Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Kashmir Border Clashes Continue; Abdul Sayyaf Presidential Candidacy Floated

Topline

  • Pakistan and India continue to trade accusations of cross-border firing in Kashmir; Pakistan says one civilian was killed on Wednesday, while Indian border officials say they stopped a group of unidentified gunmen attempting to cross the border on Tuesday. Pres. Karzai is reportedly seeking endorsements for Abdul Rasoul Sayyaf’s presidential candidacy, the WSJ reports, although he has yet to make a final endorsement himself. In an address, Gen. Kayani argues for “national consensus” in support of counterterrorism efforts; Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan says the PML-N government still plans to hold an all-parties conference on the issue later this month. Farhida Ahmadi Kakar, a female Afghan parliamentarian, has been kidnapped in Ghazni, although accounts conflict on many of the details. Afghan military officials claim that ANSF casualties have dropped, but acknowledge continuing force attrition concerns. Pakistani army personnel providing security in upcoming by-elections will be granted magisterial powers, the Election Commission announces.

Pakistan — Security

  • Border Tensions: Pakistani officials continue to accuse India of “unprovoked and indiscriminate” cross-border shelling across the Line of Control in Kashmir, reporting that one member of the Chenab Rangers was wounded in an exchange on Tuesday and killing one civilian and wounding another in the Battal area on Wednesday. Anonymous Indian army officials say Pakistan launched small arms fire in two locations on Tuesday evening and that they “gave a calibrated response”; in an account to Reuters, an Indian border commander said that a group of unidentified gunmen attempted to infiltrate across the border on Tuesday evening in the Keran area, two of whom were killed. Speaking on Wednesday at ceremonies marking Pakistan’s Independence Day, Prime Minister Sharif said that Pakistan would respond with “restraint and responsibility” to the border clashes, saying that “our objective is peace. For that, what we need is more diplomacy.” India’s foreign ministry spokesman said Tuesday that Pakistan “needs to prove what it means by putting a stop to the violations of the ceasefire” as well as to take action against those responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks in order for bilateral dialogue to move forward. On Tuesday, Pakistan’s National Assembly unanimously approved a resolution condemning “unprovoked Indian aggression” on the Line of Control. [Dawn] [Dawn] [APP]
  • Counterterrorism Policy: In an address in Abbottabad on Tuesday, Gen. Kayani noted that “internal challenges need our special attention” and argued that Pakistan must form a “national consensus” on terrorism in order to combat it. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that the government still intends to hold an all-parties conference on counterterrorism policy later this month, saying that “the government is ready for peace talks, however, if the decision is taken to wage a war against the militants, then the government will enter it wholeheartedly”. Chaudhry Nisar announced plans to establish a joint intelligence secretariat within six months that will coordinate with a newly strengthened National Counterterrorism Authority. The MQM announced its own counterterrorism policy on Tuesday, saying that “talks should be on our own terms”, and said it would attend the all-parties conference. [WSJ] [Dawn] [ET]
  • Sectarian Violence: Two members of Karachi’s Ismaili community were killed and as many as 28 wounded in a driveby grenade attack in Karachi on Tuesday. No claim of responsibility has been reported. [ET] [AP]
  • Executions: Despite recent Taliban threats to carry out reprisals against the PML-N, the government reportedly plans to commence with the execution of three Lashkar-e-Jhangvi convicts in Sukkur next week.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Elections: The Election Commission of Pakistan issued an authorization on Tuesday that will give magisterial powers to army personnel providing security at polling stations during upcoming by-elections scheduled for August 22. [Dawn] [ET] [The Nation]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Interest Rates: The State Bank of Pakistan will meet in September to consider interest rates, which the Express Tribune reports IMF officials are seeking to increase up to 10% as part of the prospective new loan agreement and macroeconomic restructuring program for the country.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Balochistan Provincial Committee to Be Tasked with Negotiations [Dawn]
  • WTO Blames Politics for Stalled India-Pakistan Trade Deal [ET]
  • Sindh High Court Rejects Karachi Police Report [Dawn]
  • Miltiary Operations Continue in Bolan [Dawn]
  • Azad Jammu and Kashmir Receives Immediate Cash Infusion from Federal Govt [ET]
  • Overseas Pakistanis Remit $1.4 Billion in July [ET]
  • Pres. Zardari Approves National Civil Awards [APP]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Female MP Kidnapped: Fariba Ahmadi Kakar, a female parliamentarian from Ghazni, was abducted along with three daughters while traveling in Ghazni on Saturday, Afghan officials confirmed today. Her family had earlier denied she had been held hostage; her three children were reportedly freed in an operation by Afghan security forces, although details on that rescue are sketchy, and TOLO reports they were freed through tribal elder intermediary negotiations. The BBC cites police accounts that the kidnappers have sought the release of four Taliban prisoners in exchange for Kakar’s freedom; a Taliban spokesman tells AFP that he was not aware of Taliban involvement in the kidnapping.
  • ANSF Casualties and Attrition: A spokesman for the Afghan ministry of defense said Tuesday that Afghan National Army casualties had declined by 50% compared to 2012, although he did not provide specific figures or an exact time frame of comparison. Defense ministry officials noted continued force attrition challenges, as did the Ministry of Interior’s spokesman, who said Afghan National Police attrition rates had declined from 8% to 4.5%; specific ANA figures were not offered.
  • Post-2014 Presence: In a Reuters interview, Gen. Dunford reiterates the need for a supporting American military presence in Afghanistan after 2014, although he did not recommend a specific level of troops.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Presidential Elections: The WSJ reports that Pres. Karzai, Vice President Qassim Fahim, and Ismail Khan met with Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor last week to seek his endorsement for the presidential candidacy of Abdul Rasoul Sayyaf. Other sources suggest that the meeting “didn’t represent a final endorsement” by Karzai of Sayyaf’s candidacy, however, and Noor is said to have been noncommittal. Sayyaf’s Saudi-funded training camps during the 1980s and 1990s brought him in contact with Osama bin Laden, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, and others, and his candidacy is expected to be opposed by foreign donors; Karzai previously endorsed a failed attempt by Sayyaf to run for parliamentary speaker in 2011, however. Separately, former Independent Election Commission chairman Fazel Ahmad Manawi warns TOLO that official pledges that security preparations will be complete by the April 2014 vote “are unreliable and inconsistent with the reality on the ground”, which Ministry of Interior spokesmen rejected.
  • India Talks: The U.S., Afghanistan, and India will hold trilateral talks on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York in September, U.S. Ambassador to India Nancy Powell confirmed on Tuesday. On Monday, Indian Defense Minister AK Antony told the Indian parliament that India would continue to provide military support to Afghanistan’s police and army.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Illegal Wells Cut Kabul Water Supply [TOLO]
  • Afghan Interpreters’ Supporters Deliver Visa Petition to UK PM [Guardian]
  • Commentary: The 15,000 Troop Option – “It is time to decide and announce the specific number of American advisors and trainers who will stay in Afghanistan after 2014 as part of the new NATO mission, Operation Resolute Support.” [James Stavridis, Foreign Policy]
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