Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Kabul Airport Attacked; Pakistan Prepares for Budget Passage

 
Topline

  • The Taliban strike at Kabul International Airport; aside from the attackers, no casualties are reported, however. A drone strike hit North Waziristan on Friday, prompting formal protests from the Pakistani government. Pres. Karzai traveled to Qatar for regional diplomatic discussions; a JUI-S account suggests that Nawaz Sharif may visit Kabul later this week, although that trip has not been confirmed. Afghanistan, Pakistan, and ISAF resumed trilateral military discussions on border cooperation on Saturday. The PPP’s Kursheed Shah has been confirmed as the National Assembly opposition leader after the PTI and MQM opt not to file nominees. New Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch was elected chief minister of Balochistan unopposed. Pres. Karzai has insisted that the UK complete the transfer of detainees being held at Camp Bastion in Helmand by June 22. Pakistan’s National Economic Council met on Monday to prepare for the upcoming budget, which is expected to be presented in parliament on June 12.

 
Pakistan — Security

  • Predator Strikes: At least seven people were killed in a Predator drone strike that struck a house in North Waziristan on Friday. Dawn reports that Bahadar Khan, aka Mutaqi, a Pakistani Taliban commander, was among those killed. The Pakistani foreign ministry summoned U.S. charges d’affairs Amb. Richard Hoagland to formally protest the attack, and on Saturday Prime Minister Sharif told reporters that continued drone operations were “simply unacceptable”. Anonymous PML-N sources tell the Express Tribune that the Sharif government plans to “urge” Washington to halt the drone campaign, but would also oppose “all elements violating the country’s sovereignty by keeping safe havens on our territory… if we can act decisively against such specific targets then the US has no justification for drone use.” The JUI-F, in contrast, is reported by Dawn to be pushing Sharif “publicly distance his government from the drone attack” in order to bring the Pakistani Taliban to the negotiating table, “which means that strong condemnation must be followed by the threat to downgrade relations with Washington”. [NYT] [WAPO] [ET]
  • Militant Infighting: The Pakistani Taliban’s spokesman has accused Lashkar-e-Taiba and Ansar-ul Islam, and groups “using the name of” the Afghan Taliban” of joining a local anti-Taliban milita force in the Mohmand Agency to carry out attacks on its bases in the area and across the border in Afghanistan. A Lashkar-e-Taiba spokesman denied the account.
  • Swat Withdrawal: Khyber Paktunkhwa information minister-designate Shaukat Ali Yousafzai of the PTI told reporters on Friday that a decision has been made to withdraw the Pakistani army from the Swat district and that “they will be called off gradually in phases” as civil administration in the area is strengthened. [Dawn]
  • NATO Supply Line Attacks: A driver for a NATO supply truck was killed in an attack by unidentified gunmen near the Chaman border crossing on Friday. On Monday, three drivers were killed in an attack on NATO supply trucks traveling through the Khyber Agency.
  • Pakistan Denies Line of Control Firing: A Pakistani military spokesman denied Indian allegations on Friday that it had carried out firing across the Line of Control in Kashmir, which India said killed one soldier. Indian military officials say the incident is under investigation. [AFP]

