Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Pakistan’s Chief Election Commissioner Resigns; UN Reports Rising Afghan Civilian Casulaties

Topline

  • Civilian casualties rose in Afghanistan by 23% during the first six months of 2013, the UN finds. The Pentagon’s biannual report on Afghanistan suggests that ongoing support for the Afghan national security forces will be required after 2014. Pakistan’s Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin Ibrahim has resigned following the completion of yesterday’s presidential polls, as the Election Commission faces criticism from the PPP and PTI over its independence. ISAF Commander Gen. Dunford has initiated a new investigation into the abduction and murder cases in Nerkh, Wardak, as the Afghan translator at the center of the case has alleged that his U.S. Special Forces supervisors were responsible. Pakistani intelligence sources say they issued warnings about Pakistani Taliban plans to carry out Monday’s jailbreak in Dera Ismail Khan.

Pakistan — Security

  • Dera Ismail Khan Jailbreak: Dawn reports that intelligence agencies had warned the national and provincial governments two days prior of a possible attack on the Dera Ismail Khan jail, which took place on Monday, freeing nearly 250 detainees. Accounts indicate that despite planning against his scenario, police fled in the face of the attack. Police say they have re-arrested 45 escapees.
  • Polio Team Attacked: A policeman providing security to a polio vaccination team was killed in an attack in Pishin, Balochistan, on Tuesday, police officials say. The campaign has been suspended in the area; the attackers have not been identified.
  • Supply Line Attacks: Gunmen on a motorcycle attacked a NATO shipping container bound for Karachi in Balochistan’s Mastung district on Wednesday, destroying it; the vehicle’s driver escaped unhurt.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Chief Election Commissioner Resigns: Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin Ibrahim has announced his resignation on Wednesday, following criticism from the PPP and PTI over the Election Commissions’ management of both the general elections and yesterday’s presidential votes. Dawn reports that Ibrahim had supported contesting the Supreme Court’s decision to change the date of the vote in response to a PML-N petition, but was not supported by the other election commissioners. The Election Commission had earlier rebuffed criticism from PTI chairman Imran Khan of its administration of the recent general elections. [Dawn]
  • Presidential Elections: As reported yesterday, Pakistan’s national and provincial assemblies elected Mamnoon Hussain to be the country’s next president on Tuesday, with a total of 432 out of 887 votes. He will be sworn in September 9, succeeding Pres. Zardari. Approximately 200 PPP legislators and their allies in the ANP, BNP-Awami, and PML-Q boycotted the process. Dawn suggests that the JUI-F may receive appointments to two federal ministries in exchange for their backing of the PML-N’s candidate. Party leaders, including Pres. Zardari, formally congratulated Hussain on the win. PPP sources indicate that Pres. Zardari will seek to “revamp” the party after stepping down from office, and deny that he will move abroad. [NYT] [Dawn] [ET] [ET]
  • Punjab Governor Appointment: PM Sharif has reportedly approved the nomination of former British MP Chaudhary Sarwar as governor of Punjab. [BBC]
  • Kerry Visit: PM Sharif and Gen. Kayani met in Islamabad on Wednesday to discuss U.S.-Pakistan relations ahead of Sec. Kerry’s expected arrival in Pakistan today.

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Pakistan Steel Mills Seeks Bailout: Pakistan Steel Mills management has requested a Rs 17 billion infusion from the government in a bid to boost production levels, currently at 14% of capacity. PSM salaries have reportedly gone unpaid for the past two and a half months.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Rival Tribes in Khyber’s Bara Tehsil Join Forces [Dawn]
  • Cell Phone Service Suspended in Lahore and Karachi for Youm-e-Ali [ET]
  • Gujrat Ahmedis Barred from Mosques During Ramadan [ET]
  • Eight Militants, Two Soldiers Killed in Darra Adam Khel Attack [Dawn]
  • Election Commission Forms Special Wing to Prepare for Local Elections [Dawn]
  • PML-N Awards Ticket to Advocate Ashraf Gujjar in NA-48 By-Election [ET]
  • Temporary Ban Imposed on Gold Imports [ET]
  • Former Pakistan State Oil Chief Blames His Dismissal on ‘Oil Mafia’ [Dawn] [ET]
  • Militants Planning to Attack Musharraf Farmhouse, Intelligence Reports Suggest [ET]
  • Commentary: The MQM in Its Labyrinth – “The MQM’s latest cartwheel does not merely reflect a case of political opportunism; it is also indicative of the party’s predicament of being hostage to its own circumstances.” [Zahid Hussain, Dawn]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Pentagon Report Envisions Post-2014 Force: The Pentagon’s biannual report to Congress on progress in Afghanistan was released on Tuesday. Echoing remarks by senior military commanders, the report concludes that the Afghan security forces “will still require substantial training, advising and assistance — including financial support” beyond 2014 “to address ongoing shortcomings”. Although the report acknowledges Taliban resilience, it argues that “the enemy is now less capable, less popular and less of an existential threat to the Afghan government than in 2011.” Although the report contains no specific recommendations on the extent of U.S. support for Afghanistan after 2014, Assistant Defense Secretary Peter Lavoy told reporters that the Pentagon is not currently preparing options for a total reduction in forces. [Pentagon Report (pdf)]
  • Civilian Casualties Rise: The UN’s biannual report on civilian casualties in Afghanistan found a 23% rise in the number of civilians killed or injured during the first six months of 2013, reversing a decline in 2012. Around 1,320 civilians were killed and more than 2,500 injured during the six-month period. The assessment, as in the past, placed responsibility on the Taliban for the majority (74%) of civilian casualties, leading the insurgency’s spokesman to denounce the report. The Taliban’s spokesman in particular objected to the UN’s definition of Afghan government employees as civilians. [AJE] [UN Mid-Year Civilian Casualty Report]
  • Investigations in Wardak Case: Gen. Dunford has ordered a special investigation into charges that three U.S. Special Forces personnel were involved in the abduction and murder of at least 17 Afghan civilians in Wardak province’s Nerkh district. Zakeria Kandahari, a translator for the Special Forces unit, was recently arrested in connection with the deaths, and has maintained that his supervisors were responsible, charges which previous ISAF investigations have rebutted.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Report: Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction Quarterly Report to Congress [SIGAR (pdf)]
  • Report: Afghanistan Public Protection Force: Concerns Remain About Force’s Capabilities and Costs – “As it currently stands, the APPF can unilaterally establish its rates without fear of competition, and USAID does not have mechanisms in place to ensure that the APPF only charges implementing partners for the services it provides.” [SIGAR (pdf)]
  • Commentary: A Hasty Process: New Independent Election Commission Announced – “Where the Selection Committee was supposed to have presided over an open application procedure based on merit, it seems to have rather been a pragmatic patching together of lists provided by powerful people, while trying to balance the political affiliations, geographic backgrounds, ethnic groups and personal relations of the candidates.” [Gran Heward, Martine van Bijlert, and Thomas Ruttig, AAN]
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