Pakistan-Afghanistan Update: Shehbaz Approves Govt Salary Increases in New Budget; UN Special Envoy’s Tenure Ends

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Topline

  • PM Shehbaz chaired a cabinet meeting on Friday prior to the announcement of the government’s budget for the coming fiscal year; Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said that Shehbaz had authorized a 15% increase in government salaries, over the ten percent proposed by the finance ministry. Earlier on Thursday, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail released the finance ministry’s annual economic survey report, which estimated 5.97% GDP growth for the outgoing fiscal year.
  • UN special representative Deborah Lyons’ term in office ended on Thursday; no immediate replacement has been announced by the UN.
  • The Hindustan Times reports that Taliban officials sought to assure a visiting Indian delegation last week that “it will not allow terrorism against [a] third country from its soil” and would take action against militant groups targeting India such as Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and Hizbul Mujahadeen.
  • In a joint session of parliament on Thursday, the PML-N coalition government passed amendments to the national electoral law and the National Accountability Bureau, after Pres. Alvi had previously returned the legislation to parliament.
  • On Thursday, Saudi Arabia announced a $30 million grant to the Afghanistan Humanitarian Trust Fund being managed by the Islamic Development Bank and the OIC.

Pakistan — Security

Pakistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • Legislative Amendments: In a joint session of parliament on Thursday, the government passed amendments to the national electoral law and the National Accountability Bureau, after Pres. Alvi had previously returned the legislation to parliament. A group of female PTI lawmakers held a protest outside the parliament building during the session. Separately, the senate passed legislation governing Pakistan’s debt limits, a condition of ongoing IMF talks. [The Nation] [ET]
  • Legal Proceedings: A Lahore court granted bail on Friday to a group of fourteen PTI leaders who face charges related to the party’s May 25 protest march on Islamabad. The Islamabad High Court denied a PTI petition seeking to block ongoing Election Commission hearings on the party’s overseas fundraising. [The News] [ET] [Dawn]

Pakistan — Economics and Development

  • Budget Planning: PM Shehbaz chaired a cabinet meeting on Friday prior to the announcement of the government’s budget for the coming fiscal year; Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said that Shehbaz had authorized a 15% increase in government salaries, over the ten percent proposed by the finance ministry. On Thursday, former Pres. Zardari hosted a dinner for coalition partners, at which “leaders of all political parties of the unity government expressed confidence in the prime minister”. Earlier on Thursday, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail released the finance ministry’s annual economic survey report, which estimated 5.97% GDP growth for the outgoing fiscal year. Pakistan’s trade deficit grew to $58.9 billion during the July-March period, a nearly 50% increase year-on-year; inflation rose to 11% for the July-April period. Total public debt reached Rs 44.37 trillion, of which external debt totaled $88.8 billion. In remarks on Thursday, Imran Khan claimed credit for economic growth during the PTI’s tenure and blamed the current government for inflation. [The Nation] [Dawn] [ET] [ET]

Pakistan — Remainders

  • Jamaat-e-Islami Protests Remarks by BJP Spokesperson [AP]
  • WAPDA Signs Contracts for Karachi Water Project [Dawn]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Resistance Reports: Hasht-e-Subh / 8AM reports that the Taliban have deployed as many as 400 additional personnel to Kapisa province in the areas neighboring Panjshir.
  • Security Force Restructuring: Taliban police officials in Balkh tell Ariana News that “a number” of former police officers from the previous government have returned to service, and say that they have established a training center for female police recruits. Separately, the ministry of defense announced that it had returned two cargo aircraft to service that were damaged last August.

Afghanistan — Politics and Diplomacy

  • International Engagement: UN special representative Deborah Lyons’ term in office ended on Thursday after two years; she previously received an extension to her posting in December. No replacement has been announced by the UN. Separately, the Hindustan Times reports that Taliban officials sought to assure a visiting Indian delegation last week that “it will not allow terrorism against [a] third country from its soil” and would take action against militant groups targeting India such as Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and Hizbul Mujahadeen. The head of the state-run Ariana Airlines tells TOLO that the airline will resume regular flights to India, China, and Kuwait “soon”. [TOLO]
  • Refugees and Repatriation: Afghan refugees continued protests in Pakistan on Friday, calling for actions on their asylum applications to third countries.

Afghanistan — Economics and Development

  • Humanitarian Assistance: On Thursday, Saudi Arabia announced a $30 million grant to the Afghanistan Humanitarian Trust Fund being managed by the Islamic Development Bank and the OIC.

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Taliban Reiterates Pledge of Safety for Returning Officials [TOLO]
  • Commentary: US Engagement with Afghanistan Isn’t Over, and We Need a New Policy – “The U.S. should insist on meeting with the Taliban leadership in Kandahar, since it is in doubt whether the ministers in Kabul speak authoritatively for the Taliban’s religious leadership.” [Anne Patterson and Ronald Neumann, The Hill]

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