Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Military Courts Renewed for Two Years; At Least 22 Killed in Parachinar Market Bombing

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  • On Friday, Pres. Mamnoon Hussain signed into law the constitutional amendment reviving military courts in Pakistan for a new two-year period; the head of the Supreme Court Bar Association criticized the courts in remarks the day prior.
  • At least 22 people have been killed and more than 60 wounded in a suicide car bombing at a marketplace outside a Shia mosque in the Kurram Agency capital of Parachinar on Friday; the TTP Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility.
  • The NYT interviews Kandahar governor Humayoon Azizi and investigates the attack on the governor’s compound in January that left him badly wounded; Afghan investigators have linked a cook in the governor’s compound to the Taliban, despite denials by the insurgents that they carried out the attack.
  • Following meetings with UN and other international officials on Thursday, a spokesman for Chief Executive Abdullah insisted that the Afghan government was prepared to hold elections within the current solar year.
  • Khyber Paktunkhwa provincial government officials have protested the exclusion of expatriates from the provincial census count.
  • Sindh provincial government officials have complained that the federal government is short on its revenue transfer obligations to the province by Rs 76 billion.

Pakistan — Security

  • Military Courts Amendment Signed: On Friday, Pres. Mamnoon Hussain formally approved an amendment to Pakistan’s constitution, reviving military courts for terrorist suspects for another two-year period. He also signed into law legislation governing the rules and authorities for special inquiry commissions. Supreme Court Bar Association president Rasheed Rizvi criticized the revival of the military courts system on Thursday, saying that they “have never been a solution to the menace of terrorism nor will they be”. Earlier on Thursday, Tahir Shah, a Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan member linked to the 2012 Bannu jailbreak attack, was hanged in Kohat after previously being sentenced to death by a military court  [ET] [The Nation] [Dawn] [The Nation]
  • Parachinar Mosque Attacked: At least 22 people were killed and more than 60 wounded in a suicide car bombing attack at a marketplace outside a Shia mosque in the Kurram Agency capital of Parachinar on Friday. The TTP Jamaat-ul-Ahrar splinter group claimed responsibility for the attack. [Reuters] [RFE/RL]
  • Indian Nationals Arrested: Sindh Census Commissioner Abdul Aleem Memon announced on Thursday that two Indian nationals living illegally in Karachi had been arrested after being identified during the ongoing census project. [Dawn]
  • New Khyber Paktunkhwa Police Chief: On Thursday, the federal government appointed Salahuddin Khan Mehsud as provincial police chief for Khyber Paktunkhwa; he previously led the police Special Branch in the province. [Dawn]
  • Counterterrorism Crackdown: On Friday, the Pakistani military announced that it had killed Mehmoodul Hassan, alias Khwaja Madni, identified as a member of the TTP Sajna faction, in a search operation in the Jandola area of South Waziristan. On Thursday, at least 57 people, including 21 Afghan nationals, were arrested in raids by the Pakistan Rangers across Punjab.
  • Russian Military Delegation Visits Waziristan: Russian Deputy Chief of General Staff Colonel General Israkov Sergi Yuryevich led a Russian military delegation that received a briefing trip to Miran Shah and Wana, Pakistan’s military announced Thursday. [The Nation]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Census Complaints: Khyber Paktunkhwa provincial minister for local government Inayatullah Khan told reporters on Thursday that the government had “serious concerns” over the exclusion of expatriate Pakistanis in the national census, estimating that around seven million Khyber Paktunkhwa residents now work abroad and arguing they should be included in the province’s population count. He also raised concerns over the undercounting of Pashtun children on census forms.
  • NGO Registration: At a meeting on Thursday, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan ordered the interior ministry to expedite the review of registration applications by international NGOs operating in Pakistan; roughly 70 organizations have been approved for registration thus far. [The Nation]
  • Other Political Activity: PPP leader Asim Hussain was released from jail after more than a year and a half of detention on a variety of corruption and terrorism charges; his passports were seized as a condition of his release on bail. [ET] [ET]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Tax Revenues: Sindh provincial officials meeting on Thursday to prepare for the next Annual Development Program and next year’s budget raised concerns that the federal government had failed to make good on revenue transfer agreements with the province, putting the shortfall at Rs 76.2 billion. [The Nation]
  • World Bank Aid: The World Bank signed a $432.7 million agreement to provide assistance to the Khyber Paktunkhwa and FATA governments in order to support the financial sector, small and medium enterprise development, community infrastructure and services, and other projects. Separately, Finance Minister Dar departed for consultations with the IMF in Dubai on Friday.
  • CPEC Projects: On Thursday, the Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet approved a Rs 55 billion project with the China Communication Construction Company for the construction of a 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Gwadar; the project was awarded without bidding.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • PEMRA Bans GEO TV Morning Show for ‘Indecent Content’ [Dawn]
  • Girl Killed in Lakki Marwat Grenade Blast [Dawn]
  • Ambassador Chaudhry Seeks Expat Investments [APP]
  • Government Plans Expansion of Prime Minister’s National Health Program [Dawn]
  • Supreme Court to Investigate Inactive Courts [ET]
  • Sindh Transfers Park to Private Developer Bahria Town [Dawn] [Dawn]
  • Sindh Police Say No Money for DNA Tests in Rape Cases [Dawn]
  • Sindh High Court Seeks Formation of Special Gas Theft Courts [ET]
  • Agreement Reached on Amnesty Plan for Pakistanis Living in Saudi Arabia Without Documentation [APP]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Kandahar Governors Compound Attack: The NYT interviews Kandahar governor Humayoon Azizi, who has returned to work after being treated for injuries sustained during an attack on his compound in January, which killed the deputy governor as well as UAE ambassador to Afghanistan and several other aides. Although the Taliban have denied responsibility, Afghan officials say they believe the insurgents were responsible for planting the bomb inside the guesthouse facility; a cook in the governor’s palace has been identified as a key informant for the Taliban, although his family denies any involvement in the attack.
  • Other Attacks and Operations: The Ministry of Defense announced Friday that at least ten Taliban fighters were killed in airstrikes outside the Uruzgan capital of Tirin Kot; another 18 were said to have been killed in operations in Kandahar’s Nesh district. Provincial officials in Takhar province say that five civilians were killed in a Taliban mortar strike on their home near a checkpost in the Khwaja Bahuddin district on Thursday.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Election Preparations: Chief Executive Abdullah and Pres. Ghani met with UN and international officials to discuss election preparations on Thursday; in comments afterwards, a spokesman for Abdullah insisted that “we are completely prepared financially and in terms of security” to hold elections and that “the process will be implemented this [solar] year”.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Afghan Track 2 Delegation Meets with Pakistani Foreign and National Security Advisors [Dawn]
  • UK Ambassador Stresses Importance of Anti-Corruption Efforts [TOLO]

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