- A group of Taliban gunmen attempted an attack on the Kabul international airport on Thursday morning, but were eventually killed by Afghan and ISAF commandos, with no damage to the airport and only one police injury reported. Pakistani police in Lahore raided a suspected militant safehouse on Thursday, killing one militant suspect. More than 500 suspects have reportedly been detained by Pakistani authorities around the country in an effort to forestall TTP retaliatory attacks for the Waziristan operation. The Afghan Independent Election Commission has begun the audit of all ballots cast in the presidential run-off election. An advance security detail for Pres. Karzai was ambushed near Gardez, Paktika, on Thursday; at least four guards were wounded. Karzai himself was not present. Prime Minister Sharif will travel to Saudi Arabia at the end of the month, where he will reportedly seek Saudi mediation in tensions between the military and the Pakistani government.
Pakistan — Security
- Raiwind Raid: Lahore police reportedly received a tip-off on early Thursday morning about the presence of a militant safehouse in the city’s Raiwind neighborhood, prompting a joint army and police search operation and raid that turned into a prolonged ten-hour siege. Accounts are contradictory on the number of casualties, but officials now indicate that one militant suspect was killed and one injured; one member of the Punjab Elite Force was also killed. Separately, interior ministry officials tell BBC Urdu that more than 500 suspects have been detained around the country as part of efforts to curtail backlash attacks by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and its supporters as the Waziristan operation continues.
- Hangu Bombing: Six people were killed and at least three others injured in a double roadside bombing in the Hangu district of Khyber Paktunkhwa on Thursday; all were civilians. No claim of responsibility has been reported.
- Indian Border Clashes: Pakistani military sources accused the Indian Border Security Force of “unprovoked firing” along the Line of Control near Sialkot on Wednesday; no casualties were reported.
Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- Civil-Military Relations: Prime Minister Sharif will travel to Saudi Arabia on July 20 for his annual week-long trip; the Express Tribune reports that Sharif will reportedly seek Saudi assistance in moderating pressure from the ISI on the government. Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal told reporters on Wednesday that “this is a fact that the problems the PML-N is facing are because of its decision to try Gen Musharraf for violating the Constitution”; he denied, however, that the government was “taking revenge [against] any institution” and insisted that everyone should be answerable to the law.
- PTI Protests: Meanwhile, the government and the army are reportedly still planning on holding independence day celebrations at the same public square in front of parliament as the PTI’s protest rally, which The Nation reports has forced the party to consider alternate venues. PTI officials are now reaching out to other opposition parties to seek their support. Separately, Arsalan Iftikhar Chaudhry’s petition with the National Database and Registration Authority to seek family registration certificates for Imran Khan, in order to challenge his eligibility to serve in parliament, was rejected. [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]
Pakistan — Economics and Development
- Energy Protests: Khyber Paktunkhwa chief minister Pervaiz Khattak threatened continued protests and a cut-off of hydroelectric energy supply from the province to Punjab if unscheduled power shortages continued; Water and Power Minister Khawaja Asif met with Khattak on Wednesday and has pledged to address the shortfalls.
- Polio Crisis: Three new polio cases in Peshawar and Khyber Agency were confirmed on Wednesday, bringing the total reported so far this year to 94, surpassing last year’s annual total.
Pakistan — Remainders
- Security Forces Foil Planned Dera Bugti Attack [Dawn]
- Former Punjab Law Minister Calls for Tahirul Qadri to Be Included in Lahore Probe [Dawn] [Dawn]
- Government Forms Treaty Implementation Cells to Preserve EU’s GSP Plus Status [Dawn]
- Government Raises Rs 56.1 Billion in First Investment Bond Auction of the Fiscal Year [ET]
- Oil and Gas Regulator Bans Use of LPG in Transport [Dawn]
- Economic Coordination Committee to Consider Rs 49 Billion Price Hike on Gas [ET]
Afghanistan — Security
- Taliban Attack Kabul Airport: A team of Taliban gunmen seized control of a nearby building as a base of fire from which to fire upon Kabul’s international airport with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades on Thursday morning. Interior ministry officials say no rockets actually hit inside the airport, and no planes were damaged. All attackers – reports vary as to whether there were four or six – were killed by Afghan and ISAF coalition commandos by mid-morning; several flights were diverted or cancelled during the four-hour battle, but only one injury was reported among police. [NYT] [WAPO] [Reuters] [Guardian] [AFP] [Khaama Press]
- Karzai Advance Security Team Attacked in Paktika: An advance security detail for Pres. Karzai travelling to the Urgun district in Paktika, where a car bombing in a market earlier this week killed at least 43, was ambushed while en route on the outskirts of Gardez. Karzai was not traveling with the group. Fighting reportedly broke off when additional support personnel were dispatched to assist the presidential force; at least four guards are reportedly injured.
- Bagram Hunger Strikes: A former Pakistani detainee at Bagram tells the Guardian that an unspecified number of the 38 non-Afghan nationals still held by the United States at the Bagram prison facility regularly carried out hunger strikes to protest their treatment there. The former detainee says he was not physically abused during his time at the prison, however.
Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy
- Vote Audit Begins: The Independent Election Commission announced on Thursday the formal beginning of the full election audit agreed to over the past weekend. Around 15,000 ballots will be scrutinized in Kabul, overseen by international observers; provincial ballots are still in the process of being transferred to the IEC counting center. TOLO notes some of the audit criteria under consideration as ballot boxes are reviewed; the process is expected to take at least three weeks. Meanwhile, Abdullah Abdullah is expected to host Ashraf Ghani on Thursday in continuing talks about the shape of a national unity government after the results are finalized. TOLO reports that the deal struck this past weekend committed both sides to convening a constitutional loya jirga within two years to shift the country to a prime ministerial system, and that the eventual winner will work with the runner-up to make joint appointments for key provincial, economic, and security posts. [TOLO]
Afghanistan — Remainders
- Conviction of Pakistan Journalist Appealed in High Court [ET]
- SIGAR Report Suggest Afghanistan Cannot Absorb New Cargo Planes [WAPO] [SIGAR (pdf)]
- Bergdahl Retains Lawyer in Investigation of His Disappearance and Capture [WAPO] [Reuters] [AP]
- Commentary: How Afghanistan Pulled Back from the Brink – “The compromises achieved by Secretary Kerry’s intervention acknowledge that Afghanistan would be better served by a governing structure that dilutes presidential authority and encourages greater political inclusiveness through the sharing of state and executive powers between a president and prime minister.” [Marvin Weinbaum, MEI]