Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: WHO Imposes Travel Restrictions Over Polio Spread From Pakistan; CIA Halting Militia Support

Topline

  • The World Health Organization has recommended vaccination requirements and travel restrictions on Pakistani nationals after the spike in reported polio cases there this year, and the reported stread of Pakistani strains of the virus to the Middle East. The CIA is reportedly withdrawing its support for militia forces it backed in Kunar and Khost, as the drawdown of U.S. forces from the region limits its ability to support and monitor the groups. In a BBC Urdu interview, Prime Minister Sharif expressed continued hope that talks with the Pakistani Taliban could produce a peace agreement. Clashes were reported between survivors and police and relief workers in Badakshan’s Abi Barak village, where landslides last Friday killed as many as 2,500 people and have displaced around 4,000. Pakistani media regulators will hear the defense ministry’s complaint against GEO TV today.


Pakistan — Security

  • Taliban Talks: In a BBC Urdu interview from London broadcast on Monday, Prime Minister Sharif said that he was still optimistic that peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban could proceed, reiterating that this was the “best option” to “”bring peace without any further bloodshed”. Sharif suggested that at least two or three more rounds of direct talks between the government and TTP leaders would be required to know “how sincere we are with each other and how the talks are progressing”. [ET]
  • North Waziristan Bombing: Two people were killed, reportedly members of the ‘Punjabi Taliban Committee,’ in a bombing in the main Miram Shah bazaar on Tuesday. No further details have been reported.


Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • GEO Complaint: The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority is due to begin hearings today on the military’s complaint seeking a revocation of GEO TV’s broadcasting license over allegations that the ISI was involved in a recent assassination attempt against anchor Hamid Mir; the WSJ overviews the recent clashes between the channel and the military establishment. [Dawn]
  • PTI Protests: Speaking to reporters on Monday, former Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry rebuffed allegations by PTI leader Imran Khan that the judge was involved in election rigging during last May’s general elections. The opposition PPP has refused to participate in the PTI’s upcoming protests planned for the anniversary of the vote. [Dawn]


Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • World Health Organization Recommends Travel Restrictions: In an emergency statement issued on Monday, the World Health Organization called for increased action by nations to contain the spread of wild polio virus, 74 cases of which have been reported so far this year. 59 of those cases have been reported in Pakistan, and many new cases in the Middle East have been linked to Pakistani strains. The WHO recommended countries impose mandatory vaccination requirements for any travelers from Pakistan, Cameroon, and Syria. India and Saudi Arabia have already imposed vaccination requirements for Pakistani travelers. A spokesman for the Pakistani ministry of health on Tuesday said that the government was preparing to impose vaccination checkpoints at the country’s airports, seaports, and border crossings; anonymous officials tell the Express Tribune that the country lacks sufficient vaccination stocks to impose such measures, however. [NYT] [AJE] [Dawn] [WHO Statement]
  • Budget Planning: The Federal Board of Revenue is considering the early withdrawal of special tax exemptions in a bid to bring tax collection up to the previously revised target before the end of the fiscal year in June, the Express Tribune reports. [ET]
  • Energy Crisis: Prime Minister Sharif is expected to inaugurate two new coal power plants in Karachi’s Port Qasim area on Tuesday, which have a combined capacity of 1,320 megawatts. The government has vowed to add 21,000 megawtts to the grid over the next ten years. In separate testimony by the Lahore Electric Supply Corporation on Monday, officials told the senate that Prime Minister Sharif’s residence in Raiwind was exempted from recent shut-off orders related to outstanding unpaid bills. [Dawn]


Pakistan — Remainders

  • Sharif Pledges to Continue ‘Policy of Non-Interference’ in Middle East [APP]
  • Pakistan’s Hindus Face Surge of Violence [Reuters]
  • Missing Persons Commission Traced 27 Cases in April [ET]
  • Police Officer Wounded in Karachi Bombing [ET]
  • In Reversal, Pakistan Telecommunications Authority Seeks Amendments to Warid 4G Plan Before Approval [Dawn]
  • PTI Activists Protest in Peshawar After Recent Firings [Dawn]
  • In Sindh High Court Filing, Government Seeks to Bar Musharraf Exit [ET] [ET]
  • National Assembly Approves Resolution Calling for Lift on YouTube Ban [Dawn] [ET]
  • Commentary: Pakistan’s Tactical Nukes Threaten Stability in South Asia – “By further lowering the nuclear threshold, Pakistan aims to alter the strategic scenario and even the playing field in terms of conventional military prowess.” [Monika Chansoria, South Asia Channel]


Afghanistan — Security

  • CIA Drawing Down Miliita Support: The Daily Beast, citing Afghan and U.S. military officials, reports that the CIA is withdrawing support for militia groups established in southern and eastern Afghanistan shortly after the fall of the Taliban regime — specifically 750 Kunar Counterterrorist Pursuit Team forces and 3,500 Khost Protect Force members. Officials suggest that the drawdown in U.S. forces and associated reduction in access to forward basing is responsible. Pres. Karzai’s spokesman says that the government did not receive advance notice and that efforts to re-hire the militia forces directly had been largely unsuccessful.


Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Clashes Over Badakshan Rescue Effort: Villagers clashed with police and aid workers in Badakshan’s Abi Barak village on Tuesday, with victims of last Friday’s landslides complaining that current government relief efforts have been slow and insufficient. At least 4,000 people have been displaced in the disaster. [TOLO] [TOLO]


Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Electoral Complaints Commission Reviews Western and Southern Complaints [TOLO]
  • One Killed in Attack on NDS District Headquarters in Nimroz [TOLO]
  • Kabul Mayor and MPs Trade Accusations Over Corruption [Khaama Press]
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