for vacant Election Commission members during a meeting on Thursday, causing the issue to be referred to a twelve-member joint committee to decide. The proposed nominees have not been announced, but no consensus appears to have been reached on the pool of potential candidates. A constitutional deadline of 45 days to fill the vacant appointments will expire on July 25.

Pakistan – Economics and Development

  • CPEC Control: A former Chinese foreign ministry official tells the Financial Times that internal debate in Pakistan over who should oversee the implementation of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor Project is delaying the project; the article suggests that China favors military control, but does not directly cite sources expressing that view. China’s ambassador to Pakistan told journalists on Thursday that “China is satisfied with the pace of implementation of the CPEC project. CPEC is under smooth implementation, and will deliver mutual benefits to both countries and peoples of the whole region”.
  • Real Estate Taxes: Finance Minister Dar presided over a meeting between Federal Board of Revenue and industry leaders on Thursday that agreed to negotiate real estate valuation tables for 18 cities, from which to set new property tax collections. [ET]

Pakistan – Remainders

  • Khyber Paktunkhwa Residents Seek to Take Control of Properties Vacated by Afghan Refugees [ET]
  • Senate IT Committee Cuts Short Debate on “Cybercrime” Bill [Dawn]
  • Supreme Court Rejects Karachi Police Report on Awais Shah Kidnapping [Dawn] [ET]
  • Balochistan to Raise Water Dispute with Sindh to Council on Common Interests [ET]
  • Surveillance Cameras Planned for Lahore [ET]
  • Supreme Court Orders Report on PEMRA Actions Against TV Channels ‘Maligning Judiciary’ [Dawn]

Afghanistan – Security

  • Attacks and Operations: A spokesman for the Ministry of Defense rejected reports that the Taliban had taken control of the Qala-e-Zal district in Kunduz on Thursday; a Ministry of Interior spokesman claimed that Afghan forces had retaken control of the district. Provincial officials reported that most of the district was under Taliban control and that fighting was ongoing there and in the Dasht-e-Archi district. Elsewhere, seven people were injured when a bomb planted on an ALP truck detonated in Laghman’s Alishing district on Friday, and two people were killed and four injured in a roadside bombing in Faryab’s Almar district. The LAT interviews new Afghan army recruits going through training in Kabul. [TOLO]
  • Air Force Receives More Planes: Four more A-29 light attack airplanes were transferred to the Afghan Air Force in a ceremony on Friday in Mazar-e-Sharif. [TOLO]

Afghanistan – Remainders

  • Rollout of National ID Cards Remains Stalled [TOLO]
  • Afghan Brothers Launch Mine-Hunting Drone [AFP]
  • Ghani Pledges Counternarcotics Efforts [TOLO]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Voting Underway in Pakistani Kashmir; Afghan Forces Suspected of Selling Scrap Shells

Topline

  • Voting is underway in Pakistani-administered Azad Jammu and Kashmir for the legislative assembly elections; 423 candidates are competing for 41 assembly seats. Reuters reports that many Afghan soldiers and police are believed to be firing off excess ammunition to sell the shell casings for scrap. Afghan defense minister Abdullah Habibi visited Nangarhar on Thursday to review operations against the Islamic State; on Thursday, the Kunduz district of Qala-e-Zal reportedly fell to Taliban control. Imran Khan announced on Wednesday that the PTI would launch a nationwide campaign seeking to press the government to accept an investigation into the Panama Papers, beginning August 7. PML-N officials tell Reuters that they are preparing to introduce legislation that would eliminate a loophole in the prosecution of “honor killings” that currently allows for such cases to be dropped if the victim’s family “forgives” the killers. The IMF executive board has approved a three-year, $44.9 loan program with the Afghan government.

Pakistan – Security

  • Military Economy: In a statement responding to questions in the senate, Defense Minister Khawaja Asif reported the existence of fifty commercial entities run by the various branches of the military, including the eight major Defense Housing Authorities, and a range of businesses and real estate holdings administered by “welfare trusts” managed by each service. [Dawn]

Pakistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Kashmir Elections: Voting is underway as of this writing in Pakistani-administered Azad Jammu and Kashmir, with polling taking place both within the territory and in 12 at large national constituencies. 423 candidates in total are competing for 41 legislative assemblies positions, with an electorate of 2.67 million registered voters. The PPP is seeking to defend its incumbency; unlike his rivals Imran Khan and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Prime Minister Sharif did not campaign in the area in the immediate run-up to the polls. On Wednesday, demonstrations were held to condemn continued violence in Indian-administered Kashmir, including one led by Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid and another led by the leaders of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Jamaat-e-Islami, and Hezb-ul Mujahadeen, among others. Speaking to the press on Thursday, foreign advisor Sartaj Aziz said that Pakistan would seek a UN Human Rights Council investigation into the situation in Kashmir. [ET] [ET] [ET] [ET] [ET] [Dawn]
  • Opposition Protests: Speaking at a press conference in Islamabad on Wednesday, Imran Khan announced plans to lead a nationwide “awareness campaign” beginning August 7 that will seek to pressure Prime Minister Sharif into accepting opposition conditions for an investigation into the Panama Papers. Khan said that his party would still support the joint opposition efforts in parliament, but would proceed with its own protests; after a meeting on Tuesday, opposition members are reported to be divided over the extent to which they are seeking the PML-N’s ouster over the issue. [ET]
  • Karachi Crackdown: In comments to reporters on Wednesday, Sindh provincial information minister Maula Bux Chandio downplayed the significance of the expiration of the Rangers’ policing mandate in Karachi on Tuesday, which has yet to be renewed by the government. Top PPP leaders are reported to be meeting with former Pres. Zardari in Dubai to consult over the issue, which comes as the Rangers have clashed with home minister Sohail Siyal over the attempted arrest of one of his associates. Meanwhile, MQM mayor-elect Waseem Akhtar has been transferred to police custody for interrogation after his arrest on Tuesday; PSP leader Anis Kaimkhani has filed a Sindh High Court petition challenging his arrest. [ET] [Dawn]
  • Law Planned on Honor Killings: In a Reuters interview, the prime minister’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz, said that the PML-N would introduce legislation in parliament as soon as today to remove loopholes in existing laws that allow the families of victims of “honor killings” to pardon their killers. An aide reports that Prime Minister Sharif “is taking personal interest” in the issue and that all major parties are backing the draft legislation. A spokesman for the Council on Islamic Ideology said that it would not support the amendment; its rulings are not legally binding. [WAPO] [Dawn]
  • Other Political Activity: Prime Minister Sharif arrived in Islamabad on Wednesday and is reported to be meeting today with Finance Minister Dar to finalize nominees for vacant Election Commission members. He will chair a meeting of the National Security Council on Friday. The Pakistan Sarzameen Party formally launched a Khyber Paktunkhwa chapter in Peshawar on Wednesday. [ET]

Pakistan – Remainders

  • Senate Debates Foreign Policy and US Relations [Dawn] [ET]
  • Arms Control Association Report Credits Improvements in Pakistan Nuclear Security [Dawn]
  • Afghan Refugees Seek Guarantees Before Repatriation [Dawn]
  • Islamabad High Court Hears Challenge to ‘Move On Pakistan’ Party Chief’s Arrest [Dawn]
  • Two Militants Linked to Sectarian Attacks Killed in Karachi [Dawn]
  • 60 Chinese Engineers Reportedly Sent Home After Tarbela Dam Accident [Dawn]
  • Civil Servant Protests Draw Heavy Security in Peshawar [ET]
  • Report: Pakistan’s Education Crisis: The Real Story – “Pakistan’s education crisis does not come down to how much the country spends, but how the money is spent. Pakistan needs to spend better, not simply spend more.” [Nadia Naviwala, Wilson Center (pdf)]

Afghanistan – Security

  • Attacks and Operations: Heavy fighting is reportedly still ongoing in Kunduz’s Qala-e-Zal district; police officials claimed to have retaken control of the district center as of Thursday morning, but TOLO quotes the provincial governor saying that the district had fallen to Taliban control and operations were now seeking to retake it. Other sources report that the Dasht-e-Archi and Khan Abad districts are now under threat. On Thursday, Defense Minister Abdullah Habibi visited Nangarhar to meet with provincial officials and army commanders and discuss operations against the Islamic State; officials claim to have killed as many as 50 Daesh and Taliban fighters in air and ground operations in the Achin district over Wednesday night. Guards at the Afghan Supreme Court building in Kabul killed an armed woman who was seeking to enter the court compound; no further details on her identity have been reported, and details are limited. [Khaama Press] [Khaama Press] [Khaama Press] [TOLO]
  • Ammunition Wastage: Reuters reports that Afghan soldiers and police in Helmand are believed to be firing off excess ammunition for both small arms and artillery and profiting from the sale of the scrap shell casings; the exact scope of the problem is unclear, although several anonymous sources suggest it is a near-universal practice.
  • Nicholson Meets Pakistani Counterparts: U.S. and NATO commander Gen. John Nicholson met with Pakistani Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif in Islamabad on Wednesday for talks on an Afghan peace process and border security. No details of their discussions were disclosed. [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan – Economics and Development

