Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Afghan Finance Ministry Exhausts Reserve Funds; Supreme Court Seeks Relocation of Protestors

Topline

  • The Afghan government has exhausted its reserve funds, with the exception of $6 billion held to maintain its balance of trade, and is now dependent on daily revenue collections to finance its expenditures; Finance Minister Zakhilwal confirms that the government will seek additional funds to support the armed forces at a meeting of donors scheduled for September 1. The Independent Election Commission began invalidated audited ballot boxes on Monday; on Tuesday, Abdullah team officials said the IEC had “no intention of throwing out fraudulent votes” and threatened to boycott the process if its demands, left unspecified, were not met. Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled Monday that protestors were blocking the freedom of movement around the court, and should be relocated; PTI and PAT protestors refused to do so. Prime Minister Sharif met with Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif on Tuesday; both agreed that the ongoing political deadlock should be resolved “expeditiously”. The government has reportedly agreed to PTI demands for consultative appointments on a number of positions, but continues to reject calls for Prime Minister Sharif’s resignation.

Pakistan — Security

  • New ISI Director: Five senior corps commanders and the director general of the ISI, Lt. General Zaheerul Islam, are due to retire within the next three months; The Nation reviews potential appointees to replace him, with current Quetta Corps Commander Lt Gen Naseer Janjua said to be a top contender.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Supreme Court Rules Protestors are Hindering Movement: In a Supreme Court hearing on Monday, Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk ruled that PTI and PAT protestors in Islamabad are impeding free movement along Constitution Avenue in the capital’s “red zone,” including restricting access to the court itself. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan met with city administration officials and police after the order to plan for its implementation; the wording of the court directive only calls for talks between protestors and the attorney general of Pakistan to agree on the relocation of the sit-in. Protestors refused to vacate the area after the court order, and the attorney general submitted a report to the court to that effect on Tuesday; interior ministry sources suggest a crackdown could be ordered if the court choose to find the protestors in contempt of its order. [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]
  • Protests Continue: Prime Minister Sharif met with Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif at his residence on Tuesday; details are limited, but Dawn reports that “there was a consensus on the need to resolve the ongoing issue expeditiously”. The PTI held talks with the PPP and Jamaat-e-Islami on Monday, pushing its new demand for a temporary resignation of Prime Minister Sharif  during which investigations into alleged vote-rigging would be conducted. Punjab governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar, who has served as a negotiator with the PTI, said that the government had accepted demands for new appointments, in consultation with the PTI, for the heads of the Federal Investigation Agency, National Database and Registration Authority, and Election Commission, but that the prime minister would only resign if rigging allegations were proven after a judicial investigation. In his nightly speech on Monday, Imran Khan focused most of his remarks on the alleged rigging, repeatedly citing the recent interview by former Election Commission secretary Mohammad Afzal Khan. Meanwhile, Tahirul Qadri issued the latest in a series of 48-hour ultimatums to the government to step down, suggesting that he was “ready to be martyred”. In a Monday interview, MQM chief Altaf Hussain warned of the risk of martial law if conflict continued; the PPP, meanwhile, announced the formation of a special committee seeking to mediate between the government and the protestors. [Reuters] [Reuters] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]
  • Lahore Clash Inquiry: The joint investigation team investigating mid-June clashes between Lahore police and Pakistan Awami Tehreek activists is still continuing its work and has not reached a conclusion, Punjab police spokes officials say; the PAT continues to boycott the investigation. The Express Tribune reports that the report places blame on low-ranking police officers, but that a dissenting opinion holds Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and other senior government officials responsible for the incident. [Dawn] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Polio Crisis: A four-day polio vaccination drive targeting roughly 700,000 children in the FATA and Khyber Paktunkhwa began on Monday, but will not cover North and South Waziristan, portions of Khyber Agency, or the Bannu Frontier Region due to security threats. Boycotts by health workers whose salaries have not been paid in three months delayed the vaccination campaigns in Lakki Marwat, Charsadda, or Malakand. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Baloch Nationalist Groups Observe Strike Commemorating Akbar Khan Bugti [ET] [Dawn]
  • Rupee Drops Most in Five Years Amid Ongoing Political Deadlock [Bloomberg]
  • India Refuses to Modify Kishanganga Dam Design in Indus Water Treaty Talks [ET]
  • Musharraf Lawyers Seek Two-Week Delay in Trial [Dawn]
  • Sufi Shrine Bombed in Mastung, Wounded One [Dawn]
  • No Request Received to Investigate Pakistani Funds in Swiss Banks, Ambassador Says [ET]
  • Rs 400M Appropriated to Repatriate 5,700 Pakistanis Stranded in Libya [ET]
  • Search for Shale Gas to Begin Next Year [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Possible Extension of NATO Forces: Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Dempsey visited Kabul on Monday to attend the changing of command ceremony between Gen. Joseph Dunford and Gen. John Campbell. Speaking to reporters while en route, Dempsey suggested that U.S. military forces in Afghanistan could remain in country beyond the end of the year even in the absence of a bilateral security agreement signed by the as-yet-undetermined next president. Dempsey indicated that a total pullout would require approximately 120 days, but that U.S. forces could act more quickly if necessary, and “we’ve got our own planning mechanism in place should this thing extend a little further than we hoped it would.” He added that the BSA was needed “not because necessarily we lack the authority to stay beyond the end of the year, but rather as an expression of good faith and good will”.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Vote Invalidation Begins: The Independent Election Commission began reviewing audited ballots on Monday to issue disqualification orders; of 3,645 ballot box audit reports reviewed, 72 were invalidated, and 697 were sent back for recount. Details on the location or contents of the invalidated ballot boxes were not released. IEC officials suggested that the audit of most ballot boxes would be completed by Monday evening, and that the recount of 6,000 boxes selected for special scrutiny by the two campaigns would be accelerated. Around 9,500 audit result reports have been entered into the IEC’s system. [Khaama Press]
  • Abdullah Team Threatens Boycott: On Tuesday, Fazal Ahmad Manawi, the former IEC commissioner and lead representative for the Abdullah team in the ongoing audit process, warned that the campaign was prepared to boycott the process, saying that “the invalidation process is just a joke and there is no intention of throwing out fraudulent votes.” Manawi said that the boycott would occur “if our demands are not accepted by tomorrow morning,” although he did not publicly detail those demands. Pres. Karzai has called a meeting of the two candidates on Tuesday. [AJE] [Khaama Press] [TOLO]

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Fiscal Crisis: Deputy Finance Minister Mustafa Mastoor tells TOLO that the government has emptied its reserve funds and its only able to meet obligations through day-to-day revenue collections. $6 billion in reserves remain to maintain the country’s balance of trade. Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal tells the WSJ that the Afghan government is on the verge of being unable to pay salaries and that its GDP growth rate is “absolutely in the negative”; he confirms that the government will request $6 billion in annual military assistance at a September 1 conference of donors for the Afghan National Army Trust Fund. At the 2012 NATO conference in Chicago, donors pledged $4.1 billion in annual assistance, with the Afghan government committing to $500 million of its own funds beginning in 2015.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Two Killed in Attack on Jawzjan Militia [Khaama Press]
  • Increasing Number of Illegal Militias Reported in Faryab [TOLO]
  • Report: Afghanistan’s Constitution Ten Years On: What Are the Issues? – “Ambiguities are not unexpected with a new constitution. The question is whether the constitution itself, and the institution it creates, are able to resolve and clarify the ambiguities in the way that fortifies the constitution and the rule of law.” [Mohammad Hashim Kamali, AREU]
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