Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: India Arrests Pakistani Militant in Kashmir Attack; Taliban Truck Bomb Hits Logar Capital

Topline

  • Indian officials say they have arrested a Pakistani-origin militant in connection with an attack on Wednesday on a border security convoy in Kashmir; Pakistan’s foreign ministry has disputed the account, and details are currently limited. A Taliban truck bomb struck a Quick Reaction Force base in the Logar capital on Thursday, killing at least six people. Seventeen people were killed in the crash of an Afghan National Army helicopter in Zabul on Thursday; officials say they are investigating details of the crash. Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling upholding the 18th and 21st Amendments to the Pakistani constitution retains the court’s rights to review military court verdicts. The JUI-F and MQM withdrew their motions seeking the de-seating of PTI legislators from the National Assembly on Thursday, after opposition from the PML-N and PPP. Maulana Sami-ul Haq led funeral prayers for Mullah Omar and voiced support for Mullah Akhtar Mansour’s leadership of the Taliban at the Darul Uloom-i-Haqani madrassah on Wednesday. At least 169 people have been killed in flooding and monsoon rains in Pakistan, the National Disaster Management Authority reported Wednesday.

Pakistan — Security

  • Tensions with India: Pakistani military spokesmen report renewed exchanges of cross-border fire with India in the Kotli area along the Line of Control on Wednesday; no casualties were reported. On Wednesday, Indian officials announced that they had arrested a Pakistani-origin militant involved in an attack on a border security convoy on the Jammu-Srinigar highway, in which two soldiers were killed. Indian officials identified the man as Usman; two fellow militants were killed in the search operations that led to his arrest. Pakistan’s foreign ministry dismissed the Indian account as “baseless”.
  • Balochistan Outreach: On Thursday, Prime Minister Sharif visited Quetta for a meeting of the provincial apex committee, at which he approved the creation of the ‘Pur-aman Balochistan’ program, aimed at reconciling dissident Baloch militants. An Express Tribune report claims that “almost all major Baloch insurgent groups”, with the exception of the Balochistan Liberation Army, have entered into negotiations with government officials.
  • TTP Claims Killing of Rawalpindi Judge: A spokesman for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the killing of Rawalpindi judge Tahir Khan Niazi on Wednesday; they did not offer an explanation for why he was targeted.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Supreme Court Ruling: Following the Supreme Court’s ruling yesterday that upheld the 18th and 21st Amendments to the constitution, Dawn notes that the court’s detailed ruling also affirms the court’s right to subject military trials to review. The Interior Ministry has reportedly finalized a list of 43 cases to be sent to the military courts, including cases linked to the attack on the Army Public School, the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team, and the 2014 attack on the Karachi airport, among others. Among the dissenting opinions on the court ruling was Judge Jawwad Khawaja, who will succeed Chief Justice Nasir ul Mulk as chief justice on August 17; Khawaja’s own tenure will last less than a month, as he is due to reach the age of mandatory retirement in early September. [ET] [Court Ruling (pdf)]
  • De-Seating Motion Against PTI Withdrawn: Following a phone conversation between National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and MQM leader Altaf Hussain on Wednesday and meetings between JUI-F leader Fazlur Rehman and Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid, the MQM and JUI-F both withdrew their motions on Thursday seeking the de-seating of PTI legislators who had boycotted proceedings for four months last fall. Prime Minister Sharif and other PML-N leaders had expressed their opposition to the motion, as had the PPP. [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Two General Sentenced in NLC Corruption Case: On Wednesday, an army inquiry sentenced two retired army generals and a civilian officer of the National Logistics Cell on charges of illegally investing Rs 4.3 billion in the stock market, leading to losses of Rs 1.8 billion. [ET]
  • MQM Under Pressure: In a statement on Wednesday, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah defended the actions of police and Rangers in Karachi, dismissing calls by MQM leader Altaf Hussain for international intervention as an “extremely unacceptable, unwarranted, uncalled for and to top it all an unconstitutional demand”. Another resolution censuring Hussain was introduced the Balochistan provincial assembly on Wednesday. [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]
