Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Outgoing Chief Justice Focuses on Missing Persons; Dobbins Repeats Security Agreement Warnings

 
Topline

  • The Supreme Court of Pakistan continues to press the government and the security services for action on missing persons during Chief Justice Chaudhry’s final days in office. In Senate Foreign Relations Committee testimony, Amb. Dobbins expresses optimism that a bilateral security agreement with Afghanistan will be signed, but warns that Pres. Karzai is “playing with fire” in his current opposition. The PTI appears to be coming under increasing criticism for its opposition to NATO supplies through Peshawar in protest of U.S. drone strikes. A suicide car bomb at Kabul Airport damaged two German military vehicles but no casualties are reported.

 
Pakistan — Security

  • Missing Persons: In rulings on Tuesday, the Supreme Court ordered the federal government to produce thirty-five missing persons before the court within a week, ruling that no military or intelligence agency had the authority to hold detainees in secret. Lawyers for the Balochistan Frontiers Corps Inspector General Maj. Gen. Ijaz Shahid said that their client would continue to refuse to appear before the court over the issue. A separate report in the Peshawar High Court by a two-judge task force found that around 700 persons previously held in military custody had been transferred to provincial prison facilities since July 2013. [ET] [ET] [ET] [Dawn]
  • NATO Supply Protests: The National Assembly passed a unanimous resolution on Tuesday condemning the use of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan; during debate, Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch of the PML-N criticized the PTI for conducting protests in Peshawar to block the flow of NATO supplies, saying that that “the issue should have been discussed again by [an all parties conference] for a strategy but one party (PTI) did not waste time to gain political mileage”. The WSJ, interviewing Khyber Paktunkhwa voters and opposition political leaders, finds criticism for the PTI for focusing on the drone issue to the exclusion of all others. Military analysts note that the supply freeze is impacting military interests, particularly through its control of the National Logistics Cell’s NATO shipment contracts, and warn of possible impacts on U.S. assistance for Pakistan. [Dawn]
  • Sami ul Haq Backs Polio Vaccination: Reversing previous opposition, JUI-S leader Sami ul Haq, known for his early links with the Afghan Taliban, issued a fatwa through his role as head of the Dar-ul-Uloom Haqqani seminary on Wednesday that urged parents to immunize children against polio and other diseases. A Pakistani Taliban ban on polio vaccinations in Waziristan remains in place, however.

 
Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Vote Verification: Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Imran Khan warned of street protests if the government continued to block efforts to conduct vote verification for the May election results. In Sindh, Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah has appealed an election tribunal decision to conduct a thumb verification of votes cast in the PS-29 constituency from which he was elected.

 
Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Iran Gas Pipeline: Despite statements earlier this week and Iran and Pakistan intend to “fast-track” negotiations on the completion of the gas pipeline linking the two countries, anonymous Pakistani foreign ministry officials acknowledge to the Express Tribune that “we cannot move ahead with the project unless the issue of possible US sanctions is resolved”, which they put the onus on Iran to resolve.

 
Pakistan — Remainders

  • Shakil Afridi Lawyer Reportedly Flees the Country After Threats [ET]
  • Pakistan’s Media and the Supreme Court [ET]
  • Three Killed, Over a Hundred Arrested in Karachi [Dawn] [ET]
  • Former Prime Minister Gilani Summoned in NICL Scam Investigations [Dawn]
  • Local Government System Proposed for Islamabad [ET]
  • Supreme Court Rules OGRA Price Fixing ‘Arbitrary’ [ET]
  • Finance Minister Predicts Rise in Exchange Reserves [ET]
  • Overseas Remittances Rise 7.10% in First Five Months of Fiscal Year [ET]

 
Afghanistan — Security

  • Bilateral Security Negotiations: Special Representative Dobbins, testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, said that Pres. Karzai was “playing with fire” and that his attitudes on the bilateral security agreement should not be considered “the bellwether for Afghanistan’s attitudes towards the United States”. Dobbins said that “we are nowhere near a decision that would involve our departing Afghanistan altogether” and expressed optimism that an agreement would be signed, although he suggested there was “some prospect” that it might well wait until after the election of Karzai’s successor, a delay which he said would “impose large and unnecessary costs on the Afghan people.”
  • Afghan Special Forces: The WSJ reports on US commanders’ increasingly close reliance on elite Afghan special forces units to conduct targeted raids on Taliban leaders or sanctuaries, a strategy that officials acknowledges has origins in Vietnam-era mobile strike force programs. The piece also notes these units’ heavy reliance on international air power and logistics to facilitate their operations.
  • Airport Attack: A suicide car bomb claimed by the Taliban targeted the military entrance to Kabul International Airport on Wednesday; two vehicles in a Germany military convoy were damaged, but no casualties were reported. [NYT] [TOLO] [TOLO]

 
Afghanistan — Remainders

  • A Wedding Engagement, a Bomb, and an Army Veteran’s Quest to Move On [WAPO]
  • Asian Development Bank Approves $110M to Build Kabul-Jalalabad Highway [Pajhwok]
  • Education Ministers Summoned by Senate [TOLO]
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