- Chairman Dempsey visits Kabul to urge the resumption of bilateral security talks. Pres. Karzai says he will appeal parliament’s dismissal of Interior Minister Patang and that he will continue in acting capacity in the interim. The federal-provincial Council on Common Interests meets in Pakistan today, during which Prime Minister Sharif will unveil the government’s comprehensive energy policy. Former Sindh governor Mamnoon Hussain is reportedly the top PML-N choice for the presidential elections. The MQM and PTI trade defamation suits against one another.
Pakistan — Security
- Predator Strikes: The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism has obtained a copy of an internal Pakistani government assessment of the toll from the drone campaign in the FATA between 2006 and late 2009. The report concludes that 746 people had been killed in the strikes, 147 of whom were found to be civilian victims, of which 94 were children. The figures appear to be based on internal reporting rather than media accounts; reports of civilian deaths dropped precipitously in 2009, without explanation. [Dawn]
- Balochistan Violence: Two members of the Hazara Shia community were killed in a driveby shooting as they were entering a taxi in Quetta on Tuesday; no claim of responsibility has yet been reported.
- Karachi Violence: Following Sunday’s attack on ANP offices in the Landi neighborhood of Karachi, which killed two, the party has ordered the closure of all its offices in the city. Visiting Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that there were “no excuses for failure” and that the federal government would provide the provincial government “whatever it needs” to bring security for the city. [Dawn]
Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- Presidential Elections: PML-N sources suggest that former Sindh governor Mamnoon Hussain has emerged as the front-runner choice within the PML-N for the upcoming presidential elections; Prime Minister Sharif reportedly conveyed his endorsement to Hussain in a phone call Monday. The Election Commission has rejected government appeals to push back the date for the election until after Ramadan; PML-N Senator Raja Zafrul Haq has appealed to the Supreme Court to move the vote up to July 30, before the final ten days of the holiday. [ET] [ET]
- MQM-PTI Feud: The PTI and MQM traded allegations against each other over the death of PTI leader Zahra Hussain in May, as Imran Khan called for the British government to “restrain its citizens from spreading violence in Pakistan”, a reference to MQM party leader Altaf Hussain. The MQM filed a Rs 5 billion defamation suit against Khan in the Sindh High Court on Tuesday; the PTI has announced intentions to file a Rs 10 billion countersuit against the MQM.
- Local Government Elections: The Supreme Court reiterated on Monday that it expects the provinces and Islamabad capital territory to complete preparations to hold local government elections by mid-August and hold polls by September 15. Election Commission officials say they need at least 90 days to prepare for elections after receiving a request from the provincial government. Citing insecurity in Karachi, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah has sought a six-month delay in Sindh local elections.
- India Relations: Efforts by the PML-N government to revive dialogue with India through direct back-channel diplomacy have been met with a “lackluster” response, Dawn reports, as the Indian government has been consumed with domestic political scandals and impending elections in 2014. Pakistani inaction on the prosecution of Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives linked to the 2008 Mumbai attacks also continue to overshadow any talks. In remarks on Monday, LeT leader Hafiz Saeed rejected dialogue with India and accused the U.S. of aligning itself with New Dehli in order to pressure Pakistan. [APP]
Pakistan — Economics and Development
- Energy Crisis: Prime Minister Sharif will present the government’s energy policy for the next three years at a meeting of the federal-provincial Council on Common Interests on Tuesday. Dawn provides an overview of the plan, which among other provisions calls for the phased elimination of power subsidies by 2018, the privatization of power generation and distribution, and the development of new hydroelectric, coal, and nuclear sources. The plan aims to eliminate loadshedding by 2017 and the reach generation surplus by 2018. Details are vague, but the plan also reportedly calls for power grid improvements and “adjustments” on unpaid dues by the government and private consumers; the plan increases penalties for those found to have stolen electricity, and offers incentives to those who report them. [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [ET]
Pakistan — Remainders
- Investigators Disrupt Alleged Plot to Attack Prime Minister Sharif [ET]
- National Counterterrorism Agency at Center of New Security Policy [ET]
- Supreme Court Reserves Verdict in Discretionary Funds Case Against Ashraf [Dawn]
- Zardari Risks Revival of Corruption Cases After Presidential Tenure Ends [The Nation]
- Protests at Jalozai Refugee Camp [Dawn]
- Pakistan and UNESCO Sign Memorandum on ‘Malala Fund’ for Education [ET]
Afghanistan — Security
- Joint Chiefs Chairman Discusses Bilateral Security Agreement: Joint Chiefs Chairman Dempsey visited Kabul on Monday for talks with Pres. Karzai, in which he urged the resumption of formal negotiations between the U.S. and Afghan government over a bilateral security agreement to govern the presence of American forces in Afghanistan after 2014. Those talks were suspended by Karzai following the opening of a Taliban political office in Doha, an initiative which subsequently stalled. Dempsey said that he hoped to see agreement reached by October, and cautioned while “I don’t recommend a zero option” to cut all U.S. presence after 2014, “there could be a zero outcome” if a deal cannot be reached. [WAPO]
Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- Interior Minister’s Dismissal Contested: Pres. Karzai announced that he would appeal to the Supreme Court before accepting parliament’s impeachment vote against Interior Minister Mujtaba Patang, and that he would continue in acting capacity in the interim. Karzai has in the past retained “acting” ministers for several years without parliamentary confirmation. Patang defended his brief tenure as head of the Interior Ministry, during which he came under criticism for high police casualties and deteriorating security; he argued at a press conference Monday that the vote against him was “unjustified” and part of a “political conspiracy” against him. [BBC]
Afghanistan — Remainders
- SIGAR Report Links Failed Program to Secure Culverts to Soldier Deaths [NYT]
- Three ISAF Soldiers and Interpreter Killed in Wardak Suicide Attack [BBC]
- Trailblazing Afghan Female MP Forced to Take Shelter [RFE/RL]
- Commentary: Tit for Tat And Worse: The Long History of Enmity Between Parliament and Government – “Since Afghanistan returned to a partially parliamentary system with a strong president, electing its first post-war parliament in 2005, relations between the country’s executive and legislative branches have gone through turbulent times.” [Gran Heward, Thomas Ruttig, and Claudio Franco, AAN]
- Commentary: Too Cocky for Parliament? Interior Minister Voted Out – “The MPs had summoned Patang several times during the last three months to answer their questions, but he had always sent one of his deputies instead.” [Fabrizio Foschini, AAN]