Afghanistan – Remainders

  • Foreign Ministry Meets with Diplomats Ahead of Brussels Conference [TOLO]
  • More Than Three Million Afghans Lack Health Access [TOLO]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: MQM Leaders Arrested as Debate Over Rangers Mandate Renewed; Taliban Pushed Back in Sangin

Topline

  • Several MQM leaders, including Karachi mayor-elect Waseem Akhtar, were arrested on Tuesday after an anti-terrorism court denied their bail request, in connection to charges against former petroleum minister Asim Hussain. The Ranger’s policing mandate is set to expire; at a press conference on Tuesday, Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah said that their powers of investigation were limited to Karachi, pushing back against the recent arrest in Larkana of an associate of the provincial home minister. Helmand provincial officials report they have pushed back a Taliban offensive in the Sangin district; in Kunduz, local residents report the Qala-e-Zal district is on the verge of a Taliban takeover. The campaign period for the Azad Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly elections concluded on Tuesday; speaking to reporters, PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari warned of protests if PML-N rigged the results. Opposition party leaders are reportedly still divided over how forcefully to push for Prime Minister Sharif’s resignation as part of the investigations into the Panama Papers. The joint Afghan parliamentary committee tasked with debating Pres. Ghani’s electoral reform decree met for the first time on Tuesday, but no agreements were announced. The head of a small party who had recently called for a military takeover in Pakistan was arrested by Islamabad police on sedition charges.

Pakistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Karachi Crackdown: Police arrested several top MQM leaders, including Karachi mayor-elect Waseem Akhtar, on Tuesday after an anti-terrorism court rejected their applications for pre-arrest bail in connection to the investigations into former petroleum minister Asim Hussain, whose hospital is accused of providing medical services for militants and criminals at the request of Akhtar and others. Abdul Qadir Patel, a PPP leader, was also arrested, as was Anis Kaimkhani, the former MQM leader who subsequently joined Mustafa Kamal to form the rival Pakistan Sarzameen Party. Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah told a press conference on Tuesday that the Rangers were given powers of investigation only in Karachi, pushing back against their recent arrest of an associate of the Sindh provincial home minister in Larkana. The Express Tribune reports the mandate for the Rangers’ operations expired on Tuesday, while Dawn sets the date as Thursday; extension still waiting approval from Shah and from former Pres. Zardari, which officials said would take place shortly.
  • Azad Jammu and Kashmir Campaigning Concludes: The campaign period for legislative assembly elections in Pakistani-administered Azad Jammu and Kashmir concluded on Tuesday; 17,000 army soldiers, and roughly 15,000 police and paramilitary personnel have been deployed to provide security at the polls during Thursday’s vote. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari warned of protests if the PML-N rigged the results of the election, adding that he was “willing to work with the PTI on mutually agreed points” but saying he did not support the removal of the government through extra-constitutional means. Protests continue in Indian-administered Kashmir; in a statement on Wednesday, Prime Minister Sharif pledged support for Kashmir. [Dawn] [ET] [AP]
  • Other Political Activity: A meeting of opposition party leaders in Islamabad on Tuesday agreed that they would not continue negotiations with the government over the Panama Papers leaks and plan to introduce legislation in parliament to force an investigation, although the Express Tribune reports the parties are still divided over whether to force Prime Minister Sharif’s resignation, as sought by the PTI and PPP. Prime Minister Sharif has been advised against travel prior to Sunday, Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid reported on Wednesday, as he recovers from an infection and fever. [Dawn] [ET] [ET]
  • Civil-Military Tensions: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif met with Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif in Rawalpindi to discuss security operations in the province on Tuesday; details of the discussions are limited. On Wednesday, Islamabad police arrested the head of the “Move On Pakistan” party, a small group whose recent banners in the city had called for a military takeover; he was charged with sedition and released on bail. [ET] [ET] [Dawn]
  • Refugee Repatriation: Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Khyber Paktunkhwa Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak reiterated that the province could not continue to bear the costs of hosting Afghan refugees. Talks began Tuesday between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the UNHCR on the repatriation issue.

Pakistan – Economics and Development

  • CPEC Projects: The Ministry of Water and Power has reportedly set an end-2018 deadline for five energy projects to complete work or face removal from the list of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor priority projects, the Express Tribune reports. Four of the projects are based in Sindh, including a Thar coal-mining project, and one in Balochistan. [Dawn]

Pakistan – Remainders

  • In Death, Qandeel Baloch is Celebrated as a Feminist [NYT] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Senate Human Rights Committee Seeks to Disband Council of Islamic Ideology [WSJ]
  • Foreign Advisor Sartaj Aziz Downplays US Congressional Criticism [Dawn]
  • Three IEDs Defused in Mohmand [ET]
  • Activist Asma Jahangir Seeks Report on Military Radio Broadcasts [Dawn]
  • Khyber Paktunkhwa to Sign Agreement for Frontier Works Organization-Built Oil Refinery [Dawn]
  • NAB Arrests Khyber Paktunkhwa Additional Director [Dawn] [ET]
  • Senate Seeks Representation on Public Accounts Committee [ET]

Afghanistan – Security

Afghanistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Electoral Reforms: The joint parliamentary committee tasked with negotiating over Pres. Ghani’s electoral reforms decree officially began work on Tuesday, although no breakthroughs were reported.

Afghanistan – Remainders

  • Germany Train Attacker May Have Been of Pakistani Origin; Believed to Have Acted Alone [AFP] [AP] [WAPO]
  • Taliban and Local Strongmen Seek to Profit from Afghanistan’s Pistachio Crop [AFP]
  • World Bank and Kabul Municipality Launch New Construction Permit System [TOLO]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Awais Ali Shah Freed at Army Checkpoint Stop; Afghan Refugee Attacks German Train Passengers

Topline

  • Awais Ali Shah, the son of the Sindh High Court Chief Justice who was kidnapped in Karachi in June, was rescued after his captors’ vehicle was stopped at a military checkpoint in the Tank district on Monday; the military’s spokesman identified the hostage takers as “a TTP splinter group with some Al Qaeda elements”. An Afghan refugee in Germany attacked train passengers with an ax on Monday before being killed by police; the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack. Taliban fighters attacked the Salang pass on Tuesday, but are reported to have retreated after a brief engagement. The Azad Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly speaker, Sardar Ghulam Sadiq of the PPP, has been disqualified from contesting Thursday’s elections by an AJK High Court ruling. Pakistnai police filed charges against the brother and murdered of social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch on Monday, becoming a complainant to the case. The Wolesi Jirga has finalized its nominees for a conference committee with the Meshrano Jirga to debate Pres. Ghani’s electoral reforms decree; an MP tells TOLO that the lower house’s nominees are opponents of the decree. The National Accountability Bureau issued an arrest warrant for former Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Kayani’s brother, Kamran Kayani, in a Lahore Defense Housing Authority land scam; Kamran is believed to be living abroad. The treason court hearing charges against former Pres. Musharraf suspended hearings indefinitely after he failed to appear before the court; his assets have been ordered frozen.

Pakistan – Security

  • Awais Ali Shah Rescued in Military Operation: Early Tuesday morning, Pakistan’s chief military spokesman announced that Awais Ali Shah, the lawyer and son of the Sindh High Court Chief Justice who was kidnapped in Karachi in June, had been freed in a military operation in the Tank district in Khyber Paktunkhwa. Three of his captors were killed. Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, military spokesman Lt. Gen. Asim Bajwa said that Shah had been discovered in a vehicle that had refused to stop at a military checkpoint, and identified the hostage-takers as “a TTP splinter group with some Al Qaeda elements”, without elaborating. SHC Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah was reunited with his son Tuesday morning, telling reports that he gave “all credit to the army” for his rescue. [Dawn] [ET] [AP] [Dawn]
  • State Becomes Complainant in Qandeel Baloch Murder: On Monday, police filed “non-compoundable” charges in a First Information Report against Waseem Azeem, the brother and murderer of social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch, becoming a complainant to the case; doing so will prevent the family from pardoning Waseem and allowing for a settlement of the case. Baloch’s father has previously indicated he wants his sons prosecuted for the murder. Police are also investigating her elder brother, Aslam Azeem. [Reuters] [ET] [Dawn]
  • FATA Attacks and Operations: Seven people were killed in a roadside bombing in the Upper Dir district on Monday; Khan Muhammad, a local pro-government militia leader, was among those killed, although police reported that Malik Mutabar Khan, another militia leader who was not present, was the intended target. The AP identifies another victim as Adil Khan, a former nazim and Jamaat-e-Islami leader. Elsewhere, Mohmand Agency officials ordered a suspension of privileges for the Dadokhel tribe, charging them with failing to enforce security in their area. [Dawn] [ET] [ET]

Pakistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Kashmir Tensions: The senate passed a unanimous resolution on Monday protesting recent violence in Indian-administered Kashmir; PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari wrote an open letter to UN Secretary general Ban Ki-Moon on Monday calling on him to intervene and bring a halt to an Indian crackdown in Kashmir. Today, Pakistan will commemorate Accession Day, marking the anniversary of a 1947 conference that had sought Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan at Partition. Meanwhile, the Azad Jammu and Kashmir High Court ruled that AJK legislative assembly speaker Sardar Ghulam Sadiq of the PPP was disqualified from contesting Thursday’s elections, on charges that he had drawn a double salary as an advisor and legislative assembly member from 2008-2011.  [Dawn] [ET] [ET]
  • Corruption Investigations: On Monday, the National Accountability Bureau announced the issuance of an arrest warrant for Kamran Kayani, a brother of former Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, in connection to a land purchase scam in Lahore’s Defense House Authority. Kamran is believed to be out of the country. Separately, a PML-N-led coalition in the senate blocked by a one-vote margin a PPP amendment that would curtail NAB investigations at the provincial level; the PTI and PML-Q joined the PML-N in voting against the measure.  [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn]
  • Musharraf Treason Trial: The special court hearing treason charges against former Pres. Musharraf ordered on Tuesday that his property be confiscated and bank accounts frozen after he failed to return to the country for hearings after departing in late February; the court ruled that the trial could not proceed without Musharraf’s presence, and adjourned indefinitely. [Dawn]
  • Refugee Repatriation: UN, Pakistani, and Afghan officials are meeting this week in Murree beginning Tuesday to discuss the future repatriation of the estimated 3 million registered and unregistered Afghan refugees living in Pakistan; Pakistani sources suggest that the year-end deadline for their repatriation will not be extended further. [Dawn]
  • Other Political Activity: Opposition party leaders plan to meet Tuesday to discuss a response to the Panama Papers leaks, but PTI leader Imran Khan and PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will not attend, the Express Tribune reports. Ruling party leaders castigated Imran Khan over his remarks suggesting that a military coup in Pakistan would be welcomed by the public as an alternative to continued PML-N rule; former PPP prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said that the PML-N would be responsible if a coup took place. Khan continued to lead rallies ahead of the polls in Kashmir on Monday. In Karachi, former mayor Mustafa Kamal announced the formation of the new Pakistan Sarzameen Party’s youth wing.  [WAPO] [ET] [Dawn]

Pakistan – Remainders

  • MQM Leaders Arrested in Connection to Asim Hussain Case [Dawn] [ET]
  • FATA Tribunal Receives Records from Shakil Afridi Case [Dawn]
  • Peshawar High Court to Hear Three Military Court Sentence Appeals [Dawn]
  • JUI-F Leader Backs Saudi Arabia as Nuclear Power [ET]
  • Interior Ministry Seeking Extradition of British National [ET]
  • Tarbela Extension Project Acceleration Plan ‘No Longer Physically Possible’ [Dawn]
  • Gilgit Baltistan Judges and Lawyers Protest Over Court Registrar’s Suspension [Dawn]

Afghanistan – Security

  • Afghan Refugee Killed After Attack in Germany: A teenage Afghan who had been living in Germany with a foster family while seeking asylum attacked passengers on a train in Bavaria with an ax and knife on Monday, injuring at least four; he was subsequently killed by police. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, although authorities indicated they had not found evidence of direct communication. [WSJ] [AFP]
  • Attacks and Operations: In comments to Reuters, the Taliban’s chief spokesman refuted suggestions that the pace of insurgent attacks had slowed in the wake of the U.S. strike that killed Mullah Akhtar Mansour in May, attributing a slowdown to the Ramadan fasting period. On Tuesday morning, a group of Taliban fighters attacked the Salang Pass tunnel, wounding one motorist, before fleeing the scene. Officials in Helmand claim to have killed 30 Taliban fighters in operations in the Sangin and Marjah district. Fighting is ongoing in Kunduz’s Qala-i Zal district on Tuesday; details are limited, but army officials claim to have killed eight fighters. [Khaama Press] [TOLO] [Khaama Press] [AJE]

Afghanistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Electoral Reforms: On Monday, the Wolesi Jirga finalized its nominees for a conference committee with the upper house of parliament over Pres. Ghani’s electoral reform decree, which was rejected by the lower house. One parliamentarian tells TOLO that the Wolesi Jirga’s nominees are those opposed to the decree, suggesting deadlock with the upper house. Pres. Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah met separately with UN Special Representative Tadamichi Yamamoto on Monday to discuss election preparations.

Afghanistan – Remainders

  • Pakistani Officials See No Upturn in Ties with Kabul [ET]
  • 110 Kabul Municipality Employees Barred from Leaving the Country Over Corruption Investigations [TOLO]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Tensions High in Kashmir Ahead of Polls; Joint Chiefs Chairman Visits Kabul

Topline

  • The PML-N government has set July 20 as a “black day” to protest violence in Indian Kashmir, coming a day before elections in Pakistani-administer Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Imran Khan led separate rallies over the weekend in Muzaffarabad ahead of the polls; speaking after the failed Turkish coup attempt, Imran Khan suggested that Pakistanis would welcome military intervention and the ouster of the PML-N. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford visit Kabul on Saturday, meeting with U.S. commanders and Pres. Ghani. U.S. forces commander Gen. John Nicholson told the AP that new U.S. targeting authorities would help Afghan forces “stay on the offensive”; U.S. military intelligence officials suggest that the Taliban’s operation tempo “has decreased a little bit” following the death of Mullah Akhtar Mansour. Pres. Ghani visited Nangarhar on Friday, ordering the Afghan army to prepare for a “decisive battle” to eliminate Daesh forces in the east. The Sindh Rangers have reportedly issued an ultimatum for the handover an associate of Sindh Home Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal’s brother, who was freed from the Rangers’ detention by police last week; Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah is reported to be planning to remove Siyal from his position. Social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch was killed by her brother in an “honor killing” on Friday night; he was arrested Saturday, and professes no remorse. The Afghan Independent Human Righs Commission reported a 17% increase in overall casualties during the solar year ending March 21, with 3,129 civilians killed and 6,302 injured.

