Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: More Details on Mansour Strike as Taliban Debate Successor; Committee on Panama Papers Formed

Topline

  • The Taliban have not confirmed leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour’s death, but are reportedly meeting to determine a successor; Pakistani news sources suggest that Mullah Yaqub, son of movement founder Mullah Omar, may be the most acceptable to all factions. Leaked copies of a passport and national identity card reportedly held by the man killed in a drone strike in Balochistan on Saturday who is believed to have been Mansour suggest that he traveled frequently between Karachi, Iran, and Dubai. Pakistan summon the U.S. ambassador on Monday to formally protest the strike; while multiple accounts indicate that the U.S. carried out the strike unilaterally, the NYT reports that Pakistan was informed “several weeks ago” that Mansour “was a target”. The AP cites western diplomats who suggest that Mansour had sought to strengthen connections with Iran and Russia in order to operate more independently from Pakistani control; the NYT reports Pakistan provided “general information on his location and activities”. Meanwhile, the WSJ reports that U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan are seeking greater authority to conduct airstrikes against Taliban forces in Afghanistan, and to retain the presence of roughly 10,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan at least through the end of the year. On Tuesday, National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq approved the formation of a joint committee to negotiate the terms of an investigation into the Panama Papers; meanwhile, the Election Commisson of Pakistan has sought a response from Prime Minister Sharif’s son-in-law in response to PTI petitions seeking his disqualification on the grounds that he withheld details on his wife’s overseas assets. A Pakistan navy tribunal has sentenced five service members to death in connection to the September 2014 attack on the Karachi Naval Dockyard, family members report. On Monday, Pres. Ghani, Prime Minister Modi, and Pres. Rouhani signed a trilateral transit agreement linking Afghanistan to Iran’s Chabahar port. The director general of Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency was reportedly sacked on Monday.

