- The Pakistani military has reportedly recaptured Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan operative Adnan Rashid as he attempted to flee North Waziristan. Military airstrikes and Mir Ali ground operations continued on Wednesday, and a Predator drone strike in the Datta Khel area has reportedly killed as many as twenty militant suspects. The audit of Afghanistan’s disputed presidential run-off remains stalled, with disagreements reported between the two campaigns over the degree to which the UN will lead the audit or play a supervisory role. Citing the example of Afghanistan, Imran Khan has now called for a complete audit of all votes in Pakistan’s 2013 elections, and vowed to proceed with a protest rally planned for Islamabad in August. The death toll from yesterday’s car bombing in Paktika has been revised to 43.
Pakistan — Security
- Waziristan Operations: As noted yesterday, the Pakistani military began ground operations in Mir Ali after seizing control over the North Waziristan district capital of Miram Shah; spokesmen say at leave five soldiers have been killed in Mir Ali fighting, but most militants are believed to have fled the area. Further airstrikes on Wednesday have killed 35 militant suspects, according to military spokesmen. On Tuesday, military sources reported that they had captured TTP commander Adnan Rashid, as well as an Al Qaeda operative identified as Mufti Zubair Marwat. Rashid escaped prison in 2012 in a high-profile jailbreak in Bannu, and has been linked to assassination plots against former Pres. Musharraf and a subsequent mass jailbreak in Dera Ismail Khan. Rashid was reportedly captured while traveling from North Waziristan to South Waziristan en route to the Afghan border. GEO reports that TTP sources have confirmed Rashid’s arrest, and are said to blame the Maulvi Nazir group for passing the information that led to his discovery. Meanwhile, around 25,000 residents reportedly fled five border villages in the Bajaur Agency on Tuesday, ahead of an expected military operation there, following an attack that killed three security personnel over the weekend; on Wednesday, a local tribal militia agreed to cooperate with the military against the militants. Only 1,100 out of approximately 45,000 verified displaced families have yet received cash grant assistance through a mobile SIM transfer program, Dawn reports; FATA Disaster Management Authority officials blame Zong Telecom, the implementing partner. At a press conference on Tuesday, Minister for States and Frontier Region retired Lt. Gen. Abdul Qadir Baloch insisted that the government was taking action to aid the displaced. [Reuters] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn] [APP]
- Drone Strike: A Predator drone strike near the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan on Wednesday has killed as many as twenty militant suspects, officials report; no details on the targets have been reported at this stage. It is the fifth strike reported so far this year. [Dawn] [Reuters]
Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- PTI Protests: Following a meeting with senior PML-N party leaders on Tuesday, Prime Minister Sharif has reportedly decided to allow the PTI to proceed with its planned protest march in Islamabad; speaking at the inauguration of a road project in Chakwal, however, Sharif said that “unrest” on independence day would not be allowed. At a Tuesday press conference, Imran Khan revised his demands for an investigation into four constituencies where rigging was alleged and instead said that a “complete audit of votes” from the 2013 elections was necessary, citing the example of neighboring Afghanistan. Former Pres. Zardari endorsed an investigation into the four constituencies identified by the PTI in a statement on Tuesday. [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]
- Lahore Clash Investigation: Three police constables linked to firing against Pakistan Awami Tehreek protestors in Lahore last month were arrested on Tuesday after recording statements before the Joint Investigation Team. A forensic report has concluded that five supporters of Tahirul Qadri opened fire on the police during the clash.
Pakistan — Economics and Development
- Energy Protests: A protest organized by the Khyber Paktunkhwa chief minister in Peshawar against energy shortages broke into the WAPDA headquarters in the city on Wednesday. At a press conference on Wednesday, the PML-Q’s Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi blamed the energy crisis on the Sharif government.
Pakistan — Remainders
- Sectarian Militant Groups Make Inroads in Sindh [NYT]
- Karachi Security Officials to Shift Focus to Militant Groups [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn]
- Jamaat-e-Islami Challenges Protection of Pakistan Act in Supreme Court [ET] [Dawn]
- Federal Board of Revenue Denies Tahirul Qadri’s Request for Extension on Asset Reporting [ET]
- Islamabad High Court Suspends PEMRA Acting Chief’s Appointment [ET]
- Pakistan State Oil Seeks Higher Borrowing Limit [ET]
- Foreign Direct Investment Rises 12%, to $1.63 Billion [ET]
- China Offers $300M Loan for Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Project [ET]
Afghanistan — Security
- Paktika Car Bombing Death Toll Revised: The death toll from yesterday’s suicide car bombing at a Paktika marketplace rose to 89, the defense ministry announced Tuesday, making it one of the deadliest attacks in the country since 2001; provincial officials put the toll at 43 dead, however, and the defense ministry subsequently revised its casualty figures to 42 killed on Wednesday. The Taliban have denied involvement in the blast. Afghan security forces claim to have disrupted a planned Taliban attack in Paktia’s capital city of Gardez overnight Tuesday, killing twenty Taliban fighters.
- Aid Workers Kidnapped: Four aid workers working for an unidentified U.S. NGO group carrying out educational projects in Herat were reportedly kidnapped in the Gozara district on Tuesday. No claim of responsibility has been reported.
Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- Election Audit: The process of transferring ballot boxes to Kabul and auditing of the results is currently stalled, officials say, and the Post reports that Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani’s campaigns now argue that international bodies should “take charge” of the audit or play a “supervisory role”, respectively. Independent Election Commission officials had indicated that the audit would begin midweek. Concerns remain over the stability of the compromise agreement; Abdullah’s first vice presidential running mate, Mohammad Khan, tells Reuters that “if we find any sign of fraud … we will not accept the results. It’s too early to say what our next plan is.” Both Abdullah and Ghani met again on Tuesday at Ghani’s residence, although few details have been reported of their conversations.
Afghanistan — Remainders