Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Civilian Casualties Reported in Shawal; Audit Suspended as UN Negotiates Rejection Criteria

Topline

  • Pakistani officials have refuted an AFP report that recent airstrikes in the Shawal Valley area of North Waziristan killed 37 civilians, not militants as reported by the military; more airstrikes took place in the area on Wednesday. The number of registered internally displaced persons has now surpassed one million and is expected to grow; the Sindhi nationalist Sindh Bachayo Committee led a strike in the province on Tuesday to protest an influx of IDPs. The vote audit in Afghanistan was suspended again on Tuesday as the UN worked to negotiate an agreement between the campaigns on the criteria by which ballots will be discarded; UN officials say the audit will resume Thursday. A Pakistani man was killed in firing near the Line of Control on Wednesday.


Pakistan — Security

  • Waziristan Operations: The AFP takes a critical look at Pakistani military statements regarding casualties inflicted on alleged militants during Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan; residents of the Shawal Valley say that 37 civilians, the majority women and children, were killed in airstrikes in the area on July 16, which the military says killed 35 “fleeing terrorists”. Elders from the area have called for an investigation, and say they had been assured that their homes would not be targeted; anonymous military officials suggest that militants were using civilians as “human shields” and that residents should have known to evacuate. Thirteen more militant suspects were reportedly killed in airstrikes in the area on Wednesday. At a press conference on Tuesday, Minister for State and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch refuted the report of civilian deaths. Baloch also acknowledged that more than a million internally displaced persons had been registered, and suggested that the total figure could surpass two million in the future. Separately on Tuesday, the Sindhi nationalist Sindh Bachayo Committee led a strike action to protest against the provincial government’s agreement to allowed IDPs to resettle in the province. The U.S. has announced an additional $9.3 million in assistance for IDPs, which will primarily be delivered through UNICEF. Meanwhile, Special Assistant Syed Tariq Fatemi arrived in Washington on Tuesday and held talks with State Department officials, briefing them on the current state of the Waziristan operations; speaking to the press in Kabul on Tuesday after shuttling back and forth between the two countries this week, Special Representative Dobbins said that Islamabad officials “gave assurance” that the Haqqani network had been expelled from North Waziristan and “would never be allowed to return”. [ET]
  • India Border Clashes: A Pakistani man was killed in cross-border fire after approaching the Line of Control in the Shakargarh sector on Wednesday, Pakistani military sources report.


Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Foreign Secretaries Meeting: Anonymous Pakistani diplomatic sources tell Dawn that the Indian and Pakistani foreign secretaries will meet to discuss the stalled peace process between the two countries “in the second half of August”. No confirmed date has been set, or announced.


Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Qatar Declines Bidding on LNG: Qatar has declined to take part in a public tender initiated by Pakistan State Oil for the import of liquefied natural gas, with officials reporting that Qatar Gas is instead seeking a direct state-to-state negotiation over a supply agreement. The results of the tender are expected to be used to set a benchmark price for negotiations with Qatar.
  • Energy Crisis: Protestors attacked a Lahore Electric Supply Company office on Wednesday as power shortages continue during the month of Ramazan. Anonymous LESCO sources tell Dawn that the company is overbilling paying customers in an attempt to make up for line losses and theft.
  • Peshawar Flight Operations Resume: The Peshawar airport Civil Aviation Authority head announced Wednesday that Etihad and Emirates will resume flight operations to the city beginning Thursday, after suspending them following shooting attacks on a Pakistan International Airlines flight that killed one woman and injured two crew members in late June. Qatar Airlines had previously resumed operations; Gulf and Saudi Airlines remain suspended. [ET]


Pakistan — Remainders

  • Peshawar Deputy Superintendent of Police Wounded [Dawn]
  • Bajaur Salarzai Tribal Elders Vow to Support Government [Dawn]
  • Tight Security Ordered for Eid-ul Fitr [ET]
  • Khyber Paktunkhwa Government Orders Salary Increases for Select MPAs [ET]
  • Dispute Continues Between Government and Activists on Number of Missing Persons [ET]
  • Pakistani UN Peacekeeping Deployments Drop in Past Year [ET]
  • PPP Senator Raza Rabbani Challenges Privatization Initiatives [Dawn] [ET]


Afghanistan — Security

  • Suicide Attack in Kunduz: The district police chief of the Chahar Dara district in Kunduz was injured in a suicide bombing on Wednesday along with three guards, one of whom was killed. The Taliban have not yet claimed responsibility.


Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Election Audit Temporarily Suspended: Speaking to TOLO on Tuesday, the deputy head of the Independent Election Commission announced that the IEC would be forced to halt the audit process unless the two campaign teams could reach an agreement on the procedure for the disqualification of ballots; Abdullah campaign representatives put the blame on Ashraf Ghani’s campaign. The process was halted on Tuesday; on Wednesday, the UN mediated further negotiations between the campaigns and the IEC, and announced that a formal protocol would be put into effect beginning Thursday with a resumption of the audit. [TOLO] [TOLO] [TOLO]


Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Rockets Target Kabul Area Military Academy [Khaama Press]
  • NATO Plane Makes Emergency Landing in Herat [Khaama Press]
  • Convicted Pakistani Journalist to Appeal Sentence Next Week [ET]
  • Report: Use of Open-Air Burn Pit Violated Department of Defense Requirements – “Despite U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) requirements to find alternatives to open-air burn pit operations, USFOR-A sent their solid waste to the open-air burn pit until June 2013 and the Afghan military continued to use burn pits to dispose of its own waste until October 2013.” [SIGAR (pdf)]
  • Commentary: Why Afghanistan’s National Unity Government is Risky – “In the longer term, a national unity government may undermine the effectiveness of state institutions and result in policy paralysis at a time when Afghanistan needs smaller, but more effective governance.” [Srinjoy Bose and Niamat Ibrahimi, South Asia Channel]
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