Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: US and Saudis Sanction Lashkar-e-Taiba Fundraisers; Balkh Governor and Dostum Spat Continues

Topline

  • The U.S. and Saudi Arabia issued joint sanctions against four individuals and two organizations accused of providing funding and support for Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and Lashkar-e-Taiba, among other groups, including two senior Lashkar-e-Taiba fundraising officials. Herat officials claim to have retaken control of as much as 70% of the Shindand district in operations that began earlier in March. MQM activists threw stones and eggs at the passing convoy of former Karachi mayor Mustafa Kamal while he was en route to a rally in Mirpurkhas on Thursday. Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor has continued his rivalry with Vice President Dostum, accusing Dostum’s Junbesh party of concentrating power under it in the provinces of Jowzjan and Faryab, and describing his own rule as providing multi-ethnic representation in Balkh. One more victim of the Lahore park bombing succumbed to their injuries on Thursday, bringing the death toll to 75. The PML-Q has sought to become a party to the Supreme Court case hearing arguments against changes to the local government law in Sindh, seeking to expand the case to include changes to the local government laws in Punjab.

Pakistan — Security

  • Sanctions: On Thursday, Saudi Arabia and the United States announced joint sanctions on four individuals and two organizations accused of being affiliated with and providing funding for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Taliban and Al Qaeda, including two senior Lashkar-e-Taiba fundraising officials. Separately, China has reportedly blocked an Indian initiative at the UN to place sanctions on Jaish-e-Mohammad leader Maulana Masood Azhar; Jaish itself was sanctioned by the UN in 2001. [ET]
  • Lahore Attack Aftermath: The death toll from the Gulshan-e-Iqbal park bombing has risen to 75 people, after a woman who had been injured succumbed to her wounds. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif visited victims of the attack on Thursday and vowed to punish those responsible.
  • Nuclear Security: Speaking at a press conference at the Pakistani embassy in Washington on Thursday, foreign secretary Aizaz Chaudhary, in town to attend the Nuclear Security Summit, insisted that Pakistan’s nuclear installations were secure and that its arsenal was “for deterrence only”. [Dawn]
  • Lakki Marwat Bombing: At least four people were killed when a car exploded in the Lakki Marwat district on Thursday; district police officials say they have yet to identify the victims or to determine whether the bomb was being carried inside car or planted on it. No claim of responsibility has been reported. [Dawn]
  • Nephew Arrested in ISI Director’s Murder: Haris Naseem, identified as the nephew of former ISI regional director Abdul Latif, has been arrested by Peshawar police in connection to his uncle’s murder in late March; police sources say that Naseem joined an unspecified “banned outfit” in 2009 and had implicated other accomplices during interrogation.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • MQM Activists Harass Former Mayor’s Convoy: Light injuries were reported after MQM activists threw stones, eggs, and tomatoes at the convoy of former Karachi mayor and Pakistan Sarzameen Party founder Mustafa Kamal while he was traveling to a public rally in Mirpurkhas on Thursday evening. Kamal dismissed the incident. [Dawn]
  • Elections and Other Political Activity: The PML-Q has sought to become a party to the Supreme Court hearings on local government legislation in Sindh, seeking to expand the proceedings to cover changes to the local government law in Punjab. A government legal team will meet with JUI-F leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman next week in an effort to bridge differences over two women’s protection bills under consideration in a joint session of parliament. [ET]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Musharraf Lawyer Argues Treason Case Should Be Dropped After His Exit [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • GEO TV Temporarily Off Air After Switch in Satellite [Dawn]
  • NAB Investigating Sindh University [ET]
  • Prime Minister Reviews Planning and Development Projects [Dawn]
  • 59 Indian Fishermen Arrested [Dawn] [ET]
  • IRSA Foresees No Water Rationing for Kharif Crop [ET] [Dawn]
  • Petroleum Prices Increased [Dawn] [ET]
  • Commentary: The Army Steps In – “This compact ended hours after the bomb blast on the night of March 27. Almost immediately, the army declared it had taken control of security in the province, dealing a perhaps fatal blow to the already dwindling political prestige Prime Minister Sharif.” [Ahmed Rashid, NYRB]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Attacks and Operations: Herat officials say Afghan forces have killed or wounded over 200 Taliban fighters in the Shindand district in Herat in operations that began in mid-March, and claim to have taken control of more than 70% of the district’s territory. Operations in Helmand seeking to retake control of the Sangin-Lashkar Gah highway are still facing persistent Taliban attacks; security officials report that much of the highway has been mined by the Taliban, forcing them to reroute alongside the road. [Khaama Press] [TOLO]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Noor-Dostum Tensions Continue: In a statement on Facebook on Thursday, Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor accused Vice President Dostum’s Junbesh party of concentrating power in Jawzjan and Faryab provinces, contrasting the situation there with his own government, which he described as being multi-ethnic and representing “every segment of society”. A Junbesh spokesman countered that Atta had concentrated power around himself in Balkh, and that there was no balance of appointments in the provincial government.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Former Defense Minister Accuses Taliban of Following Pakistani Orders [Khaama Press]
  • Civil Society Group Criticizes Government Anti-Corruption Efforts [TOLO]
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