Pakistan — Security

  • Social Media Star Killed: Qandeel Baloch (real name Fauzia Azeem), a prominent Pakistani model, singer, and social media celebrity known for her provocative imagery and commentary, was killed by her brother in a so-called “honor killing” over Friday night. By Saturday evening the brother, Muhammad Waseem Azeem, had been arrested and confessed to killing her by smothering her after drugging her first, denying any remorse over the murder; some accounts indicate she was strangled. Prior to Waseem Azeem’s arrest, Qandeel’s father had filed charges with the police against him and another brother, Aslam Shaheen. Civil society activists held vigils following her death. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan estimates more than a thousand women were killed in “honor killings” last year. [Reuters] [AP] [ET] [ET] [ET]
  • Former ANP Provincial Assembly Leader Killed: Haji Shoaib Khan, a former Awami National Party provincial assembly member, was killed by unidentified gunmen in the Swabi district on Sunday; no claim of responsibility has been reported. [ET]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Kashmir Tensions: Friday’s cabinet meeting in Lahore chaired by Prime Minister Sharif reiterated condemnations of the killing of Hezb-ul-Mujahadeen commander Burhan Wani in a clash with Indian forces the week prior, and set July 19 as the date for a countrywide “black day” observance. On Saturday the government revised the date for July 20; JUI-F leader Fazlur Rehman has called a meeting of the parliamentary committee on Kashmir affairs for the same day. Elections in Pakistani-administered Kashmir are scheduled for July 21; PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari led a rally in Muzaffarabad on Saturday, accusing the PML-N of failing to confront the Indian government; PPP activists also held demonstrations in Karachi and Hyderabad. The PTI is also campaigning ahead of the polls. Prime Minister Sharif has reportedly been advised not to visit the region; his planned return to Islamabad on Monday was delayed by an infection and fever. [AFP] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Imran Khan Claims Popular Support for Coup: Referring to the failed Turkish coup attempt while campaigning in Muzaffarabad on Sunday, PTI leader Imran Khan said that “democracy in Pakistan is threatened by Nawaz’s monarchy and the people will celebrate and distribute sweets if the army takes over”. Khan also reiterated demands for Prime Minister Sharif to account for his alleged offshore wealth. In an earlier statement on Saturday, Prime Minister Sharif praised “the brave and resilient Turkish people, who stood up against the forces of darkness and anarchy to express their support and commitment to democracy”. The NYT notes the recent campaign by a small political group calling for Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif to take control; police registered criminal conspiracy charges against the group’s chairman on Sunday. [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Karachi Crackdown: The head of the Sindh Rangers met with Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah and reportedly issued an ultimatum that Sindh Home Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal hand over his brother, Tariq Siyal, and an alleged associate, Asad Kharal, who was freed by the police from the Rangers’ custody last week. Sohail Siyal denied any involvement in the incident; the Rangers are reported to have set up checkpoints around his house in Larkana. Dawn reports that Chief Minister Shah has agreed to remove Siyal as home minister within the week. On Sunday, the Rangers arrested at least twenty people in Larkana linked to Kharal. [ET] [Dawn]
  • Corruption Investigations: On Friday, the National Accountability Bureau formally cleared Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in connection to a 15-year old corruption case, dating back to his term as commerce minister. In a statement, Imran Khan accused the NAB of negligence and called on the Supreme Court to take up the case. [ET]
  • Other Political Activity: Finance Minister Dar and PPP parliamentary opposition leader Khurshid Shah met on Sunday and confirmed they would meet again Tuesday to discuss nominees for vacant Election Commission members. [ET]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • CPEC Oversight: Dawn cites anonymous military sources who report complaints from Chinese officials about the “overall management of the [China Pakistan Economic Corridor] project, particularly the involvement of various ministries”, and suggest the military is positioning itself to assert greater control over the project. Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, whose ministry is in charge of overseeing the project, insists that “the Chinese are very happy with the arrangement we have in place for CPEC.”
  • Census Planning: At a Supreme Court hearing on Friday, Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali ordered the government to provide a “definitive time frame” for holding a national census within two weeks. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • JUI-F Opposes Protection of Pakistan Act Extension [Dawn] [ET]
  • Islamabad Police Report ‘Mumbai-Style’ Terror Plot Disrupted [Dawn]
  • Technical Problems Slow CNIC Re-Verification Drive [Dawn]
  • One Killed in Frontier Corps Operation in Kalat District [Dawn]
  • Senate Chairman Seeks Discussion on ‘Irresponsible Statements’ of U.S. Congressmembers [Dawn] [ET]
  • Talks Planned with Afghan Telecom Officials Over SIM Usage [Dawn]
  • Sindh Governor Hospitalized with Chest Pains [ET]
  • Khyber Paktunkhwa to Challenge Gas Infrastructure Development Cess [ET]
  • Two NADRA Officials Jailed for Providing Fake IDs to Foreigners [ET]
  • Power Sector Continues to Face Losses and Circular Debts [ET]
  • Commerce Minister Suggests 2018 Export Target Out of Reach [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Dunford Visits: On Sunday, Pres. Ghani met in Kabul with visiting U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford, who previously commanded U.S. forces in Afghanistan; Dunford was quoted praising the efforts of the Afghan special forces and reiterating support for Afghan security forces. In an AP interview, Dunford said that Afghan forces “have the momentum”, and U.S. military intelligence officials suggest that the Taliban’s “overall operation tempo appears to be decreased a little bit” following the death of Taliban leader Akhtar Mansour. In another AP interview, Gen. John Nicholson said that changes to U.S. targeting authorities in Afghanistan would help the Afghan army to “stay on the offensive”. Nicholson also suggested that the strike on Mansour “had a more profound impact than even we estimated that it would”. On Saturday, the U.S. delivered five MD-530 combat helicopters to the Afghan Air Force, expanding the fleet to 23.
  • Ghani Visits Army Commanders: During a visit to Nangarhar province on Friday, Pres. Ghani met with commanders of the 201st Selab Army Corps, ordering them to take action to prepare for a “decisive battle” to “eliminate Daesh in the east”. Ghani also met with displaced residents of the Kot district. Meshrano Jirga speaker Zahir Qadir met with tribal elders in Nangarhar on Sunday, pledging support for operations against ISIS fighters in the province. [Khaama Press] [TOLO]
  • Civilian Casualties: The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission released a report on Saturday, documenting civilian casualties over the previous solar year that ended March 21. The AIHRC reported a 17% increase in overall casualties, with 3,129 civilians killed and 6,302 injured. Separately, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that 149,000 Afghans had been displaced from their homes during the first six months of this year, with Baghlan one of the worst-hit provinces.
  • Other Attacks and Operations: Provincial security officials in Kunduz reported that they repelled a coordinated Taliban offensive in the Qala Zal district on Monday; TOLO quotes anonymous provincial council officials who report that the Taliban have taken control of several villages. Taliban fighters attacked a police checkpost in Badghis’ Jund district on Sunday; at least nine were killed. Three Afghan Red Crescent aid workers were freed in Sar-e-Pul on Saturday after being kidnapped in the Sayad district earlier last week. Helmand provincial officials report that Afghan Air Force airstrikes in Marjah and outside the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah killed 20 Taliban fighters on Sunday. Nangarhar provincial officials reported that six Daesh fighters were killed in a U.S. drone strike in the Achin district on Sunday. The Pakistani press reports that five Pakistani nationals were killed in a NATO airstrike in Helmand on Friday that targeted a drug-running convoy; as many as thirty people were reportedly killed in all. [TOLO] [TOLO] [Khaama Press] [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Tensions with Pakistan: Pres. Ghani spoke by phone with Prime Minister Sharif of Pakistan on Saturday, discussing the drone strike that killed Umar Mansour, the TTP commander whose splinter faction carried out the December 2014 attack on the army public school in Peshawar. Prime Minister Sharif is reported to have thanked Pres. Ghani for the strike, which was carried out by U.S. forces but which Afghan ambassador to Pakistan Omar Zakhilwal claimed had been directed by Ghani. [Dawn] [ET] [TOLO]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Ghani Makes Personal Calls to Families of Slain Afghan Security Forces [NYT]
  • Taliban Disavow Interference in Central Asia [Khaama Press]
  • Investigations into Wardak Police Chief’s Alleged Taliban Ties Moving Slowly [TOLO]
  • Vice President Danish Pledges Counter-Narcotics Efforts [TOLO]
  • Kabul Mayor Pledges to Reclaim Dues, Take Action Against Land Theft [TOLO]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Pakistani Leaders Condemn Kashmir Violence; Nabil Accuses Pakistan of Supporting Attacks

Topline

  • At a federal cabinet meeting on Friday, Prime Minister Sharif announced plans to observe a “black day” this coming Tuesday in response to violence in Indian Kashmir; Bilawal Bhutto Zardari meanwhile led a rally of supporters in Pakistani Kashmir on Thursday, accusing the PML-N of neglecting the issue. Former National Directorate of Security chief Rahmatullah Nabil released what he said were documents detailing ISI support for the Haqqani network and the Afghan Taliban. Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif approved death sentences for twelve “hardcore terrorists” convicted under the military court system on Thursday. A Pakistan planning ministry household survey concluded that 76% of Pakistani households were suffering from malnutrition, which the highest rates reported in Balochistan. A Buzzfeed investigation found that U.S. forces conducting interrogations in Bagram frequently used a “separation” practice to isolate detainees, which the UN rapporteur on torture suggested violated international laws.

