Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: NATO Convoy Targeted in Kabul; Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Reportedly Meeting Taliban in Islamabad

Topline

  • A suicide car bomber struck a NATO convoy in Kabul on Tuesday, the second such incident in the past week; the bomber aside, only two injuries have been reported. Pakistani press reports that Afghan deputy foreign minister Hekmat Karzai is in Islamabad for talks with Taliban representatives, although there has been no official confirmation from either side. Prime Minister Sharif is visiting Norway, and foreign ministry officials suggest he will meet with his counterpart PM Modi in Russia on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit later this week; there is as yet no confirmation of that meeting, however. Punjab Rangers accused India of shelling villages near Silakot on Monday. Taliban attacks and seizures of district centers continue in Faryab and Takhar. Pakistani senators denounced the Election Commission’s plans to proceed with local government elections in Islamabad in the absence of finalized legislation over the local bodies. Federal government and Khyber Paktunkhwa provincial officials have agreed to form a committee to resolve energy disputes.

Pakistan — Security

  • Travel Restrictions: On Monday, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan chaired a meeting to review the exit control list, directing officials to finalize plans for a simplified process to add names to the list, and an end to leaving names on the list indefinitely.
  • Balochistan Attacks: Frontier Corps forces killed three militant suspects in a raid on the outskirts of Quetta on Tuesday; initial reports identified one man as an Uzbek national, but later reports suggested that Mehmood Rind, identified as the leader of the Jaish-ul-Islam militant group, was among those killed. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Tensions with India: Punjab Rangers officials accuse the Indian Border Security Forces of shelling several villages across the Line of Control near Sialkot on Sunday night and early Monday; no casualties have been reported. Foreign Ministry officials say that Prime Minister Sharif’s schedule at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is “still being worked out” but suggest he will meet with his counterpart PM Modi. [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]
  • Other International Diplomacy: Prime Minister Sharif visited Norway to attend a Tuesday summit on education, where he also met with Crown Prince Haakon of the royal family and the Norwegian foreign minister. On Monday, Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif arrived in South Africa for meetings with his counterpart Lt Gen. V.R. Masondo, for talks on defense cooperation. [ET]
  • Local Elections: In senate debate on Monday, senators from across the party spectrum, led by chairman Raza Rabbani, denounced the Election Commission’s move under judicial orders to schedule local government elections in Islamabad for July 25 in the absence of a full law governing the local bodies, saying to do so was unlawful and unconstitutional. [Dawn] [ET]
  • Other Political Activity: Aides to former Pres. Musharraf tell The Nation that he intends to launch a new political party, the “Muttahida (United) Muslim League,” and will reach out to other parties for an alliance, including Tahirul Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek. Elsewhere, PTI chairman Imran Khan charged retired judge Wajihuddin Ahmed with “damaging the PTI” and “overstepping his mandate” in his continued investigations into disputed intra-party election results, noting Khan’s previous orders dissolving Ahmed’s one-man election tribunal. In Khyber Paktunkhwa, Dawn reports the PPP is facing additional defections from former provincial president Syed Zahir Ali Shah and former women’s wing leader Asma Arbab Alamgi, who are reportedly in talks to join the PTI. [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Energy Crisis: Federal government and Khyber Paktunkhwa provincial officials have agreed to form a committee to resolve disputes over the provincial power supply and to control theft and non-payment of dues, Dawn reports. Protests over power outages turned violent on Monday in parts of Peshawar, with demonstrators attacking offices of the Water and Power Development Authority. Separately, Finance Minister Dar rejected a proposal to privatize the Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project in order to address a financing gap; authorities are instead seeking loans from the China EX-IM Bank and an Islamic Sukuk bond through the National Bank of Pakistan. Estimated costs of the dam’s completion have risen to Rs 418 billion, from Rs 274 billion at the end of the previous government’s term. [ET]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Investigation Continues Into Gujranwala Train Crash [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]
  • Witness Retract Statements in Bhutto Murder Inquiry [Dawn]
  • National Accountability Bureau Submits Report of 150 Major Corruption Cases Under Investigation [Dawn]
  • PML-N Balochistan Leader Zehri to Meet with Khan of Kalat [Dawn]
  • Family of Imran Farooq Murder Suspect Granted Visitation [Dawn]
  • Karachi Traders Protest Bank Transaction Tax [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Kabul Bombing: A suicide car bomber struck a NATO military convoy in Kabul on Tuesday, the second such attack in a week. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, but current reporting indicates that besides the bomber, only two people — one foreign national, one civilian bystander — were wounded. [TOLO]
  • Other Attacks and Operations: Faryab provincial council officials report that Taliban fighters have seized control of as many as 60 villages in the province over the past two days, displacing as many as 3,000 families. Security officials in Takhar report that the Taliban have taken control of parts of the Khawaja Ghar district, where Afghan security forces had been deployed last week to repel a Taliban assault. On Monday, two drone strikes reportedly targeted fighters pledging allegiance to the Islamic State in Nangarhar’s Achin district, killing between 25-50 militants. [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Taliban Talks: Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Karzai will meet with representatives of the Afghan Taliban in Islamabad on Tuesday, according to Pakistani press reports; Khaama Press reports his interlocutors are former Taliban deputy foreign minister Mullah Jalil and senior leader Qari Din Mohammad. Taliban spokesmen have not confirmed the meeting, and there has been no official comment from diplomatic sources.
  • Protests Over Farkhunda Case: Several dozen protestors assembled outside the shrine where an Afghan woman, Farkhunda, was lynched in mid-March, denouncing a court verdict that overturned initial death sentences for four men. [WAPO] [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Tax Revenues: Ministry of Finance officials suggest that around 10% of the 500 large business registered with the Afghan government are evading taxes to various degrees, and that three firms, who are not identified, collectively owe Afs 15 billion in back taxes.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Pakistani Helicopters Accused of Aiding Taliban in Paktika [Khaama Press]
  • Ghani Pushes to ‘Expedite’ National ID Card [TOLO]
  • Commentary: The Peace Window is Closeing for Af-Pak – “It is all too easy for Pakistan and Afghanistan to slip back into a familiar pattern of mutual recriminations. Neither country can ignore how much their interests have converged and what is at stake.” [Marvin Weinbaum, South Asia Channel]
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