Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Leaked Accounts Purport to Show MQM Confession of Indian Ties; ANA Retakes Nuristan District

Topline

  • The Pakistani press reported on purported testimony by MQM leader Tariq Mir to UK police, in which Mir is alleged to have confessed that Altaf Hussain received funds from Indian officials as far back as 1994; the MQM maintains that the testimony is a fabrication. Afghan forces retook control of the Waygal district in Nuristan, but attacks continue around the country, including an ambush in Herat on Sunday that killed 11 soldiers. Saudi diplomatic cables leaked by Wikileaks last week show that Haqqani network leaders met with the Saudi ambassador to Pakistan in 2012, seeking medical treatment for Jalaluddin Haqqani. Tahirul Qadri returned to Pakistan on Monday after a six-month absence. Afghan Interior Minister Noor-ul Haq Uloomi has cancelled a planned visit to Pakistan this week, citing Afghanistan’s internal security situation. The Balochistan provincial apex committee announced an amnesty plan for militants who give up their arms and renounce violence. Pres. Ghani has appointed Seema Jowenda as the governor of Ghor province, although the NYT notes that Ghani’s first female governor appointment, Masooma Muradi of Daikundi, has been barred from taking office by local opposition. Deaths from the heatwave in southern Pakistan have slowed, but officials continue to trade blame for the responsibility. Prime Minister Sharf has formally sought the extension of the National Finance Commission revenue-sharing formula, as negotiations between the federal government and provinces continue past the end of the fiscal year on June 30. The IMF board approved the release of the latest $506 million loan tranche for Pakistan on Friday.

Pakistan — Security

  • Baloch Amnesty Program: On Friday, a meeting of the Balochistan provincial apex committee agreed to offer a “general amnesty” for “all home-based Baloch militants who are willing to renounce violence and lay down their arms”. The plan, which includes offers of financial compensation of up to Rs 1.5 million for top commanders, is apparently intended to target younger fighters, and is not open to “those who are hiding abroad”. Meanwhile, Dawn reports that the exiled Khan of Kalat, Mir Suleman Dawood Jan, is in talks with a Balochistan government delegation to consider a return to the province. [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn]
  • FATA Operations: At least twenty-seven militant suspects were killed in airstrikes in the Shawal Valley region of North Waziristan on Sunday and in the Khyber Agency, Pakistani military sources report. Militants attacked an army checkpost in the Shawal on Sunday evening, killing one soldier. Army sources tell the AFP that the military is preparing for a “final push” into the valley area, and is positioning troops around the area; local elders report that “up to two dozen militants are leaving the area every day and around 200 militants recently moved into part of Afghan territory.”
  • Militant Bans: The Express Tribune reports that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Interior submitted separate lists of banned militant organizations to the Supreme Court last week, which it provides copies of. The lists total 212 groups in all; only ten appear to overlap between both ministries, however, including Lashkar-e-Taiba, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. None have been added since the December 2014 Peshawar school attack.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • MQM Under Scrutiny: On Friday, Interior Ministry officials formally requested information from UK authorities in connection to alleged Indian assistance to the MQM, which was disclosed in a BBC report last week. The MQM is meanwhile reportedly preparing legal defamation charges against the BBC. The Punjab Assembly passed a resolution on Friday calling for a treason trial against MQM leader Altaf Hussain if the allegations in the BBC report are found to be true. On Saturday, the Express Tribune reported on a leaked document showing testimony from MQM leader Tariq Mir to the UK police, in which he claimed that Hussain had been directly receiving Indian funds as far back as 1994. The source of the purported testimony, which MQM party spokesmen said was a fabrication, is described as being a “senior journalist”. On Saturday, a team of UK investigators reportedly arrived in Islamabad to conduct interviews of three men Pakistan has arrested in connection to the 2010 murder of former MQM leader Imran Farooq, who the reported Mir testimony suggests was aware of the alleged Indian fund transfers. An Interior Ministry statement on Monday said that a two-member investigating team had only arrived today, however. Elsewhere, a Karachi anti-terrorism court hearing charges against MQM leader Amir Khan granted his bail application. [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [ET]