Pakistan — Security

  • Military Courts: On Thursday, military spokesmen announced that Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif had approved death sentences for twelve “hardcore terrorists” convicted under the military court system; nine were identified as members of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and the remainder members of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. [ET]
  • Judicial Security: A meeting of the Sindh High Court on Thursday urged renewed efforts to recover Awais Ali Shah, the son of SHC chief justice Sajjad Ali Shah, and said that the provincial government had thus far failed to take steps to provide additional security for sitting judges and their families. Lawyers boycotted court proceedings on Thursday in solidarity. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Kashmir Tensions: During a federal cabinet meeting on Friday, Prime Minister Sharif announced that Pakistan would observe a “black day” on Tuesday in response to violence in Indian Kashmir, and indicated his support for a joint session of parliament to debate the situation. Speaking at a Thursday press briefing, a spokesman for Pakistan’s foreign ministry said that “it is for the international community to urge India to resolve issues through dialogue”, a position India has rejected as an intrusion into its internal affairs. In an AP interview, Jamaat-ud-Dawa leader Hafiz Saeed said that “America is supporting this oppression by India by saying it is an internal matter” and that “this has given India encouragement, and because of this, the killings and violence”. Meanwhile, PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari led a rally of PPP supporters in Pakistani Kashmir on Thursday, accusing the PML-N of favoring friendship with Indian Prime Minister Modi over the concerns of the Kashmiri people. The Jamaat-e-Islami has announced plans to hold a protest march from Lahore to the Wagah border on July 31. [ET] [Dawn]
  • Panama Investigations: The Express Tribune suggest that the PPP has convinced PTI leaders to attempt to use the legal system to seek the disqualification of Prime Minister Sharif before considering public protests; Imran Khan left the country for London earlier this week, following the prime minister’s return.
  • FATA Reforms: An alliance of FATA political leaders announced plans to hold protests on August 14 if the government failed to take action to merge the FATA with Khyber Paktunkhwa province, calling for the repeal of the Frontier Crimes Regulation. Separately, South Waziristan tribal leaders held a rally in Wana to protest the closure of the Angor Adda border crossing. [ET]
  • Interior Minister Meets US Ambassador: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan met with U.S. ambassador to Pakistan David Hale on Thursday, during which Chaudhry Nisar expressed concerns that recent critical Congressional hearings were “unwarranted”, and could “dent Pakistan’s ongoing efforts to achieve common interests for durable peace in the region”. [Dawn] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Two-Thirds of Households Face Malnutrition: A household survey conducted by the ministry of planning found that 76% of Pakistani households were suffering from malnutrition, with the highest rate in Balochistan reported at 83.4% of households.
  • Privatization Plans: A meeting of the cabinet committee on privatization on Thursday approved plans to divest the government’s remaining 40% share of the Kot Addu Thermal Power Company and to move ahead with plans to sell off Pakistan Steel Mills, which has been non-operational for more than a year now.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Criminal Case Registered Against Party Calling for Military Takeover [Dawn] [ET]
  • Shabqadar Police Evict Afghan Refugees from Residential Areas [ET]
  • Peshawar Traffic Constable Killed [ET]
  • Islamabad Police Disrupted Planned Terror Attack [ET]
  • Khyber Paktunkhwa Cancels ‘Insaf Card’ Program [ET]
  • New Hydroelectric Projects Planned in Khyber Paktunkhwa [ET]
  • Government Tells Supreme Court Census Not Possible Without Army Personnel [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Former NDS Chief Criticizes Pakistan: In a TOLO op-ed published on Thursday and in a press conference for journalists, former NDS chief Rahmatullah Nabil released purported ISI documents apparently showing evidence that Pakistan’s military intelligence service had provided resources and support for attacks in Afghanistan by the Taliban and the Haqqani network. Nabil called for the Afghan government to “define an interest-oriented policy” that provides a “clear definition of friend and enemy at various levels”. Pakistan’s foreign ministry and military spokesmen have not commented on Nabil’s statement. [TOLO] [Khaama Press] [Reuters]
  • Detentions: Investigations by Buzzfeed show that U.S. military interrogators used long-term “separation” procedures to isolate detainees at Bagram at least 58 times over a 16-month period between 2009-2010, a practice the UN special rapporteur on torture described as “a coercive tactic” that violated international law.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Electoral Reforms: In comments on Thursday, Electoral Reform Commission chair Shah Sultan Akifi accused parliamentary legislators of “pursuing personal agendas in the electoral reform process”, arguing that the presidential decree on electoral reforms was now in effect following a split parliamentary endorsement of its provisions.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Ghani Visits Jalalabad [Pajhwok]
  • High Office of Anti-Corruption Criticizes Delays in New Anti-Corruption Center [TOLO]
  • Four Civilians Killed in Taliban Attack on Paktika Wedding Party [TOLO]
  • Report: Taliban Views on a Future State – “Few if any Taliban leaders say they want to re-establish the Islamic Emirate or revive the policies that drew the world’s opprobrium upon them when they controlled the Afghan state in the 1990s.” [Borhan Osman and Anand Gopal, NYU]
  • Commentary: The 2016 Insurgency in the North: Raising the Daesh Flag (Although Not For Long) – “Far from the flag raising signaling a success for Daesh, the switch of allegiance by a local group of Uzbek fighters in the Baghlan-Takhar-Kunduz triangle actually represented another failed attempt to establish the Islamic State in Afghanistan.” [Obaid Ali, AAN]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Death of TTP Commander Umar Mansoor Confirmed; No Plans for Future Quadrilateral Peace Talks

Topline

  • Pentagon and Pakistani military officials confirmed on Wednesday the death in a U.S. drone strike in Nangarhar of TTP splinter faction leader Umar Mansoor, whose group carried out the attacks on the Army Public School in Peshawar and Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, among other attacks. A spokesman for Pres. Ghani said there were no plans to hold another meeting of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group on Afghan peace talks. Pakistan’s foreign ministry welcomed an offer from the UN to serve as a mediator in Kashmir. The Balochistan Frontier Corps reportedly arrested three Afghan nationals, including an NDS agent, in a raid in Chaman on Wednesday. Nangarhar provincial officials report that a Daesh radio station was destroyed in a U.S. drone strike in the Achin district on Wednesday. Taking notice of delays in by-elections and other proceedings, Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali ordered the government to appoint Election Commission members by July 27; opposition party leaders failed to reach agreement on their preferred nominees at a meeting on Wednesday. The Wolesi Jirga failed to reach agreement on its nominees to a conference committee with the Mehsrano Jirga on the presidential electoral reform decree, and will recovene on the issue on Saturday.

Pakistan — Security

  • Umar Mansoor’s Death Confirmed: Pakistani military and U.S. military spokesmen confirmed on Wednesday that Khalifa Umar Mansoor, aka Umar Narai, the leader of a Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan splinter group that carried out the December 2014 attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar, among other attacks, had been killed in a U.S. drone strike in Nangarhar province on July 9. The TTP have not publicly confirmed his death, but a Reuters source reports that they are first seeking to determine his successor. In a Facebook statement on Thursday, Afghan ambassador to Pakistan Omar Zakhilwal claimed that Pres. Ghani had ordered the strike on Mansoor, which he said was “a practical testament to the fact that Afghanistan will not treat terrorists as assets and target them without distinction”. [WSJ] [Dawn]
  • Kashmir Tensions: Pakistan’s foreign ministry welcomed an offer by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to mediate tensions between India and Pakistan and the current unrest in Kashmir, which the foreign ministry insisted was not an “internal” matter for India. Foreign ministry officials continued outreach on the issue to their diplomatic counterparts in the EU and OIC on Wednesday. Hizb-ul Mujahadeen leader Syed Salahuddin led a rally in Muzaffarabad on Wednesday, accusing India of carrying out “genocide” in Indian-administered Kashmir. Strikes are ongoing, and at least 34 people are reported to have been killed since the killing of Hizb-ul Mujahadeen commander Burhan Wani on Friday. Prime Minister Sharif met with JUI-F leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Wednesday to discuss the situation; in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, the PML-N’s chapter has announced a “Condemnation Day” to be held tomorrow. Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif condemned the situation in Kashmir at a monthly corps commanders’ meeting on Wednesday. [Reuters] [Dawn] [ET]
  • Accused Afghan Spy Arrested: Dawn reports that the Balochistan Frontier Corps arrested three Afghan nationals, including one accused of working for the National Directorate of Security intelligence service, in a raid on the outskirts of the Chaman border town on Wednesday; a large cache of explosives and three local members of an unspecified “banned militant organization” were also reportedly detained.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Elections and Other Political Activity: Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali called a hearing to address the vacancies and lack of performance by the Election Commission, ordering the government to fill the four ECP commissioner vacancies by July 27. Opposition party leaders meeting on Wednesday failed to reach agreement among themselves on nominees for the commissioner positions, but have called a meeting for July 19 to discuss a strategy for investigations into Prime Minister Sharif’s family’s alleged overseas business holdings. [ET] [ET] [ET] [ET]
  • Karachi Crackdown: The Rangers released MQM leader Izhar Ahmed Khan after a day’s detention on Wednesday, saying they would be summoned for further investigations in the future. Separately, officials linked to Sindh Home Minister Sohail Anwar Sial are reported to have intervened to secure the release of Asad Kharal, a Larkana-based clerk who was detained by the Rangers on Tuesday evening as part of a corruption investigation. [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Group Calls for Army Chief’s Extension: Dawn reports that the Lahore offices of a small Pakistani party, “Move On Pakistan”, which recently set up banners calling for Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif to take control of the country, were attacked and defaced by a group of unidentified protestors on Tuesday evening. Party leaders blamed the PML-N-led provincial government. [ET]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Army Takes On Monitoring Role in FATA Health and Education [Dawn]
  • ‘Corridor Front’ Launched to Demand Greater CPEC Share for Khyber Paktunkhwa [ET]
  • Chief Justice Calls July 18 Meeting on Judicial Security [ET]
  • Punjab Bans ‘Hazardous’ Child Labor Under Age 15 [Dawn]
  • Afghan Medical Tourism Dries Up After Torkham Border Restrictions [Dawn]
  • Military Helicopter Crashes in Hunza [ET]
  • Pakistan’s Biggest Dam Stymied by Land Dispute [ET]
  • IMF Says Overall Banking System Capitalization is Strong [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Attacks and Operations: Nangarhar provincial officials report that two U.S. drone strikes in the Achin district on Wednesday killed a dozen Daesh militants and destroyed a radio facility. Local officials in the Kot district claim that Daesh fighters there are primarily Pakistani nationals operating under the commander of the Pakistani intelligence service. Afghan National Army special forces commander Gen. Bismillah Waziri held a press conference on Wednesday, praising Afghan special forces and the U.S. for supporting their operations. [TOLO] [TOLO] [Khaama Press]
  • Ghost Police Officers: Helmand governor Hayatullah Hayat tells TOLO that he is planning “systematic changes in the ranks of the police forces” and that 400 “ghost” police officers have been struck from the provincial payroll.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • No Plans to Revive Quadrilateral Coordination Group: A spokesman for Pres. Ghani tells the AP that the Afghan government has no plans to hold a future meeting of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group with the U.S., China, and Pakistan, noting that Afghanistan continues to suffer from “terrorist groups that operate from and have a support base in Pakistan.” An anonymous Pakistani security official confirmed that talks were stalled, blaming both the Taliban and the Afghan government.
  • Electoral Reforms: After two rounds of voting, the Wolesi Jirga failed to reach agreement on its nominees for a conference committee meant to meet with representatives from the Meshrano Jirga to discuss the presidential electoral reform decree that was rejected by the lower house but approved by the senate. Further negotiations and voting are planned for Saturday.
  • Indian Assistance: India’s ambassador to Afghanistan Manpreet Vohra signed a memorandum of understanding with Chief Executive Abdullah and other Afghan officials on Thursday, pledging $25 million in assistance for “micro development” projects.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Minister of Women’s Affairs Survives Impeachment Move [TOLO]
  • Flour Imports from Pakistan Drop [TOLO]
  • Report: ‘They Bear All the Pain’: Hazardous Child Labor in Afghanistan – “The Afghan government is failing to protect tens of thousands of children, some as young as 5, from hazardous conditions in the workplace, in violation of Afghanistan’s labor laws.” [Human Rights Watch]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Cabinet Meeting Called Over Kashmir Tensions; US Troops to Provide ‘Over the Horizon’ Support

