Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Obama Approves 9800 Troops in Afghanistan After 2014; Sajna Faction Announces TTP Split


  • Pres. Obama announced on Tuesday that he would, the completion of a bilateral security agreement permitting, keep roughly 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014 to conduct counterterrorism and training operations, to be withdrawn by the end of 2016. A spokesman for Khalid Mehsud, aka Khan Said Sajna, announced on Wednesday that his faction was breaking away from the central Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan leadership. A convoy carrying U.S. diplomatic personnel was ambushed en route to the Herat airport on Wednesday, wounding two American security personnel. India and Pakistan’s foreign secretaries will meet at a future date following talks between Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif; Modi has accepted an invitation to visit Pakistan, although no date has been set and Indian officials note continued concern over Pakistani action against terrorism. The Afghan Independent Election Commission has reiterated calls for the government to take action against officials linked to fraud in the first round elections.

Pakistan — Security

  • TTP Group Announces Split: Azam Tariq, a spokesman for a Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan faction led by Khalid Mehsud, also known as Khan Said Sajna, announced on Wednesday that his group was splitting with the TTP leadership, accusing the present leadership of having become “a band of paid killers involved in un-Islamic activities like killings, robberies, extortion and kidnappings for ransom”. Tariq was himself previously a member of the TTP’s central governing committee; Khan Said, who was previously a claimant for overall leadership of the TTP before losing out to Maulana Fazlullah of Swat, has clashed repeatedly over the past two months in North and South Waziristan with rival Shehryar Mehsud over leadership of the TTP’s South Waziristan chapter, despite mediation efforts by Fazlullah and others. Renewed fighting between the two factions was reported on Tuesday, killing six. [ET] [AJE]
  • Woman Killed in Lahore: Police officials in Lahore report that Farzana Parveen, 25, was beaten to death by family members in front of a district courthouse, where she was seeking to defend her marriage of choice to a man not approved by her family. A crowd of witnesses failed to intervene. Her father has subsequently been arrested; her brother is at large. Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission reported 869 deaths in so-called ‘honor killings’ in 2013. [AP] [Reuters]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Modi Inauguration Visit: Prime Minister Sharif described his meeting on Tuesday with new Indian Prime Minister Nadrendra Modi as ”good and constructive,” and said that the two countries’ foreign secretaries had agreed to meet to “review and carry forward our bilateral agenda.” Modi reportedly accepted an invitation for a return visit to Pakistan, though no date has been set; Indian foreign ministry officials noted that he stressed Indian concerns over terrorism, but also said that they were “fully ready” to normalize trade relations. Despite criticism in the media and from opposition parties for the visit, Sharif aides described the visit as a success. [AJE] [Dawn] [ET]
  • Zardari Acquitted in Corruption Case: Former Pres. Zardari was acquitted by an accountability court on Wednesday of one of five pending corruption cases against him, this one related to the construction of polo grounds at the prime minister’s house during the second prime ministerial tenure of his late wife Benazir Bhutto. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • On South Waziristan Visit, Army Chief Says Nation Has ‘Rejected Terrorist Ideology [Dawn]
  • PTI Leaders Complain of Provincial Marginalization, Warn Against Waziristan Operations [Dawn] [ET]
  • Fazlur Rehman Revives Efforts to Forge Religious Party Alliance [Dawn]
  • More Than 55,000 Private Security Guards in Karachi [Dawn]
  • Archbishop of Canterbury Visits Pakistani Christian Leaders [ET]
  • Minister Warns of Balochistan Agricultural Subsidy Cut-Offs if Power Bills Not Paid [Dawn]
  • More Than 200 Federal Board of Revenue Officers Fail to Submit Tax Returns [ET]
  • Minimal Increase Planned for Public Sector Development Plan Health Spending [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Obama Announces Plan to Keep 9,800 Troops in Afghanistan After 2014: In an announcement on Tuesday, Pres. Obama said that he was prepared to maintain 9,800 American troops in Afghanistan after the end of this year, whose mission would be focused on conducting counterterrorism operations against Al Qaeda affiliates and training the Afghan national security forces at the regional corps level. The number of troops, supplemented by between 2000-3000 NATO partners, will halve by the end of 2015, and withdraw by the end of 2016. The continued presence remains contingent on the completion of the bilateral security agreement with Afghanistan, which both of the presidential run-off candidates have indicated they will sign. Obama will follow the remarks with a commencement address at West Point in which he will make a broader argument for American engagement in conflicts around the world through non-military means, while keeping the use of force in reserve. [WAPO] [AJE] [BBC] [White House Fact Sheet]
  • Diplomatic Convoy Attacked: A convoy carrying U.S. diplomatic personnel was ambushed in Herat while en route to the airport in Injil district on Wednesday; two American security personnel were injured when a rocket hit their vehicle. The Taliban have not immediately claimed responsibility for the incident, which follows last week’s attack on the Indian consulate in Herat. [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Election Run-Off: Independent Election Commission chief Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani warned on Monday that the IEC would publicly disclose the names of government officials linked to first-round election fraud, including governors, police chiefs, and mayors, if the government fails to take action to punish them. The IEC has previously suspended thousands of its own poll workers on similar charges. Separately, Electoral Complaints Commission officials will begin the investigation of more than 3,000 complaints related to the provincial council elections next week, and will share the results of its decisions on June 12, a week behind the original electoral schedule. [Khaama Press] [TOLO]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Rebelling Against Abuse, Afghan Women See Signs of Change [NYT]
  • White House to Investigate Inadvertent Naming of CIA Officer [WAPO]
  • Commentary: A Second ‘Death List’: More on Those Forcibly Disappeared in the Civil War – “That those who documented disappearances during this time should want anonymity is no surprise; many of the commanders and leaders who oversaw these crimes remain influential.” [Patricia Grossman, AAN]

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