Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Abdullah Reiterates Rejection of IEC Authority; Residents Continue to Flee Waziristan

Topline

  • North Waziristan residents continue to flee the area; military officials claim to have killed more than 230 militants since operations began last Sunday, although some local accounts have also alleged civilian casualties. Reporting in Dawn and the Express Tribune suggests that internal controls on displaced persons are spotty; officials in Rawalpindi have begun polio vaccination programs as families from Waziristan have begun arriving in the area. Prime Minister Sharif and Pres. Karzai spoke again on Thursday as the Pakistani government seeks an Afghan crackdown on TTP militants on its side of the border. Abdullah Abdullah reiterated his opposition to cooperation with the Afghan electoral authorities at a Thursday press conference, suggesting that “the people of Afghanistan will make their own decisions” on how to proceed next. With tensions high between Abdullah and his rival, Paktia governor Juma Khan Hamdard, a supporter of Ashraf Ghani, clashed with Balkh police at a checkpost on Friday, leaving four guards and one officer dead.


Pakistan — Security

  • North Waziristan Operation Continues: Military officials said on Friday they have killed more than 230 militants and destroyed twenty hideouts in North Waziristan since operations began last Sunday, with only eight security personnel deaths reported. Al Jazeera interviews one local who claims that 24 family members, including nineteen children, were killed in military airstrikes. No independent confirmation of any of these figures is available. On Thursday, a spokesman for local commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur announced a “defensive war”, apparently aimed at the TTP, and suggesting it was to blame for the military airstrikes. Estimates of the number of people internally displaced since fighting first escalated in May now ranges between 113-157,000, many of whom have fled to the town of Bannu. Roughly 4,000 families are reported to have crossed into Afghanistan. Despite announced plans for tighter internal border controls, the Express Tribune interviews IDPs who have fled as far as Karachi, with border guards only checking IDs. City administration in Rawalpindi has begun a polio vaccination campaign as IDPs are reported to have begun arriving in the city. ‘Targeted operations’ are also reportedly being planned for Islamabad against suspected militant cells; in Karachi, two TTP militants, including a man identified as the “vice emir” of the group’s Karachi chapter, were killed in a joint raid by police and Rangers on Friday. [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]
  • Afghan Cooperation Sought: Foreign Secretary Aziz Chaudhry and special envoy Mahmood Khan Achakzai met with Pres. Karzai in Kabul earlier this week to convey Prime Minister Sharif’s request for assistance in supporting the North Waziristan operation; Karzai and Sharif spoke again by phone on Thursday, pledging a “joint fight” against terrorists. Pakistan is reportedly seeking the extradition by Afghanistan of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan commander Maulana Fazlullah, believed to now be based in Kunar and Nuristan, allegedly with patronage from the Afghan intelligence service.
  • Other Attacks: Two people were killed and five wounded when a suicide bomber attacked the home of Farmanullah Khan, the head of a local anti-Taliban tribal militia, in Peshawar on Thursday evening. There has been no claim of responsibility. Two police officials were killed in a roadside bombing in the Torghar district of Khyber Paktunkhwa on Friday. [ET]


Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Criticism Continues Over Lahore Clash: Tahirul Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek party filed a police application on Thursday seeking to include Prime Minister Sharif, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, and his son Hamza Shahbaz in the investigations into this week’s clash between police and PAT activists in Lahore. In cabinet meetings on Thursday, Shahbaz reportedly claimed that police did not seek advance approval for their actions and that he had ordered them to disengage as soon as he learned of the incident. The top three provincial police officers also gave statements to the judicial commission investigating the clash on Thursday. [Dawn] [Dawn]


Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Government Seeks Debt Retirement Extension: The Express Tribune reports that legislation introduced by the government in April is unlikely to satisfy IMF conditions for greater State Bank of Pakistan autonomy. The legislation also propose a four-year extension in deadline for the repayment of government debt to the central bank, to 2023; government debt to the SBP currently totals Rs 2.623 trillion.


Pakistan — Remainders

  • National Assembly Approves Committee on Electoral Reforms [ET]
  • MQM Lawmaker Succumbs to Injuries After Lahore Shooting [Dawn] [ET]
  • Persecuted Ahmadis Seek Shelter in China [AFP]
  • Prime Minister Sharif Touts Laptop Distribution Program [ET]
  • NEPRA Accuses Karachi Electric of Overbilling Consumers [Dawn]
  • PTI Lawmaker’s Status Restored by Peshawar High Court [ET]
  • Commentary: Pakistan’s Offensive, America’s Withdrawal – “Pakistan’s greatest concrete security concern is how an Afghan unravelling might spill into its territory.” [Steve Coll, New Yorker]


Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Abdullah Reiterates Complaints Against Electoral Authorities: At a news conference on Thursday, Abdullah Abdullah reiterated his contention that the election authorities counting procedures were “totally illegitimate, and whatever the result is going to be, it is not acceptable for us”. A spokesman for the presidency, which Abdullah has directly blamed, has rejected allegations of interference, and the Independent Election Commission has said it would continue with the election process. The UN, US, and UK have all issued statements appealing for a resolution of Abdullah’s complaints through the IEC and Electoral Complaints Commission mechanisms. After Abdullah’s calls for a halt to the counting and the creation of a UN-mediated commission between his campaign and Ashraf Ghani’s were rebuffed, Abdullah said that “the people of Afghanistan will make their own decisions… I will stand beside them, and we will make our decision along with them.” A small gathering of a few hundred protesters was reported in Kabul on Thursday; although tensions are high, no violence was reported. On Friday, the entourage of Paktia governor Juma Khan Hamdard, a supporter of Ghani, clashed with highway police in Mazar-e-Sharif, leaving four bodyguards and one officer dead; the police checkpoint commander is reportedly a loyalist of Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor, an Abdullah backer. [WSJ] [BBC] [TOLO]


Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Civilians Injured in Zabul Missile Attack [TOLO]
  • Iraq Crisis Stirs Fears Afghanistan Could Be Next [AP]
  • Report: Women and Girls in the Afghanistan Transition – “As Afghanistan transitions to a new presidency and the drawdown of U.S. troops continues through 2016, now is the time for the United States to take action, in coordination with Afghanistan and its partners, to cement and extend gender-equality gains, close the gaps, and prevent reversal.” [Catherine Powell, CFR]
  • Commentary: A Second Round Surge in Turnout in Loya Paktia? – “Reports do corroborate each other and point, not only to a surge in turnout, but also the ways this was achieved. This is not to say there was not fraud as well.” [Pakteen Ibrahimi and Kate Clark, AAN]
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