Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: DOD Will Not Certify Action Against Haqqanis, Freezing $300M in CSF; Tourists Wounded in Herat

Topline

  • The Pentagon announced Wednesday that it would not certify that Pakistan had taken sufficient action against the Haqqani network, freezing $300 million in Coalition Support Fund assistance as a result. The State Department formally sanctioned the TTP Jamaat-ul-Ahrar on Wednesday. ANSF operations in Nangarhar targeting ISIS forces have expanded to the Haska Mina district. Four “foreign tourists” were reportedly wounded in an attack on their vehicle in Herat on Thursday; no details have been released as to their nationalities or the extent of their injuries. The Interior Ministry has formally notified the extension of Rangers policing powers in Karachi, but is reported to have rejected a Sindh provincial government restriction requiring the Rangers to consult with the Chief Minister first before undertaking any targeted operations. A presidential spokesman said Pres. Ghani would issue a new executive order on electoral reforms after his previous order was rejected by parliament, but provided no details or timeline for that action. The army chiefs of Pakistan, China, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan announced the formation of a “Quadrilateral Cooperation and Coordination Mechanism” on counterterrorism at a meeting in Urumqi on Wednesday. China’s ambassador to Afghanistan has also announced an additional $2.2 million in assistance. The final staff-level quarterly review as part of Pakistan’s three-year IMF loan agreement concluded on Thursday, paving the way for disbursal of the last $102 million tranche in September.

Pakistan – Security

  • Pentagon Declines to Certify Action Against Haqqanis, Freezing $300M: A Pentagon spokesman confirmed on Wednesday that Sec. Carter would not certify that Pakistan had taken “sufficient action” against the Haqqani network, a Congressionally-mandated condition on the release of $300 million in Coalition Support Fund assistance.
  • Jamaat-ul-Ahrar Sanctioned: On Wednesday, the U.S. State Department formally sanctioned the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction and its leaders as Specially Designated Global Terrorists, subjecting them to sanctions. A spokesman for Pakistan’s foreign ministry welcomed the action. [Dawn] [State Department]
  • Rangers’ Authority Extended: On Wednesday, the federal Interior Ministry formally notified the extension of policing powers for the Sindh Rangers in Karachi, backdated to take effect on July 20, when those powers last expired. Interior ministry officials speaking to the Express Tribune denied that they had rejected the provincial government’s order restricting Rangers operations to Karachi, but are reported to have instead rejected provincial government requirements that the Chief Minister be consulted before any targeted operations. Separately, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah ordered the appointment of 25 new special prosecutors for anti-terrorism courts in Sindh. [ET] [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Quadrilateral Counterterrorism Alliance Formed: The army chiefs of Pakistan, China, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan met in Uruqmi on Wednesday and announced the formation of a Quadrilateral Cooperation and Coordination Mechanism on counterterrorism. [TOLO]
  • Bombings: Five people were injured when two bombs exploded outside the Charsadda district court on Thursday. In Quetta, another five people, including two security personnel, were wounded in a bombing targeting a security vehicle on Wednesday.

Pakistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Tensions with India: Jamaat-ud-Dawa activists who had organized a convoy of food and medical supplies were blocked by Pakistani security forces from crossing the border into Indian Kashmir on Wednesday, prompting them to stage a protest. Fresh clashes were reported on the Indian side of the border, after the death of two civilians. Speaking at the SAARC ministerial summit on Thursday, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan denounced “the violence being committed against the innocent people of Indian held Kashmir” as “open terrorism”. India’s home minister, Rajnath Singh, said that “there are no good terrorists or bad terrorists” and called for “strongest action not only against terrorists or organisations but also against those individuals, organisations and nations.” [ET]
  • Other Political Activity: Prime Minister Sharif touted government economic and infrastructure achievements during a meeting with PML-N legislators on Thursday. Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Imran Khan said that upcoming PTI protests were aimed at “putting pressure on institutions like the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the National Accountability Bureau” and others to “check corruption and bring genuine democracy to the country”. The ECP is hearing petitions challenging Prime Minister Sharif’s qualification for office, but has yet to rule on whether it can hear those arguments. In the Khyber Paktunkhwa assembly, the PTI government amended the powers of the provincial anti-corruption investigating body, restricting its ability to take action against “pure procedural lapses in any ongoing project”. Prime Minister Sharif has approved the appointment of Masood Khan as president of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. [Dawn] [ET]

