Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Military Strikes in South Waziristan; Former NDS Detentions Chief Now Residing in U.S.

Topline

  • The Pakistani military carried out air and artillery strikes in South Waziristan following a roadside bombing which killed three soldiers on Sunday. The Post profiles the Afghan National Directorate of Security’s head of detentions and interrogations, and raises questions on his emigration to the United States despite outstanding allegations of abuse and torture. The Afghan Electoral Complaints Commission has received at least 71 complaints regarding the preliminary vote count, most from frontrunner Abdullah Abdullah. Islamabad police violently broke up protests by demonstrators seeking action on the issue of missing persons, prompting for the police a rebuke from Prime Minister Sharif. The Islamabad Electric Supply Company is cutting power service to many government offices over the non-payment of electricity bills. Acting State Bank of Pakistan governor Ashraf Mahmood Wathra was confirmed to the permanent position on Monday.


Pakistan — Security

  • South Waziristan Operations: Military helicopters and artillery reportedly carried out strikes in South Waziristan on Monday following a roadside bombing the day prior, which killed three soldiers. No details on the targets have been reported. Another roadside bombing on a military convoy was reported Monday, although there were no casualties.
  • Predator Drone Operations: Facing opposition from the intelligence community and some Republican senators, the Senate Intelligence Committee has reportedly withdrawn a draft provision in the intelligence authorization bill that would have required the administration to publish annual report on “the total number of combatants killed or injured during the preceding year by the use of targeted lethal force outside the United States by remotely piloted aircraft.”


Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Missing Persons Protest Disrupted: Islamabad police broke up a group of protestors attempting to gain access to the parliament house area to protest the alleged extra-judicial detention of missing persons, with police beatings and tear gas reported. Prime Minister Sharif ordered the release of around a dozen people detained by police, including protest leader Amna Masood Janjua. [ET]
  • Iran Relations: Foreign advisor Sartaj Aziz met with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani on Monday to extend a message of “friendship and goodwill” on behalf of Prime Minister Sharif, who is due to visit Iran next month. [ET]
  • Balochistan Local Elections: Around 25,000 candidates have registered to contest the second phase of Balochistan local elections for seats reserved for minorities; voting for the roughly 4,500 seats will take place May 29.
  • Madrassa Survey: Peshawar police are surveying the city’s seminary schools in order to identify foreign students studying in the city illegally; no data has yet been released, although officials say overall enrollment in seminaries is “higher than earlier estimations”.


Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Energy Shortages: On Tuesday, the Islamabad Electric Supply Company, on orders from State Minister for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali, cut power to the parliament house, the prime minister’s secretariat, and many other government offices as part of a campaign to suspend service to institutions who had defaulted on their bills. The move follows a meeting on Monday chaired by Prime Minister Sharif which ordered increased efforts to recover electricity dues and avoid load-shedding, although Sharif later reversed an order to cut power to the Supreme Court. With demand beginning to spike, electricity shortfalls topped 6,000 megawatts on Monday. Meanwhile, Pakistan State Oil has requested an emergency infusion of Rs 150 billion from the finance ministry in order to avoid default on payments to international suppliers.
  • State Bank Governor Appointed: Prime Minister Sharif formally appointed acting State Bank of Pakistan governor Ashraf Mahmood Wathra as governor for the central bank; Wathra took office in January when his predecessor resigned, and has publicly minimized the need for the bank’s  independence from the finance ministry. [Dawn]
  • ADB Loan Signed: Pakistan and the Asian Development Bank signed a $400 million loan agreement on Monday, which will focus on the restructuring of the power sector and the phase-out of subsidies for all but low income consumers by 2016. [ET]


Pakistan — Remainders

  • Chief of Army Staff on Two-Day Visit to Saudi Arabia [GEO]
  • 3G Spectrum License Winners to Pay $800M Upfront [ET]
  • Rashid Godil Replaces Farooq Sattar as MQM Parliamentary Leader [ET]
  • IMF Recommends Raising Retirement Age to Contain Pension Expenses [Dawn]
  • World Bank Links Policy Loan Disbursement to Pakistan’s Regaining ‘Minimum Creditworthiness’ [ET]
  • EU Cautions on Protection of Pakistan Ordinance [ET]
  • Polio Vaccination Campaign Merged with Immunization Programs [Dawn]
  • Auditor General Finds Rs 1.07B Worth of Irregularities in National Fertilizer Marketing Ltd Accounts [ET]
  • Accused in Trade Development Authority Scam Implicates Former Prime Minister Gilani [ET]
  • Lahore Serial Killer Confesses to Murder of Three Gay Men [NYT]


Afghanistan — Security

  • Former Afghan Torture Chief Now Living in U.S.: The Post runs an extensive profile of Kamal Achakzai, aka Haji Gulalai, the former head of the National Directorate of Security’s Kandahar operations and subsequently head of detentions and interrogations in Kabul, who has since relocated to southern California under unclear circumstances, despite a history of allegations of abuse and torture of the prisoners in his charge. CIA officials, who have played a close role in establishing the NDS since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, deny that they played a role in facilitating his entry to the country.
  • Lull in Taliban Operations: The NYT notes that high-profile attacks by the Taliban, which spiked in the run-up to the elections, have tapered off in recent weeks, leading analysts to speculate whether this is the result of internal divisions within the insurgency, more effective operations by Afghan security forces, or a strategic pause on the part of the insurgents ahead of the next round of run-off voting.


Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Election Complaints: The Electoral Complaints Commission said on Monday that they had received at least 71 complaints regarding the preliminary total vote count, 70 of which were filed by front-runner Abdullah Abdullah, who has maintained that he won a large enough share of the vote to avoid a run-off. The Independent Election Commission has cautioned candidates not to make “premature judgements” on the outcome of the race. Other candidates in the race confirm meetings with Ghani and Abdullah, but none have yet to offer an endorsement in the event that the runoff is confirmed. [RFE/RL]


Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Two NATO Soldiers Killed in Eastern Afghanistan [AP]
  • Three Police Killed in Laghman Attack [TOLO]
  • Death Toll Rises from Flash Floods [TOLO]
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