Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Govt Moves Ahead on Musharraf Trial; Qatar Process Still Stalled Over Taliban-Govt Talks

Topline

  • Prime Minister Sharif orders a formal investigation against former Pres. Musharraf’s 2007 suspension of the constitution, as a prelude to formal treason charges against him. The Supreme Court has ordered investigations after new reports that the previous PPP government sent a second letter to Swiss authorities last fall asking them to close corruption cases against Pres. Zardari. U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham says that the Taliban must agree to hold talks with the Afghan High Peace Council for talks with the U.S. to proceed at the new Qatar office. The PML-N government is seeking a backup plan over concerns that the IMF’s conditions on a new loan agreement will be too politically costly.

Pakistan — Security

  • Security Policy: The PML-N will convene an all-parties conference to craft a “national policy to counter terrorism,” Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif told assembly members on Wednesday; no date has been announced. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has been tasked with proposing an overhaul of the country’s security services, which he will present at the next federal cabinet meeting.
  • Balochistan Attacks: A suspected suicide bomber killed one civilian bystander when his jacket detonated at the Kuchlak Bus Stop area in Quetta on Thursday. Separately, two shipping containers bound from Karachi to Quetta were attacked by gunmen in the Mastung district, wounding their drivers and destroying the vehicles.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Musharraf Treason Case: PM Sharif has formally ordered the initiation of treason hearings against former Pres. Musharraf, beginning with an investigation by the Federal Investigation Agency into his 2007 suspension of the constitution, after which the government will file charges. The Supreme Court bench hearing the preliminary case against Musharraf has adjourned for an indefinite period while it considers the establishment of a special court to hear the case. The PPP has called for treason charges dating to Musharraf’s 1999 coup, which the government has not indicated it will pursue. [ET]
  • Swiss Cases: Attorney Gen. Munir Malik told the Supreme Court during hearings on Wednesday that the PPP government had dispatched a second letter to Swiss authorities last fall, after a first ordered by the courts, that had asked them not to reopen money laundering cases against Pres. Zardari. Swiss authorities informed Pakistan that they had closed the case against Zardari on June 14, but Malik said that the new government had appealed that decision. The Supreme Court has ordered an investigation into the second letter and whether its previous orders were violated. PPP Opposition Leader Khursheed Shah accused the PML-N of seeking to reopen political cases against Zardari. Separately, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that the government was preparing a list of nominees to lead the National Accountability Bureau; it must consult with the opposition PPP on the choice before making the appointment. [Dawn]
  • Kerry Visit: State Department spokesmen told reporters on Wednesday that Sec. Kerry “very much wants to visit Pakistan” to meet with the new government; some Pakistani diplomatic sources interpret the delay of an earlier planned visit as a snub, as Kerry held talks in Qatar and continued on to India last week.
  • India Dialogue: PML-N sources tell Dawn and the Express Tribune that they are seeking to revive bilateral talks with India in the coming weeks, and that “back channel[s] will be reactivated” to discuss border disputes where the two countries remain deadlocked.

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • IMF Talks: Government sources tell Dawn that they are working on a backup plan in case the IMF requires politically unpalatable quarterly electricity tariff price increases and cuts to the Public Sector Development Program as a condition for a new loan agreement. Those plans include efforts to speed up the payment of US Coalition Support Funds, the issuance of international bonds, and efforts to raise foreign capital through investments, oil supplies on deferred payment, and other assistance from “friendly countries”.
  • Energy Crisis: The Economic Coordination Committee will meet Thursday to consider the payment of Rs 281 billion to independent power producers as part of an effort to eliminate Rs 508 billion in circular debts within the energy sector. The Express Tribune reports that the government is seeking to avoid an electricity tariff increase of Rs 2.61 per unit, whose imposition had been postponed prior to the elections by the previous government; doing so may require an additional Rs 200 billion in energy subsidies. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Khyber Paktunkhwa MPs Protest PTI Move to End Discretionary Development Funds [Dawn] [ET]
  • PML-N Moves to Withdraw Perks for National Assembly Speaker [ET]
  • Video Showing Czech Women Hostages Released, Demanding Release of Aafia Siddiqui [Dawn]
  • Sindh Chief Minister Reiterates Offer to MQM to Join Government [ET]
  • Nawaz to Visit China on July 4 [Dawn]
  • PML-F Leads in Sindh-81 Provincial Assembly Seat Repolling [ET]
  • Polio Vaccination Worker Salaries Boosted in Khyber Paktunkhwa [ET]
  • USAID Launches Private Equity Fund for Pakistan [ET]
  • Commentary: A New Pakistan is Emerging from its Troubled Past – “The groundwork of the past five years, including a successful transition to a new government, indicates that Pakistanis want to participate wholeheartedly in elections as a means of discarding failed rulers and empowering those who talk about governance.” [Mira Sethi, Guardian]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Civilians Killed in Kabul Kidnapping Incident: Afghan parliamentarians demanded investigations into an incident in Kabul’s Deh Sabz district on Monday, in which Afghan police responding to reports that four Japanese engineers had been kidnapped opened fire on a crowd that included civilians and bodyguards for local members of parliament. Family members of First Vice President Fahim were also reportedly present. Seven locals were reportedly killed and fifteen wounded.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Taliban Talks: U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham told reporters in Kabul on Wednesday that U.S. talks with the Taliban in Qatar have yet to move forward due deadlock over the Taliban’s willingness to meet with representatives of the Afghan High Peace Council after initial contacts with the U.S. side. “That is the key part of the whole process: getting the Taliban talking to the HPC. That is what we agreed in Washington with President Karzai would be the goal of the whole office,” Cunningham said. Separately, UN Special Representative for Afghanistan Jan Kubis visited Islamabad on Wednesday, where he met with Maulana Fazlur Rehman of the JUI-F, who said that “the present efforts do not appear to be deep-rooted. We must remember that Pakistan is an important player in the Afghan solution”. [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Eyewitness Reports on Kabul Presidency Attacks [WSJ] [AP]
  • New AIHRC Members Sworn In [TOLO]
  • Sweden Pledges $1B in Aid Over Next Decade [TOLO]
  • Report: Afghanistan’s Parties in Transition – “Political parties are developing slowly in Afghanistan, discouraged by electoral laws and fragmented ethnic politics but at least starting to shed their legacy as armed groups.” [ICG]
  • Commentary: A Deadly Triangle: Afghanistan, Pakistan and India – “The future will be brighter for all three countries caught in a deadly triangle of mutual mistrust and competition if Pakistan and India can come to see the instability of Afghanistan as a common challenge to be jointly managed rather than as a battlefield on which to continue or, worse, escalate their long and bitter feud.” [William Dalrymple, Brookings]
  • Commentary: What’s Really Bothering Hamid Karzai? – “While Karzai and his inner circle would likely aim to keep the status quo, both his political opponents and the Taliban could use the peace talks to push for an entirely new set-up.” [Simbal Khan, AfPak Channel]

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