Topline

  • Pakistan held briefings for the ambassadors of the permanent UN Security Council members on Tuesday, highlighting concerns over recent violence in Indian-administered Kashmir. Prime Minister Sharif has called a cabinet meeting for Friday, as the PPP has accused the ruling PML-N of “remaining silent” on the recent clashes, which comes ahead of legislative assembly elections scheduled to be held in Pakistani-administered Kashmir on July 21. U.S. and NATO commander Gen. John Nicholson told reporters on Tuesday that the U.S. was conducting supporting actions under expanded authorities approved by Pres. Obama last month “almost daily”; operations have reportedly focused in Nangarhar. Nicholson indicated that roughly 400 U.S. troops would provide “over the horizon” support to the NATO Resolute Support mission next year, and would not be counted towards the 8,400 U.S. troops in country. The Interior Ministry has sought a two-year extension of the Protection of Pakistan Act, whose provisions otherwise expire July 15, and of three-month detention powers under an amendment to the Anti-Terrorism Act. Finance Minister Dar and PPP opposition leader Khurshid Shah will meet later this week to discuss nominees for vacant Election Commission positions, after a meeting of opposition leaders scheduled to take place today. Afghanistan’s upper house of parliament nominated ten members for a conference committee with the lower house over a presidential electoral reforms decree rejected by the lower house. Peshawar exporters have reportedly halted their flour exports to Afghanistan after a hike in Afghan customs duties.

Pakistan — Security

  • Kashmir Tensions: Pakistan’s foreign secretary Aizaz Chaudhry held a briefing in Islamabad for the ambassadors of China, France, Russia, the UK, and the US on Tuesday, highlighting concerns over ongoing protests and violence in Indian Kashmir following the death of Hezb-ul Mujahadeen commander Burhan Wani. Prime Minister Sharif has called a special cabinet session on July 15 to discuss the situation in Kashmir. Six PPP legislators submitted a motion in the national assembly on Tuesday, seeking a debate on the issue. The violence comes amidst clashes between the PPP and PML-N ahead of legislative elections in Pakistani-administered Azad Jammu and Kashmir, scheduled for July 21; PPP senate opposition leader Aitzaz Ahsan criticized the PML-N for “remaining silent” over the violence on the Indian side of the disputed border. [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn]
  • Interior Ministry Seeks Extension to Detention Powers: The Express Tribune reports that the Interior Ministry has sent a request to the prime minister for a two-year extension of the 2014 Protection of Pakistan Act, whose provisions are due to expire July 15; the ministry has also sought an extension of amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Act that allow security forces to detain a suspect for up to three months without charge. Separately, Okara police killed six militants who are reported to have been linked to Al Qaeda in a raid on Wednesday; details of their identities have not been released. [ET]
  • FATA Attacks and Repatriation: Hamid Hussain Turi, the PPP chapter president in the Kurram Agency, was found dead of a bullet wound at his office on Tuesday morning; no claim of responsibility has been reported. Orakzai officials say they will repatriate 5,000 families between July 20-30. [ET]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Panama Papers Investigations: The PPP plans to introduce a new senate bill to form a judicial commission to investigate the Panama Papers, something that PPP leaders acknowledged they lacked the strength in parliament to pass into law but which they said was intended to bring “moral pressure” on the government to accept the opposition’s preferred terms of reference for an investigation. Meanwhile, Finance Minister Dar met with PPP leader Khurshid Shah on Tuesday to discuss nominees for the Election Commission, and agreed to meet again on Thursday after a meeting of opposition parties scheduled for today. Prime Minister Sharif met with his aides in Lahore on Tuesday, in which PML-N sources suggest that there was discussion of developing a “single tough strategy” to counter the PTI. [ET]
  • MQM Protests Leader’s Detention: On Tuesday, the MQM accused the Sindh Rangers of “abducting” party leader Izhar Uddin Ahmed Khan, who they said had been detained without charges or a warrant. The MQM also accused their rivals in the Pakistan Sarzameen Party, led by former mayor Mustafa Kamal, of collaborating with the Rangers to target the MQM. [ET]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Flour Export to Afghanistan Suspended: Peshawar flour exporters halted shipments to Afghanistan on Tuesday after Afghan customs officials reportedly hiked duties on the import of flour, a move dealers linked to Afghanistan’s recent signature of an import agreement with India. [ET]
  • China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Projects: The Frontier Works Organization has been tasked with leading the construction of a new oil pipeline linking Gwadar port with China, the Express Tribune reports; a budget and timeline for the project has not been specified. A separate editorial notes that a $1.8 billion hydroelectric project faces up to a year’s delay due to land acquisition disputes in Khyber Paktunkhwa. [ET] [ET] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Army Denies Connection to Banners Calling for Martial Law [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn]
  • Musharraf Challenges Trial by Anti-Terrorism Court in Judges’ Detention Case [ET] [ET] [Dawn]
  • Government Searching for Replacement FBR Chief [ET]
  • Balochistan Frontier Corps Seizes Explosives Cache [ET]
  • Supreme Court Hearing Case Over Labor Welfare Contributions [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Security

  • U.S. Operations: In a briefing for reporters on Tuesday, U.S. commander Gen. John Nicholson said that the U.S. was now supporting the Afghan national security forces “almost daily” through strikes on Taliban forces and the dispatch of U.S. troops in a planning and advisory role, under new authorities approved by Pres. Obama last month. Nicholson indicated that operations had shifted to focus on Nangarhar. An anonymous U.S. military source said that a “couple dozen” airstrikes had been carried out so far under the new authorities. Nicholson indicated that under new deployment plans, the U.S. would contribute 6,700 troops to the NATO Resolute Support training mission next year, of whom 400 would be based “over the horizon” in other unspecified countries, and would not count towards the 8,400 total troops in country. Carter’s briefing coincided with a visit by Defense Sec. Carter, who held a joint press conference with Pres. Ghani in which he reiterated support for the Afghan forces. [Khaama Press]
  • Attacks and Operations: In comments to TOLO, Baghlan provincial police chief Noor Habib Gulbahari acknowledged that government forces had suffered “heavy losses” and only controlled major highways and roads in the province, saying “we do not have the ability [to move forward] and to strengthen our outposts”. Fourteen Taliban fighters, including a local commander, were killed in a raid outside the Logar provincial capital of Pul-e-Alam on Tuesday. Continuing Afghan army operations in Kunduz’s Chahardara district killed seven Taliban fighters on Tuesday. [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Electoral Reforms: The Meshrano Jirga nominated ten senators for a conference committee with the Wolesi Jirga on a presidential electoral decree that was rejected by the lower house of parliament but approved by the upper house. The Wolesi Jirga has yet to nominate members to the committee.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Ministry of Higher Education Concerned Over Sexual Harassment of Female Students [TOLO]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: TTP Leader Umar Mansur Reportedly Killed in Achin; Sec. Carter Visits Kabul

Topline

  • Pakistani security officials say they believe Umar Mansur, the TTP splinter faction leader who claimed responsibility for the attacks on the Army Public School in Peshawar and Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Nangarhar’s Achin district on Sunday; there is as yet no confirmation of his death. Sec. Carter arrived in Kabul on Tuesday for meetings with U.S. commanders and Afghan officials. The NYT profiles new Taliban leader Mulalh Haibatullah Akhunzada, suggesting that he will be forced to operate by consensus and lacks the authority over the movement that his predecessor had. Pakistan and India traded diplomatic barbs on Monday over tensions and protests in Kashmir after the death of a Kashmiri separatist leader on Friday. Parliamentary opposition leaders will meet Wednesday to discuss nominees for Election Commission of Pakistan members. A spokesman for Chief Executive Abdullah criticized reports that former IEC chairman Ahmad Yusuf Nurstani had been appointed as an ambassador to Spain, saying the appointment should be cancelled. Tajikistan reopened its Badakhshan consulate on Monday, roughly six months after closing it due to security concerns.