 
Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • National Government Negotiations: Pres. Zardari will address a joint session of parliament on Monday, the sixth such occasion on which he has done so. The Express Tribune details the incoming federal ministers sworn in on Friday. New Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan met with Nawaz Sharif on Saturday to discuss ministry priorities. Also on Friday, Syed Khursheed Ahmad Shah of the PPP was formally notified as opposition leader in the national assembly; neither the PTI nor the MQM submitted names for the position. The PPP will reportedly nominate Azra Afzal Peechu, a sister of Pres. Zardari, as head of the Public Accounts Committee. On Monday, PML-N Senator Raja Zafarul Haq was recognized as leader of the senate. Maulana Fazlur Rehman met with PM Sharif on Saturday; afterwards, party spokesmen indicated that the JUI-F would support the PML-N in parliament, although the final conditions of its participation in the coalition government are still the subject of ongoing negotiation. [Dawn] [ET]
  • Provincial Governments: Abdul Malik Baloch of the National Party was elected unopposed to the position of Balochistan chief minister on Saturday, and sworn in on Sunday; in a Dawn interview, Baloch argues that Baloch nationalists “need to connect with national democratic forces to achieve our objectives. We need to work within Pakistan. We have no other option.” The Balochistan National Party-Mengal continues to conduct consultations with party members over whether or not to boycott the assemblies over charges of rigging against the party in the recent elections. As part of the compromise that led to Baloch’s choice as a consensus candidate, the Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party is expected to nominate the party’s central general secretary, Akram Shah, as Balochistan governor. Pres. Zardari accepted the resignations of current Balochistan governor Zulfiqar Ali Magsi and Punjab Governor Makhdoom Ahmed Mehmood on Sunday. In Sindh, Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah and Information Minister Sharjeel Memon both suggested that further amendments to the local government system are possible before local elections are held. Dawn reports that the draft Khyber Paktunkhwa provincial budget for the forthcoming fiscal year provides for Rs 20 million in discretionary allocations to assembly members, contradicting the PTI’s campaign pledges to the end the practice. The PTI has also reportedly insisted that the Jamaat-e-Islami accept the Ministry of Health, Planning, or Local Bodies rather than the Ministry of Education that was initially offered as part of their coalition agreement in Khyber Paktunkhwa. [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [ET] [ET] [ET]
  • PPP Plans Reorganization: Senator Raza Rabbani has been appointed additional secretary general of the PPP and has been tasked with planning the party’s reorganization after substantial electoral losses outside of its base in Sindh. Rabbani vowed to defend the principle of provincial autonomy, and said that the PPP would oppose the privatization of the Karachi Electric Supply Company. [ET]

 
Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Budget Planning: New Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said that the budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year will be presented in parliament on June 12. The federal-provincial National Economic Council will meet on Monday to review the state of the economy and approve Public Sector Development Program spending projects, which are expected to total around Rs 1.13 trillion. Officials tell Dawn that the government plans to rename and reduce allocations for the Benazir Income Support Program, and will institute an audit of the past three years’ spending. The NEC is also considering eliminating the prime minister’s special discretionary development fund. [ET] [ET] [ET] [AFP]
  • Energy Crisis: Khawaja Asif, the new Minister for Water and Power, told reporters on Saturday that it will take “a year at least” to eliminate load-shedding shortages, noting problems of power theft and transmission losses. Speaking separately, new Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said that “energy is our first, second and third top priority,” and affirmed that Pakistan would continue to work to develop a natural gas pipeline with Iran. [ET]

 
Pakistan — Remainders

  • Former PM Gilani Accuses FIA and NAB of Harassment [Dawn]
  • MQM Narrowly Wins PS-128 Seat After PTI and ANP Boycott Re-Polling [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]
  • Munir Malik Approved as New Attorney General of Pakistan [Dawn] [ET]
  • Over a Dozen Killed Over Weekend in Fresh Clashes in Karachi [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn] [AFP]
  • Three Security Personnel Killed in North Waziristan Attack [Dawn]
  • South Waziristan Families Still Displaced As Political Administration and NADRA Fight Over Repatriation Program [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • New IT Minister Warns Of Possible Google Ban Over Objectionable Material [PTI]
  • Former PM Ashraf’s Son-in-Law Resigns from World Bank Appointment [ET]
  • New Musharraf Prosecutor Lacks Bar Membership [Dawn]
  • Imran Khan Meets with Dissident Women’s Wing Leader Kasuri [Dawn]
  • Peshawar Police Discover Large Explosives Cache [Dawn] [ET]
  • Sindh Chief Minister Approvals $2.6 Billion Karachi Circular Rail Proposal [Dawn]
  • Commentary: The Deep State – “Transparency and accountability parameters need to be established now by both the political and military leadership.” [Tariq Khosa, Dawn]
  • Commentary: Team N Takes Center Stage – “Perhaps one of the more unsettling things about this round of the N-League is that the party itself isn’t sure, even now, why it won by the margin it did.” [Cyril Almeida, Dawn]

