Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: India Accuses Pakistan of Mutilating Two Soldiers; Principals Committee Reviews Afghan Mission

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Topline

  • India accused Pakistani special forces of killing and mutilating the bodies of two soldiers patrolling along the Line of Control on Monday; Pakistan’s military spokesman denied the charge.
  • A U.S. cabinet principals committee meeting on Afghanistan last Friday agreed to extend the presence of U.S. forces there and link their mission to “clear conditions on the battlefield”, Bloomberg News reports; details are limited, with a strategy paper reportedly still under development. No decisions on troop levels are reported, but the projected annual cost of operations and assistance is quoted as being roughly $23 billion.
  • Two Pakistani army checkposts were attacked near the Afghan border with South Waziristan on Monday.
  • Taliban and Islamic State fighters continue to clash in Nangarhar’s Chaparhar district, with at least two dozen killed; reports contradict as to which side suffered the worst of the fighting, however. A U.S. drone strike also hit the area on Monday.
  • Special assistant to the prime minister on foreign affairs Tariq Fatemi denied involvement with the Dawn Leaks episode in a letter written following his removal from his position over the weekend.
  • Hezb-e-Islami negotiators accuse the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission of blocking the release of 69 HIG prisoners, as ordered by Pres. Ghani on Monday.
  • The Supreme Court of Pakistan is still reviewing nominees to form a Joint Investigation Team in the Panama Papers case.

Pakistan — Security

  • India Accuses Pakistan of Mutilating Two Soldiers: In a statement on Monday, the Indian army accused Pakistani army forces of firing rockets across the border at two outposts in the Buttal area of the Line of Control as cover for a special operations team that killed and mutilated the bodies of two patrolling Indian soldiers. Pakistan’s army denied the charge; the two sides’ Directors General for Military Operations spoke by hotline on Monday evening, with Pakistan again denying involvement in the incident. [Dawn] [The Nation]
  • South Waziristan Checkposts Attacked: The Pakistani military reported Monday that two army checkposts were attacked in South Waziristan from militants on the Afghan side of the border; three of the attackers were reportedly killed. The AP reports that the attack was claimed by ‘the Taliban’, but does not specify which affiliate. [Dawn]
  • Counterterrorism Crackdown: The two terrorist suspects killed during a Punjab Rangers raid in Rawalpindi on Monday were plotting attacks on the Pakistan Ordinance Factory and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, police sources tell the Express Tribune. 15 suspects, almost all of them Afghan nationals, were arrested by the Rangers in sweeps in Rawalpindi on Monday. The Nation reports that the Pakistani army has decided to transfer all weapons seized during Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad to police and paramilitary forces. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Fatemi Rejects ‘Dawnleaks’ Involvement: In a letter follow his removal from his position as special assistant to the prime minister for foreign affairs, Tariq Fatemi denied any involvement in the leaking of accounts of civilian-military disputes over domestic counterterrorism operations to Dawn last fall. [Dawn] [The Nation] [Dawn]
  • Panama Papers Investigation: The Express Tribune reports that the Supreme Court is still reviewing the nominees from six different agencies to form a Joint Investigation Team to probe the assets of Prime Minister Sharif and his family, with concern reportedly expressed over an unnamed nominee from the Federal Investigation Agency. [Dawn] [The Nation]
  • Opposition Politics: In a meeting on Monday, Imran Khan invited Mumtaz Bhutto to join the PTI. In meetings with a Karachi traders’ association, Imran promised to reform the Federal Board of Revenue and decrease taxes. During his Labor Day address, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari urged reforms to labor courts in Sindh. Speaking to supporters in London on Monday, former Pres. Musharraf said that the PTI was not sufficiently prepared to challenge the PPP and PML-N in the next general elections; The Nation reports that PML-Q leader Chaudhry Pervai Elahi met with Musharraf in Dubai to discuss a possible coalition partnership. [Dawn]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Water Disputes: Ahead of a Council of Common Interests meeting scheduled for today, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has reportedly resolved to file a compensation case with the federal government over a shortfall of water supplied to the province dating back to 1991. Two senior Sindh irrigation officials were removed in response to protests from tail-end irrigation users.
  • Energy Crisis: An IMF regional forecast cautioned that Pakistan may face a 30% higher oil import bill in 2017 than the year prior.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Shakil Afridi Remains Imprisoned, Despite Trump Campaign Promises [WAPO]
  • Punjab Set to Introduce Witness Protection Laws [ET]
  • China and Pakistan Finalizing ‘Long-Term Plan’ for CPEC [Dawn] [ET]
  • Pakistan Air Force Training Jet Crashes Near Jhang [Dawn]
  • Hundreds of Sacked Sindh Police Officers Given Chance of Reappointment [Dawn]
  • Supreme Court Rules Pakistan Television Does Not Owe Rs 1 Billion in Taxes [ET]
  • Over 8,000 Vehicles Stalled at Torkham Border Crossing [Dawn]
  • Stop-Gap Appointees Preparing Next Budget [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Security

