Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Criticism of Khyber Paktunkhwa Polls Continues; Arrests in Kabul Guesthouse Attack Case


  • Polling staff in at least five Khyber Paktunkhwa districts have recommend re-elections following irregularities and security incidents during Saturday’s voting; Imran Khan suggested that his party was open to any reelections, as the PPP and ANP issued calls for the provincial government’s resignation. The Afghan NDS announced the arrest of two men it identified as Haqqani network operatives, charged with planning the attack on the Park Palace Hotel in Kabul in mid-May. Tensions with India continue after recent critical remarks by Indian officials over the China-Pakistan economic corridor’s proposed route through Pakistani-administered Kashmir. Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor reiterates his criticisms of the national unity government in a Reuters interview.

Pakistan — Security

  • Arrest in Balochistan Attack: On Wednesday, Frontier Corps officials announced that they had arrested Sorat Jan Marri, identified as a key Balochistan Liberation Army commander reportedly linked to a recent bombing targeting President Mamnoon Hussain’s son in Hub, among other attacks.
  • Surveillance Measures: In a meeting in Karachi on Tuesday, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah directed provincial officials to coordinate with the federal government to develop a new registration policy for madrassa seminaries. Separately, the deputy attorney general submitted a report on behalf of the ISI in a Supreme Court case, acknowledging that the agency was tapping 6,856 phones across the country.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Khyber Paktunkhwa Elections: At least five district returning officers in Bannu, Buner, Lakki Marwat, Karak, and Dera Ismail Khan have asked the Election Commission to conduct new elections, citing a shortage of security personnel and mismanagement. Speaking on Tuesday, Imran Khan said that the PTI was “ready for re-election” on either a district basis or province-wide, saying that “if the ECP orders re-polling, the PTI will win again and with even a higher number of votes”. At a press conference on Tuesday, PPP provincial leaders rejected Khan’s offer and said that they would lead protest sit-ins against the PTI provincial government, accusing it of rigging the poll results. The ANP held a press conference on Wednesday, calling for the ruling party’s resignation, saying that “free and fair elections cannot be held under the current government, even if they are under army supervision”. Meanwhile, Khyber Paktunkhwa revenue minister Ali Amin Gandapur was released on bail on Wednesday; he faces charges of stealing ballot boxes in Dera Ismail Khan. Earlier on Tuesday, at least four PTI activists were killed in Abbottabad in a shooting linked to an earlier polling dispute; a PML-N activist has been identified as a suspect.[Dawn] [ET] [ET] [ET] [ET]
  • Other Election News: The parliamentary committee on electoral reforms is reportedly near consensus on removing the requirement that the chief election commissioner of Pakistan be a member of the judiciary. Meanwhile, the special judicial commission investigating allegations of election rigging in the May 2013 polls heard arguments from counsel for the PML-Q; Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk pressed the lawyers to offer evidence for their allegations that returning officers had altered vote results. [Dawn] [ET] [ET]
  • Tensions with India: In a statement on Tuesday, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that recent statements by Indian officials on the China-Pakistan economic corridor project were “clear proof that the current Indian leadership is not happy to see Pakistan prosper and finds our progress and development unacceptable”. Finance Minister Dar, meeting with a visiting Chinese think tank delegation on Tuesday, was quoted saying that the objections of a “third country” to the project were “in violation of all established norms of international economic relations”. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Sharif met with Pakistan’s ambassador to India, Abdul Basit, for a briefing on bilateral relations; the prime minister was quoted saying that “Pakistan is keen to develop good relations with India on the basis of sovereign equality as well as mutual respect and interest”. Speaking at a National Defense University conference on Wednesday, Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif said that “Pakistan and Kashmir are un-separable”, and that “while our enemies supporting terrorism to stoke sub-conventional conflicts and destabilise our country, we are fully determined, capable of defeating nefarious designs.” [ET]
  • Karachi Tensions: The MQM has announced a two day mourning period beginning Wednesday in Karachi, following the death of a party activist Mohammad Waseem while in custody at the Aziz Bhatti police station, which party officials said was the result of torture. The police station house officer has been suspended and the four officers investigating Waseem have been placed in custody. Separately, the head of the Citizen-Police Liason Committee in Karachi, Ahmed Chinoy, has reportedly been removed from his office at the behest of SIndh governor Ishrat ul Ebad. [ET] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Energy Pricing: Dawn reports that the government plans to move ahead with electricity tariff surcharges for high-income individuals and corporate taxpayers, in a bid to reduce power subsidy costs by around 50% in next year’s budget. [ET]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Pakistan Will Not Sign Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Foreign Secretary Reiterates [Dawn]
  • Bilalwal Bhutto Directs Action on Karachi Water Crisis [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn]
  • Three Killed in Bannu Checkpost Attack [ET]
  • Supreme Court Debates Role of All-Parties Conferences in Constitutional Amendments [Dawn]
  • Pakistan to Host D-8 Summit Beginning June 4 [ET]
  • Broadcasters Union Pledges Support for Former Bol Journalists [ET] [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Arrests in Park Palace Guesthouse Attack: On Wednesday, the National Directorate of Security announced that it had arrested two members of the Haqqani network, who they blamed for organizing the attack on the Park Palace Hotel in Kabul in mid-May, which killed 14 people. One of the suspects was reportedly an employee of an NGO, Madera, who helped to prepare a fake USAID ID card for the operational planner.
  • Uruzgan Police Chief’s Brother Appointed: Rahimullah, the brother of the late Uruzgan police chief Matiullah Khan, has been appointed deputy police chief for the province, Interior Ministry officials confirmed on Tuesday.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Balkh Governor At Odds with Government: In a Reuters interview, Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor expresses anger at what he describes as the national government’s failure to take action against militancy in the north, dismissing government efforts to date as “a show” and criticizing the nomination of former High Peace Council secretary Masoom Stanekzai as a choice for defense minister.

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Taliban and ISIS Affiliates Clash in Nangarhar’s Spinghar District [Khaama Press]
  • UK Pledges $500M in Aid for Afghanistan in 2015 [TOLO]
  • Kabul School Teachers on Strike [TOLO]
  • MPs Criticize Delays in Major Development Projects [TOLO]
  • Kabul Police Launch Drug Crackdown [TOLO]
  • Report: Irregular Hiring and Personnel Practices in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – “Nepotism and patronage networks play a critical role in the appointment and promotion process in many Afghan ministries.” [Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (pdf]

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