Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Afghans Vote in Presidential Run-Off; Pakistani Military Launches North Waziristan Operation

Topline

  • Afghans voted in the second round presidential run-off election on Saturday; the IEC reported that roughly seven million ballots were cast, and while roughly five hundred security incidents were reported, there were no major mass-casualty attacks. Abdullah Abdullah has alleged “endemic fraud” in the vote, citing allegations against the IEC’s second-ranking official, Zia-ul-Haq Amarkhail; more than 275 complaints were filed within the first 24 hours after the vote. On Sunday, Pakistani military forces moved to launch a large-scale operation in North Waziristan, which they indicated was targeting Uzbek and Uighur foreign fighters in the area. More than 120 militants are said to have been killed, and ground forces have moved to cordon the major towns of Miram Shah and Mir Ali. Prime Minister Sharif has not yet publicly commented on the offensive but is expected to address parliament Monday evening. The Pakistani government has appealed the Sindh High Court ruling allowing former Pres. Musharraf to travel abroad, delaying his possible exit. Pakistani provincial governments presented their budgets for the forthcoming fiscalyear.


Pakistan — Security

  • Pakistani Army Launches Waziristan Operation: Multiple roadside bombings targeted Pakistani security personnel in the Mohmand Agency and Mansehra on Saturday, killing two soldiers and wounding a dozen people. Further infighting was also reported between rival TTP militant groups in North Waziristan, leaving seven dead. Local tribal leaders and representatives of Hafiz Gul Bahadur were reportedly planning to meet on Saturday to discuss the recent military-backed ultimatum for foreign fighters to leave the area; the deadline for that threat had been set for June 21, but on Sunday the tribal jirga issued a statement admitting its failure to restore peace. On Sunday, the Pakistani military announced that it was beginning a “major offensive” in North Waziristan. The operation, code-named “Zarb-e-Azb” (‘Sharp and Cutting’), began with major airstrikes in North Waziristan over the course of Sunday, which military officials claim have killed over a hundred militant fighters, many of which it described as being “Uzbek foreigners” linked to the attack earlier this month on Karachi’s airport. At least 27 more militants were killed in continued airstrikes on Monday. Those reports, and reports of civilian casualties, cannot be independently verified; Uighur militants affiliated with the East Turkistan Islamic Movement were also said to be among those killed. Military sources say that Abu Abdul Rehman al Maani, identified as the main organizer of the Karachi airport attack, was among those killed, although other reports suggest that this is unconfirmed. Hafiz Gul Bahaduar and Haqqani network commanders are reported to have urged Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leaders to move their forces to Afghanistan. Ground troops have reportedly  moved to encircle the main towns of Miram Shah and Mir Ali. Military spokesmen described the operation as having been carried out “on the directions of the government”; Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan is reported to have been hospitalized with chest pains on Friday, before being later discharged, and has not publicly commented on the operation. A defense ministry statement said that the government “tried our level best to resolve this crisis through dialogue” but that the current operation would now “continue until the surrender or elimination of the enemy.” Prime Minister Sharif will reportedly give his first public remarks on the operation in an address to parliament on Monday. The Pakistani Taliban have vowed revenge attacks, although its spokesman also claimed to still be open to peace negotiations; at least five soldiers were killed in a roadside bombing in North Waziristan on Monday. Security has reportedly been tightened in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, and in Balochistan and Sindh. [WAPO] [BBC] [Guardian] [AJE] [AP] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ISPR Statement]
  • Protection of Pakistan Legislation: PPP opposition leaders have objected to the government’s negotiations with the JUI-F over the draft of the an amended version of the Protection of Pakistan legislation; Prime Minister Sharif is reportedly planning to meet with Maulana Fazlur Rehman to discuss the legislation and their strained partnership within the week.
  • Chief Justice’s Nephew Kidnapped: Umer Jillani, an officer with the ISI and nephew of Pakistan Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, was kidnapped in Multan on Monday. There are no details about his kidnappers or reported claims of responsibility; search operations are underway. [ET]
  • Balochistan Assembly Member Killed: Handery Masieh, a Christian minority representative in the Balochistan provincial assembly and member of the National Party, was killed by his own bodyguard, identified as Agha Abdul Hayee, in Quetta on Saturday. The city police chief tells the AFP that the incident was related to a personal dispute between the guard and Masieh’s nephew and that the nephew was the intended target. [Dawn]


Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Opposition Politics: The government is reportedly carrying out legal investigations against the misuse of funds by Tahirul Qadri’s Idara Minhajul Quran charitable organization, and are said to be considering the possibility of sedition charges against Qadri as he plans to return to Pakistan next week to lead fresh rallies against the government. A spokesman for Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek party warned that any government action against their party leader would be “suicidal”. [Dawn]
  • Government Appeals Musharraf Travel Order: Following last Thursday’s Sindh High Court order granting former Pres. Musharraf the right to travel abroad, Attorney General Salman Aslam Butt appealed the ruling to a Supreme Court hearing, seeking to bar him from leaving the country. [WSJ] [Dawn] [ET]


