Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Pakistani Taliban Revoke Offer to Negotiate with Government; Red Cross Freezes Afghan Operations

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Topline

  • Pakistani Taliban confirm Wali-ur Rehman’s death, and announce the revocation of a negotiations offer with the Pakistani government, who they accuse of supporting the U.S. drone campaign. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Dobbins visits Islamabad to meet with senior Pakistan and U.S. officials. The Red Cross has announced an indefinite halt to staff movement in Afghanistan as it reassesses its operations following an attack on its Jalalabad offices earlier this week.

Pakistan — Security

  • Pakistani Taliban Confirm Wali-ur Rehman’s Death: The Pakistani Taliban’s chief spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, confirmed the death of deputy commander Wali-ur Rehman in a drone strike near Miram Shah on Wednesday. In doing the TTP announced that it was withdrawing a negotiations offer with the Pakistani government, which it accused of supporting the U.S. drone campaign. Khan Said, aka Sajna, a deputy to Rehman, had reportedly been chosen as his successor, although Ehsan suggested to some reporters that that decision had not been finalized. PTI leader Imran Khan called on incoming prime minister Nawaz Sharif to take action against drones operating in Pakistan, which he said should be shot down if the U.S. refuses to curtail their use. Separately, Maulana Sami-ul Haq of the JUI-S accused the US of “sabotaging” peace talks, and said that the Pakistani government “must prove [to the Taliban] that it was not complicit in this attack”. [WSJ] [AP] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Special Representative Visits Islamabad: New Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan James Dobbins arrived in Pakistan on Thursday, where he met with senior civilian and military leaders, including Nawaz Sharif. Dobbins “underscored United States’ commitment to working with the next democratically-elected government to build a strong, mutually beneficial bilateral relationship”, according to U.S. embassy statements; developments in Afghanistan appear to have been a focus of discussions with both Sharif and Gen. Kayani. In their meeting, Sharif reportedly conveyed concerns over the U.S. drone campaign in Pakistan, which he said “could make it difficult for his government to win necessary support for the Afghan endgame”.
  • Government Negotiations: A group of “about a dozen” PPP senators and independent senators from the FATA reportedly met in Islamabad on Thursday to discuss possible defection to the PML-N; despite heavy losses in the general elections, the PPP still holds a plurality in the upper house of parliament. Meetings in Lahore on Thursday between the PML-N, National Party, and Paktunkhwa Milli Awami Party failed to resolve deadlock over the choice for chief minister in Balochistan; talks are continuing Friday. On Friday, Pervez Khattak of the PTI was elected chief minister of Khyber Paktunkhwa, with 84 votes from the provincial assembly; Maulana Lutfur Rehman of the JUI-F won 37 votes. The PML-N is now expected to win the opposition leader’s seat there, thanks to independent members’ move to join the party. [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]
  • Khoso Withdraws Transfers and Appointments: Facing contempt of court proceedings before the Supreme Court, Caretaker Prime Minister Khoso announced Thursday the withdrawal of transfer and promotion orders for around 20 senior government officials. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Election Rigging Allegations Persist [Dawn]
  • Chinese Worker Cleared of Blasphemy Charge in Kashmir [AFP]
  • Bombs Target JUI-F Leader’s Home, Girl’s School in Bannu [Dawn] [ET]
  • Roadside Bomb Kills Anti-Taliban Militia Member in Peshawar [Dawn]
  • Three Security Personnel, Twenty Militants Killed in Orakzai Clash [Dawn]
  • Supreme Court to Resume ‘Memogate’ Hearings on June 4 [ET]
  • Fighting Pakistan’s Measles Epidemic [BBC]
  • Furnace Oil Shortage Fuels Thriving Grey Market [ET]
  • 30,000 Pakistanis Face Expulsion from Saudi Arabia as Illegal Immigrations [GEO]
  • Report: Assessment of the Quality of General Election 2013 – “Although it appears that different local powerful actors negatively influenced the quality of election in Urban Sindh, especially Karachi, rural Sindh and certain constituencies in the Punjab, there is no evidence at this stage which suggests a planned manipulation of polls by any State institution unlike the strongly suspected government interference in many of the past elections.” [PILDAT (pdf)]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Red Cross Halts Operations: Following a suicide attack on its Jalalabad offices on Tuesday, the Red Cross announced that it had halted staff movement within the country and closed the Jalalabad offices indefinitely. On guard was killed in that attack, who was unarmed; the organization maintains strict neutrality in all conflicts, and supports two hospitals and 47 clinics in Afghanistan. Red Cross officials said that they were “reconnecting with the government and re-connecting with armed groups to determined what happened and why.” No claim of responsibility for the attack has yet been issued. [Guardian] [RFE/RL]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Karzai Criticizes Foreign Role in Afghan Peace Talks: Without offering additional background on the remarks, TOLO quotes Pres. Karzai as saying Thursday that “foreigners are misusing Kabul’s dream for peace to fulfill their selfish motives in Afghanistan”, criticizing recent tripartite talks hosted in London and Islamabad as “a way for other countries to prepare a strategy so as to achieve their selfish goals”.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Interior Minister Calls for More Night Raid Operations by Afghan Special Police [TOLO]
  • Nangahar Governor Gul Agha Sherzai Accuses Provinicial Judiciary of Corruption [TOLO]
  • Son of Afghan Army Chief Under Investigation for Attacking Police Officer in Kabul [TOLO]
  • Afghan Women in Fight Over Rights Law [AJE]

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