Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Electricity Outages Spike as Pakistan Faces Heatwave; State Department “AWOL” from Afghan Review

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Topline

  • Power outages and high rates of loadshedding continue around Pakistan as the country faces a record heatwave and the onset of Ramazan. The death toll from clashes between PTI activists and police in Malakand on Monday has risen to two, with at least 14 injured.
  • Secretary of State Tillerson has reportedly expressed concerns that the Trump administration’s draft Afghanistan strategy does not given sufficient consideration to the roll of other countries in the region or the risks of redeploying State Department personnel outside Kabul, but the Washington Post quotes White House sources who say he and the department have been “AWOL during the review process”, which has been dominated by current and former military officers.
  • The prime minister’s son, Hussain Nawaz, appeared before the Panama Papers Joint Investigation team for a second time on Tuesday. The PTI, meanwhile, has filed a petition with the Islamabad High Court challenging the jurisdiction of the Election Commission to investigate its banking details, and Imran Khan refused to provide transaction details on his purchase of his Bani Gala residence.
  • A former aide to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Haji Farid, was killed in a shooting in Peshawar on Tuesday; no claim of responsibility has been reported.
  • Anonymous Pakistani officials tell the Express Tribune they remain concerned that participation in the Saudi alliance against terrorism will alienate relations with Iran, and say no formal decision on participation has been made.

Pakistan — Security

  • Tensions with India: In an interview with Dawn, Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf said that Pakistan has previously undisclosed evidence against accused Indian spy Kulbushan Jhadav that would only be presented against him when the International Court of Justice resumes its hearings on the case. Ausaf also said that the Pakistani legal team for the case would be “expanded”, without providing details. [The Nation]
  • Chaman Border Reopened: Pakistan’s military announced Rs 3.4 million in compensation for the families of soldiers and civilians killed during a clash at the Chaman border crossing earlier this week; a ceremony was held on Monday. [The Nation]
  • Quetta Attack: Deputy Superintendent of Police Umer ur Rehman was killed in a shooting in Quetta on Monday evening; his nephew, also a police officer, was wounded. No claim of responsibility has been reported.
  • Peshawar Attack: Four members of a pro-government militia were killed in an attack in Peshawar’s Patni area on Monday; no claim of responsibility has been reported.

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Panama Papers Investigation: Hussain Nawaz, the prime minister’s son, appeared before the Panama Papers Joint Investigation Team for the second time on Tuesday. Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb told a press conference on Monday that the Sharif family would continue to cooperate with the investigation. [Dawn]
  • PTI Funding Investigation: In filings with the Election Commission on Monday, Imran Khan again refused to provide banking transaction details regarding his purchase of his property at Bani Gala with the help of his ex-wife, and also rebuffed ECP warnings that he was on the verge of contempt of court. In an Islamabad High Court petition on Tuesday, the PTI challenged the jurisdiction of the ECP to investigate the party’s banking details; the Supreme Court is also holding parallel hearings, and gave Imran one week to submit a report on his offshore business holdings. [ET]
  • Saudi Alliance: The Express Tribune reports that, despite former Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif’s assumption of command of a Saudi military alliance, Pakistan has not taken a “final decision” on participation, saying “we will join this alliance only to fight terrorism” and not Iran as suggested in remarks by some Saudi officials at last week’s Arab-US-Islamic summit. Officials from the foreign and defense ministries have been summoned by the senate to testify on the issue on Wednesday.

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Energy Crisis: The death toll from Monday’s clash in Malakand between PTI activists protesting power outages and police has risen to two, with as many as 14 injured; the army has been called in to restore order in the area. Demonstrations are also being held in Peshawar and across the province. Pakistan is facing a record heatwave, with peak temperatures of 53 Celsius / 127 Farenheit recorded in Turbat. Karachi suffered its second major outage in as many days on Monday; on Tuesday, the Sindh High Court ordered the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority to take action against K-Electric for “prolonged loadshedding and excessive billing”. Prime Minister Sharif chaired a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Energy on Monday, voicing dissatisfaction over higher than reported loadshedding outages across the country. In the senate, the opposition pushed through a report over the objections of the government recommending an investigation by the National Accountability Bureau into the government’s 2013 clearance of Rs 480 billion in circular debt for independent power producers; current circular debt totals are reported to have reached the same figure. [Dawn] [Dawn] [ET] [ET]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Banned Outfits in Pakistan Operate Openly on Facebook [Dawn]
  • Sindh High Court Reserves Verdict on Police Chief’s Status [Dawn]
  • Opposition Boycotts Opening Budget Debate After PTV Fails to Carry Opposition Leader’s Speech [Dawn]
  • China Welcomes Pakistan and India Joining SCO [The Nation]
  • PTI Selects Candidate for PS-114 Karachi By-Election [ET]

Afghanistan — Security

  • US Strategy: A Washington Post piece noting the dominance of current and former military officials in the Trump administration national security team reports that Secretary of State Tillerson has expressed concerns over the administration’s draft Afghanistan policy, including that it did not sufficiently address the role of other countries in the region or fully consider the risks of expanding a State Department presence outside Kabul. Some White House officials describe State as being “AWOL during the [Afghanistan] review process”; Tillerson is reported to be moving to further reduce the number of State Department detailees to the National Security Council.
  • Hekmatyar Aide Assassinated: Haji Farid, a former secretary and spokesman for Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who was also related to him, was killed in a shooting in Peshawar on Tuesday; no claim of responsibility has been reported. [TOLO] [Khaama Press]
  • Army Officers Fired: A spokesman for the ministry of defense announced Monday that they had fired at least 24 Afghan army officers in connection to last month’s attack on the 209th Corps base in Balkh; they did not provide details, and the head of the Balkh provincial council, Afzal Hadid, called for a full inquiry.
  • Other Attacks and Operation: Polish and Afghan special forces backed by U.S. airpower freed 11 hostages — a mix of Afghan civilians and security personnel — from a Taliban prison in Helmand, Poland’s defense ministry announced on Tuesday. Helmand provincial government officials say eight Taliban fighters were killed in an operation by Afghan forces in the Nad-e-Ali district on Monday, and two more in Gereshk. The district governor of Paktika’s Shakil Abad district was killed in a shooting outside his home on Sunday, provincial police officials reported; his son was also killed. The district governor of Nangarhar’s Khogyani district survived a suicide car bombing attack on his convoy on Tuesday; no injuries were reported. [Khaama Press] [TOLO] [TOLO]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • National Procurement Commission Approves 24 Projects Worth Afs 1.8 Billion [Khaama Press]
  • In Swedish Asylum Limbo, Young Afghans Turn to Heroin [AFP]
  • Commentary: Afghanistan’s Foreign Security Detainees: How Many Are There and What to Do With Them? – “Since the post-2001 insurgency broke out, foreign fighters have come from Pakistan, Central Asia and the Arab world, some bringing their families. An unknown number have ended up in Afghan detention.” [Kate Clark, AAN]
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