Pakistan — Security

  • Drone Strike Kills Army Public School Attack Suspect: Anonymous security officials tell Dawn and the Express Tribune that they believe Umar Mansur, the leader of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan splinter group that carried out attacks on the Army Public School in Peshawar and Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Nangarhar’s Achin district on Sunday, along with militant leader Qari Saifullah. Officials say they are still working to confirm the reports, and it is not clear if he was deliberately targeted; Mansur had been sanctioned by the U.S. State Department on May 25.
  • Kashmir Tensions: Indian officials have imposed a curfew and has cut off phone and mobile service in Kashmir following protests over the weekend that left at least 25 dead, which were launched after Indian troops killed Hezb-ul Mujahadeen chief of operations Burhan Wani in a clash on Friday. Several hundred protestors defied the curfew and attempted to enter an Indian airforce base in Srinagar on Monday. Pakistan summoned India’s ambassador to formally protest “the use of excessive force against innocent civilians protesting peacefully over extrajudicial killings”. India’s foreign ministry responded that “Pakistan is advised to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of its neighbours”; Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesman in turn said that “the dispute of Kashmir has international recognition. It is not an internal matter of India. Such an assertion is a violation of UN Security Council’s Resolutions”. [AP] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Opposition Leaders Meet: Parliamentary opposition party leaders will meet on Wednesday in an attempt to reach consensus on nominees for vacant Election Commission members, the PTI and PPP announced following talks on Monday. PPP parliamentary opposition leader Khurshid Shah insisted that the party was not preparing to “soften” its stance against the PML-N, and said the onus was instead on Prime Minister Sharif to clear himself of charges of wrong-doing. [ET]
  • Elections and Other Political Activity: Prime Minister Sharif met with top aides on Monday, where he is reported to have focused on the PML-N’s strategy for the upcoming elections in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf accused the PML-N of seeking to delay the AJK elections, which are scheduled to take place July 21. The Supreme Court has taken suo moto notice of delays in the holding of by-elections in five constituencies, including the NA-63 Jhelum national assembly seat, which were postponed indefinitely following the retirement of the four ECP commissioners. [ET] [ET]
  • MQM Under Pressure: The Express Tribune reports that MQM leader Amir Khan has been suspended from the party’s Rabita Committee leadership body; no official statement has been made regarding his position. Speaking to supporters on Monday, Pakistan Sarzameen Party leader Mustafa Kamal accused MQM leader Altaf Hussain of directing the assassination of any potential rivals for succession. [ET]
  • Judicial Appointments: The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a petition brought by a lawyers group challenging provisions of the 2010 Judicial Commission of Pakistan rules, who argue that judges should be appointed through competitive exams rather than nominations by the chief justice. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Banners Reappear Calling for Chief of Army Staff to Take Over [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]
  • Edhi’s Son Express Concerns Over Risk of Drop in Donations [Dawn]
  • Christian Man in Gujrat Charged with Blasphemy [Dawn] [AFP]
  • Karachi Student Killed by Plainclothes Police [Dawn] [ET]
  • Interior Minister Reviews CNIC Reverification Campaign [Dawn]
  • Sindh High Court Blocks Arrest of Former Sindh Revenue Board Secretary [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Defense Secretary Carter Visits: U.S. Secretary of Defense Carter arrived in Kabul on Tuesday for an unannounced visit, during which he is expected to meet with senior U.S. military commanders as well as Pres. Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah. [TOLO] [Khaama Press]
  • Taliban Leader ‘Moving Slowly’: The NYT profiles new Taliban leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhunzada, suggesting that his appointment was a signal of a shift in power towards a consensus-based decision-making centered around the Taliban’s Quetta shura council, and that Haibatullah will be forced to operate in a less high-profile or confrontational fashion than his predecessor Mullah Akhtar Mansour in part due to his more limited support base.
  • Attacks and Operations: Nangarhar provincial officials claim that at least 18 ISIS-affiliated fighters were killed in two separate airstrikes in the Kot and Achin districts on Monday and Tuesday, respectively. Another Afghan Air Force airstrike in the Khogyani district is reported to have killed nine Taliban fighters, including a “number of Pakistani militants”. Ministry of Interior officials reported that ten Taliban fighters had been killed after they attacked a police checkpost in Farah province on Monday. Mir Aslam Dorandesh, an Afghan Local Police commander in Paktia’s Ahmadabad district, was killed in a roadside bombing on Monday. [TOLO]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Abdullah Protests IEC Chief’s Ambassadorial Appointment: A spokesman for Chief Executive Abdullah said that he hoped reports that former IEC chairman Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani had been appointed ambassador to Spain were not true, “and if it is true, we expect that Nuristani’s alleged involvement in corruption and election problems be taken into account,” calling for the appointment to be withdrawn.
  • Tensions with Pakistan: Former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad will testify at a U.S. House subcommittee hearing on Pakistan on Tuesday, chaired by Pakistan critic Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX); Khaama Press quotes Khalilzad making in remarks to the BBC, in which he accuses Pakistan of supporting regional terrorism and calls for isolating it “to turn the country into a second North Korea”. [Dawn]
  • Tajikistan Reopens Consulate: Tajikistan general consul Omid Nazarov announced the reopening of the Tajik consulate in Badakhshan, six months after it was closed due to security concerns; provincial police officials pledged to protect the facility.
  • High Peace Council Operations: TOLO reports that the High Peace Council has spent $190 million on projects to date since its founding, and that it spends more than $530,000 per month on salaries; HPC deputy chief Attaurrahman Salim says that the formation of new HPC provincial offices has been postponed due to a lack of resources.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Central Statistics Organization Projects High Population Growth [TOLO]
  • Commentary: Afghan Forces Should Learn from NATO’s Mistakes – “US and NATO support should not be unconditional, and should be directed at getting Afghan security forces to better protect their civilians.” [Rachel Reid, Al Jazeera]

Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Passing of Humanitarian Abdul Sattar Edhi Mourned; NATO Agrees to ANSF Support Through 2020

Topline

  • Famed Karachi humanitarian Abdul Sattar Edhi passed away on Friday; a state funeral was held for him on Saturday, attended by senior officials from across the political spectrum. NATO allies affirmed pledges to contribute financial assistance and training resources for the Afghan National Security Forces through 2020 at the Warsaw summit on Saturday. The U.S. will contribute roughly $3.5 billion annually, the Afghan government around $420 million, and and other NATO allies roughly $1 billion annually towards the ANSF’s budget. In his remarks to the conference, Pres. Ghani warned that Pakistan was making a ““dangerous distinction between good and bad terrorists”; Pakistan’s foreign ministry protested Ghani’s remarks. In a briefing for reporters on Saturday, Gen. Nicholson welcomed Pres. Obama’s new targeting authorities for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, but warned of high casualties facing Afghan forces. The Interior Ministry reported a drop in casualties amongst the Afghan Local Police, who they reported were serving across 176 districts. Prime Minister Sharif returned from London on Saturday, meeting with senior aides in Lahore; although Imran Khan has threatened to renew a street protest movement against the government in August, PTI sources suggest that the party will first push for the prime minister’s disqualification from office through the Election Commission. At least five people were reportedly killed in a clash between PPP and PML-N party activists in the Haveli district of Azad Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday, ahead of legislative assembly elections taking place on July 21. Funeral services were held in Kabul on Saturday for mujahadeen veteran and Ghani advisor Sayed Hussain Anwari.

