Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Kerry Due in Kabul to Mediate Election Dispute; Drone Strike Hits North Waziristan

Topline

  • A drone strike in North Waziristan’s Datta Khel area on Thursday killed as many as seven militant suspects. The Pakistani army hosted a trip to Miram Shah for reporters on Wednesday, where it reports it has seized control of most of the town, expelling militants. More than 833,000 people have been displaced by the Waziristan fighting. Sec. Kerry is expected to arrive in Kabul later this week in an attempt to mediate between Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani; at an Asia Society event on Wednesday, Special Representative Dobbin suggested that a “government of national unity” was necessary to secure Afghanistan’s future. Pakistan’s National Electric Power Regualtory Authority reportedly plans to restrict subsidized energy rates only to those using less than one kilowatt per month, potentially affecting as much as 70% of the current beneficiaries.


Pakistan — Security

  • Drone Strike Reported in North Waziristan: A drone strike in North Waziristan’s Datta Khel area on Thursday killed seven militant suspects; it is the fourth strike to be reported since Predator operations resumed in June after a six month hiatus. No details on those targeted has been released. The military’s chief spokesman tells Al Jazeera that “drones are not at all, I repeat not at all, part of our operational plan” in the ongoing North Waziristan operation; Pakistan’s foreign ministry said it did not have confirmation that the strike took place on Thursday but that “Pakistan strongly opposes such attacks particularly at a time when the military operation is underway in North Waziristan”.  [BBC]
  • Waziristan Operations: Prime Minister Sharif and Chief of Army Staff Sharif met on Wednesday to review the status of Operation Zarb-e-Azb; PML-N sources say, tensions over the ongoing treason trial of former Pres. Musharraf notwithstanding, “the relationship is getting better with time”. The Pakistani army hosted a trip for local and international journalists to Miram Shah on Wednesday, where military officials say they have nearly completed clearance operations. BBC reporters describe Miram Shah as a “ghost town”. Maj. Gen. Zafarullah Khan, said that 11 bomb-making factories had been discovered along with 23,000 kilos of explosive materials, and reported that 400 militants and 24 soldiers had been killed in operations to date. On Thursday, a bomb planted near a bank in the adjacent Bannu district injured five people; local paramilitary Khasadars appear to have been the target. As of July 9, more than 833,000 internally displaced people have been registered by the FATA Disaster Management Authority, the majority having fled to Bannu, although this figure has yet to be verified for duplicate registrations or other errors. The Khyber Paktunkhwa provincial health department plans to issue vaccinations to around 300,000 displaced children and an additional 300,000 children residing in surrounding districts; a third phase of polio vaccination will begin July 12. [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]
  • Karachi Operations: Prime Minister Sharif visited Karachi on Thursday to review the law and order situation in the city; police and paramilitary Rangers report that they have arrested more than 31,000 alleged criminals over the past ten months of the ongoing operation there. During the trip, Sharif also announced the launch of a new metro bus service in the city. [Dawn] [Dawn]


Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Opposition Politics: PPP opposition leader Khurshid Shah met with Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Wednesday to discuss proposals for electoral reform and the appointment of a new chief election commissioner. Rehman also met separately with Prime Minister Sharif to discuss relief efforts for Waziristan IDPs. On Wednesday, the Jamaat-e-Islami’s Punjab chapter president said that the party, which rules in coalition with the PTI in Khyber Paktunkhwa, would not join the PTI’s protest march on Islamabad in August, saying they had not been consulted. Separately, the PTI administration in Khyber Paktunkwha has dismissed information minister Shah Farman Khan. [Dawn] [Dawn]


Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Energy Crisis: Electricity shortfalls surpassed 7,500 megawatts on Wednesday, resulting in 14-hour loadshedding in urban areas of the country and longer outages in rural areas; fuel stocks are reportedly down to three days, and collections at 87% of dues. Dawn reports that the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority has decided to withdraw subsidized “lifeline consumer” status from consumers using between 2-5 kilowatts per month, restricting subsidies only to those using 1KW or less; the result would exclude roughly 70% of those currently covered by the lifeline rate. Schools, madrassahs, and government offices will also be treated as commercial, rather than domestic, consumers. [ET]


Pakistan — Remainders

  • Five Frontier Corps Soldiers Killed in Balochistan [Dawn]
  • Two Peshawar Policemen Killed [Dawn]
  • Balochistan Frontier Corps Professes Inability to Curb Iranian Oil Smuggling [Dawn]
  • IMF Estimates Pakistan Will Require $10.8B in Gross External Financing in Current Fiscal Year [ET]
  • Finance Minister Suggests Pakistan Ordinance Factory Needs to Become ‘Self-Sustaining’ [ET]
  • Lahore’s Aitchison College Moves to Eliminate Legacy Admissions [Guardian]
  • Khyber Paktunkhwa Government Releases Rs 2.3 Billion for Swat Expressway [Dawn]
  • National Accountability Bureau Investigating Housing Scheme Fraud [Dawn]


Afghanistan — Security

  • Attacks: Yesterday’s attack on the Kandahar police headquarters and governor’s office left four civilians and five policemen dead, as well as twelve others wounded. Provincial officials report that as many as 22 Taliban gunmen were killed. Taliban fighters reportedly took control of the Char Sada district in Ghor on Wednesday, but military officials say they were forced out by local residents shortly afterwards. On Thursday, a magnetic bomb planted on a police vehicle in Kabul killed one police officer; no claim of responsibility has been reported. In Herat, six deminers were killed in an attack in the Kohsan district; another has reportedly been kidnapped.


Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Election Dispute: Sec. Kerry is expected to arrive in Afghanistan later this week in an effort to mediate between the Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani campaigns, although a spokesman for Ghani downplayed chances of resolving the issue “without a road map”. A spokesman for Abdullah said that “we are not here for compromise, we want to address the fraud and anyone who can help is welcome”. In remarks at the Asia Society on Wednesday, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan James Dobbins said that “a winner-take-all system in Afghanistan is not a workable option” and that “a government of national unity that includes all elements is, we think, a necessity for a successful government.” Both campaigns have previously ruled out coalition government; Abdullah has given no clear signals of his next moves after rejecting preliminary election results released at the start of the week which showed Ghani leading the presidential run-off by more than a million votes. Supporters of Abdullah tore down portraits of Pres. Karzai in the Loya Jirga hall on Tuesday evening. The Electoral Complaints Commission has begun a review of complaints filed by the Ghani campaign regarding the June 14 runoff; Abdullah’s campaign, which has boycotted the electoral authorities on charges of partisanship in Ghani’s favor, has not filed any complaints through the ECC in the second round. [TOLO]


Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Commentary: UNAMA Reports a Sharp Rise in Civilian Casualties – “The picture of the Afghan war portrayed through UNAMA’s statistics is bleak, given the way the war is developing.” [Kate Clark, AAN]
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