Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Preliminary Afghan Vote Data Coming Monday; More IED-Making Facilities Found in Waziristan

Note: Updates will be on hiatus tomorrow for the July Fourth holiday, and will return with coverage of the long weekend on Monday, July 7. Thanks for reading.

Topline

  • Pakistani military officials report uncovering more IED manufacturing facilities in North Waziristan but information otherwise remains limited. The Afghan Independent Election Commission will release preliminary vote data on Monday, as it works to audit roughly 1,900 polling stations. Abdullah Abdullah’s campaign said that the delay provided “reason for optimism”; Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani are reportedly planning to meet within the coming days. A delegation of Afghan security officials are meeting with their counterparts in Islamabad today. Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan’s relationship with the Sharif brothers is rumored to be under strain; he has not appeared in parliament for several weeks. Judge Anwar Zaheer Jamali has taken the role of acting Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan as Judge Nasirul Mulk prepares to assume the role of Chief Justice. Pres. Karzai signed new counter-terror financing legislation into law on Thursday. The Kabul airport was hit by a rocket attack on Thursday, although no casualties have been reported. The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics has reversed a decision undertaken last year to release quarterly economic data.


Pakistan — Security

  • Waziristan Operations: Military spokesmen said that Pakistani troops conducting clearing operations in North Waziristan discovered three more IED manufacturing facilities on Wednesday. Dawn reports that six bodies were discovered near Mir Ali on Thursday, but provides no further details. The BBC notes reports that local commanders, including the Uzbek and TTP militants that are the nominal targets of the operation, are reported to have fled in advance of the army offensive. The WSJ interviews people displaced by the fighting in Bannu, and the Post in Khost province; roughly 75,000 people are estimated to have fled across the border to the latter area. On Thursday, Canada donated $6.7 million to the World Food Program to support relief efforts for Waziristan IDPs. An polio vaccination campaign in Rawalpindi last week was unsuccessful at locating IDP families, few of whom are staying in government camps, Dawn reports. Separately, Dawn interviews former military spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas after his remarks to BBC Urdu earlier this week; suggests that former Chief of Army Staff Kayani had delayed Waziristan operations planned for 2010-11 out of concern for political and security backlash. [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Protection of Pakistan Bill Passes: Several human rights organizations, including the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, criticized the passage in parliament of the new Protection of Pakistan bill, reported yesterday. The PPP and MQM voted in support of the measure; PTI assembly members abstained from casting votes. [ET] [AJE]


Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Interior Minister Reportedly Estranged: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has been absent from parliamentary proceedings for several weeks, with reports of ill health. Dawn reports rumors that his relationship with the prime minister has been strained by the Musharraf treason trial and other issues; Federal Information Minister Pervez Rashid denies the account. [The News]
  • Chief Election Commissioner Appointment: Judge Nasirul Mulk stepped down as the acting chief election commissioner on Wednesday, ahead of his taking the office of Chief Justice on Sunday. Judge Jawwad Khawaja, the next seniormost judge, has reportedly declined to take on the acting commissioner position; Judge Anwar Zaheer Jamali was named to the position on Wednesday. On Thursday, PPP opposition leader Khurshid Shah nominated four members to the joint committee to consider a permanent nominee for the commissionership. [The Nation]


Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Quarterly Statistics Dropped: The Express Tribune reports that the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics has reversed a decision undertaken last December and will now no longer release quarterly statistics on national accounts, contrary to IMF guidelines.


Pakistan — Remainders

  • Foreign Ministry Protests Report of NSA Surveillance [ET]
  • Musharraf Lawyers Seek to Broaden Prosecution With List of ‘Abettors’ 2007 to Constitutional Suspension [Dawn] [ET]
  • Sharif Meets with Ijazul Haq, Securing Support [Dawn]
  • National Party Says it Will Review Arsalan Iftikhar’s Appointment as Balochistan Investment Board Chairman [Dawn]
  • Government Approves New Coal Power Projects [ET]
  • Commentary: Why Is It So Easy to Arrest a Person for Blasphemy in Pakistan? – “The blasphemy laws have garnered a sanctity or inviolability of their own such that even a mere accusation is treated as guilt.” [Tariq Ahmad, South Asia Channel]


Afghanistan — Security

  • Rockets Strike Kabul Airport: Three rockets struck Kabul airport on Thursday morning, damaging two Air Force warehouses; the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. No casualties were reported. [Khaama Press]
  • Security Talks with Pakistan: A delegation of Afghan military and intelligence officers, led by the Afghan Army Director General of Military Operations, Maj. Gen. Afzal Aman, arrived in Islamabad on Thursday to hold talks with their Pakistani counterparts to discuss border security and counterterrorism cooperation. [Dawn] [Dawn]


Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Preliminary Results to Be Announced Monday: The Independent Election Commission said Wednesday that it would release preliminary results on Monday, as it works to further investigate roughly 1,900 polling sites for evidence of fraud. At a press conference on Wednesday, Ashraf Ghani welcomed the move but said that there should be no further delays and that the August 2 inauguration ceremony for the next president should proceed as scheduled. At an earlier press conference, Abdullah Abdullah’s campaign manager confirmed that the two campaigns would hold direct talks, suggesting that there was “reason for optimism” given that “one of our fundamental demands was addressed and our rival team has shown readiness to cooperate for the transparency of the process”. The meeting date has yet to be finalized. In a BBC interview, Abdullah said that he could accept a loss in the election, but only through a “legitimate” process. [TOLO] [TOLO]


Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Karzai Signs Counter-Terror Financing Law: Pres. Karzai signed into law legislation intended to curb the financing of terrorist groups, the second main piece of legislation under scrutiny by the international Financial Action Task Force, which deferred a decision on blacklisting Afghanistan until October at its plenary session last week. [Khaama Press]


Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Bergdahl ‘Venturing Out in Public’ as Part of Reintegration Process [AP] [NYT]
  • Military Subcontractor Under Investigation for Failing to Pay Overtime for Medical Workers in Afghanistan [AP]
  • Commentary: A Delay, an Audit, and a Change of Tone – “Although the audit in itself cannot throw out enough votes to make him the winner, it could theoretically bring Ghani within reach again, which would place the outcome of the election in the hands of the IECC – with all the problems that may bring.” [Martine van Bijlert and Kate Clark, AAN]
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