Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: TTP Leader Umar Mansur Reportedly Killed in Achin; Sec. Carter Visits Kabul

Topline

  • Pakistani security officials say they believe Umar Mansur, the TTP splinter faction leader who claimed responsibility for the attacks on the Army Public School in Peshawar and Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Nangarhar’s Achin district on Sunday; there is as yet no confirmation of his death. Sec. Carter arrived in Kabul on Tuesday for meetings with U.S. commanders and Afghan officials. The NYT profiles new Taliban leader Mulalh Haibatullah Akhunzada, suggesting that he will be forced to operate by consensus and lacks the authority over the movement that his predecessor had. Pakistan and India traded diplomatic barbs on Monday over tensions and protests in Kashmir after the death of a Kashmiri separatist leader on Friday. Parliamentary opposition leaders will meet Wednesday to discuss nominees for Election Commission of Pakistan members. A spokesman for Chief Executive Abdullah criticized reports that former IEC chairman Ahmad Yusuf Nurstani had been appointed as an ambassador to Spain, saying the appointment should be cancelled. Tajikistan reopened its Badakhshan consulate on Monday, roughly six months after closing it due to security concerns.

Pakistan — Security

  • Drone Strike Kills Army Public School Attack Suspect: Anonymous security officials tell Dawn and the Express Tribune that they believe Umar Mansur, the leader of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan splinter group that carried out attacks on the Army Public School in Peshawar and Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Nangarhar’s Achin district on Sunday, along with militant leader Qari Saifullah. Officials say they are still working to confirm the reports, and it is not clear if he was deliberately targeted; Mansur had been sanctioned by the U.S. State Department on May 25.
  • Kashmir Tensions: Indian officials have imposed a curfew and has cut off phone and mobile service in Kashmir following protests over the weekend that left at least 25 dead, which were launched after Indian troops killed Hezb-ul Mujahadeen chief of operations Burhan Wani in a clash on Friday. Several hundred protestors defied the curfew and attempted to enter an Indian airforce base in Srinagar on Monday. Pakistan summoned India’s ambassador to formally protest “the use of excessive force against innocent civilians protesting peacefully over extrajudicial killings”. India’s foreign ministry responded that “Pakistan is advised to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of its neighbours”; Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesman in turn said that “the dispute of Kashmir has international recognition. It is not an internal matter of India. Such an assertion is a violation of UN Security Council’s Resolutions”. [AP] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Opposition Leaders Meet: Parliamentary opposition party leaders will meet on Wednesday in an attempt to reach consensus on nominees for vacant Election Commission members, the PTI and PPP announced following talks on Monday. PPP parliamentary opposition leader Khurshid Shah insisted that the party was not preparing to “soften” its stance against the PML-N, and said the onus was instead on Prime Minister Sharif to clear himself of charges of wrong-doing. [ET]
  • Elections and Other Political Activity: Prime Minister Sharif met with top aides on Monday, where he is reported to have focused on the PML-N’s strategy for the upcoming elections in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf accused the PML-N of seeking to delay the AJK elections, which are scheduled to take place July 21. The Supreme Court has taken suo moto notice of delays in the holding of by-elections in five constituencies, including the NA-63 Jhelum national assembly seat, which were postponed indefinitely following the retirement of the four ECP commissioners. [ET] [ET]
  • MQM Under Pressure: The Express Tribune reports that MQM leader Amir Khan has been suspended from the party’s Rabita Committee leadership body; no official statement has been made regarding his position. Speaking to supporters on Monday, Pakistan Sarzameen Party leader Mustafa Kamal accused MQM leader Altaf Hussain of directing the assassination of any potential rivals for succession. [ET]
  • Judicial Appointments: The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a petition brought by a lawyers group challenging provisions of the 2010 Judicial Commission of Pakistan rules, who argue that judges should be appointed through competitive exams rather than nominations by the chief justice. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Banners Reappear Calling for Chief of Army Staff to Take Over [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET]
  • Edhi’s Son Express Concerns Over Risk of Drop in Donations [Dawn]
  • Christian Man in Gujrat Charged with Blasphemy [Dawn] [AFP]
  • Karachi Student Killed by Plainclothes Police [Dawn] [ET]
  • Interior Minister Reviews CNIC Reverification Campaign [Dawn]
  • Sindh High Court Blocks Arrest of Former Sindh Revenue Board Secretary [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Defense Secretary Carter Visits: U.S. Secretary of Defense Carter arrived in Kabul on Tuesday for an unannounced visit, during which he is expected to meet with senior U.S. military commanders as well as Pres. Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah. [TOLO] [Khaama Press]
  • Taliban Leader ‘Moving Slowly’: The NYT profiles new Taliban leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhunzada, suggesting that his appointment was a signal of a shift in power towards a consensus-based decision-making centered around the Taliban’s Quetta shura council, and that Haibatullah will be forced to operate in a less high-profile or confrontational fashion than his predecessor Mullah Akhtar Mansour in part due to his more limited support base.
  • Attacks and Operations: Nangarhar provincial officials claim that at least 18 ISIS-affiliated fighters were killed in two separate airstrikes in the Kot and Achin districts on Monday and Tuesday, respectively. Another Afghan Air Force airstrike in the Khogyani district is reported to have killed nine Taliban fighters, including a “number of Pakistani militants”. Ministry of Interior officials reported that ten Taliban fighters had been killed after they attacked a police checkpost in Farah province on Monday. Mir Aslam Dorandesh, an Afghan Local Police commander in Paktia’s Ahmadabad district, was killed in a roadside bombing on Monday. [TOLO]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Abdullah Protests IEC Chief’s Ambassadorial Appointment: A spokesman for Chief Executive Abdullah said that he hoped reports that former IEC chairman Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani had been appointed ambassador to Spain were not true, “and if it is true, we expect that Nuristani’s alleged involvement in corruption and election problems be taken into account,” calling for the appointment to be withdrawn.
  • Tensions with Pakistan: Former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad will testify at a U.S. House subcommittee hearing on Pakistan on Tuesday, chaired by Pakistan critic Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX); Khaama Press quotes Khalilzad making in remarks to the BBC, in which he accuses Pakistan of supporting regional terrorism and calls for isolating it “to turn the country into a second North Korea”. [Dawn]
  • Tajikistan Reopens Consulate: Tajikistan general consul Omid Nazarov announced the reopening of the Tajik consulate in Badakhshan, six months after it was closed due to security concerns; provincial police officials pledged to protect the facility.
  • High Peace Council Operations: TOLO reports that the High Peace Council has spent $190 million on projects to date since its founding, and that it spends more than $530,000 per month on salaries; HPC deputy chief Attaurrahman Salim says that the formation of new HPC provincial offices has been postponed due to a lack of resources.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Central Statistics Organization Projects High Population Growth [TOLO]
  • Commentary: Afghan Forces Should Learn from NATO’s Mistakes – “US and NATO support should not be unconditional, and should be directed at getting Afghan security forces to better protect their civilians.” [Rachel Reid, Al Jazeera]
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