  • Elections: On Wednesday, the Khyber Paktunkhwa cabinet decided that it would amend the current local elections law to disqualify local council members from their seats in the event that they dissent from party voting orders. [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Flooding: At least 169 people have been killed and 126 injured by flooding and heavy rains across the country so far this monsoon season, National Disaster Management Authority officials reported Wednesday. Chitral district and Khyber Paktunkhwa province have been the worst-hit; Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif visited the area on Wednesday. [ET]
  • Tax Protests: The second major country-wide strike of traders and merchants in the past week took place on Wednesday, as the Khalid Pervez-led faction of the All-Pakistan Anuman-i-Tajran traders’ union protested the government’s new imposition of withholding taxes on bank transactions by individuals who have not filed income taxes.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Balochistan Assembly Member Survives Rocket Attack Near Quetta [Dawn]
  • PTI Begins Preparing for Intra-Party Elections in Khyber Paktunkhwa [Dawn]
  • Prime Minister Sharif Meets with UK Secretary of State for Defense [ET]
  • Military Pensions Totaled Rs 132.64 Billion in 2014-15, Parliament Told [Dawn]
  • Pakistan Steel Seeks Rs 5 Billion Bailout [Dawn]
  • Quetta Religious Leaders Back Polio Vaccination Drive [Dawn]
  • Prime Minister’s Office Begins Use of Urdu in Official Notices [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Taliban Divisions: In a BBC interview, Mansoor Dadullah, the brother of the late Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah, voiced his opposition to Mullah Akhtar Mansour’s leadership of the Taliban, reiterating allegations that Mullah Omar had been killed. Dadullah backed Mullah Mohammad Yaqoub, Omar’s son, to succeed his father. [TOLO]
  • Attacks and Operations: In the first major attack by the Taliban since the announcement of Omar’s death, a suicide truck bombing struck an Afghan Quick Reaction Force base in the Logar capital of Pul-i-Alam on Thursday. At least six people were killed and more than a dozen wounded. The nearby offices of the provincial council are also reported to have been destroyed. Separately, Afghan National Army officials claim to have killed 21 insurgents in operations in Sar-e-Pul’s Kohistanat district. [AJE] [Reuters] [TOLO]
  • Helicopter Crash: An Afghan National Army helicopter crashed in Zabul’s Naw Bahar district on Thursday, officials reported, killing seventeen on board. A spokesman for the provincial government attributed the crash to technical problems, although the Taliban have also claimed responsibility for shooting the helicopter down; the Defense Ministry has said it is investigating. [Reuters] [TOLO]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • JUI-S Leader Backs Mansour: Speaking to a gathering of ulema from Pakistan and Afghanistan at the Darul Uloom-i-Haqani madrassah on Wednesday, JUI-S leader Maulana Sami-ul Haq held prayer services for Mullah Omar and voiced “full support” for Mullah Akhtar Mansour’s leadership of the Afghan Taliban, calling for unity to “foil the designs of infidels”. [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Dostum Warns of ‘Going to the Front Lines’ if Taliban Do Not Surrender [Khaama Press]
  • TAPI Project Members Meet in Turkmenistan Thursday [TOLO]
  • Commentary: The Taliban in Pieces – “Whether Mansour’s gamble wrecked his multiyear efforts to reunify the Quetta Shura under him for good could largely depend on the attitude of its donors; the opposition to him will run out of steam unless it manages to mobilize financial resources.” [Antonio Giustozzi and Silab Mangal, Foreign Affairs]
  • Commentary: The Murree Process: Divisive Peace Talks Further Complicated by Mullah Omar’s Death – “Mansur will probably push the war option more than peace in the short term to project himself as an uncompromising leader, of course if he survives the ongoing leadership struggle. The peace talks started under the Murree Process are in jeopardy – but was this really a sustainable process anyway?” [Borhan Osman, AAN]
  • Commentary: Paradox of the Post-Omar Taliban – “For supporters of the now-delayed peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban that started in Pakistan last month, the hope is that pragmatic factions might be more easily peeled away from hardline rivals. But the danger is that talks might do nothing to ease escalating violence, while making it impossible to agree or enforce any peace settlement.” [Shahshank Joshi, BBC]
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