Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Multiple Taliban Attacks Hit Kabul and Provinces; Officials Pledge Action on Karachi Security


  • Three people were killed in a suicide bombing attack on a European Union police advisory mission vehicle in Kabul on Sunday; a bombing on Saturday on the Kabul University campus wounded two lecturers. Attacks continue around the country, with the Taliban reported striking multiple police checkposts in Badghis, Uruzgan, and Kandahar. Sindh opposition lawmakers called for Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah’s resignation on Friday in the wake of last week’s attack on the Ismaili community; at a conference on Saturday, Karachi Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Naveed Mukhtar called for an end to “parallel governments and centers of power” and suggested that violence in the city was attributable to “vested interests [and] political expediences”. Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif visited ISI headquarters on Friday as Pakistani complaints of Indian spying activities in the country increase; meetings are reportedly scheduled for later this week to focus on allegations of RAW interference. The Afghan press reported over the weekend that the ISI and the NDS had signed a cooperation agreement during last week’s visit by senior Pakistani officials to Kabul; members of parliament demanded explanations from the government, and the head of the NDS is reported to have opposed signing the agreement, which reportedly provides for ISI training of NDS officers. The Afghan government is reported to be planning to issue as many as 210 political passports for Taliban representatives as part of efforts to renew talks in Qatar. Balochistan assembly opposition leader Maulana Abdul Wasey of the JUI-F survived an attack on his vehicle in Pishin on Friday evening. A Predator drone strike killed as many as six militant suspects in North Waziristan on Saturday. The Awami National Party organized a conference in Quetta to protest what participants said were changes to the planned China-Pakistan economic corridor route. The PTI rallied in Multan ahead of special elections scheduled for May 21. The Afghan electoral reform commission’s work remains stalled.

Pakistan — Security

  • Spying Tensions: Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif visited ISI headquarters on Friday for briefings on the security situation in Karachi, Balochistan, and elsewhere; a military statement issued afterwards said that Sharif had “emphasised the need for more proactive and coordinated role of intelligence agencies for an effective counterterrorism campaign and to counter hostile agencies’ moves to destabilise Pakistan”. Sharif’s meetings come as Pakistani officials have made increasingly public accusations of Indian intelligence interference in Pakistan and Afghanistan; BBC Urdu reports that Prime Minister Sharif will chair a meeting of senior military and civilian officials later this week to assess options to counter RAW activities. [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • JUI-F Leader Targeted: Maulana Abdul Wasey, a JUI-F legislators and leader of the Balochistan assembly opposition, survived a roadside bombing attack in Balochistan’s Pishin district on Friday evening; two vehicles were damaged but no injuries were reported. No claim of responsibility has been reported. [Dawn]
  • Predator Strike: As many as six suspected militants were killed in a U.S. Predator drone strike in the Shawal Valley region of North Waziristan on Saturday, who anonymous sources tell Dawn were Uzbek nationals; the Express Tribune reports that some were Arabs. A foreign ministry spokesman condemned the strike, which follows Pakistani military airstrikes in the same region last week. [Reuters] [AP]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Karachi Security: In the wake of last week’s attack on a bus carrying members of the Ismaili minority community, Sindh assembly opposition lawmakers from the MQM and PML-F called for Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah’s resignation during an assembly session on Friday, which Shah did not attend. PPP members rejected the call; the assembly passed a unanimous resolution condemning the attack. On Sunday, Shah reiterated claims that Indian intelligence services were involved in the attack. Police had yet to formally register a case for the incident as of Saturday; anonymous police sources tell The News that as many as 13 gunmen may have been involved in the attack, and that the Sunni sectarian terror group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi may have been involved. Speaking at a National Defense University conference in Karachi on Saturday, Karachi Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Naveed Mukhtar pledged to “eliminate all forms of terrorism” and reiterated that operations in Karachi were “completely apolitical”; he attributed violence in the city to “vested interests, political expediencies, sponsored militancy, [and] patronage of vested groups,” and said that “the authorities responsible for governance and administration have failed to provide necessary infrastructure and services to most of the areas”, adding that “parallel governments and centres of power must come to an end.” On Sunday, the Rangers announced that they had arrested 24 people in raids across the city, although details of their identities are limited; on Saturday, the Rangers killed four men, allegedly linked to the Baloch Liberation Army. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan reviewed the security situation in the city on Monday. [ET] [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]
