Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Ahmadi Community Leader Killed; US Embassy Staff Disciplined for Drug Use

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  • Malik Saleem Latif, a lawyer and Ahmadi community leader, was killed in a shooting outside Lahore on Thursday; no claim of responsibility has been reported.
  • The WSJ reports that at least six, and potentially as many as 22, embassy and security staff have been disciplined or fired over drug use and distribution at the U.S. embassy in Kabul.
  • In a statement on Wednesday, Pakistan’s military said that recent comments by former ambassador Husain Haqqani regarding the issuance of visas to U.S. officials “vindicate the stance of Pakistan’s state institutions” and confirmed “the veracity of concerns about his role in the entire issue”, without elaborating.
  • Kunar officials report continued cross-border artillery strikes by Pakistani forces; no casualties were reported, however. Speaking at a USIP event on Wednesday, Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S. Aizaz Chaudhry argued that “there should be corresponding action from the other side” to match Pakistani military actions.
  • On Wednesday, Imran Khan accused the PPP and PML-N of cutting a deal to allow both sides to avoid corruption investigations.
  • Power shortfalls are increasing as a number of Pakistani power plants remain idle; earlier this month, the Private Power Infrastructure Board rejected an attempt by thirteen Independent Power Producers to invoke sovereign payment guarantees.
  • The first phase of distribution for new Afghan national ID cards will begin in Kabul within 90 days and focus on reaching around 500,000 people, officials said Wednesday.

Pakistan — Security

  • Ahmadi Leader Killed: Malik Saleem Latif, a lawyer and leader the Jamaat-e-Ahmadiya, was shot and killed in an attack in Nakana Sahib on Thursday morning. Latif was a cousin of Abdus Salam, Pakistan’s first Nobel laureate. No claim of responsibility has been reported. [Dawn]
  • Saudi Military Coalition: In comments on a talk show on Wednesday, retired Major General Ejaz Awan claimed that Prime Minister Sharif had asked former Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif to serve as commander of a Saudi-led military coalition, and that the prime minister himself had first been asked by the Saudis. [APP]
  • Shrine Security: Syed Wali Mohammad Shah, the custodian at the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine, complained to reporters on Wednesday of poor security at the shrine, despite a high-profile attack there last month; police officials insist that they have increased security.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Visa Controversy: In a statement on Wednesday, the Pakistani military’s chief military spokesman said that comments by former Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani about the issuance of visas to U.S. intelligence officers tracking Osama bin Laden “vindicate the stance of Pakistan’s state institutions”, adding that “the veracity of concerns about [Haqqani’s] role in the entire issue also stands confirmed”. The statement did not elaborate further. On Wednesday, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan called for the separation of immigration functions from the Federal Investigation Agency as a new agency. [Dawn] [Dawn] [The Nation]
  • Other Political Activity: Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Imran Khan accused the PML-N and PPP of having “cut a deal”, cooperating with each other to deflect corruption investigations and allow for the return or release of PPP officials in exchange for support on the Panama Papers investigation. Imran ruled out any alliance between the PTI and PPP so long as former Pres. Zardari led the latter. Speaking earlier, Zardari suggested that the Sharifs “should be thankful to me for what they are today”, and announced plans to visit Balochistan and increase PPP recruitment efforts in South Punjab. On Thursday, former Sindh information minister Sharjeel Memon received bail from the Sindh High Court, vowing afterwards to “challenge Nawaz Sharif and his accomplices” and criticizing Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. Separately, Quami Watan Party chief Aftab Ahmed Sherpao tells the Express Tribune he is open to “any kind of political alliance” ahead of the next general elections. Five MQM activists affiliated with the party’s London faction were arrested by the Sindh Rangers on Wednesday. [ET] [Dawn] [The Nation] [The Nation]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Energy Crisis: Dawn reports that the shortfall between power distribution and consumer demand has risen to between 4,000-7,800 Megawatts, increasing loadshedding in rural areas. More than a dozen power plants are reportedly idle due to non-payment of bills. The Private Power Infrastructure Board has reportedly rejected the invocation of sovereign guarantees for payment by thirteen Independent Power Producers, and has threatened legal action over those producers’ issuance of public advertisements demanding payment; total sectoral circular debt is reported to have reached Rs 414 billion.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Balochistan Home Minister Charged with Hunting Endangered Species [ET]
  • No Plan to Deport Pak-Turk Staff, Government Tells Lahore High Court [Dawn]
  • Faisal Edhi to Relaunch Father’s Air Ambulance Service [Dawn]
  • Prime Minister Seeks Bahraini Investment [ET] [The Nation] [The Nation]
  • Second Block of Census Count to Begin Friday [ET]
  • WAPDA Secures Local Financing for Dasu Hydropower Project [The Nation]
  • Karachi Polio-Free for More Than a Year [Dawn]
  • 8000 New Buses Needed to Meet Karachi Public Transit Needs [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Tensions with Pakistan: Kunar provincial officials report that Pakistani military shelling across the border resumed in the Sarkano and Khas Kunar districts, with more than 70 rockets reportedly striking the area in the past 24 hours. No casualties were reported. Speaking at a USIP event in Washington on Wednesday, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States Aizaz Chaudhry argued that “there is full consensus in Pakistan that peace in Afghanistan is absolutely imperative to Pakistan”, and argued that “there should be corresponding action from the other side” to match Pakistani military actions. In comments on Wednesday, Meshrano Jirga Speaker Fazl Hadi Muslimyar denounced Pakistani plans to build a border fence. [ET]
  • Attacks and Operations: Logar provincial officials say that at least 23 Taliban fighters were killed in operations in the Mohammad Aga, Barak-e-Barak, and Charkh districts, claiming that those districts were now cleared of militants. The Ministry of Defense reported on Thursday that three Islamic State fighters were killed in an airstrike in Nangarhar’s Achin district; provincial police officials say that a U.S. airstrike in the Khogyani district over Wednesday night killed a Taliban shadow district governor and three other commanders. [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • U.S. Embassy Staff Disciplined Over Drug Use and Distribution: The WSJ reports that the State Department has disciplined at least six people for using and selling drugs on the premises of the U.S. embassy in Kabul; some sources suggest that as many as 22 people, “most Americans”, were fired. Those report indicates that at least some of those facing action were private security guards.
  • National ID Card Distribution: Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, the head of the Biometric Identity Cards Issuing Authority said that the government had given him a 90-day deadline to begin issuing electronic national ID cards. The first phase of distribution will focus on around 500,000 people in Kabul; the Ministry of Finance will pay $4.2 million for the first phase.
  • Russian Diplomacy: Speaking on Tuesday after a meeting with Iranian President Rouhani, Russian President Putin said that the two leaders had “discussed the situation in Afghanistan, stressing the importance of national reconciliation”, and welcomed Iranian participation in regional talks.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • UK Ambassador Pledges Continue Support After Brexit [TOLO]
  • Lawmakers Complain of Delayed Ministerial Nominations [TOLO]
  • EU to Offer $2.5M for Agriculture Sector [TOLO]
  • Commentary: The Art of a Deal with the Taliban – “In coordination with our Afghan allies, the United States should be prepared to put on the table the conditions under which we would consider pulling our forces out of Afghanistan.” [Richard Olson, NYT]

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