- The Pakistani government is reportedly near agreement on a venue for direct talks with Pakistani Taliban leadership. At least 11 police and civilians and seven Taliban suicide bombers were killed in an attack on a Jalabad police station on Thursday. Prime Minister Sharif tells reporters that Pakistan will not send soldiers to Bahrain or Saudi Arabia. Under Supreme Court pressure, the Pakistani government says it will register police cases against army officials believed to be involved in the extrajudicial detention of 35 men previously held at a Malakand detention center. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has overturned previous constituency delimitation procedures in Punjab and Sindh and has ordered local government elections to be held by November 15 this year. SIGAR is investigating the existence of “ghost workers” on payrolls who may be inflating salary payments to the Afghan National Security Forces. The Afghan Electoral Complaints commission has disqualified more provincial council candidates for discrepancies in their educational documents.
Pakistan — Security
- Government Continues to Seek Venue for Direct TTP Talks: The government negotiating committee met with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Wednesday to finalize plans for next steps in the negotiating process with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and its intermediaries; a shortlist of venues for a direct meeting between the TTP leadership and government representatives is likely to settle on a spot in South Waziristan, the Express Tribune reports. Taliban proposals for a military withdrawal from the area to facilitate talks were rejected, the Nation reports. [Dawn]
- Press Security: Prime Minister Sharif met with a delegation of the international Committee to Protect Journalists on Wednesday, and pledged to ease travel restrictions and improve security for reporters and conduct more prosecutions in instances of violence. Sharif also reportedly pledged to “immediately” review the expulsion of NYT bureau chief Declan Walsh last May. On Wednesday evening, a bomb was defused outside the home of the Express News Peshawar bureau chief; Express reporters have been attacked in Karachi on at least three occasions since mid-2013. No claim of responsibility was reported. [AP]
- Missing Persons: In Supreme Court hearings on Wednesday, the federal government agreed to register cases against army officials alleged to be involved in the extrajudicial detention of 35 inmates taken from an internment center in Malakand last year. Islamabad police registered an initial complaint on Thursday but have referred it to police in Malakand and Mardan to resolve jurisdiction. [Dawn]
Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- Gulf Diplomacy: Visiting Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa met with senior Pakistani military officials on Wednesday to discuss defense cooperation between the two countries; an estimated 10,000 Pakistani nationals currently serve in the Bahraini security services. Meetings with President Hussain and between the two foreign ministries were also held. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Prime Minister Sharif denied that Pakistan was planning on sending troops to either Bahrain or Saudi Arabia. [ET]
- Supreme Court Orders Local Government Elections by November: On Thursday, the Supreme Court issued a verdict upholding a December 2013 ruling by the Sindh High Court which had invalidated the delimitation of constituencies for local government elections in Sindh. The Supreme Court also struck provincial government authorities claimed by both Sindh and Punjab to conduct constituency delimitation, affirming that the Election Commission of Pakistan held the power to do so instead. The ECP has been ordered to complete the process and hold local government elections in all remaining process by November 15 at latest.
Pakistan — Economics and Development
- India Trade: Parliamentary debate on trade liberalization with India will not be held until after the federal cabinet approves reforms, commerce ministry officials tell the Express Tribune; officials also acknowledge that the removal of Pakistani export goods from India’s prohibited list of imports could be reversed by the next Indian government. Separately, the World Bank has agreed to finance a feasibility study over the export of electricity from India to Pakistan.
Pakistan — Remainders
- Pakistani Intelligence Officials Reject NYT Account of Secret ‘Bin Laden Desk’ [Dawn] [ET]
- PML-N Balochistan Chapter Reconciles with Governing Coalition [Dawn]
- Islamabad High Court Returns Musharraf Appeal [Dawn] [Dawn]
- Supreme Court Orders Appointment of Sindh Police Chief [Dawn] [ET]
- Akram Khan Afridi Named Textiles Minister [ET]
- Work on Dasu Dam to Begin This Year [ET]
- Balochistan Seeks Approval for Iran Ferry Service [Dawn]
- Money Supply Growth Decelerates Year-on-Year [ET]
Afghanistan — Security
- Jalalabad Police Headquarters Attacked: One civilian and ten police officers, including the district police chief, were killed and fourteen wounded in a complex suicide attack on the Jalalabad 1st District police station on Thursday. As many as seven suicide bombers were reportedly involved in the attack, which the Taliban have claimed responsibility for; all were killed. [BBC] [AFP]
- Policy Salary Oversight: The Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction has initiated an audit of personnel data for the Afghan National Security Forces, noting concerns that such records may be used to boost salary payments through the creation of “ghost workers”; a parallel Defense Department Inspector General inspection is already underway, with a final reported expected in July.
Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- Election Preparations: On Wednesday, the Electoral Complaints Commission announced that it had disqualified a number of provincial council candidates due to issues with their educational documentation; a TOLO article alternatively puts the figure at either 60 or 87, and indicates that 116 candidates have been disqualified in all since the start of the campaign season. Speaking to supporters in Kunduz on Wednesday, Ashraf Ghani warned that “our people would not tolerate government resources used in favor of particular candidates.” The WSJ reports from Kandahar, where voters say campaigning by the major candidates has so far remained “tepid” and concerns over state support for Zalmay Rassoul is high. [TOLO] [Pajhwok]
Afghanistan — Remainders