Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: No Agreement on Panama Papers Investigation; Taliban Reject Ramazan Ceasefire Calls

Topline

  • Pres. Ghani and UN officials issued calls for a Ramazan ceasefire on Monday; the Taliban’s spokesman rejected those calls. Iranian news outlets report that the late Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour had held meetings with Iranian officials to discuss cooperation against the Islamic State in Afghanistan prior to his death, and accuse the Pakistani intelligence services of providing information to the United States leading to Mansour’s death. Opposition leaders have rejected the PML-N government’s revised proposal for terms of references on the investigation into the Panama Papers; the parliamentary committee on the investigations meets again today. Senior military and civilian officials met on Tuesday to review Pakistan’s national security. Funeral services were held for Sher Ali Wardak, the Afghan parliamentarian killed outside his Kabul home on Sunday; the Taliban are reported to have claimed responsibility for that attack. Prime Minister Sharif was discharged from the hospital on Monday and is now recovering at his London home. Parliamentary debate began Monday on the budget for the forthcoming fiscal year. Afghanistan’s ministry of energy signed an agreement with a Turkish company to expand power production at the Kajaki dam in Helmand, although no timeline for implementation has been reported.

Pakistan — Security

  • National Security Review: Senior civilian and military leaders met on Tuesday to discuss a range of national security issues facing the country, Pakistan’s chief military spokesman stated; details are limited, but discussions are reported to have focused on the role of “hostile intelligence agencies” inside Pakistan, and the U.S. drone strike in Balochistan that killed Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour, which officials reiterated was a “clear violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty” that “undermined the spirit of the Afghan peace process under the mutually agreed framework decided by the Quadrilateral Coordination Group.”
  • Buner Attack: Two soldiers were killed in an attack by a group of unidentified militants during search operations in the Buner district on Monday; the military has retaliated with road closures and artillery shelling.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Panama Papers Investigation: Opposition leaders rejected a revised government proposal on terms of reference for an investigation into offshore business holdings detailed in the Panama Papers; PPP Senator Aitzaz Ahsan told reporters on Monday that “we’ve reached a conclusion that the government wants to ensure immunity for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family through a set of vague and open-ended ToRs” and said the opposition would counter with its previous terms “in a rearticulated form”. The parliamentary committee tasked with negotiating the issue will meet again today; a PML-N source tells Dawn that “we will not allow opposition parties to target the prime minister and his family under the guise of Panamagate (probe).” Federal Board of Revenue officials tell Dawn that the government has tasked them with “come up with a plan to regularise offshore and undeclared holdings of potential taxpayers”, allowing individuals an amnesty period in which to declare and pay a 15% tax on foreign assets, or face seizure of comparable Pakistan-based assets.
  • Other Political Activity: The holy month of Ramazan officially began on Tuesday in Pakistan. Prime Minister Sharif was discharged from the hospital on Monday and is now recovering at his London home, his family announced. Elsewhere, ten independent local councilors in Karachi’s Malir district joined the PTI on Monday. [ET]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Budget Planning: Parliamentary debate began Monday on the government’s proposed budget for the forthcoming fiscal year, which opposition leaders criticized heavily, saying it provided insufficient support for farmers and the energy sector. PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari rejected the budget as a “one unit budget for Punjabistan”. Punjab provincial Finance Minister Ayesha Ghaus Pasha told reporters on Monday that the provincial budget would be introduced on June 13; in Sindh, the MQM introduced a “shadow budget” for the province.
  • Supreme Court Rules on Agricultural Package: A two-judge Supreme Court bench issued a ruling on Monday that the government’s November 2015 subsidy package for fertilizer manufacturers “lacks the backing of any statute or rule”, but stopped short of restricting its implementation, apparently accepting government arguments that the subsidy could be issued without the approval of parliament, which will vote retroactively on the supplemental budget as part of the forthcoming fiscal year’s budget proposal.
  • CPEC Project: A meeting of the senate committee on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project on Monday accused the government of neglecting the western CPEC route. [ET]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Police “Awaiting Court Orders” on New Baldia Factory Fire Case Against MQM Members [ET]
  • Petition Challenges Transfer of Angor Adda Checkpost [Dawn]
  • Former Balochistan Public Service Commission Chairman Charged Over Illegal Appointments [Dawn]
  • Contract for Second LNG Terminal to Be Awarded [ET] [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Call for Ramazan Ceasefire: In a statement on Monday, Pres. Ghani’s spokesman called for a ceasefire in the conflict on the occasion of Ramazan, saying that “the groups that want to use this opportunity and start a new life, government will talk with them under the umbrella of the constitution. However, if they want to continue violence they will face serious action by government.” UN Special Representative Nicholas Haysom called on “all parties to the conflict to respect this month and allow Afghan families to worship in peace”. The Taliban’s spokesman rejected the calls, saying that “jihad is an obligation and worship” and that “our Jihad will gain more strength during Ramazan”.
  • Mansour Reportedly Met with Iranian Officials: Jahan News, an Iranian media outlet linked with the Revolutionary Guards, reported on Monday that Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour had met with unspecified Iranian officials during his travel through the country to discuss cooperation against the Islamic State’s Afghan branch; the report accuses Pakistan’s ISI of providing intelligence related to Mansour’s whereabouts, leading to the U.S. strike that killed him in Balochistan last month. [Khaama Press]
  • Attacks and Operations: Funeral services were held on Monday for Sher Wali Wardak, the member of parliament killed outside his Kabul home the day prior; Wolesi Jirga speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi called on the government to “take concrete and serious measures to ensure the safety of members of the two houses of parliament”. TOLO reports that the Taliban claimed responsibility for Wardak’s assassination. At least ten Afghan National Army soldiers were reportedly killed in a Taliban attack in the Dehrawood district in Uruzgan on Tuesday; details are limited, but Khaama Press reports that 121 soldiers are missing following the incident. Continuing ground operations and air strikes in Nagarhar’s Kot district killed sixteen alleged ISIS militants on Monday and Tuesday, according to ministry of defense officials. [Khaama Press] [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Junbesh-Jamiat Rivalry Continues: In a statement on Tuesday, Vice President Dostum called on Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor “not to further spark tensions” between the two leaders’ supporters in the Junbesh and Jamiat-e-Islami parties.

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Kajaki Dam Agreement: Ministry of Energy officials signed a memorandum of understanding with a Turkish company on Tuesday to expand the Kajaki dam reservoir and boost electricity production by up to 100 additional megawatts; the price and timeline for the agreement have not been reported. [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Ghani Condemns Killing of NPR Journalists [TOLO] [AP]
  • Afghan Air Force Not Using Precision Weapons [Military.com]
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