Pakistan — Security

  • Chief of Army Staff Visits Line of Control: Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif visited soldiers posted on the Line of Control on Friday, praising their performance and conveying Eid greetings. [Dawn]
  • Sectarian Violence: Sagheer Ahmed Saifi, a Shia cleric, was injured in a home invasion attack in Islamabad on Saturday evening; his wife was killed. Although no arrests have been reported, Saifi identified his attackers as accomplices of a rival cleric seeking to take control of his seminary. In a ruling on Friday, the Sindh High Court dismissed a prosecutor’s appeal of a lower court’s acquittal of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi leaders Muhammad Ajmal and Tassaduque Hussain, in connection to a 2002 sectarian killing.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi Dies: Abdul Sattar Edhi, a Karachi-based philanthropist whose foundation provides ambulance services, orphanages, burials, and a wide range of other free social welfare services to the city’s poor, succumbed to kidney failure on Friday; he was 88. Edhi’s work, sustained solely on donations, and his eschewing of personal wealth, won him universal praise, and leaders from across the political spectrum praised him in tributes following his death. Prime Minister Sharif declared Saturday a national day of mourning. Tens of thousands of people attended a state funeral held in Karachi’s National Stadium on Saturday; Pres. Hussain, Chief of Army Staff Sharif, and other top dignitaries were also in attendance. Edhi was buried in a graveyard he had established for unclaimed bodies; his corneas were donated. A wake was held, under heavy security, at Karachi’s Memon Masjid on Sunday, where his son vowed to continue on his mission. Nobel peace prize winner Malala Yousafzai told BBC Urdu that she had nominated Edhi for the prize, although the Nobel committee’s rules preclude posthumous awards. [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [AJE] [AP] [Reuters]
  • Nawaz Sharif Returns from London: Prime Minister Sharif returned to Pakistan from London on Saturday, arriving on a chartered PIA flight; he was met by top aides and traveled to his home in Lahore after landing. His arrival was overshadowed by the ceremonies for Edhi in Karachi, which he did not arrive in time to attend. Sharif was briefed by his aides on Sunday; the Express Tribune reports he asked Finance Minister Dar to revive talks with elements of the opposition over an investigation into the Panama Papers. Speaking earlier on Friday, Imran Khan told a rally of supporters in Sialkot that the PTI would begin a protest campaign against the government in August, pledging that he “would not rest until he ensured the accountability of the rulers, especially the Sharif family”. PTI sources tell the Express Tribune that they will first push for action by the Election Commission on a petition for Sharif’s disqualification from office, and “the matter is likely to land in the Supreme Court”. PPP parliamentary opposition leader Khurshid Shah will reportedly meet with Finance Minister Dar on Monday to discuss nominees for four vacant ECP commissioners; PTI leaders say they are still seeking to meet with the PPP in an attempt to reach consensus amongst the opposition over the nominees. The Jamaat-e-Islami and Pakistan Awami Tehreek have planned an anti-corruption rally and opposition party conference on July 24 and 31, respectively.  [Dawn] [ET] [AP] [NYT] [Dawn]
  • Azad Jammu and Kashmir Elections: Clashes between rival PPP and PML-N activists on Sunday in the Haveli district of Pakistani-administered Azad Jammu and Kashmir left at least five people dead. Earlier on Saturday, the AJK Election Commission announced that 17,000 soldiers would be deployed ot provide security during the upcoming legislative assembly elections, which are scheduled to be held July 21. Also on Saturday, the PML-N’s AJK chapter unveiled its election manifesto. [APP]
  • Karachi Crackdown: Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, MQM leader Farooq Sattar called for immediate action against what he described as the extrajudicial killing of a party activist, Riazul Haq, by the Sindh Rangers and police. Haq had reportedly been picked up by the Rangers last May, and his body was found on June 30 of this year. [ET]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Provincial Leaders Complain of Marginalization: During his visit to Karachi to attend the funeral of Abdul Sattar Edhi, Khyber Paktunkhwa chief minister Pervaiz Khattak met separately with Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, holding a joint press conference afterwards in which they accused the federal government of ignoring the needs of the provinces and not consulting them in planning development projects; both also accused the government of failing to provide agreed-upon electricity supplies.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Pakistan Condemns Indian Killing of Hezb-ul-Mujahadeen Commander in Kashmir [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [Dawn]
  • Khyber Paktunkhwa Governor Says Tribal Jirga Will Precede FATA Reforms Decision [Dawn]
  • TTP Suspect Killed in Mansehra; Two Killed While Planting IED in Bajauar [ET] [ET]
  • Mumbai Attack Suspects Trial Remains Stalled [Dawn]
  • Finance Minister Reiterates Support for Agriculture Sector [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • NATO Conference Affirms Continued Afghanistan Mission: NATO allies meeting in Warsaw agreed to continue financial contributions to the Afghan national security forces, and to extend the “Resolute Support” training and assistance mission, from 2017-2020. Although the official communique did not announce specific financial commitments, Reuters reports that the U.S. will provide approximately $3.5 billion, the Afghan government around $420 million, and other NATO allies around $1 billion annually, for a combined budget of around $5 billion per year. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that decisions on NATO partner troop contributions would be made later this fall, although U.S. sources indicated that those force levels are expected to stay roughly the same overall. The UK has indicated it will increase its troop contribution in 2017 to 500 soldiers. Canada pledged $170 million in military aid and $270 million in nonmilitary aid. South Korea pledged $45 million in annual military aid. Pres. Obama met with Pres. Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah on the sidelines of the summit. [LAT] [TOLO] [TOLO] [TOLO]  [Warsaw Summit Communique] [White House Fact Sheet] [Pres. Obama Remarks After Summit]
  • U.S. Assistance: In a briefing for reporters in Kabul on Saturday, U.S. and NATO Commander Gen. John Nicholson said that Pres. Obama’s expanded targeting authorities for U.S. forces in Afghanistan meant that “I can help the Afghans keep the pressure on the enemy, even though a defeat was not imminent” and that “if the Afghan forces are conducting offensive operations, we can support them”.
  • ANSF Casualties: In his briefing on Saturday, Gen. Nicholson noted “more tactical success [by Afghan forces] on the battlefield but more casualties as well”, although he did not provide detailed figures; the commander of the Afghan National Army’s 215th Corps in Helmand tells Reuters that his casualty rates are lower this year than last. Separately, the Interior Ministry reported that the casualty rates of Afghan Local Police militiamen have dropped, with 295 deaths reported since the start of the Afghan lunar year on March 21, compared to 403 deaths between March 21 – July 21 2015. Officials suggest plans are still underway to increase the size of the ALP force, but provided no details. Around 30,000 militiamen serve in the ALP currently, deployed across 179 districts, of whom ministry officials said 94% had been verified as actual members as opposed to “ghost” officers. Ministry officials also indicated that 1,350 ALP members had been fired for various violations, and claimed that “95 percent of the force had been relieved of influence of powerful individuals.”
  • Attacks and Operations: An airstrike in Nangarhar’s Achin district on Saturday killed 16 suspected ISIS-affiliated militants. Another 31 reportedly were killed in ground operations, backed by the Afghan Air Force, in the Achin and Kot districts on Sunday. Three children were killed in a roadside bombing in Kandahar’s Arghistan district on Sunday. Herat provincial council officials voice concerns about rising Taliban influence in multiple districts. [TOLO] [Khaama Press] [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Tensions with Pakistan: In his remarks to the Warsaw Summit on Saturday, Pres. Ghani said that “despite clear commitments to a quadrilateral peace process”, Pakistan’s “dangerous distinction between good and bad terrorists is being maintained in practice”. Chief Executive Abdullah also cited the presence of “sanctuaries and staging grounds in our neighborhood” that “enabled the reemergence of militant cells”. Pakistan’s foreign ministry issued a statement in response saying that it was ” unfortunate that Afghan leaders continue to make hostile statements against Pakistan and blame Pakistan for all failures in Afghanistan” and said that “since we have a genuine interest in seeing peace in Afghanistan, Pakistan would continue to make every effort to help bring peace in Afghanistan”. Speaking at a press conference on Monday after his return from Poland, Ghani said that Afghanistan “wants Pakistan to hand over those militants opposing peace”. [Khaama Press]
  • Funeral Services for Anwari: Funeral services were held for Sayed Hussain Anwari, a leader of the Hezb-e-Harakat-e-Islami party, mujahadeen-era veteran, and military advisor to Pres. Ghani, who died last week while receiving cancer treatment in an Indian hospital. Yunus Qanooni, Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, Ahmad Zia Massoud, and other leaders attended the ceremonies. [TOLO]
  • Taliban Talks: An anonymous Taliban source claims to the Express Tribune that Mullah Akhtar Mansour had been preparing to “make an announcement to join peace talks” prior to his death in a U.S. airstrike in May, and suggests that the group’s Qatar office is still in favor of efforts to conduct unofficial outreach to members of the Afghan government.
  • Electoral Reforms: Senate first deputy Farhad Sakhi tells TOLO that the Meshrano Jirga will appoint members by Tuesday to a joint parliamentary committee to consider Pres. Ghani’s electoral reform decree, which the upper house approved after the lower house rejected it. [Ariana News]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Nepalese Team to Investigate Attack on Embassy Guards [TOLO]
  • 90 Prisoners Freed from Nangarhar Jail [Khaama Press]
  • Interview: Hamid Karzai, in Retirement Says of Afghanistan: ‘We Should Not Be Failing’ [LAT]