Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Hekmat Karzai Visits Islamabad for Torkham Talks; US to Provide $10.5B Through 2020 for ANSF

Topline

  • An Afghan delegation headed by deputy foreign minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai visited Islamabad on Monday for talks regarding the disputed Torkham border gate; the border crossing reopened to traffic on Saturday. The Post reports that the U.S. will pledge $10.5 billion in assistance to the Afghan national security forces through 2020 at July’s NATO conference, out of a $15 billion total target. 14 Nepalese guards providing security for the Canadian embassy in Kabul were killed when their bus was attacked by a Taliban suicide bomber on Monday; another bombing in Kabul wounded a member of the provincial council outside his home, as well as three bodyguards. The Nuclear Suppliers Group plenary session will open today in Seoul; speaking at a press conference on Sunday, India’s foreign minister suggested that India was “not opposed to any country’s entrance into NSG based on merit, including Pakistan,” and confirmed that Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar had visited China last week to seek support for India’s membership. Tahir-ul Qadri threatened renewed protests within a week if the government did not bring those responsible for the deaths of 14 Pakistan Awami Tehreek supporters in 2014 to justice. The PTI is further delaying its internal polls for party offices, which officials attribute to the need to focus on mobilizing for new protests against the government after the breakdown of talks over investigations into the Panama Papers; privately, PTI sources acknowledge the desire to avoid exacerbating intra-party divisions. Afghanistan’s lower house of parliament voted to confirm Afghanistan’s membership in the World Trade Organization on Saturday.

