Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Pajhwok News Offices Bombed in Jalalabad; India-Pakistan Rhetorical Tensions Continue

Topline

  • Rhetorical tensions remain high in the wake of Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Bangladesh, where he acknowledge support for the country’s separation from Pakistan in 1971, and Indian reports of cross-border operations into Myanmar; Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, interior minister, defense minister, and others have all issued statements warning India against aggression against Pakistan. The offices of the Pajhwok Afghan news agency were bombed in Jalalabad on Wednesday evening; no claim of responsibility has been reported, although the agency’s editor-in-chief reported receiving threats in the past. Four policemen were killed in Quetta’s Pashtoonabad neighborhood on Thursday, an area where four policemen had been killed in a similar attack last week. With the Wolesi Jirga’s term expiring next week, parliamentarians continue to argue over whether or not they will have a legal right to continue in office in the absence of scheduled elections. The Peshawar High Court has suspended a re-election that had been ordered in Lower Dir after reports that women had been barred from voting, agreeing to hear a petition from the winning candidate. Pres. Ghani named four new presidential advisors on Thursday.

Pakistan — Security

  • Tensions with India: Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif chaired a formation commanders’ conference in Rawalpindi on Wednesday, at which he “took serious notice of the recent hostile Indian rhetoric coupled with covert and overt actions to destabilize Pakistan”, according to military spokesmen. In a separate statement, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that India should know “Pakistan is not Myanmar” — following Indian announcements of cross-border operations targeting insurgents operating in the latter country earlier this week — and said that “our armed forces are fully capable of responding to any foreign aggression and Indian leaders should stop daydreaming”. Elsewhere, the Senate interior committee has suggested bringing war crimes charges at the International Court of Justice against Indian Prime Minister Modi over his remarks acknowledging Indian support for Bangladesh’s separation from Pakistan in 1971. [ET] [ET] [ET]
  • Police Attacked: Four policemen were killed in Quetta’s Pashtoonabad neighborhood on Thursday, a week after a similar incident killed four officers in the same area.  No claim of responsibility has yet been reported. Separately in Peshawar, two policemen were killed and six injured in a suicide bombing targeting the vehicle of the Deputy Commandant of the Frontier Reserve Police, Malik Tariq, who is in critical condition after the attack. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack.
  • FATA Operations: Five people were killed when their car refused to stop at a security checkpost in North Waziristan on Wednesday; sources tell Dawn the car was carrying unspecified heavy weapons and that the passengers are suspected to have been militants. Elsewhere in South Waziristan on Wednesday, Pakistani forces reportedly killed commander Shahmim, identified as a former associate of former TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud and member of the Sajna group. On Thursday, military spokesmen claim to have killed ten militant suspects in Datta Khel, North Waziristan; details were limited. [ET]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Election Complaints: During hearings on Wednesday, the special judicial commission hearing complaints of election rigging during the 2013 general elections directed lawyers from the contesting parties to examine the polling station level records provided by local district staff so far; an offer by the Election Commission to present its own record of the polling station-level results was declined. On Thursday, PPP leaders accused the PML-N of rigging the results of the legislative assembly elections in Gilgit-Baltistan and said they would challenge the results. Elsewhere on Thursday, the Peshawar High Court suspended an Election Commission order to hold re-polling in the PK-95 Lower Dir constituency, after agreeing to hear a petition from winning candidate Aizazul Mulk of the Jamaat-e-Islami challenging the ECP order. [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [ET]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Budget Debate: Prime Minister Sharif joined the parliamentary session debating the budget on Thursday, where he touted past road infrastructure efforts and highlighting new projects linking Gwadar port with the rest of the country. [ET] [Dawn]
  • Energy Pricing: Under pressure from the government to push the cost of energy onto consumers, the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority approved a new surcharge on electricity tariffs, despite the earlier order by the Lahore High Court ruling such surcharges illegal, as well as a cut in power subsidies. [ET] [ET]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • EU Calls for Reinstatement of Death Penalty Moratorium [Dawn] [ET]
  • Chief of Army Staff Meets with Chinese Vice Minister of State Security [ET]
  • Ten Injured in Clash at Mansehra’s Hazara University [ET] [Dawn]
  • Islamabad Police Order Crackdown on Sectarian Hate Speech [Dawn]
  • Karachi Police Arrest Four Linked to ASWJ in Connection to Bank Heist [Dawn]
  • Balochistan Assembly Committee Chairs Nominated [Dawn]
  • 210 Officials Under Investigation for Provision of National IDs for Afghan Nationals [ET]
  • Remittances Rise 16% During First Eleven Months of Fiscal Year [ET]
  • Exports Fall 5.3% During First Eleven Months [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Pajhwok Offices Bombed: A bomb exploded outside the gates of the Pajhwhok News service’s Jalalabad offices on Wednesday night, injuring as many as four people and damaging the facility. Pajhwok editor-in-chief Danish Karokhel confirmed that the organization had received threats in the past but said that “we are committed to serving the masses and such threats will not deter our resolve.” No public claim of responsibility for the attack has been reported, and police investigations are ongoing.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Parliamentary Term Expiring: With no parliamentary elections scheduled and the Wolesi Jirga’s term in office due to expire on June 21, Wolesi Jirga speaker Abdul Raouf Ibrahimi and some other lawmakers insisted that the elected parliamentarians had “gotten our legitimacy from the people” and “will continue our work until the next elections”.
  • Advisors Appointed: On Thursday, the president’s office announced the appointment of four new advisors: Juma Khan Hamdard has been appointed an advisor on security issues, Qudbuddin Hilal an advisor for peace affairs, Mohammad Akram Akhpalwak an advisor for health affairs, and Khalid Farooq an advisor for internal affairs. Hamdard is a former governor, most recently of Paktia province, and backed Ghani in the presidential elections; Hilal is a Hizb-e-Islami leader and former presidential candidate. [Pajhwok]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Faryab District Attorney Killed in Bombing [TOLO]
  • Tribal Elders Seek Release of Hostages in Ghazni [TOLO]
  • Almost Half of Medical Equipment in Afghanistan Goes Unused, Conference Participants Say [TOLO]
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