Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Kabul Supreme Court Attack Kills 17; Economic Targets Missed in Outgoing Pakistani Fiscal Year

Topline

  • Taliban attacks on Kabul continue with a suicide car bombing near the Afghan Supreme Court, killing at least seventeen civilians. Pakistan’s annual pre-budget economic survey shows it failed to make any of its targets for the current fiscal year; Finance Minister Dar is to present next year’s Rs 3.5 trillion budget before parliament today. Jamaat-e-Islami gives up claim on the Khyber Paktunkhwa provincial education ministry but will still make curriculum inputs with its PTI coalition partner. Two Balochistan National Party-Mengal party leaders are killed in separate shootings in Quetta. Afghan First Vice President Fahim endorses changes to the Afghan political system in remarks to a governors’ conference in Kabul on Tuesday.

Pakistan — Security

  • Balochistan National Party-Mengal Leaders Attacked: Ali Akbar Mosiani and Javed Baloch, two local leaders of the BNP-Mengal in Quetta, were killed in separate shooting incidents on Tuesday. No claims of responsibility have been reported; BNP-Mengal officials said that the attacks showed that “invisible forces were not ready to end their anti-Baloch actions” and announced three days of mourning.
  • Military Intelligence Officials Dispute Court Jurisdiction: Responding to a missing persons petition before the Supreme Court on Tuesday, representatives of the Military Intelligence bureau denied having custody of the man in question, Tasif Ali, and further argued that military personnel could not be investigated by the regular court or police system. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Provincial Governments: Jamaat-e-Islami officials announced Tuesday that they had agreed to give up control over the Khyber Paktunkhwa provincial education ministry, after a direct appeal from the PTI’s Imran Khan. The JI has nonetheless requested the establishment of a multi-party commission to consider a review of the current curriculum. It will now lead the ministries of finance, zakat and ushr, and local government. In Sindh, anonymous sources tell Dawn that the MQM has agreed to join the provincial government within the next ten days in exchange for control over seven ministries.
  • Court Voids Caretaker Appointments: The Supreme Court issued an order on Wednesday formally voiding all appointments, transfers, and promotions – 442 in all – that had been approved during Caretaker Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso’s tenure. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Budget Planning: The Finance Ministry released the annual Economic Survey of the 2012-2013 fiscal year on Tuesday, which acknowledged that the government had missed all its targets for key economic indicators, including tax collection, economic growth, and the fiscal deficit, which is now projected to reach 8.5% of GDP, against a target of 4.4%. Total public debt amounted to Rs 13.63 trillion as of the end of March 2013, the equivalent of 59.5% of GDP. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar removed a chapter that had been included in previous surveys that had estimated Pakistan’s losses due to participation in the ‘global war on terror’, saying the figures were not credible. On Wednesday, Dar is scheduled to present the first budget of the new PML-N government before parliament; it totals approximately Rs 3.5 trillion, with revenue targets of Rs 2.75 trillion, for a fiscal deficit target of around 5.9% of GDP. The budget aims for a 4.4% overall growth rate. [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [ET]
  • Energy Crisis: Finance Minister Dar vowed to eliminate the circular debts within Pakistan’s energy sector – currently estimated at Rs 500 billion or more – within the next 60 to 70 days. The Pakistan Economic Survey noted that growth in domestic energy demand is likely to range between 5-6% per year for the next ten years, highlighting the need for new power sources. The government has established a special Cabinet Committee on Energy, to meet fortnightly; besides federal ministers, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif is also a member.  Protests took place in Faisalabad over electricity shortages on Tuesday, with demonstrators clashing with police. In Sindh, provincial assembly members protested the redirection of water and energy supplies to Punjab. [Dawn] [ET]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Sharif’s Retention of Defense and Foreign Ministries a Signal of Efforts to Consolidate Powers [WSJ]
  • Ahmedi Community Member Killed in Karachi Shooting [ET]
  • Lahore High Court Dismisses Challenges Against Sharifs’ Electoral Eligibility [Dawn]
  • Senator Raza Rabbani Named Opposition Leader in Senate [ET]
  • Interview: Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch [Reuters]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Taliban Attack Near Supreme Court: The Taliban launched a suicide car bombing attack in Kabul on Tuesday afternoon near the Afghan Supreme Court building, destroying three buses carrying court workers home from work. At least 17 civilians were killed, and 39 wounded. The Taliban claimed responsibility and justified the attack on the basis that those killed played an “important role in cruelty, bad behavior with our countrymen, and legalizing the infidels”; it came just hours after UN Special Envoy Jan Kubis had indicated that the Taliban had agreed to open discussions with the UN on means by which civilian deaths could be reduced.  The Talban refused to confirm that statement, and denounced the UN’s consistent findings that most civilian deaths were caused by insurgent attacks. Pres. Karzai condemned Tuesday’s attack, as “another heinous terror act showing that the Taliban insurgents are enemies of Islam”. [AJE] [BBC] [Guardian] [TOLO]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Fahim Calls for Change in System: Speaking to the Afghan National Governor’s Conference in Kabul on Tuesday, First Vice President Fahim said that he had spoken with Pres. Karzai about the need for a “political system in which nobody insults the system,” which he said should have “a Prime Minister, elected by the people.” TOLO reports that Fahim also warned that “if the next government is formed without the Mujahideen’s support and it tries to investigate the past activities of the Mujahideens, they might fight back as they are still armed.”

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • No Movement on Mining Law: TOLO notes that the Ministry of Justice has yet to forward its draft of the new Afghan mining law to the lower house of parliament, despite pledging to do so two weeks ago. Ministry officials cited translation delays and said the draft would be sent soon.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Pakistani Prisoners at Bagram Trapped in Legal Limbo [AFP]
  • Commentary: Transition in Uruzgan: Power at the Center – “Villages across Uruzgan try their best to come to arrangements with local powerbrokers – whether on the government or insurgent side.” [Deedee Derksen, AAN]

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