  • Qadri Returns: Pakistan Awami Tehreek leader Tahirul Qadri returned to Pakistan after a six-month absence, arriving in Lahore on Monday, where he was met by supporters. [ET]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Heatwave Slows: The pace of heatwave-related deaths has slowed but continues, totaling 1,276 dead over the past eight days as of Sunday; 1,186 of those deaths have occurred in Karachi. Roughly 300 of the bodies have been unclaimed as of Sunday, most of whom have been buried; mass funeral services were held by the Edhi Foundation on Friday for 50 unclaimed victims. Opposition parties in Punjab carried out protest rallies against the PML-N government’s failure to provide energy supply. PPP party co-chairman Bilalwal Bhutto Zardari, returning from Dubai, met with Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah on Saturday to discuss the issue; Sindh provincial officials continue to lay blame on the federal government for the crisis. On Saturday, the PTI filed manslaughter and murder charges against Shah for “criminal negligence” in connection to the heatwave deaths. The senate committee on water and power plans to call Karachi Electric officials for hearings on power cuts in the city. The Pakistani Taliban’s main spokesman also issued a statement on Friday, warning K-Electric against “ruthless power loadshedding”, expressing “solidarity with the people of Karachi over the human tragedy”. [AJE] [NYT] [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]
  • National Finance Commission Extension: The prime minister has formally sought the extension of the National Finance Commission revenue-sharing formula “for another year or till conclusion of the next award, whichever is earlier”, finance ministry sources report. A presidential order approving the request is expected before the end of the current fiscal year on June 30. Sindh representatives had earlier sought only a three-month extension to the formula, which sets the federal-provincial split in tax revenues; provincial governments have sought greater allocations in the current round of negotiation.
  • IMF Loans: On Friday, the IMF Board formally approved the release of a $506 million loan tranche for Pakistan, following the seventh quarterly review.
  • Energy Infrastructure: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif met with a Chinese delegation on Saturday, who are reported to have agreed to expedite work on the Bahawalpur Solar Power Park, which is due to begin generating 300 megawatts of power by the end of this year, and to generate three times that amount by the end of 2016. On Sunday, Prime Minister Sharif approved the transfer of unused Public Sector Development Program funds, due to expire at the end of the fiscal year on June 30, to revive operations at three furnace oil power plants in Lahore, Multan, and Faisalabad, which are to be converted to gas turbines. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Pakistani Prisoner Transferred from Indian Kashmir After Death; Family Says Body Shows Torture Signs [Dawn] [AFP]
  • ASWJ Leader Surives Islamabad Attack [Dawn]
  • Federal Investigation Agency Granted Detention Powers [ET]
  • Four Militants Killed in Lahore Police Raid [AFP]
  • FATA Members of Parliament Agree on Some Reforms [ET]
  • Swat Militia Member’s Son Killed [ET]
  • PPP Punjab Seeking Opposition Alliance Ahead of Local Government Polls [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Supreme Court Rejects Petition Against Government Perks [Dawn]
  • NEPRA Imposes Gas Infrastructure Development Cess to Recover Circular Debts [Dawn]
  • NEPRA Reduces Wind Power Tariff By 20% [Dawn]
  • Balochistan Officials Aim to Improve Immunization Programs [Dawn]
  • Legendary Chitral Schoolmaster in Clash with Successor to Retake Control [Guardian]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Saudi Diplomats Met with Haqqani Representatives: Dawn notes that the collection of Saudi diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks last week includes a report of a meeting between the former Saudi ambassador to Pakistan, Abdul Aziz Ibrahim Saleh Al Ghadeer, and Nasiruddin Haqqani, a son of Jalaluddin Haqqani and financier for the network. During the meeting in February 2012, Nasiruddin sought medical care for his father in Saudi Arabia; the account does not confirm whether the visit was ever actually taken, although the elder Haqqani was reportedly in possession of a Saudi passport dating to his time as a combatant in the anti-Soviet jihad, which was handed over to the Saudi ambassador. [WSJ]