Pakistan — Economics and Development


Pakistan — Remainders

  • Joint Chiefs Chairman on Visit to US [Dawn]
  • Indian Defense Minister Says No Bilateral Progress if Kashmir Ceasefire Violations Continue [Dawn]
  • Civil Aviation Authority Found to Have Neglected to Collect Overflight Fees for 12 Years [ET]
  • Cross-Border Mortar Fire Reported in Khyber Agency [Dawn]
  • New Punjab Police Inspector General Appointed [Dawn] [ET]
  • Pakistan and China Meet to Discuss Karachi Nuclear Power Project [ET]
  • Shakil Afridi Plans to Appeal Latest Frontier Crimes Regulation Verdict [ET]
  • FATA Reform Proposals Stall [Dawn]
  • JUI-F Provincial Assembly Member Disqualified, Mansehra By-Polls Ordered [Dawn]
  • NEPRA Rejects Price Hike to Recover Transmission Losses [Dawn]
  • Moderate Earthquakes Reported Friday and Saturday; No Casualties Reported [Dawn] [AFP]


Afghanistan — Elections

  • Afghans Vote in Presidential Run-Off: Votes were cast on Saturday in the second round presidential run-off election, between Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani. Contrary to concerns about diminished participation due to Taliban threats or voter apathy, Independent Election Commission chief Yusuf Nuristani reported that roughly 7 million votes were cast, out of roughly 12 million eligible voters; 62% of voters were men. This was similar to turnout figures during the first round elections in April, although those ballots have yet to be reviewed for fraud or miscounting. Other election day observer reports, particularly in Kabul, had suggested lower participation; despite this, ballot shortages were reported at more than 300 polling stations. Outgoing Pres. Karzai, who cast his vote early in the morning, welcomed the elections as “a very strong step, towards stability and prosperity”, and a number of international officials also issued statements welcoming the polling. The current election schedule calls for preliminary results to be announced on July 2 and final results, after complaints and appeals are resolved, to be certified by July 22, although counting was delayed by a few days during the first round process. [BBC] [Guardian] [AJE] [TOLO] [AAN]
  • Security Incidents: Security officials from the army, police, and intelligence services held a joint press conference on Friday before the vote, vowing to secure the proceedings. Although no major Taliban attacks were reported, a defense ministry spokesman said afterwards that roughly 500 ‘threats’ were reported on election day, including 231 bombings, one suicide attack, and 273 firing incidents, although the Taliban claimed to have carried out many more attacks. At least 18 soldiers, 39 civilians, and 146 militants were reportedly killed across the country. Clashes between rival backers of the two candidates are reported to have killed two Abdullah supporters in Jalalabad, and at least one Ghani supporter in Badakshan. In Herat, eleven voters reportedly had their fingers cut off by Taliban militants; a roadside bombing in Samangan following the close of polls hit a bus and killed eleven people, including three IEC poll workers, two observers working with the Abdullah campaign, and one child. [TOLO] [Khaama Press] [AJE]
  • Clashes, Complaints and Fraud Allegations: Both the Abdullah and Ghani campaigns issued statements shortly after the close of polls accusing the other camp of carrying out fraud and other malpractice; Abdullah discounted the IEC’s turnout figures, which Ghani has endorsed. Both campaigns claimed to have clearly won the vote. The Electoral Complains Commission reported Sunday that it had received 275 complaints thus far; the deadline for filing a complaint is Monday night. On Saturday, Gen. Zahir Zahir, the Kabul city police chief, accused Zia-ul-Haq Amarkhail, the IEC Chief Election Officer, of attempting to steal ballots from the IEC headquarters; Amarkhail disputed that charge, saying he was transporting the ballots to polling stations in the city that had run short. On Sunday, Abdullah demanded Amarkhail’s suspension, saying that the report against him was evidence of “endemic fraud” and warning that he would not accept the vote outcome if action was not forthcoming. IEC Chairman Nuristani has ordered an investigation into the incident, but defended Amarkhail at a press conference on Monday. [TOLO] [TOLO]


Afghanistan — Remainders

  • UN Reports Taliban Taxation Powers Resilient Overall, Despite Diminished District Control and Internal Rifts Over Resources [NYT] [Reuters]
  • Bergdahl Transferred to Army Medical Facility in Texas Without Ceremony [NYT] [WSJ] [AP]
  • Commentary: Last Minute Procedural Changes to Pacify Candidate Complaints – “The increased responsiveness to candidate complaints, among the many other pressures, may well increase the extent to which commission is being pulled in different directions.” [Martine van Bijlert, AAN]
  • Commentary: Some Initial Reflections on E-Day II – “Making an assessment of the second round is difficult, given the necessarily fragmentary nature of everyone’s experience.” [Thomas Ruttig, AAN]
  • Commentary: Will Afghanistan Be Financially Blacklisted?“Having been coddled for a decade as the problem children of a spendthrift international military-and-development mission, Afghanistan’s élites are still unwilling to take responsibility—even in a case in which their own self-interest and dollar-denominated bank accounts are so clearly at stake.” [Matthieu Aikins, New Yorker]
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