Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Chinese Foreign Minister to Visit Kabul; Sharif and Bajwa Return from Jeddah

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Topline

  • A spokesman for Pres. Ghani said that Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi would be visiting Afghanistan to discuss mediation between Pakistan and Afghanistan; the spokesman added that “Pakistan must support Afghanistan’s strategy over fighting insurgency” at future meetings of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group.
  • Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee on Monday, Secretary Mattis said that he planned to submit recommendations to Pres. Trump on Afghanistan strategy “very soon”, and suggested that the policy would incorporate a “regional approach”; CNN reports that the administration is still several weeks away from making a decision.
  • RFE/RL reports that a drone strike in the Hangu district targeted a Haqqani network commander over Monday night; other outlets have yet to confirm the report.
  • Prime Minister Sharif, Chief of Staff Bajwa, and other top aides met with Saudi King Salman and other Saudi officials during a visit to Jeddah on Monday; in a statement upon his return on Tuesday, Sharif expressed hope that current tensions in the Gulf could be resolved soon.
  • The Joint Investigation Team in the Panama Papers told the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Monday that it had identified and removed an unnamed staffer who leaked an image of Hussain Nawaz’s appearance before the JIT. Imran Khan reiterated demands for Prime Minister Sharif to resign from office before appearing before the JIT on Thursday.
  • Chief Executive Abdullah pledged to take legal action against security officials found to be negligent in connection to the attacks in Kabul earlier this month; in a statement on Monday, a Jamiat-e-Islami spokesman says that the party is “confident that [Abdullah] will not keep silent” regarding its demands for top security officials to be sacked. Khaama Press notes several meetings between Jamiat leaders and Batur Dostum, son of Vice President Dostum and leader of the Junbesh-e-Milli party.
  • The Afghan Ministry of Defense announced Monday that 34 Afghan army officers, including the commander of the 209th Corps, had received court martial sentences for negligence in connection to the attack on the corps base in Balkh in April.
  • Pakistan’s trade deficit hit a record high of $30 billion during the first eleven months of the current fiscal year, driven by slumping exports and continued high imports.

Pakistan — Security

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Gulf Diplomacy: Prime Minister Sharif and Chief of Army Staff Bajwa met with Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz during a visit to Jeddah on Monday; no details of their discussions, which focused on tensions between Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Qatar, have been released. Sharif returned to Pakistan on Tuesday; a statement from his office said that he hoped the “current impasse in the Gulf will be resolved soon”. [AJE] [The Nation] [ET]
  • Panama Papers Investigation: The Nation reports that the Joint Investigation Team investigating the Panama Papers submitted a report to the Supreme Court during hearings on Monday in which the JIT said it had identified and removed an unidentified staff member who had leaked an image of Hussain Nawaz’s appearance before the team earlier this month. Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Imran Khan reiterated demands that Nawaz Sharif resign from office before appearing before the JIT on Thursday, accusing the government of interfering in its investigations. [The Nation] [The Nation]
  • Other Political Activity: The PTI announced Tuesday that Imran Khan and his leadership slate were re-elected to their positions by a large margin in intra-party elections. At a Supreme Court hearing on Tuesday, the court ordered the PTI to respond with information on its sources of funding and an audit of its finances, and upheld the Election Commission’s authority to investigate the issue. Despite being expelled from the PML-N on Monday, senator Nehal Hashmi will continue to hold his seat in the senate. [The Nation] [Dawn] [ET]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Trade Deficit Grows: Pakistan’s trade deficit reached a record high of $30 billion during the first 11 months of the fiscal year, a 42% year-on-year increase, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics data released Monday indicates. [ET]
  • Budget Debate: PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi announced on Monday that the opposition parties had decided to “completely disassociate” themselves from the current budget debate, staging another walkout afterwards. The Balochistan provincial government will present its budget on June 15.

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Senate Committee Criticizes Lack of Government Support for Victims of Terrorism [Dawn] [The Nation]
  • Islamabad Police Arrest Terror Suspects [The Nation]
  • Peshawar Corps Commander Visits Forward Posts in Kurram and Khyber [ET] [The Nation]

Afghanistan — Security

  • U.S. Strategy: CNN reports that Pres. Trump is still “several weeks” away from making any decision on modifications to U.S. strategy in Afghanistan; a source says that the strategy will “go beyond recommendations on the US fight in Afghanistan to include US policy toward neighboring India and Pakistan”. Speaking before the House Armed Services Committee on Monday, Secretary Mattis said that he would present options to the president on Afghanistan “very soon”, and that “we’re taking a regional approach to this”.
  • Court Martials for Balkh Base Attack: On Monday, the Ministry of Defense announced that 34 Afghan National Army personnel, including the commander and chief of staff of the 209th Military Corps, had received sentences between one and three years after court martial hearings into charges of negligence relating to an attack on the corps base in Balkh in late April. [Khaama Press]
  • Kabul Attack Investigation: On Monday, the German embassy in Afghanistan announced that a team of German experts will visit Kabul in the near future as part of an investigation into the truck bombing attack earlier this month that took place outside the embassy building, killing scores, including two Afghan guards for the embassy; the statement said that the attack would be “investigated rapidly, urgently and diligently, using rule‑of‑law means”. Separately, Kabul police officials say they discovered and defused an explosive device planted on a government vehicle belonging to the ministry of transportation.
  • Other Attacks and Operations: The Pentagon released the identities of the three U.S. soldiers killed in an insider attack in Nangarhar over the weekend, all members of the army’s 101st Airborne Division. Afghan army officials say that clashes between Taliban and ISIS fighters in the Chaparhar district in Nangarhar, and an airstrike targeting a group of Taliban, had left as many as 27 ISIS and 11 Taliban fighters dead. Unidentified gunmen killed the chief prosecutor in Wardak’s Nerk district on Monday; no claim of responsibility has been reported. [Khaama Press]

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • China to Mediate with Pakistan: In a statement on Monday, Pres. Ghani’s office said that Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi would be visiting Afghanistan soon to discuss ways to improve relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan. A spokesman for Ghani said that the next meeting of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group, which Ghani and Prime Minister Sharif committed to reviving during a meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit last week, “would be different compared to past meetings. At this meeting, Pakistan must support Afghanistan’s policy over fighting insurgency”. No date has been announced for new QCG talks.
  • Tensions with Jamiat: A spokesman for the Jamiat-e-Islami said Monday that the party was “confident that [Chief Executive Abdullah] will not keep silent” on the party’s demands that top security officials be sacked over the attacks in Kabul earlier this month. In remarks on Monday, Abdullah pledged that “legal action will be taken against any official on any level who was either involved or committed negligence which led to casualties”. Khaama Press reports that Batur Dostum, son of Vice President Dostum and leader of the Junbesh-e-Milli party, met with Balkh governor and Jamiat leader Atta Mohammad Noor to discuss “boosting political ties” as well as the current security situation.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • MPs Reject Sale of Government Land to Alokozay Group [TOLO]
  • Afghanistan Receives $180 Million in World Bank Incentive Payments for Anti-Corruption Efforts [Khaama Press]
  • Rise in Child Labor Raises Concerns [TOLO]
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