  • US Strategy: A meeting of the U.S. cabinet principals committee last Friday agreed to extend the presence of U.S. forces in the country and link their mission to “clear conditions on the battlefield, such as winning back territory from the Taliban and denying safe haven to al Qaeda, the Islamic State and other bad actors”, Bloomberg News reports. The strategy review also reportedly recommends increased pressure on the Taliban as a means of encouraging an eventual peace process. A strategy paper is reportedly being finalized this week; the report does not specify troop numbers, but estimates a total operational and assistance cost of $23 billion annually. Separately, a spokesman for U.S. Forces-Afghanistan tells the AFP that “we have a very good chance of destroying” the Islamic State’s Afghanistan affiliate this year.
  • Taliban-ISIS Clashes Continue: Continuing clashes between Taliban and ISIS fighters in the Chaparhar district in Nangarhar left more than two dozen dead, provincial officials report; TOLO puts the death toll at 21 Taliban and 7 ISIS militants dead over the past two days, while Khaama Press reports that 20 ISIS fighters were killed. A U.S. drone strike also hit the district on Monday; its target was also unclear, with one account saying that 15 ISIS fighters had been killed and another eight Taliban insurgents.
  • Other Attacks and Operations: At least five policemen were killed in the Taliban attack on the Ghormach district center in Faryab province on Monday, a spokesman for the provincial governor said. A suicide car bomber attacked a foreign military convoy in Nangarhar’s Bati Kot district on Monday; no casualties were reported other than the attacker. [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Hekmatyar Returns: Hezb-e-Islami negotiators accuse the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission of blocking the release of 69 Hezb prisoners whose release order with signed by Pres. Ghani on Monday. NATO, UNAMA, and the US embassy in Afghanistan all issued statements on Monday welcoming the return of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar to Afghanistan and his participation in a peace process. A spokesman for Chief Executive Abdullah responded to Hekmatyar’s suggestion that either Pres. Ghani or Chief Executive Abdullah step down in favor of a single leader, saying that “we have freedom of expression and everyone is allowed to speak out. But about the NUG structure and its future plans, there is clarity and nothing will change in this regard”.
  • Extra Visas for Afghans: The omnibus spending agreement reached by Congress on Sunday includes an additional 2,500 Special Immigrant Visas for Afghans who worked for the U.S. government; as of late April, only 780 visa slots remained, with as many as 14,000 Afghans having begun the application process.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Karzai Continues Criticism of US Strategy in Afghanistan [TOLO]
  • Ministry of Finance Warns of Action Against Companies Evading Taxation [TOLO]
  • Government Approves Afs 6.29 Billion in Procurement Contracts [Khaama Press]
  • Commentary: Why We Lost the Afghan War – “The State Department and military emphasized working with the Afghan government officials, no matter how crooked.” [Douglas Wissing, Breaking Defense]
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