Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Investigations Continue into Lahore Attack; Former UAE Ambassador Succumbs to Injuries

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  • Investigations continue into Monday’s bombing in Lahore, with both Prime Minister Sharif and Chief of Army Staff Bajwa chairing separate security review meetings on Tuesday. Pres. Ghani and Prime Minister Sharif spoke by phone on Tuesday, and on Wednesday a formal message was delivered to the Afghan embassy in Islamabad, noting Pakistani concerns that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ul-Ahrar was operating from Afghan territory.
  • Five people were killed in a suicide bombing attack in the Mohmand Agency on Wednesday, which was also claimed by the TTP Jamaat-ul-Ahrar.
  • Another suicide bombing in Peshawar on Wednesday targeted a car carrying four judges, who were wounded and whose driver was killed; the main Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility.
  • The UAE ambassador to Afghanistan who was wounded in a bombing at the Kandahar governor’s compound last month has succumbed to his injuries, the UAE foreign ministry announced on Wednesday.
  • Supreme Court hearings resumed on the Panama Papers on Wednesday, with lawyers for the prime minister’s sons arguing that the hearings should not be considered a trial.
  • A spokesman for Hezb-e-Islami denied reports that Gulbuddin Hekmatyar had been hospitalized and said that would return to Kabul in the near future.

Pakistan — Security

  • Lahore Attack Aftermath: Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah told reporters on Tuesday that at least two men were involved in carrying out the attack outside the Punjab Assembly building in Lahore on Monday; the initial police report on the incident says that as many as three handlers may have been involved in carrying out the attack. Police corrected a reported increase in the death toll, saying that only 13 had been killed as initially reported; funeral services were held for some of the victims on Tuesday. Prime Minister Sharif chaired a meeting on Tuesday of senior civilian aides, including Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, to review security in Lahore; Sharif vowed that “our enemies will be defeated by our national resolve”. Chief of Army Staff Bajwa chaired a separate security review at the Lahore Corps Headquarters, and pledged to provide security for the upcoming Pakistan Super League cricket final in the city. Punjab police are conducting “combing operations” throughout the province in the wake of the attack, “particularly where the Afghan/Pathan community is residing”, according to one directive reported by Dawn. Imran Khan called for the deployment of paramilitary Rangers in Punjab on Tuesday, something Law Minister Sanaullah said was unnecessary. [ET] [ET] [ET]
  • Mohmand Bombing: Three paramilitary Khasadars and two civilians were killed and three other people wounded when two suicide bombers attacked local political administration offices in the Mohmand Agency’s Gailani tehsil on Wednesday; one of the bombers was killed before detonating his explosives. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for the attack. [AP]
  • Peshawar Judges Targeted: Later on Wednesday, a suicide bomber attacked a car carrying four lower court judges in Peshawar, killing the driver and wounding all four. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack. [Dawn]
  • Shia Cleric Shot: Allami Tasawwar al Jawadi, the secretary general of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir chapter of the Majlis Wehdatul Muslimeen, was shot and injured along with his wife in a driveby shooting in Muzaffarabad on Wednesday. The gunmen were not identified and no claim of responsibility has been reported. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Panama Papers Hearings Resume: Hearings resumed at the Supreme Court on Wednesday in the Panama Papers case; lawyers for the prime minister’s sons, Hassan and Hussain Nawaz, resumed their arguments, saying that they could not produce a record of all the family’s business dealings for the past 40-45 years and arguing that “this is neither a trial, nor the defendant a witness.” A spokesman for the PTI said the party would introduce additional documents seeking to establish Maryam Nawaz’s ownership of several overseas holding firms. Separately on Tuesday, the Lahore High Court reiterated a Supreme Court order that operations at three Sharif family sugar mills be suspended while it hears a challenge brought by PTI leader Jahangir Tareen. [ET]
  • Refugee Repatriation: In a statement on Tuesday, Pakistan’s foreign ministry disputed the findings of a recent Human Rights Watch report on coerced Afghan refugee repatriation from Pakistan, saying that “exaggerated contentions and baseless allegations of coercion are particularly disappointing and irresponsible, being counter-productive to the objective of harmony and goodwill between the refugees and the host communities as well as the shared goal of dignified voluntary returns”. [ET]
  • PTI Funding Challenge: The Islamabad High Court has begun hearings on a PTI petition challenging the authority of the Electoral Commission to audit the details of its funding, with lawyers for the PTI arguing that the ECP lacks the jurisdiction to investigate allegations of improper foreign funding. [Dawn]
  • NSC Director Named: Brigadier General Robin Fontes, previously the U.S. defense attache to India, has been appointed director for India, Pakistan, and Central Asian affairs at the White House National Security Council.