 
Afghanistan — Security

  • Kabul Airport Attacked: A team of seven Taliban suicide bombers attacked Kabul International Airport early Monday morning; Afghan police forces responded and, after approximately four hours of fighting, killed all of the attacking gunmen. Only two civilian injuries were reported, and the airport reopened after the operation was finished. Coalition officials say they participated only in an advisory role and that the perimeter for the military portion of the airport was not breached. The attack follows another Taliban attack in the city in late May, which targeted the headquarters of the UN International Organization for Migration. [NYT] [WAPO] [BBC] [TOLO]
  • Zabul Provincial Council Attacked: A group of six insurgent gunmen attacked the offices of the Zabul Provincial Council in the capital of Qalat on Monday; fifteen civilians and three police officers were injured, and all five attackers were killed.
  • Insider Attacks: Two American soldiers and one civilian advisor were killed when an Afghan National Army soldier opened fire during a lunchtime meeting in Paktika province on Saturday; ISAF officials said that a second gunman had been detained. Afghan officials indicated that the attack had been preceded by an argument over whether or not the gunman would be allowed to attend a shura. It is the fifth insider attack on foreign forces in Afghanistan so far this year. [AJE] [Reuters] [BBC]
  • UK Detainee Transfers: A spokesman for Pres. Karzai tells the Guardian that he has demanded Britain transfer all Afghan detainees currently being held at Camp Bastion to Afghan government custody by June 22. On Sunday, the British Embassy issued a statement that it “fully supports the Afghan Government’s request that all UK captured detainees are transferred as quickly as possible to the appropriate Afghan authorities for investigation and, if appropriate, prosecution under the Afghan judicial system.” The embassy said, however, that “in resuming the transfer of UK captured detainees to Afghan custody, we must be satisfied that they do not face a real risk of serious mistreatment or torture.”
  • Border Tensions: Afghanistan, Pakistan, and ISAF military commanders held trilateral meetings in Rawalpindi on Saturday on border security issues, following several months of tensions related to alleged Pakistani border post construction and allegations of cross-border artillery fire. [ET]

 
Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Regional Diplomacy Efforts: Pres. Karzai left for Doha on Sunday accompanied by several senior Afghan officials to take part in the tenth annual U.S.-Islamic World Forum. He is expected to meet with Qatari officials to discuss efforts to broker a negotiations process with Taliban interlocutors. The Express Tribune reports that, in recent meetings with Karzai in May, new Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan James Dobbins had conveyed “the Taliban’s willingness to talk” with the Afghan government, but notes that the government “has not agreed with certain pre-conditions put forward by the Taliban and discussions are underway to find out a solution”. A Taliban spokesman denies that account, and said there were no plans to meet with the government delegation in Qatar. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle made a visit to Afghanistan over the weekend, where he pledged to maintain 600-800 German soldiers and continued economic support after 2014. Westerwelle subsequently met with Prime Minister Sharif in Pakistan, where discussions again focused on the Afghan peace process. The spokesman for Pakistan’s JUI-S party tells Dawn that Sharif is likely to visit Afghanistan this week to “discuss the core issues relating to talks with Taliban”; party leader Sami-ul Haq dismissed Pres. Karzai’s role in the process and said that “in this case the actual party are Americans and Mr Sharif should talk to them if he is really interested in resolving the issue”. PML-N sources confirmed that Sharif would travel to Afghanistan on Karzai’s invitation but said a date had yet to be finalized. [TOLO]

 
Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Attorney General’s Office Continues Clash With Parliament Over Investigation of MP Corruption Cahrges [TOLO]
  • Attacker Who Targeted Asadullah Khalid in December 2012 Used Cavity Bomb [NYT]
  • Anti-Drone Protestors Claim UK’s Use in Afghanistan Violates International Law [Guardian]
  • 30,000 New Voters Registered [TOLO]
  • Report: The Ongoing Battle for the Schools – “Part of the complication of studying the Taleban’s education policy lies in the dual management structure that has resulted in two separate education commissions, one in Quetta and one in Peshawar.” [Antonio Giustozzi and Claudio Franco, AAN]
  • Commentary: A Slow Start: Afghan Voter Registration in Urban Centers First – “The 10-month-long voter registration process ahead of the 2014 presidential election, slated to last until two weeks before the polls open on 5 April 2014, will see a total of 441 registration centres provide up to four-and-a-half million Afghans with voter cards.” [Ali Latifi, Obaid Ali, and Martine van Bijlert, AAN]

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