  • Elections: Imran Khan led a PTI rally in Multan on Friday, where a special election will be held on May 21 for the PP-196 Punjab assembly seat, which PML-N legislator Waheed Arain was disqualified from after he was found to hold two national identity cards. The JUI-F is backing the PPP candidate in the election. In Bannu, the ANP has split from a planned alliance with the PPP and JUI-F for upcoming local government elections in Khyber Paktunkhwa, scheduled at the end of the month; the Express Tribune reports widespread violations of the Election Commission’s code of conduct ahead of the polls. A Dawn report notes complaints that several candidates previously affiliated with other parties have received PTI tickets to contest the local elections, bypassing “ideological workers”. [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [ET] [ET]
  • Election Complaints: At hearings on Friday, Chief Justice Nasir-ul Mulk affirmed his intention to complete the work of the special judicial commission hearing allegations of election rigging during the 2013 polls within the 45 day time period initially specified in the commission’s mandate, which would be May 23. Recent hearings continue to focus on allegations of ballot overprinting. The Express Tribune reports that the PPP has decided to moderate its stance at the commission. [ET] [ET]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Pakistan-China Economic Corridor: The Awami National Party organized a conference in Quetta on Saturday — which was attended by all major political parties except the ruling PML-N — to protest what participants said was the re-routing of the planned Pakistan-China economic corridor between Gwadar and Xinjiang, accusing the PML-N of bypassing the country’s marginalized districts in favor of central Punjab. [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn]
  • Budget Planning: Finance ministry officials tell the Express Tribune that they plan to raise civil service salaries by between 6-10%, but will stop short of fully revising the pay scale, which has been repeatedly amended in the past several years’ budgets. During meetings with UK DFID officials on Saturday, Finance Minister Dar indicated that allocations for the Benazir Income Support Program would be increased, with the goal of expanding access to cover 5.5 million families. Speaking in Multan on Friday, Imran Khan said that following the completion of local government elections in Khyber Paktunkhwa, the provincial government would negotiate a provincial finance award to transfer revenues to the district level. [ET] [ET]
  • Energy Crisis: Pakistan State Oil has cut diesel supplies to several small power generators in Balochistan, after the provincial government and WAPDA failed to pay outstanding dues, leaving several areas of the province without power. Parliament has been convened for a Monday session to push through legislation approving the levy of a special gas infrastructure development cess, which was imposed through presidential ordinance last September after several years of legal battles. Meanwhile, Dawn reports on the legal complications for liquefied natural gas import. [ET]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Pakistani Company Axact Reaps Millions Through Provision of Fake Degrees [NYT]
  • Police and Religious Activists Clash in Islamabad Over Banners Protesting Information Minister [Dawn]
  • Repatriated FATA Residents Angered Over ‘Code of Conduct’ Agreement [AFP]
  • German Spy Agency Reportedly Contributed to Bin Laden Operation [Dawn]
  • More Charges for Former Sindh Home Minister Mirza [Dawn] [ET]
  • 27.5 Million Unverified SIM Cards Blocked [APP]
  • Ulema Council Condemn Suicide Attacks [Dawn]
  • Two Arrested for Distributing Islamic State Materials in Peshawar [Dawn]
  • Balochistan Assembly Calls for Abolition of Border Checkposts [Dawn]
  • Supreme Court Rejects Court Martial Death Penalty Appeal [ET]
  • Ten Nominees Under Consideration for Lahore High Court [ET]
  • Free Water Distribution Ordered in Karachi [ET] [Dawn]
  • Prime Minister Inaugurates Karachi-Islamabad Train Service [Dawn] [ET]
