Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Pakistani Taliban Deny Syria Reports; Wardak Abuse Suspect Lays Blame on US Special Forces

Topline

  • Pakistani Taliban commanders tell the AFP that the organization has no policy of sending fighters to Syria, contradicting earlier media reports. The Afghan translator at the center of the Wardak abuse cases has laid blame for the detention and murder of as many as 18 Afghans on three U.S. special forces soldiers there, Reuters reports. UK Foreign Secretary William Hague will visit Islamabad Wednesday to discuss Afghan peace efforts. The brother of Afghanistan’s national security advisor was killed by Taliban gunmen in Herat on Wednesday.

Pakistan — Security

  • Pakistani Taliban Deny Syria Reports: Following reports in the AP and Reuters last week that the Pakistani Taliban had or was in the process of dispatching fighters to Syria to support opposition to Pres. Bashar al-Assad, other TTP commanders tell the AFP that any such efforts are being carrying out individually – primarily by foreign fighters – and not as a result of organizational policy. An anonymous senior Taliban commander says that ““we are already in a war with Pakistani troops. We support the mujahideen’s struggle in Syria but in our opinion, we have a lot more to do here in Pakistan and Afghanistan.” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said Tuesday that “no militant has left the country” and that the government would not allow indigenous terrorist organizations to send elements abroad.
  • Lyari Unrest: A Sindh provincial government commission investigating a recent flare-up of violence in Karachi’s Lyari neighborhood has concluded that it resulted from “outside militant groups with political backing” attempting to enter the area, without offering additional detail. Over 1,000 people have reportedly been displaced from the neighborhood. [Dawn]
  • Arrest in Attack on Sindh Judge: Karachi police announced the arrest of Bashir Leghari, said to be the mastermind of a Lashkar-e-Jhangvi-organized June bombing targeting Sindh High Court judge Maqbool Baqar, which injured the judge and killed nine people. Separately in Punjab, three Lashkar-e-Jhangvi operatives were released in a hostage exchange for eight police officials.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • UK Foreign Secretary Visiting Region: UK Foreign Secretary William Hague is reportedly scheduled to visit Islamabad on Wednesday for further discussions on Afghanistan and the peace and reconciliation efforts there; Hague will also reportedly discussed the ongoing legal investigation against MQM leader Altaf Hussain.
  • Zardari Appproves NAB Chief’s Removal: Following a Supreme Court order for his dismissal in May, Pres. Zardari formally approved the dismissal of former National Accountability Bureau chairman Fasih Bokhari from office. Bokhari has challenged his removal and sought to block the appointment of a successor.
  • By-Elections: Prime Minister Sharif presided over a meeting of senior PML-N officials in Islamabad on Tuesday to select candidates for by-elections scheduled for August. Over 25 applicants are seeking the NA-48 Islamabad seat; 45 nominations in all have been filed to date.

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • U.S. Assistance: A spokesman for the US State Department said accounts by Finance Minister Dar on Tuesday that the US and Pakistan had agreed to open a dialogue on civilian nuclear energy cooperation were inaccurate. During meetings with Dar on Tuesday, visiting US Overseas Private Investment Corporation leader Elizabeth Little agreed to resume negotiations on a bilateral investment treaty.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Supreme Court Orders Auditor General to Examine ‘Secret Funds’ [Dawn] [APP]
  • Supreme Court Defers Petition on FATA Drones, Citing Limits of Jurisdiction [Dawn]
  • Sindh Government Warns of Threats Against Musharraf Daughter [ET]
  • Five Killed in Balochistan Attacks [Dawn]
  • IT Ministry Officials Testify on YouTube Ban [Dawn] [ET]
  • After Debt Clearance, Pakistan State Oil Expects Income Growth in Fourth Quarter [ET]
  • Confusion and Mismanagement Abound at Guddu Thermal Power Plant [ET]
  • Government Implements 10% Pay and Pension Increase for Federal Employees [ET]
  • Commentary: Pakistan’s Health Workers Under Attack – “The wider global community would also do well to pay attention to the attacks on polio workers in Pakistan because violence against health workers is an issue affecting many other countries.” [David Sterman, AfPak Channel]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Arrested Translator Places Blame on US Special Forces for Abuse: Reuters reports that Zakaria Kandahari, the central accused figure in the abduction and torture of as many as 18 Afghan detainees held at a U.S. special forces base in Nerkh, Wardak, has told Afghan investigators that he was not responsible for any of their deaths, describing himself as a low-level translator. Kandahari has instead placed blame on three American special forces soldiers, identified by first names only, including “Dave, chief of the operations”. ISAF officials have repeatedly denied that American forces played any role in the alleged abuse.
  • National Security Advisor’s Brother Killed: Ahmad Wali Tahiri, the brother to Afghan National Security Advisor Rangin Dadfar Spanta and a prosecutor, was shot and killed in Herat on Wednesday. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • IEC Welcomes Election Law: Independent Election Commission chairman Faisal Manawi welcomed parliament’s passage of a draft election law, although he express concern that it retains a role for the Electoral Complaints Commission, which Pres. Karzai has previously objected to. Karzai must still approve the law for passage, and previously rejected a separate structure law for the IEC in part due to those objections. [Pajhwok]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Illegal Mining at ‘All-Time High’, Ministry Reports [TOLO]
  • Commentary: Ethnic Revolt Or Mujahadeen Solidarity? A Look at the Power Shuffle in Takhar – “The government, far from reprimanding the demonstrators, fired the governor and, on 15 July 2013, installed one who was proved to be more to the protestors’ liking.” [Gran Heward et al, AAN]
  • Commentary: Afghanistan: What Pakistan Wants – “There does not seem to be any important difference between the aim of the Pakistani army and the new government of the Pakistan Muslim League (N) under Nawaz Sharif: namely, a peace settlement in Afghanistan involving a new constitution and a power-sharing arrangement between the Taliban and the non-Pashtun populations of Afghanistan, which used to be grouped in the so-called Northern Alliance.” [Anatol Lieven, NYRB]

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