Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Sharif Elected Prime Minister; No Decisions on Post-2014 Afghan Troop Levels Till Fall

Topline

  • Nawaz Sharif is elected prime minister of Pakistan with 244 votes in the national assembly. NATO leaders in Brussels say no decisions on post-2014 troop levels in Afghanistan are likely until after the fall. More bodies are discovered linked to abuses in Wardak; two protestors were killed when police opened fire on protesting crowds in Maidan Shah. The Red Cross has temporarily withdrawn some international staff from Afghanistan as it continues to review security there. An IMF delegation will visit Pakistan on June 19 for dialogue with the new government.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Nawaz Sharif Elected Prime Minister: PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif was elected prime minister of the new parliament on Wednesday, winning 244 votes from the assembly and returning to the office for the third time. In his inaugural address to parliament, Sharif vowed to tackle Pakistan’s challenges and to maintain the democratic process, and to consult with all parties. He will take the oath of office from Pres. Zardari later this evening; Dawn reports that he will be joined by a small cabinet including Ishaq Dar as Finance Minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan as Interior Minister, Khurram Dastagir as Trade Minister, and Sahid Khaqan Abbasi as Petroleum and Natural Resources Minister, among others. The JUI-F and MQM both backed Sharif’s election as “goodwill gestures”, although the opposition PTI and PPP both fielded candidates, who received 31 and 42 votes, respectively. A vote to select the parliamentary opposition leader has yet to take place, and a decision by the MQM on whether or not to back the PPP candidate in that vote would determine whether the PTI and an alliance of smaller parties is able to win the position. In the Senate, the PPP and PML-N will trade roles as government and opposition leaders, although the PPP retains a plurality in the upper house. [AJE] [BBC] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Provincial Governments: PTI and Jamaat-e-Islami leaders in Khyber Paktunkhwa are scheduled to meet on Wednesday to debate who will control the provincial education ministry. Elections for the Chief Minister of Balochistan will take place on June 9; PML-N Balochistan provincial chapter leader Sardar Sanaullah Zehri has yet to comment on Nawaz Sharif’s decision to endorse Abdul Malik Baloch of the National Party for the position. The Paktunkhwa Milli Awami Party has protested the election of Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo of the PML-Q as Balochistan assembly deputy speaker.
  • Caretaker Government Appointments: On Wednesday, Chief Justice Chaudhry ordered a report on all appointments, transfers, and postings made by the outgoing caretaker government; despite a May 22 court order barring such transfers, Caretaker PM Khoso had reportedly transferred more than a hundred civil servants to federal ministries in recent days. Khoso also reportedly ordered the extension of multiple firearms licenses to himself and members of the caretaker cabinet. [ET]
  • Special Elections: Candidates who won more than one seat in the national or provincial assemblies must choose one from which to serve by June 10, the Election Commission has announced. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • IMF Talks: An IMF delegation will visit Pakistan on June 19 for dialogue with the new government about possible future loan programs, incoming Finance Minister Ishaq Dar tells the Express Tribune. Finance ministry officials are reportedly pushing the incoming government to accept the need for an early IMF bailout, rather than waiting three to four months as some PML-N advisors have suggested. [ET]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Supreme Court Hints it May Revisit Swiss Case Against Zardari [ET]
  • Despite Orders, Delay in Restoring Prime Minister’s Polio Coordination Cell [Dawn]
  • National Accountability Bureau Summons Ex-PMs on OGRA Appointment [ET]
  • PTI Women’s Wing Seeks to Retain Leader [Dawn] [The Nation]
  • Musharraf ‘Ready to Face’ High Treason Charges [ET]
  • PPP Vows to Resist Cut in Benazir Income Support Program Budget [Dawn]
  • Pakistan’s Dangerous Negligence of Climate Change [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Security

  • NATO Deliberates Afghan Mission: NATO defense ministers and ISAF officials meeting in Brussels this week made no decisions on troop levels to be stationed in Afghanistan after 2014. ISAF Commander Gen. Joseph Dunford told reporters that those decisions would be made after assessing the performance of Afghan security forces over the summer fighting season and after reviewing the country’s political situation in the fall, at which point “we’ll project out at that point what the mission ought to look like specifically in 2015.” [TOLO] [Reuters]
  • Wardak Abuse Investigations: Afghan investigators in Wardak’s Nerkh district tell the NYT that they believe they have discovered the final three bodies of 17 men in all who had gone missing after initially being detained by an American Special Forces team operating in the area until earlier this spring. Several hundred demonstrators protested in the town of Maidan Shah, and two protestors were subsequently killed when police opened fire to disperse the crowd. American officials continue to maintain that U.S. forces played no role in the men’s deaths, but the circumstances of their detention and abuse by Zakeria Kandahari, identified by Afghan investigators as an Afghan-American translator for the special forces unit remain unclear. Reuters reports that an Afghan army colonel from a separate unit has been arrested on charges that he had transferred detainees to Kandahari’s custody. [AP] [AJE]
  • Red Cross Pulls Some Staff: The Red Cross announced on Tuesday that it was temporarily withdrawing some international staff from Afghanistan as it reassesses the security situation in the country, following a suicide attack on its Jalalabad offices last week. The Taliban has denied responsibility for the attack.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Travel Ban for MPs Accused of Corruption: Afghanistan’s Attorney General has placed travel restrictions on five parliamentarians accused of corruption by Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal, and has warned that it will suspend them from office if they fail to present themselves for interrogations.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Four Civilians Killed in Farah Bombing [TOLO]
  • Karzai Urges Qatar Businessmen to Invest in Afghanistan [TOLO]
  • In Afghanistan, Grief for a Husband Who Shouldn’t Have Died [Reuters]
  • Women Denied Inheritance Gain a Champion [McClatchy]

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