  • Islamabad Airport Upgrade Inaugurated [Dawn] [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Kabul Bombings: A suicide car bomber struck a European Union policing advisory mission (EUPOL) vehicle near the Kabul airport on Sunday, killing at least three people — two Afghan girls and one British national, a security contractor. As many as 22 other people were wounded in the bombing, for which the Taliban claimed responsibility. Afghan, EU, and UK officials condemned the attack. On Saturday, a bomb exploded on the campus of Kabul University, wounding two lecturers; no claim of responsibility has been reported. Investigations are still ongoing in connection to last week’s attack on the Park Palace Hotel in Kabul; TOLO reports an eyewitness claim that the gunman had already checked in at the hotel as a guest, although there is no corroboration. In follow-on statements on Friday, the Taliban discounted the fact that those killed in the attack were civilians, saying that “every foreigner from an invading country, especially NATO, is considered an invader”. Vice identifies and profiles some of the Afghan victims of the attack. [WSJ] [BBC] [TOLO] [TOLO]
  • Paktia Kidnappings: The Taliban kidnapped and detained at least 27 people in the Sayed Karim district of Paktia on Saturday; officials later suggested that all but six were freed in police operations, although Taliban spokesmen claimed that the others had been released after having been found not to have any government connections. Separately, Pres. Ghani visited a Kabul hospital where the 19 Hazara men freed in a prisoner exchange in Zabul were recovering on Friday; another 12 people remain hostage. [Khaama Press] [AP]
  • Other Attacks and Operations: The Post overviews what analysts describe as “the worst fighting season in a decade” in Afghanistan; a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition reports that Afghan soldiers have faced a 70% increase in casualties during the period from January to present, compared to the same period a year prior. Lawmakers in parliament express alarm at the increase in fighting in parts of northern Afghanistan, and the continued absence of a defense minister; at a press conference on Sunday, Interior Minister Noor-ul Haq Uloomi suggested that these fighters had been displaced from southern Afghanistan. Officials in Ghor claim to have retaken the Charsada district after six days of fighting, although are reports of continued clashes. Members of parliament from Ghazni reported that the Nawa district had fallen to Taliban control again on Saturday. A suicide bomber attacked a police checkpoint in Kandahar on Saturday, and provincial officials claim that five militants were killed in a subsequent exchange of gunfire. On Monday, Taliban fighters attacked multiple security checkposts in Uruzgan and Badghis; fighting is ongoing as of this writing, but at least seven police officers and local government officials are reported to have been killed in an attack on the Khas Uruzugan district headquarters. [TOLO]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Cooperation Agreement Between NDS and ISI: TOLO reports that the Afghan and Pakistani intelligence services signed a memorandum of understanding during the visit by senior Pakistani officials to Kabul last week in which both agencies agreed to cooperate on counterterrorism investigations on both sides of the border, and the ISI agreed to provide training for NDS officers. A presidential spokesman downplayed the significance of the agreement, which was not previously announced. Other sources report that NDS chief Rahmatullah Nabil opposed signing the agreement, which was signed by the deputy chief of the NDS. Following the reports, the Afghan parliament have demanded explanations from government officials. [Khaama Press] [TOLO]
  • Other Regional Relations: Interior Minister Noor-ul Haq Uloomi signed a bilateral cooperation agreement on counterterrorism and counternarcotics during a visit to China last week, he announced at a press conference on Sunday. As part of the agreement, China will provide scanners for border crossing and de-mining. Iran’s ambassador to Afghanistan said Saturday that Iran would be willing to provide assistance to counter the Islamic State’s activities in Afghanistan.
  • Taliban Talks: Afghan press sources report that the government has begun issuing political passports to as many as 210 Taliban representatives as part of an effort to kick-start negotiations with the government.
  • Electoral Reform: In a statement on Saturday, first deputy to the chief executive Mohammad Khan called for action on the stalled electoral reform process. Members of the electoral reform commission report that it has yet to begin work, with the Ghani and Abdullah camps divided over its chair. [Pajhwok]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Old Rivals Attempting Uneasy Cooperation in Northern Afghanistan [RFE/RL]
  • Delays Persist in Verdict for Police Officers in Farkhunda Case [TOLO]
  • Foreign Minister Pledges Action for Afghan Investors Expelled from UAE [Khaama Press]
  • Daesh and Taliban Fighters Clash in Nangarhar [Khaama Press]
  • EU Expected to End Ban on Afghan Airlines [TOLO]
  • Report: Money as a Weapons System – “With a thriving insurgency, rampant corruption, increasing illegal trade and other ills still plaguing Afghanistan, critics have questioned whether CERP really bought anything grander than the projects themselves.” [ProPublica]

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