Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: ISIS Attack on US Convoy in Kabul Kills Civilians; Supreme Court Rejects Two JIT Nominees

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Topline

  • At least eight Afghan civilians were killed and 25 wounded when a suicide bomber targeted a U.S. military convoy as it was leaving the U.S. embassy in Kabul on Wednesday; three U.S. soldiers were wounded. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.
  • The Supreme Court of Pakistan formed a special bench to oversee the implementation of the court’s order on the Panama Papers on Tuesday; on Wednesday, the bench rejected candidates from the Securities and Exchange Commission and State Bank of Pakistan for a Joint Investigation Team.
  • A separate Supreme Court bench began hearings on Wednesday on a petition seeking the disqualification from office of PTI leaders Imran Khan and Jahangir Khan Tareen, for failing to disclose overseas fundraising and assets to the Election Commission.
  • India formally protested the deaths and mutilation of two of its soldiers while on patrol along the Line of Control earlier this week; Indian Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Sarath Chand warned that India would retaliate “at the time and place of our choosing”.
  • ISI Chief Lt. Gen. Naveed Mukhtar visited Kabul on Tuesday for meetings with Afghan officials, the contents of which have not been disclosed.
  • 55 Hezb-e-Islami prisoners were reportedly released on Tuesday, but another 13 whose release had been approved by Pres. Ghani on Monday remain in detention; a spokesman for the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission said the body opposed their release. A spokesman for Gulbuddin Hekmatyar said he would visit Kabul on Thursday.
  • Tuesday’s meeting of the Pakistani federal-provincial Council on Common Interests approved a Rs 177.6 billion flood response plan, and weakened the independence of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority.
  • Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Islamabad on Wednesday to discuss border security cooperation, following an attack last which in which ten Iranian guards were killed.