Pakistan — Security

  • Sentences in Karachi Dockyard Attack: Citing a family member of one of the suspects, Dawn reports that a Navy tribunal has sentenced five people to death in connection to the September 2014 attack on the Karachi Naval Dockyard; the trial was held in secret, and family members were not notified in advance of the sentencing. The five were reportedly charged with having affiliations with the Islamic State, although the attack was at the time reported to have been planned by Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Committee on Panama Papers Formed: National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq approved the formation of a twelve-member parliamentary committee on Tuesday, after the nomination of six government members to the committee, led by Finance Minister Dar. The committee is tasked with considering “options for inquiring into issues raised by the Panama Papers including offshore companies, transfer from Pakistan of funds originating from corruption, commission or kickbacks, and written-off bank loans”; the opposition has pushed for investigations to focus solely on the prime minister and his family. The PTI announced on Monday that it would also file petitions seeking Prime Minister Sharif’s disqualification by the Election Commission; the ECP has sought an explanation from the prime minister’s son-in-law, Mohammad Safdar, on earlier PTI charges that he omitted his wife Maryam Nawaz’s overseas assets in his filing statements. Separately, the former chief finance officer of the Punjab Energy Department, Ikram Naveed, told a Punjab anti-corruption court on Monday that Ali Imran, the son-in-law of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, had embezzled as much as Rs 230 million from the PED, The Nation reports; Naveed is himself under investigation on embezzlement charges. Imran Khan led a rally in Bagh in Azad Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday, reiterating charges of corruption against the prime minister and accusing him of neglecting human rights violations in Indian Kashmir due to his personal business interests. [ET] [Dawn]
  • FIA Director Removed: Federal Investigation Agency Director General Mohammad Amlish was removed from his position on Monday, Dawn reports, after a meeting in which Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had threatened an inquiry against him regard leaked reports to the media. Amlish was appointed to his position in March; no replacement has been announced.
  • Other Political Activity: Local nazims from opposition political parties announced plans to protest against the provincial government and PTI leader Imran Khan beginning on June 3, charging the government with diverting funds for local government bodies to provincial assembly members, cutting funds for local councilors, and distributing funds equally between rural and urban districts without considering varying needs. [Dawn] [ET]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Jamaat-e-Islami Petitions for ‘Obscenity’ Ban Online [Dawn]
  • Government Plans to Begin Marketing PIA Stake in June [ET]
  • Dividend Income Tax Rate Hike Planned [ET]
  • PSX Stock Exchange to Sell 40% Stake [Reuters]
  • Commentary: A Numbers Game: Is Census Delayed Justice Denied? – “In Balochistan, the proposed census is not a neutral and bureaucratic exercise at counting people. In fact, it may end up solidifying and exacerbating divisions and tensions between the province’s Baloch and Pakhtun populations.” [Maqbool Ahmed, Ghulam Dastageer, Sher Ali Khan, and Mahvish Ahmad, Herald]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Mansour Strike Aftermath: There are multiple reports in the Pakistani press detailing a passport and computerized national identity card found on the body of a man believed to have been Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour, targeted in a U.S. military drone strike on Saturday in Balochistan. The travel documents, whose sourcing and integrity has not been explained in these accounts, show that Mansour traveled frequently between Karachi, Iran, and Dubai. Iran’s foreign ministry denied on Monday that Mansour had visited the country. Dawn reports that the body remains unclaimed at Quetta’s Combined Military Hospital, contradicting earlier AFP reports that plainclothes intelligence officers had taken custody of it. On Monday, intelligence services reportedly conducted a raid on the house listed as Mansour’s address in Karachi, arresting six men identified as members of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan; sources suggest that Mansour only stayed there briefly with his family before renting it out. At a press conference on Monday, a State Department spokesman said that he did not have “any more clarity” on the precise location of the strike that is believed to have killed Mansour, saying it was only “in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region”. A Pentagon spokesman reiterated on Monday that the strike was “defensive” and justified under current rules of engagement in Afghanistan. On Monday, Pakistan’s foreign ministry summoned U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan David Hale to formally protest the strike as a “violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and a breach of the United Nation’s Charter that guarantees the inviolability of the territorial integrity of its member states”; the Punjab Assembly passed a resolution on Monday condemning the strike. Anonymous Pakistani officials tell the Express Tribune that they are “frustrated” that Mansour was targeted “at a time when efforts were under way to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table”, with some sources speaking of “betrayal” by the United States. The White House issued a statement on Monday saying that “we will continue taking action against extremist networks that target the United States” and that “we will work on shared objectives with Pakistan, where terrorists that threaten all our nations must be denied safe haven.” The WSJ and Post highlight that Pakistani leaders were bypassed in the U.S. decision-making on the strike and were not warned in advance. The NYT, while also noting tensions in the relationship over the apparently unilateral U.S. action, reports that “the United States told Pakistani authorities several weeks ago that Mullah Mansour was a target” and that “the Pakistanis provided general information on his location and activities”; the report also suggests that tensions had grown between Mansour and Pakistan, and that Mansour had been seeking medical care in Iran to avoid ISI-monitored hospitals inside Pakistan. One U.S. defense official suggests that Pakistan may have provided “some limited help” out of a desire to elevate Sirajuddin Haqqani within the Taliban’s leadership. The AP cites an anonymous “western diplomat in Kabul” who reports that Mansour was reaching out to Iran and Russia and “trying to move away from Pakistan because he didn’t want to be pressured by Islamabad”. [Reuters] [Dawn] [Khaama Press] [TOLO] [TOLO] [TOLO] [Dawn]
  • Taliban Leadership Succession: The Taliban have not officially confirmed Mansour’s death, but senior insurgent leaders have reportedly convened to decide on his successor; the Express Tribune reports a decision could come as soon as today, and Dawn suggests that Mullah Yaqoob, son of movement founder Mullah Mohammad Omar, is emerging as a leading contender acceptable to all major factions, despite his youth. WSJ analysis suggests the movement may fragment further in response to the succession issue. [TOLO]
  • U.S. Military Seeks Greater Targeting Leeway: The WSJ reports that U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan are seeking authorization to conduct more direct strikes on Taliban forces in Afghanistan this summer; Gen. John Nicholson is reported to be seeking greater authority to carry out strikes in support of Afghan national security forces, and to retain the presence of roughly 10,000 U.S. forces in the country at least through the end of the year. Pres. Obama is cited as telling aides that he is “not inclined” to restart U.S. combat operations against the Taliban, a point he made in his public comments on the strike targeting Mullah Mansour on Monday, but officials say he “remain[s] open to recommendations from his military commanders”.
  • Other Attacks and Operations: Helmand provincial police officials reported Tuesday that Mullah Manan, identified as the Taliban’s shadow governor for Helmand province, had succumbed to injuries from an airstrike in Marjah on Sunday evening. At least four civilians were killed and five injured in a roadside bombing in Kandahar on Tuesday. [TOLO] [Khaama Press] [AP] [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Abdullah Attends World Humanitarian Summit [TOLO]
  • Kandahar Information Ministry Office Bans Broadcast of Female Singers [TOLO]
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