Pakistan — Security

  • Nuclear Suppliers Group Membership: Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar made an unannounced visit to Beijing last week to seek support for Indian entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Indian press reported; at a press conference on Sunday, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said that “we are not opposed to any country’s entrance into NSG based on merit, including Pakistan”. Swaraj also suggested that China had only raised concerns over the “criteria procedure” for India’s membership with the NSG. The NSG plenary will open in Seoul on Monday; Dawn reports that China will seek to block India’s membership unless Pakistan is also admitted.
  • FATA Operations: Ejaz Mehsud and Khair Muhammad Mehsud, the brother and uncle of former Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Hakimullah Mehsud, reportedly surrendered to Pakistani security forces in the Kurram Agency on Saturday. Two children were killed by a roadside bomb in the Mohmand Agency on Saturday. Displaced residents of the Khyber Agency have reportedly set up a protest camp outside Peshawar, refusing to repatriate to their homes without further government assistance. [Reuters]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Panama Papers Investigation: Parliamentary opposition leader Khurshid Shah told reporters on Friday that the opposition parties had decided to publicize their proposed terms of reference for an investigation into the Panama Papers at a press conference scheduled for Monday. Speaking separately on Friday, PTI leader Imran Khan reiterated allegations against Prime Minister Sharif and his family, and professed a willingness to have his own assets investigated alongside the Sharifs’. Separately, Finance Minister Dar’s son has filed a defamation case against Khan over allegations that he had illegally acquired UAE real estate. [APP] [Dawn]
  • PAT Holds Protests: Tahri-ul Qadri addressed supporters during a one-day sit-in in Lahore on Friday, marking the two-year anniversary of the death of 14 Pakistan Awami Tehreek members in a clash with Lahore police. Qadri warned that he would call out his supporters within a week if the ruling PML-N “continue[s] to deny justice”. Speaking separately to reporters, Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah accused Qadri of seeking to “create political instability and halt progress and development”, and accused the PAT of not cooperating with a judicial inquiry into the 2014 incident.
  • Karachi Crackdown: On Saturday, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan ordered an investigation into the broadcast of confessional videos earlier in the week of former petroleum minister Asim Hussain and MQM activist Minhaj Qazi; Senator Saeed Ghani of the PPP accused Chaudhry Nisar of leaking the videos himself. A Karachi anti-terrorism court denied Hussain bail on Saturday. [ET] [ET] [Dawn]
  • Elections and Other Political Activity: Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid was elected to head the parliamentary committee tasking with nominating new Election Commission members; Finance Minister Dar told senators on Saturday that the government would send a dozen names for consideration within the next 24 hours. The Express Tribune reports that the PTI will further delay its intra-party elections for party offices as it plans to mobilize a new protest campaign against the government after Eid, and that “interim” leadership appointments will be announced in the next week; PTI general secretary Jahangir Tareen tells the Express Tribune that the party will focus on recruiting “strong candidates” and “electables of good reputation” ahead of the next elections. Lawyer and TV host Naeem Bokhari joined the PTI on Saturday. [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET] [ET] [ET] [ET] [ET]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Budget Debate: Finance Minister Dar defended the government’s budget during closing debate held in the national assembly on Friday, accusing previous governments of bringing the economy to “the brink of disaster” and touting the PML-N’s efforts to cut the fiscal deficit and increase the GDP growth rate. Dar also said that the government had withdrawn an earlier proposal to regulate foreign trusts, after opposition members accused the government of introducing the measure as a means of clearing Prime Minister Sharif’s daughter from charges that she failed to disclose overseas real estate assets. Voting on opposition proposals to cut certain expenditures in the budget is due to take place Monday. On Sunday, Balochistan Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri presented the provincial budget to the Balochistan assembly; it totals Rs 289 billion in expenditures, and projects Rs 252.87 billion in revenues. Divisions within the PTI government prompted the speaker of the Khyber Paktunkhwa assembly to adjourn the budget session on Saturday. [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn] [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Chinese Investment: Following negotiations with the Pakistani government, the China Petroleum Bureau has cut cost estimates for the construction of a liquified natural gas pipeline at Gwadar, to $1.3 billion. More than half of foreign direct investment into Pakistan during the first eleven months of the fiscal year came from Chinese sources, which increased their investments 144% year-on-year, for a total of around $571.2 million. Over FDI was reported at $1.08 billion, a 10.5% increase. [Reuters]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • New Gate Facility Under Construction at Taftan Border Crossing with Iran [Dawn]
  • Karachi Police Arrest Three Al Qaeda Suspects [ET]
  • Five Militants Killed in Awaran [Dawn]
  • Army Chief Visits Germany [ET]
  • Former Employee Arrested for Impersonating Kurram Political Agent in Road Rage Incident [Dawn] [ET]
  • Two Killed in Karachi Water Dispute [ET]
  • 342 Government Schools in FATA to Be Transferred to Khyber Paktunkhwa Government [ET]
  • NAB Recovers Rs 117.5 Million for Pakistan Air Force [Dawn]
  • Finance Minister Accused of Delaying Tax Refunds [ET]
  • UN Reports Men Eating More Than Women and Children in Thar [Dawn]
  • Non-Performing Loan Ratio Steady Over Past Year Despite Rise in Net Loans [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Torkham Border Dispute: U.S. commander Gen. John Nicholson met with Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif in Rawalpindi on Saturday to discuss border security issues; no details were disclosed. The Express Tribune reports that Pakistani foreign advisor Sartaj Aziz spoke by phone with Afghan national security advisor Hanif Atmar on Thursday, but that Afghan officials declined an invitation for Atmar and Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani to visit Islamabad for talks on the border issue. A spokesman for the Afghan National Security Council confirmed that both Rabbani and Atmar had declined the invitation, without offering an explanation, and said that Afghan deputy foreign minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai would instead visit on Monday to discuss the issue. In a statement following that meeting, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said that both sides had agreed that “the ideas generated in today’s deliberations will be shared with the leadership” and discussed on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Tashkent on June 23. The Torkham crossing reopened on Saturday after being closed for nearly a week; new Pakistani restrictions requiring all travelers to hold valid passports are in effect. Pakistani security sources tell Dawn that they will continue construction on the disputed gate facility on their side of the border, and will name it in honor of the Pakistani major who was killed in an exchange of fire. Vice President Dostum announced the provision of $15,000 in assistance to the family members of three Afghan border police who were killed in the clashes; the Khyber Agency also announced awards to two Frontier Corps soldiers for their service during the clash. [Dawn] [ET] [TOLO] [TOLO]
  • Electoral Reform: In comments to TOLO on Sunday, former Independent Election Commission chief and Abdullah advisor Fazal Ahmad Manawi accused the government of delaying electoral reforms. A spokesman for the president insisted that parliament’s rejection of Pres. Ghani’s electoral reform decree would not deter the government’s commitment to reforms. [TOLO]

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Parliament Ratifies WTO Membership: On Saturday, the Wolesi Jirga lower house of parliament ratified Afghanistan’s membership in the World Trade Organization.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Faryab Residents Blame Junbesh-Jamiat Conflict for Taliban Gains [TOLO]
  • Contract Signed for Doshi-Bamiyan Power Transmission Line [Khaama Press]
  • EU Envoy Estimates $100 Million Annual Loss to Illegal Mining [TOLO]
  • Report: Strategic Reversal in Afghanistan – “In general, U.S. policy should aim to build greater political consensus within Afghanistan, foster reconciliation with the Taliban, encourage regional powers to support Kabul, and build up Afghan security forces so that they can handle internal threats with limited outside involvement.” [Seth Jones, CFR]
  • Commentary: Another Hurdle for Elections in 2016: MPs Reject Presidential Decree on Electoral Reforms – “The government may feel it has another option, asking the Supreme Court for a ruling on the decree instead, under the justification that the parliament is in its last working year when it is no longer legally allowed to discuss electoral laws.” [Ali Yawar Adili, Salima Ahmadi, Lenny Linke and Kate Clark, AAN]
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