  • Attacks and Operations: Minister of Interior Noor-ul Haq Uloomi and National Directorate of Security head Rahmatullah Nabil briefed members of parliament on Saturday; Uloomi attributed the rise in violence in northern Afghanistan to insurgent fighters being pushed across the border by Pakistani operations in North Waziristan. Nabil warned that the security situation in Afghanistan would deteriorate further in coming months, but said that the Afghan national security forces were prepared to “deal with any eventuality”. On Friday evening, Afghan National Army forces retook control of the Waygal district in Nuristan province, which had been stormed by Taliban fighters the day prior; the provincial governor reported that 18 policemen had been killed in the fighting, while the Taliban acknowledged seven casualties. The district governor of the Shibar district in Bamiyan province survived a Taliban ambush on Saturday. On Sunday, TOLO reported that a force of ANA soldiers was surrounded by Taliban fighters at a base in the Baghlan-e-Markazi district in Baghlan province; no reinforcements have yet been dispatched.  On Sunday evening, Taliban fighters ambushed an Afghan army patrol in Herat’s Karokh district, killing 11 soldiers. [TOLO] [TOLO] [Khaama Press] [TOLO]
  • Helo Crash: Reports on Monday indicate that an Afghan National Army helicopter crashed in Kandahar on Sunday, near the Ghorak and Maiwand districts; Khaama Press reports that three soldiers were killed in the crash, but a spokesman for the provincial governor only confirmed an emergency landing of the aircraft. The Taliban have claimed responsibility, saying they shot down the helicopter.
  • Faryab Legislator Detained on Charges of Taliban Support: On Friday, Faryab police arrested Angar Tokhi, a former provincial council member, charging him with involvement in multiple murders in the Almar district and with supplying arms to the insurgency. His family allege “a political conspiracy” against him.
  • Daesh in Afghanistan: Elsewhere on Sunday, the NDS announced the arrest of six Taliban fighters in the Dur Baba district in Nangarhar; one was identified as the Taliban shadow governor for the district, although the group was also reportedly found with Daesh flags. On Saturday, Afghan Army Chief Maj. Gen. Qadam Shah visited Nangarhar to review operations, where he suggested that Daesh’s presence was limited to former Taliban fighters operating under a new flag. Ministry of Defense sources report that Taliban and Daesh fighters clashed in Nangarhar’s Khogyani district on Saturday, leaving twelve dead.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Tensions with Pakistan: The Afghan Interior Ministry issued a statement on Sunday indicating that minister Noor-ul Haq Uloomi had postponed a planned visit to Pakistan during the coming week “because of internal security issues”. Meanwhile, Indian press accounts indicate that Indian officials are reaching out to the Afghan NDS to gather additional information on the attack on Afghanistan’s parliament last week, “to drive home the point that nexus between Pakistan’s ‘state actors’ and terror outfits poses a threat not only to India, but for the entire region”. Pakistan has denied Afghan allegations that an ISI officer was involved in planning the attack. [Khaama Press]
  • Government Appointments: On Sunday, the Independent Directorate of Local Governance announced the appointment of Seema Jowenda, a former member of parliament, as governor of Ghor province. The NYT notes that Masooma Muradi, the Ghani administration’s first female governor appointee, has been unable to take office as protestors linked to a local rival have demonstrated against her.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Pentagon Repatriates Two Tunisians Held for More Than a Decade in Afghanistan [WAPO]
  • Electoral Reform Commission Remains Stalled [TOLO] [TOLO]
  • At Press Conference During Russia Visit, Karzai Advises U.S. to Seek Russian and Chinese Help in Afghanistan [TOLO]
  • Years After Invasion, the US Leaves a Cultural Imprint on Afghanistan [WAPO]
  • Afghanistan ‘Growing More Receptive’ to Women’s Rights, UK Ambassador Says [Guardian]
  • AIHRC Alleges Millions Embezzled Through Ghor Province Ghost Schools [TOLO]
  • More Time Needed in Ministry of Urban Development Corruption Investigation, Attorney General’s Office Says [TOLO]
  • Presidential Official Touts Savings in Civilian Aviation Agency Contract [Khaama Press]
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