Pakistan — Security

  • Tensions with India: On Wednesday, Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar summoned Pakistani ambassador Abdul Basit to formally convey “outrage at the killing and the barbaric act of mutilation” of two Indian soldiers earlier this week during patrols along the Line of Control. Indian Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Sarath Chand told reporters on Tuesday that India would respond “at the time and place of our choosing”, rejecting Pakistani military denials of involvement in the incident. The Indian Express attributes the attack to a desire to carry out reprisals for the death of as many as ten Pakistani soldiers in cross-border artillery strikes on April 17, which Pakistan’s military did not report at the time. [Dawn] [The Nation]
  • Military Courts: The military announced the execution on Wednesday of four men convicted under the military court system, all of whom were described as active members of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and accused of carrying out attacks on law enforcement personnel or civilians. Separately, the Lahore High Court dismissed the appeal of three men convicted in a civilian anti-terrorism court for a 2009 attack on police rescue services in Lahore. [The Nation] [ET] [AP] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Panama Papers Investigation: On Tuesday, the Supreme Court announced the formation of a special bench to oversee the implementation of the court’s order regarding the Panama Papers case against Prime Minister Sharif and his family; the three judges who cast the majority vote in the court’s previous ruling are among those on the new bench, while the two dissenting judges are not. On Wednesday, the bench rejected candidates from the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and State Bank of Pakistan for the Joint Investigation Team tasked with investigating the Sharif family’s overseas assets, saying the nominees did not meet unspecified criteria. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Federal Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb reiterated that Sharif would not resign. In comments on Twitter on Tuesday, the prime minister’s daughter Maryam Nawaz denounced the Panama Papers investigation, saying it was “never about corruption”, prompting backlash from opponents and some of the journalists involved in the original leaked reports. [The Nation] [ET] [Dawn]
  • Supreme Court Begins Hearing on PTI Disqualifications: On Wednesday, a three-member Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar began hearings on petitions by PML-N member Hanif Abbasi seeking the disqualification of PTI leaders Imran Khan and Jahangir Tareen, accusing them of failing to declare assets to the Election Commission and accepting funding from the PTI from foreign sources. The PTI responded with petitions seeking the dismissal of the case. Separately, the PTI has petitioned the Islamabad High Court to challenge ECP code of conduct restrictions on public campaigning by party heads and lawmakers for by-elections. [ET] [ET]
  • Government Mulls ‘Dawn Leaks’ Response: The Express Tribune quotes PML-N sources who welcome the fact that the government’s response to the ‘Dawn Leaks’ episode has overshadowed Prime Minister Sharif’s meeting with Indian industrialist Sajjan Jandal last week and opposition calls for his immediate resignation in the wake of the Supreme Court Panama Papers ruling. Other sources suggest that Faward Hasan Faward, secretary to the prime minister, issued the notification on Saturday for the dismissal of two other top aides in connection to the Dawn Leaks investigation in order to escape punishment himself. Prime Minister Sharif has barred party members from giving any statement to the media on the issue. [The Nation]
  • Iran Border Talks: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Islamabad on Wednesday for talks on Iran-Pakistan border security, following attacks last week that left ten Iranian guards dead. Zarif stated that “Pakistan and Iran will have to work together to solve the issues facing the Muslim ummah and form a consensus on international matters.” [ET] [AP]
  • BOL TV License Revoked: On Wednesday, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority revoked the broadcast license for two BOL TV channels, citing the failure of four channel directors to obtain a “security clearance” from the interior ministry. [ET] [The Nation]
  • Other Political Activity: Prime Minister Sharif visited Layyah on Tuesday, dismissing his political opponents as pursuing an agenda of “subversion, lying and leveling false allegations” and touting the government’s development record. On Tuesday, the Sindh provincial assembly passed a PML-N-introduced resolution censuring Imran Khan for “irresponsible, non-political and misguiding attitude/behavior” and for “continuously misguiding the nation since last so many years”. The Jamaat-e-Islami agreed to end its sit-in protests against Karachi Electric after meetings with Sindh governor Muhammad Zubair on Tuesday. [Dawn] [The Nation] [ET] [Dawn] [ET] [The Nation] [ET]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Sri Lankan Army Chief Visits [Dawn] [The Nation]
  • Six Frontier Corps Soldiers Injured in Kech Attack [ET] [The Nation]
  • Terrorist Suspects Killed in Wah Raid Linked to Islamic State [Dawn]
  • NADRA Temporarily Unblocks 150,000 CNICs [Dawn]
  • Ten Suspects Jailed in Mardan Lynching Case [Dawn]
  • Sindh High Court Extends Stay on Removal of Sindh Provincial Police Chief [Dawn]
  • Pakistan Ramps Up Coal Power with Chinese-Backed Plants [Reuters]
  • Government Requests for Facebook Data on the Rise [ET]
  • Riaz Riazuddin Appointed State Bank of Pakistan Governor [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Kabul Suicide Bombing Targets US Convoy: At least eight Afghan civilians were killed and 25 wounded when a suicide bomber targeted an American military convoy as it was exiting the U.S. embassy in Kabul on Wednesday morning. Three U.S. soldiers were wounded. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack through its Amaq News agency, the latest attack in the capital to be claimed by the group since the attack on the Kabul military hospital in March. [WSJ] [AP] [Reuters] [TOLO] [Khaama Press]
  • ISI Chief Visits: Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Naveed Mukhtar visited Kabul on Tuesday for discussions with Afghan officials; The Nation reports he met with his counterpart, NDS chief Masoom Stanekzai, and was also to meet with Pres. Ghani. No details of his meetings were released. [TOLO] [Khaama Press]
  • Other Attacks and Operations: Helmand provincial police officials say that they killed 27 Taliban fighters during operations in the Garmser district on Tuesday. Afghan National Army officials say airstrikes in the Khwaja Bahauddin district in Takhar province on Wednesday killed 11 Taliban fighters, including the shadow district governor.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Hezb-e-Islami Peace Agreement: Hezb-e-Islami spokesman Qarib-ur-Rehman Sayed told reporters on Tuesday that Gulbuddin Hekmatyar would arrive in Kabul on Thursday. 55 Hezb-e-Islami prisoners were released on Tuesday, but another 13 whose release was approved by Pres. Ghani on Monday remain in detention; a spokesman for the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, which HIG spokesmen previously accused of blocking the prisoner release, said that “the release of these [13] inmates cannot help us to implement justice, because we have experienced such issues in the past.” A spokesman for the commission tasked with implementing the peace agreement with HIG tells TOLO that “more inmates of the group are expected to be freed soon”. [Ariana News]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Kabul Military Hospital Reopens Following March Attack [TOLO]
  • UNAMA Chief Praises Afghan Press [TOLO]
  • Report: Afghanistan Affectations: How to Break Political-Criminal Alliances in Contexts of Transition – “The transition choices by the Afghan government and the international community, particularly the embrace of problematic warlords for the sake of short-term military battlefield advantages and as tools of political cooptation, shaped and reinforced criminality and corruption in post-2001 Afghanistan and thus delegitimized the post-Taliban political dispensation.” [Vanda Felbab-Brown, Brookings]
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