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • New FBR Chairman Appointed: On Tuesday, the government appointed Muhammad Irshad as head of the Federal Board of Revenue and the secretary of the Revenue Division, reversing the earlier appointment of a Pakistan Administrative Services officer, Tariq Bajwa, to head that division, which had been opposed by members of the FBR.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Formal Protest to India After Soldier Deaths at Line of Control [Dawn]
  • Army Official Pledges to Restore Operations of Girls Schools in North Waziristan [Dawn]
  • Maarif Foundation to Take Over Operations of PakTurk Schools Network [Dawn]
  • Government to Appeal Supreme Court Order on Use of Private Counsel [Dawn]
  • Gwadar-Nawabshah LNG Pipeline Project Remains Stalled [ET]
  • Khyber Paktunkhwa Seeks Inclusion of 17 Energy Projects Under CPEC [APP]
  • Former Khyber Paktunkhwa Governor Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan Abbasi Appointed Aviation Advisor [ET]
  • Pakistan Stock Exchange Suspends Chief Regulatory Officer [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • UAE Ambassador Injured in Kandahar Attack Dies from Wounds: On Wednesday, the UAE foreign ministry announced that Juma Mohammed Abdullah al-Kaabi, the UAE’s ambassador to Afghanistan who was wounded in a bombing at the Kandahar governor’s compound last month, had succumbed to his injuries. [Khaama Press]
  • Attacks and Operations: Nangarhar provincial officials report that ground and air operations in the Kot and Deh Bala districts in Nangarhar killed at least 16 Islamic State-affiliated fighters on Tuesday; on Wednesday, the Ministry of Interior claimed that at least 22 fighters had been killed in the Haska Mina and Kot districts over the previous 24 hours. Taliban fighters attacked and took control of a village in the Shirin Tagab district in Faryab on Wednesday, killing five local police members. Provincial police in Jawzjan report that as many as 52 farmers in three villages in the Darz Ab district have been kidnapped by local Taliban forces. [Khaama Press] [Khaama Press]
  • Fire at Balkh Prison: Khaama Press reports that a fire swept through the second floor of the central Balkh prison in Mazar-e-Sharif on Wednesday; the fire is now reportedly under control and no injuries have been reported.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Ghani and Nawaz Speak: Pres. Ghani spoke by phone with Prime Minister Sharif on Tuesday, offering condolences for the bombing in Lahore. On Wednesday, Pakistan presented a formal notice to the Afghan deputy head of mission in Islamabad detailing the TTP Jamaat-ul-Ahrar’s use of territory in Afghanistan to plan attacks in Pakistan.
  • NATO Support: Speaking in Brussels on Tuesday ahead of a conference of defense ministers, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reiterated the alliance’s support for the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan. Separately, European Union officials are expected to sign an agreement this week to formalize development assistance through 2024. [TOLO]
  • Hezb-e-Islami Agreement: A spokesman for Hezb-e-Islami denied reports that Gulbuddin Hekmatyar had been hospitalized in Istanbul, and reiterated his intentions to return to Kabul in the near term.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Sayyaf Calls for ‘War on Corruption’ [Pajhwok]
  • National Procurement Commission Approves Three Contracts Worth Afs 1.5 Billion [Khaama Press]
  • Commentary: Afghan Asylum Seekers in Europe: The North-South Divide – “As a result of tighter border controls and stricter migrations policies, many refugees are now stuck between the almost hermetically closed outer borders of the EU as well as between individual EU countries.” [Thomas Ruttig, AAN]

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