Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Heatwave Death Toll Passes 800; Taliban Rebuff Pakistani Reports of Talks

Topline

  • The death toll from the ongoing heatwave in southern Pakistan has surpassed 800 people as of Wednesday, although reports indicate that temperatures are cooling in Karachi, potentially bringing some respite. Political leaders at the provincial and federal level traded blame for the crisis, with most preferring to lay responsibility on the privately-held Karachi Electric distribution company, charging it with failing to provide a regular power supply. The Afghan Taliban issued a statement on Wednesday disputing accounts by Pakistani foreign advisor Sartaj Aziz that the insurgency would meet with Afghan government representatives within the next week, and also denied official sanction to a Pakistani-brokered meeting that reportedly took place in Urumqi. Afghan security forces continued operations around Kunduz in a between to retake control of the Dasht-e-Archi district. The Sindh Rangers charged eleven members of the Sunni Tehreek and former MQM leader Amir Khan on Tuesday; additionally, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan indicated that UK investigators would be granted interview access to three suspects in the murder of former MQM leader Imran Farooq within the week. Islamabad local elections have been set for July 25, despite legislation on local bodies still pending with parliament. Afghan prosecutors announced the arrest of two directors at the New Kabul Bank, charging them with accepting bribes from debtors from the old bank.

Pakistan — Security

  • NGOs Under Scrutiny: On Tuesday, a Supreme Court bench hearing a bail petition for a man charged with investment fraud directed the federal and provincial governments to provide “complete details” about the funding sources for NGOs operating in Pakistan, their activities, and existing monitoring mechanisms. [Dawn]
  • China Blocks Indian Inititiave at UN on Lakvhi Release: Chinese representatives at the UN Sanctions Committee reportedly blocked an Indian initiative on Tuesday to impose sanctions on Pakistan for allowing the release of Lashkar-e-Taiba operative Zakiur Rehman Lakvhi earlier this March. [ET]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Karachi Crackdown: At anti-terrorism court proceedings on Tuesday, the Sindh Rangers confirmed the arrest of eleven members of the Sunni Tehreek party, including two central leaders, following raids on party headquarters on Monday. At least eight of the men have been charged with murder, and the other with extortion and other crimes; all have been detained for a 90-day period. Additionally, the Rangers filed charges against MQM leader Amir Khan, who has been held in detention since a raid on MQM headquarters in March, charging him with “instigating terrorism and harboring criminals”. Speaking to the press on Tuesday, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that UK investigators would be granted interview access in the coming week to two suspects arrested in connection to the 2010 murder of former MQM leader Imran Farooq, and that the suspects would be transferred to Islamabad for that purpose. [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]
  • Islamabad Local Elections: On Tuesday, the Election Commission of Pakistan announced that local body elections would be held in the Islamabad Capital Territory on July 25, despite the fact that legislation is still pending to specify procedures for delimiting constituencies. [ET] [ET]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Supreme Court Hears Continued Arguments Against Military Courts System [Dawn] [ET]
  • Local TTP Commander Surrenders in Ziarat [ET]
  • Punjab Home Minister Accuses Indian Intelligence of Threatening Zimbabwe Cricket Match [Dawn]
  • Tahirul Qadri Launches Anti-ISIS Curriculum in UK [Reuters]
  • Khyber Paktunkhwa Police Register Over 1,500 Cases Against Fake ID Card Holders [Dawn]
  • Prime Minister Briefed on Nuclear Programs [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Attacks and Operations: Following operations by the Afghan National Security Forces to retake control of the Chahar Dara district in Kunduz — which military officials claim killed nearly 100 Taliban fighters —local officials report that clashes are ongoing between the Taliban and military forces in the Dasht-e-Archi district, which the insurgents seized control of at the outset of the week. Kunduz governor Mohammad Umar Safi tells Pajhwok that the Taliban’s shadow governor for the province, identified as Rahmatullah, was killed in the Chahar Dara operation. Meanwhile, fighting continues in the Mangal district of Baghlan province. On Wednesday, the district governor of Badakhshan’s Kisham district was reportedly wounded in a bombing, although accounts conflict as to whether it was a roadside bombing or suicide attack.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Taliban Talks: In a statement on Wednesday, Taliban spokesmen denied knowledge of any planned talks between the Afghan government and insurgent representatives, as Pakistani foreign advisor Sartaj Aziz had told Pakistani parliamentarians would be happening within a week. The Taliban also denied any association with a Pakistani-brokered meeting in Urumqi, which Aziz had also confirmed, saying that their political office in Qatar was responsible for “handling all the internal and external political activities related to the Islamic Emirate… no one else has been granted permission to meet and discuss political affairs with anyone as a representative of Islamic Emirate without receiving prior authorisation by either the leader of Islamic Emirate or the political office itself”.
  • Kabul Bank Arrests: Prosecutors announced on Tuesday that the National Directorate of Security had arrested the director and deputy director of the New Kabul Bank clearance department, charging them with accepting bribes from a debtor of the former Kabul Bank.
  • NGOs Under Scrutiny: On Tuesday, Minister of Economy Abdul Satar Murad told a conference of non-governmental organizations that the ministry “believes in continuous and close oversight” and would require regular annual reports from all NGOs on their projects and funding sources. There are currently 1,947 registered NGOs in Afghanistan, of which 273 are foreign and the remainder domestic.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Fourth C-130 Joins Afghan Air Force [Khaama Press]
  • High Office of Anti-Corruption Pledges Action Against Ministry of Urban Development [TOLO]
  • Interview: Balkh Governor Atta Mohammad Noor on His Plans to Restore Security in Northern Afghanistan – “If needed, the national forces can recruit old forces like the mujahedin, which can be absorbed lawfully into the security institutions. They can be used effectively. But I’m not supportive of other structures not controlled by the government.” [RFE/RL]

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