Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Kashmir Tensions Remain High; USAID to Try Remote Monitoring for Afghan Projects

Topline

  • The Indian defense minister has directly accused Pakistan of involvement in the attack earlier this week along the Line of Control in Kashmir; Pakistan on Thursday said one civilian was injured in Indian firing across the border. Two dozen people, including senior police officials, were killed in a suicide bombing at a police mosque in Quetta on Thursday. USAID aims to monitor aid projects in Afghanistan remotely through the help of Afghan observers, contractors, and satellite photography. 81 detainees were freed from Bagram prison on Wednesday after their cases were reviewed and insufficient evidence was found to hold them. Bombings in Afghanistan targeted a Nimroz senator, the Helmand provincial police chief, and a family at a cemetery in Nangarhar; fourteen women and children were killed in the latter attack.

Pakistan — Security

  • Kashmir Tensions: Following criticism from the opposition BJP, India’s defense minister, AK Anthony, told the Indian parliament on Thursday that Pakistani soldiers were directly involved in the attack that killed five Indian soldiers earlier this week. He had previously attributed the attack to “twenty heavily armed terrorists along with persons dressed in Pakistan army uniforms”. Pakistan has denied any involvement, and on Thursday said a Pakistani civilian was wounded after Indian forces opened fire in the Tatta Pani area. On Wednesday, Congress Youth Wing protestors demonstrated outside the Pakistani embassy in New Dehli, leading Pakistan to protest. Prime Minister Sharif has called an emergency meeting on both domestic security threats and the Kashmir dispute, to be held immediately after Eid. [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn]
  • Quetta Mosque Bombed: At least 24 people have been killed and thirty or more injured in a suicide bombing at a funeral service held at the Police Lines mosque in Quetta on Thursday. Fayyal Sumbal, the Deputy Inspector General for Operations, and Deputy Superintendent of Police Headquarters Shamsuddin were among those killed. In a separate attack, unidentified gunmen opened fire on a police van in Quetta, killing one officer and injuring six others.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Opposition Politics: PPP opposition leader Khursheed Shah vowed to protest the government’s imposition of higher energy tariff rates, which he said had been done “only to please the IMF”. Shah also suggested that the recent conflict in Kashmir was the result of the government’s “weak policies” and said it had failed to contain inflation. The JUI-F and PTI continue to threaten each other with lawsuits. The Jamaat-e-Islami, which withdrew its candidate from the NA-48 Islamabad by-elections, has reportedly reached an agreement to support the PTI nominee, Asad Umar. [The Nation]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Suspects Arrested in Chilas Murder of Climbers’ Attack Investigators [Dawn] [ET]
  • Pakistan Air Force Chief Says Must Prepare for ‘Two-Front’ War [APP]
  • Three Killed in Mastung Bombing [ET]
  • Government Launches Probe Into Pakistan Steel Mills Corruption Charges [ET]
  • Spike in Gold Imports Drain Foreign Exchange Reserves [ET]
  • Commentary: Pakistan’s Urban Militant Threat – “The geographic delocalization of Pakistan’s militant threat from the hinterlands of Wana and Miramshah – traditional nerve centers for transnational militants – suggests an evolution of both tactic and strategy in the TTP’s war against the Pakistani state and foreign policy.” [Fahd Humayun, AfPak Channel]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Detainee Releases: The special committee tasked with reviewing detainee cases at Bagram prison facility released 81 inmates on Wednesday, concluding that there was a lack of evidence to sustain charges against them. Prison officials say they expect more than half of the prison’s 5000-member population to be released.
  • Attacks: Senator Rogul Khairzad of Nimroz survived an assassination attempt while traveling through Ghazni on Wednesday; her daughter and driver were killed in the attack. Helmand’s provincial police chief survived a suicide car bomb attack targeting his convoy while traveling to work in Lashkar Gah; three people were injured. In Nangarhar, fourteen women and children were killed in a bombing at a graveyard on Thursday as they were paying their respects ahead of Eid holidays.

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Aid Oversight: The withdrawal of US military forces in Afghanistan and accompanying pull back of diplomats and aid workers has led USAID to propose the use of remote monitoring tools, including smartphones operated by Afghan locals and satellite photography, in order to oversee the implementation of its ongoing projects in the country, the LAT reports.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • MPs Accused of Trying to Shut Down Parwan Women’s Shelter [TOLO]
  • Report: Balkh’s Economy in Transition – “Not surprisingly, uncertainty and lack of confidence in the future has affected economic behaviour, especially investment and consumer spending.” [Paul Fishtein, Islamuddin Amaki, and Mohammad Qaasim, AREU (pdf)]
  • Commentary: The Myth of the American Superman – “As coalition troops prepare to leave Afghanistan at the end of 2014, the United States needs to understand the power and importance of its image and Afghan perceptions in the context of Afghan war.” [Ahmad Shafi and Naib Sharifi, AfPak Channel]

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