Pakistan – Economics and Development

  • IMF Agreement: The final quarterly staff-level review of the IMF’s three year, $6.4 billion loan agreement with Pakistan concluded on Thursday, with board approval of the last $102 million tranche expected in September. [Reuters]

Pakistan – Remainders

  • Five Suspected Militants Killed in Chitral [Dawn] [ET]
  • Prime Minister Addresses Ambassadors’ Summit [Dawn] [ET]
  • FATA Political Alliance to Protest Government Reform Plans [ET]
  • Iran Deports 20,000 Illegal Pakistani Immigrants Annually [ET]
  • Pak-Turk Schools File Islamabad High Court Seeking to Forestall Closure [Dawn] [ET]
  • Land Prices Still Understated Under New Self-Reported FBR Valuation System [Dawn] [ET]
  • Turkmenistan and Pakistan Agree to Visa Relaxation [Dawn]
  • Neelum-Jhelum Dam Faces Further Delays [Dawn]
  • State-Owned Firm Directed Corporate Social Responsibility Funds to NGOs Associated with Director [Dawn]
  • Former Chief Justice Chaudhry Seeks Supreme Court Intervention Over Disputed Land Grant [ET]
  • Commentary: Corruption Scandal and Coup Rumors Put Pakistan’s Sharif on the Hot Seat – “A second term for Nawaz might not give him the upper hand over the army, but it could lock in long-term electoral advantages over a divided political opposition.” [Arif Rafiq, World Politics Review]

Afghanistan – Security

  • Attacks and Operations: The Helmand provincial police chief tells TOLO that Afghan security forces are preparing to launch a “massive counterinsurgency operation” in the Nad Ali district. Nangarhar provincial officials announced Wednesday that operations targeting ISIS-affiliated fighters in the Kot district had been expanded to the Haska Mina district. Herat officials report that rival Taliban factions clashed in the Shindand district over the past two days, leaving at least 30 dead. The head of the Laghman provincial council was wounded and a bodyguard killed in a bombing in the provincial capital of Mehtarlam on Thursday morning. [Khaama Press]
  • Foreigners Wounded in Herat Attack: The interior ministry’s spokesman reported Thursday that four foreign tourists were wounded when their convoy was attacked by gunmen while en route from Bamiyan to Herat; no details were reported about their nationalities, and no claim of responsibility has been reported as of this writing. [TOLO]

Afghanistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Electoral Reforms: A presidential spokesman said Tuesday that Pres. Ghani would work to issue a new executive decree to initiate electoral reforms, after earlier decrees were rejected by parliament; no details on the timing or content of that decree were announced. On Wednesday, spokesmen for Chief Executive Abdullah said that new electronic national ID cards would be distributed, and would include information about ethnicity; again, no details about the timing or implementation of the distribution were offered.
  • Chinese Assistance: China’s ambassador to Afghanistan met with Afghan ministry of foreign affairs officials on Thursday, pledging an additional $2.2 million in assistance, the details of which were not disclosed.
  • Taliban Talks: Former Taliban minister Agha Jan Mutasim tells the Express Tribune that the Taliban are “optimistic about the peace process and they believe China could play a key role”, suggesting the onus was on the Kabul government to initiate talks. Mutasim also suggests that the Taliban “have now realised that repeating bitter experiences of internal rifts during Mullah Akhtar Mansoor’s reign will not benefit anyone”.
  • Health Minister Under Investigation: In comments to TOLO, Minister of Public Health Ferozuddin Feroz rejected allegations that MoPH contracts were improperly steered to a private firm, Governance in Afghanistan (GIA), that Feroz had led prior to his appointment as minister; three GIA contracts remain active, but all were signed prior to Feroz’s appointment.

Afghanistan – Remainders

  • Kabul Bombing Upends Hazara Protest Movement [WAPO]
  • Former Pres. Karzai Says US Airstrikes Undermining Afghan Security [Guardian]
  • Kandahar Police Chief Bans Use of Pakistani Rupees [Khaama Press]
  • High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption Seeks Official Asset Declarations [TOLO]
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