- Pres. Karzai signs into law new rules governing the structure and authorities of the Independent Election Commission and Electoral Complaints Commission. Pakistani Taliban operative Adnan Rashid writes an open letter to Malala Yousafzai, professing shock at the assassination attempt against her but warning her against writing against the militant group. Ground shipments of U.S. military equipment out of Afghanistan have been temporarily halted as the Afghan government has sought to collect customs duties on the containers. UK Foreign Secretary Hague holds talks in Islamabad on the Qatar track, which Pres. Karzai’s chief of staff says was a “plot to split Afghanistan”. PML-N leaders consider nominees for the Pakistani presidency.
Pakistan — Security
- Pakistani Taliban Write Open Letter to Malala Yousafzai: Pakistani Taliban commander Adnan Rashid has written an open letter to teenage education activist Malala Yousafzai, saying that he was writing in a “personal capacity” rather than on behalf of the militant organization. Rashid professes that the Yousafzai’s attempted assassination by Taliban gunmen last fall was “shocking for me” and claims that “the Taliban or Mujahideen are not against the education of any man or woman”. He nonetheless accuses her of “using your tongue on the behest of others” and said that her previous writings had been “provocative” and amounted to a “smearing campaign” against the Taliban. Rashid instead calls on her to “come back home, adopt the Islamic and Pashtun culture, join any female Islamic madrassa near your home town, study and learn the book of Allah, use your pen for Islam and plight of Muslim ummah”. [WSJ] [BBC][Guardian] [ET]
- Airspace Violation: Pakistani intelligence sources tell Dawn that two NATO planes violated Pakistani airspace by crossing “several kilometers” over the Torkham border crossing before turning around.
Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- Presidential Elections: The Election Commission has begun distributing nomination forms for the upcoming presidential election scheduled for August 6; the PML-N’s nominee is effectively assured the position, as it holds 388 votes out of 672 across the parliament and provincial assemblies, which form the electoral college for choosing the president. PML-N leaders reportedly met Sunday to consider nominees for the presidency and for the governors of the provinces; foreign advisor Sartaj Aziz and PML-N chairman Raja Zafarul Haq are reportedly top candidates for the presidency.
- Supreme Court Orders Local Elections: In Wednesday court hearings on the law and order situation in Balochistan, a three judge panel ordered all four provincial governments to submit schedules to hold local government elections by July 22, with the elections themselves to be held by September 15. [Dawn] [ET]
Pakistan — Economics and Development
- Privatization Plans: Board of Investment chairman Muhammad Zubair told reporters that “it is not the government’s job to do business” and that the government plans to privatize a number of state-owned firms, including Pakistan State Oil, Pakistan Steel Mills, and several power generation and distribution companies.
- Balochistan Development: Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch tells the Express Tribune that the PML-N government plans to push forward on approximately 18 reform proposals that the PPP government failed to implement, including increasing the province’s share of gas revenues and investing in transportation and power infrastructure in the province. [Dawn] [Dawn]
Pakistan — Remainders
- Prime Minister Sharif Cuts Land Allotments to Senior Civil Servants [Dawn] [Dawn]
- Zardari Approves Amendments to Swat ‘Nizam e-Adl’ System [ET]
- Demand for Oil Tankers Drops as NATO Withdraws [ET]
- Prime Suspect in Attack on Sindh Judge Dies in Custody [Dawn] [ET]
- Four Killed in Bajaur and Khyber [Dawn] [ET]
- Balochistan Assembly Elects Two Senators [Dawn]
- Pakistan Close to Finalizing Wheat Trade with Iran, Officials Say [Reuters]
- Commentary: A New Drone Deal for Pakistan – “The United States is going to have to hammer out a new drone deal with Pakistan in the years ahead, one that is sensitive to Pakistan’s own concerns and objectives.” [Dan Markey, Foreign Affairs]
Afghanistan — Security
- Equipment Repatriation Halted: The overland withdrawal of US military equipment from Afghanistan has been temporarily halted as the Afghan government has insisted on collecting $1,000 for each shipping container, amounting to around $70 million in fines to date. The disputes corresponds with larger efforts by the government to impose taxes on defense contractors operating in the country as broader investments decline. The dispute has forced the Pentagon to rely on air shipments for much of the past month; Pres. Karzai and Gen. Dunford are to meet this week to discuss the issue.
- Laborers Killed: Eight Afghan laborers returning from work at a US military base in Logar province were shot and killed on Thursday morning; no immediate claim of responsibility has been reported. [TOLO]
Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- Karzai Signs IEC Structure Law: Following passage by parliament over the weekend, on Wednesday Pres. Karzai signed the law governing the structure and authorities of the Independent Election Commission and Electoral Complaints Commission, a move welcomed by the US, UN, and other international donors who had express concern that the law would not be passed in time for the upcoming April 2014 presidential election. Karzai had previously objected to parliament’s retention of the ECC and the creation of a special committee to choose nominees for both commissions, provisions which appear to have been retained in the new laws. A separate general electoral law, which governs how the upcoming presidential and provincial council elections will be held, is also expected to be signed soon. [TOLO] [Pajhwok]
- Relations with Pakistan: Pres. Karzai’s chief of staff Karim Kurram told a local tv interviewer that the opening of the Taliban’s office in Qatar was a “plot aimed at splitting or breaking up Afghanistan”, noting that “we have concerns and those concerns have increased since January, and that is over US closeness with Pakistan, specially over issues linked to Afghanistan.” UK Foreign Secretary William Hague visited Islamabad on Wednesday where he and Pakistani foreign advisor Sartaj Aziz expressed hope that the deadlock over the Taliban office “is temporary and not permanent”. Aziz is scheduled to travel to Kabul on Saturday, where Pakistani officials say he will “reiterate Pakistan’s commitment to a peaceful and united Afghanistan”.
Afghanistan — Remainders