Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Firing Continues Along Line of Control; Karzai Spokesman Denies Endorsing Sayyaf

Topline

  • More Pakistani civilians and Indian soldiers are reportedly injured in ongoing cross-border fire in Kashmir. Pres. Karzai’s spokesman denies he has endorsed Abdul Rasoul Sayyaf or any other candidate for the presidency. The special committee to nominate members of the Afghan Electoral Complaints Committee will meet on Monday to begin deliberations. Islamabad police confront a gunman hold his wife and two children hostage in a multi-hour standoff, before eventually subduing him. Balochistan militants attracked train services near the Bolan area, killing two. The PML-N government has agreed to establish a parliamentary committee to investigate PTI charges of election rigging. Afghan High Peace Council officials say they plan to hold an ‘international conference’ on the peace process, but offer no further details. Pakistan made a $145 million repayment to the IMF on Friday and will repay another $393 million later this month.

Pakistan — Security

  • Border Tensions: Continued Indian shelling across the border in Kashmir injured seven civilians on Thursday, Pakistani officials said. Indian army officials say three of their soldiers were injured. Despite the tensions, Prime Ministers Singh and Sharif exchanged letters earlier this week marking the two countries’ independence days; a Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman said that the two are likely to meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York in September, although Indian officials have downplayed prospects for significant talks unless action is taken by Pakistan to curtail attacks on India. On Thursday, the long-running case in an Islamabad anti-terrorism court against seven Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives linked to the 2008 Mumbai attacks moved forward slightly, as the court ordered the Interior Ministry to facilitate travel by prosecutors to India to cross-examine surviving witnesses, a visit which was approved by Indian courts in December 2012. India’s new ambassador to Pakistan, TCA Raghavan, presented his credentials to Pres. Zardari on Thursday, and he is expected to meet PM Sharif next week. [Dawn]
  • Islamabad Standoff: An armed man, identified as Sikandar, blocked traffic in the Islamabad Jinnah Avenue neighborhood for several hours on Thursday evening in an apparent hostage drama with his wife and two children. Sikandar made demands that Pakistan adopt a new “Islamic system” of government and hold new elections, although there are no indications that he was acting in conjunction with any political or militant group. After extended attempts at negotiation, PPP leader Zamurd Khan, a former Rawalpindi parliamentarian, personally intervened in an attempt to disarm him, after which police sharpshooters opened fire, wounding him and ending the standoff. Sikandar has been hospitalized and was charged on Friday. [Dawn] [AP] [BBC]
  • Balochistan Train Attack: Unidentified militants attacked the Quetta-to-Rawalpindi train service as it passed through Balochistan’s Dozan area on Friday; two people have been killed and at least 24 injured. The incident follows an attack on bus passengers in the nearby Bolan area earlier this month, which prompted Pakistani military operations. [ET]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Elections: Speaking in parliament on Thursday, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan agreed to establish a multi-party committee to investigate complaints of rigging in the May general elections, covering as many as 40 constituencies around the country. Opposition groups welcomed the move; the parties will meet as soon as Friday to consider nominees for the committee. With the resignation of Fakhruddin Ibrahim and by-elections coming up next week, Chief Justice Chaudhry is expected to nominate an acting Chief Election Commissioner on Friday, who is likely to be a serving Supreme Court judge. [ET] [ET] [ET]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • IMF Repayments: Pakistan made a $145.5 million repayment on outstanding loans from the IMF on Friday; it is scheduled to make another $393 million repayment on August 26, bringing State Bank of Pakistan foreign exchange reserves to below $4.5 billion. During recent visits to Saudi Arabia, Finance Minister Dar is reported to have secured an agreement for a €750 million short-term loan from the Islamic Development Bank, but the promised disbursal by August 15 was delayed by slow issuance of State Bank guarantees.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • 449 Killed in Terror Attacks During First 74 Days of Government’s Term [ET]
  • Flooding Kills at Least Twelve as Rains Hit Khyber Paktunkhwa and Punjab [ET] [Dawn] [AFP]
  • ‘Substantial Evidence’ Against Frontier Corps in Missing Persons, Chief Justice Warns [ET]
  • MOU Signed with China Power International Holding to Develop 6000 Megawatt-Capacity Coal Power Plants [ET]
  • Khyber Paktunkhwa and Balochistan Clash with Federal Planning Officials Over Development Spending Priorities [ET]
  • PTI Files Defamation Suit Against Maulana Fazlur Rehman [Dawn] [ET]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Karzai Denies Making Sayyaf Endorsement: Pres. Karzai’s spokesman issued a statement denying recent media reports that he had met with other leaders seeking to secure their endorsements for the presidential candidacy of Abdul Rassoul Sayyaf. Sayyaf’s spokesman also denied that the reported meeting was an attempt to seek endorsements, and said that his focus was a two-week long ‘grand meeting’ that he intends to hold in Kabul to forge ‘national consensus’ ahead of the elections.
  • Election Preparations: The special committee to nominate election commission members will meet on Monday to consider selections for the Electoral Complaints Commission, which will then be forwarded on to Pres. Karzai for appointment. The selection committee continues to operate without an officially recognized member from civil society groups, although activists have nominated Nader Nadery, head of the FEFA election observer group, as their choice for the panel.
  • Peace Talks: Mawlawi Shafiullah, a member of the High Peace Council, tells TOLO that the HPC plans to hold an “international conference on the Afghan peace process” at an unspecified date in Kabul. No further details were reported; other HPC officials downplay the likelihood of any breakthroughs in Pres. Karzai’s scheduled visit to Pakistan later this month.
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