- The US ambassador to Kabul rebuts recent remarks by Pres. Karzai’s chief of staff accusing the U.S. of seeking to divide Afghanistan through support for the Taliban. Imran Khan has called for a private briefing with Gen. Kayani prior to the government’s all-parties conference. The Pakistani government’s request to delay presidential elections until after the end of Ramadan has reportedly been rejected by the Election Commission. Pakistani foreign advisor Sartaj Aziz will visit Kabul on Sunday. The first meeting of the new committee to nominate appointees to the Afghan Independent Election Commission took place Thursday. USAID announces $200 million in assistance for Afghan women.
Pakistan — Security
- Imran Seeks Security Briefing: PTI leader Imran Khan has called for a private meeting between Gen. Kayani, Prime Minister Sharif, and himself to precede the government’s all-parties conference on national security policy, which has yet to be officially rescheduled. Khan suggested that “perhaps the facts cannot be stated in a large open forum like an APC because of national security, but at the same time it is essential for the political leaders to be apprised of these facts regarding the extent of the commitments still given to the US as well as the reasons behind the continuing sectarian terrorism.” [Dawn]
- Taliban Say They Will Continue to Target Malala: An anonymous Pakistani Taliban commander tells BBC Urdu that the group is “investigating” the publication of an ‘open letter’ by Taliban operative Adnan Rashid to Malala Yousafzai yesterday, saying that the group would continue to target her if she returned to Pakistan as Rashid called on her to do.
- Sectarian Violence: A report by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom released Thursday noted that more than 700 people, primarily Shiias, have been killed in Pakistan in the past 18 months in sectarian violence.
Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- Elections: The federal law ministry has sought a delay in presidential elections until after the conclusion of Ramadan, but the Election Commission has reportedly rejected that request. Sardar Yaqoob Khan Nasar of the PML-N and Abdul Rauf Lala of the Paktunkhwa Milli Awami Party were elected to fill two vacant seats in the Balochistan provincial assembly on Thursday. In Khyber Paktunkhwa, the JUI-F and ANP have reportedly reached an agreement to support each others’ candidates in special by-elections scheduled for August 22. Following Supreme Court orders yesterday that the provincial governments issue a schedule for local government elections and hold polls by September, the Sindh government has sought at least six months to prepare. [ET]
- Former Prime Ministers Under Investigation: The Supreme Court heard reports on Thursday of the audits of former Prime Minister Ashraf and Gilani’s use of special discretionary funds to channel aid to elected and unelected officials in their home constituencies. Separately, Gillani has refused to appear before the National Accountability Bureau in connection to the investigation of the appointment of former Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority chairman Tauqeer Sadiq. [ET]
Pakistan — Economics and Development
- State-Owned Enterprises: The Karachi Electric Supply Company has cut power to Pakistan Steel Mills over its failure to pay Rs 930 million in electricity bills. On Thursday the government denied a request from Pakistan Railways to assume responsibility for $112 million in debt liabilities owed to China’s Export-Import Bank. [Dawn]
Pakistan — Remainders
- Energy Minister Vows to End Loadshedding in Three Years [Reuters]
- Bombings in Khyber and Bajaur Kill Five [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]
- Supreme Court Disqualifies Three Legislators for Fake Degrees [Dawn] [ET]
- Commentary: The Battle for Islamabad – “The TTP and its allies in Pakistan are gearing up for a long war at home, and Pakistan’s civil and military leadership have no coherent strategy to prepare for it.” [Arif Rafiq, Foreign Policy]
- Commentary: Dear Taliban Leader, Thank You for Your Letter to Malala Yousafzai – “You were big enough to admit that your comrades tried to kill a young girl, but I would advise against picking a fight with women.” [Mohammed Hanif, Guardian]
Afghanistan — Security
- Post-2014 Mission Contingent on Bilateral Security Agreement: Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services committee on Thursday that the U.S. would not maintain any troop presence in Afghanistan after 2014 if an agreement on the bilateral security agreement was not reached between the two countries; Pres. Karzai has suspended negotiations on that agreement. The NYT notes ongoing tensions on display in recent remarks by Pres. Karzai’s chief of staff, Karim Khurram, who suggested that the U.S. had “used the Taliban as tools in this war” and concluded that “cooperating with America was a failure”. US Ambassador to Kabul James Cunningham issued a rebuttal statement on Thursday, saying that “the allegation that the United States seeks to divide Afghanistan by giving a share to the Taliban is nonsense” and that the U.S. was ready to resume negotiations on the bilateral security agreement “at any time”.
Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- Election Preparations: The first meeting of the new committee tasked with nominating members of the Independent Election Commission took place on Thursday after Pres. Karzai signed the new electoral bodies structure law earlier this week.
- Relations with Pakistan: Pakistani foreign advisor Sartaj Aziz’s planned visit to Kabul this week has been pushed back a day, and will now take place on Sunday. Despite regular Afghan allegations of Pakistani support for the insurgency, Aziz tells the WSJ that “our commitment to peace and stability in Afghanistan remains undiminished” and suggests that Pakistan would be open to the release of additional Taliban prisoners, including former deputy commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, “at the appropriate time”. [AFP] [ET]
Afghanistan — Economics and Development
- Women’s Assistance: USAID announced on Thursday a new $200 million assistance program aimed at supporting women’s education, entrepreneurship, and inclusion in civil society and politics in Afghanistan. Approximately $200 million in additional contributions from other countries are also being sought. [Reuters]
Afghanistan — Remainders
- Unexploded Ordinance Killing Afghan Civilians as Coalition Abandons Bases [McClatchy]