At least 16 suspected militants killed by U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan

Editor’s note: The AfPak Channel will be celebrating the 4th of July tomorrow and will resume regular briefs on Monday, July 8th.  In the meantime, you can check out our updated "Ultimate AfPak Reading List" here.  Deadly strike At least 16 suspected militants were killed and five others were wounded late Tuesday night when a ...

THIR KHAN/AFP/Getty Images
THIR KHAN/AFP/Getty Images
THIR KHAN/AFP/Getty Images

Editor’s note: The AfPak Channel will be celebrating the 4th of July tomorrow and will resume regular briefs on Monday, July 8th.  In the meantime, you can check out our updated "Ultimate AfPak Reading List" here

Deadly strike

At least 16 suspected militants were killed and five others were wounded late Tuesday night when a U.S. drone strike hit an alleged Haqqani Network compound in North Waziristan (AP, BBC, Dawn, ET, NYT, Pajhwok).  According to Pakistani intelligence officials, two drones fired four missiles at a house in the village of Sarai Darpa Khel, near the Afghan border and just southwest of Miran Shah.  The strike was the deadliest to occur since Nawaz Sharif became Pakistan’s newest prime minister, and came just about one day after the Bureau of Investigative Journalism released a report saying civilian casualties in Pakistan from U.S. drone strikes were at an all-time low.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office released a statement on Wednesday condemning the strike, arguing once again that the U.S. drone strikes violate Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity (Dawn, Pajhwok).  The statement noted that the Pakistani government has repeatedly emphasized the need to end the strikes and "has consistently maintained that [they] are counter-productive, entail loss of innocent civilian lives and have human rights and humanitarian implications."

In Peshawar, at least six Frontier Corps security personnel were killed and seven were injured Tuesday night when militants attacked their checkpoint in the Kishan Ganga section of town (Dawn, ET).  According to police, the unidentified militants also kidnapped two other officers from the checkpoint. 

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif left Islamabad on Wednesday for a five-day official visit to China, his first international visit since taking office in May (ET, VOA).  He is expected to ask for China’s help regarding a number of energy-related projects and to promote bilateral trade and commerce between the two countries (Dawn).

Bold accusations

In an interview with the BBC news program "Hardtalk" on Tuesday, Afghan National Army chief General Sher Mohammad Karimi issued a number of allegations against Pakistan, including that the government is complicit in the U.S. drone strikes it denounces, that it controls and gives shelter to Taliban leaders, and that fighting within Afghanistan could be stopped "in weeks" if Pakistan told the insurgent group to stop (AFP, BBC, Pajhwok). In response to Karimi’s comments, which laid bare the deep mistrust that still exists between the neighboring countries, the Pakistani Foreign Office released a statement on Wednesday categorically denouncing the allegations and stressed that Pakistan would continue its efforts to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan (AFP, ET).

Senior Afghan officials and representatives from more than 55 countries met in Kabul on Wednesday to evaluate the progress made regarding the aid pledges, benchmarks, and mutual accountability framework laid out at last year’s Tokyo conference (Pajhwok).  Afghanistan pledged to tackle endemic corruption in exchange for international aid, but European officials say that only 3 of the 17 benchmarks have been achieved, calling about $4 billion of continued aid into question (NYT).  One of the goals concerned the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, which is almost entirely funded by international donors.  President Hamid Karzai’s recent appointment of five new commissioners has been widely criticized by Afghans and human rights activists who doubt the news commissioners’ ability to be impartial.  

In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday, James Dobbins, the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said that while the Taliban is ready to begin negotiations with the United States, it is not willing to meet with the Afghan government (Pajhwok).  Dobbins, who just returned from a trip to Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Qatar, said that any issues regarding the political transition in Afghanistan "have to be settled by the Afghans" and that the U.S. was waiting for a clearer response from the Taliban regarding negotiations with the Afghan government before meeting with the group. 

Jan Eliasson, the U.N. Deputy Secretary-General, underlined the need for solid cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan at a press conference in Kabul on Tuesday, saying he hoped "that, on both sides, there is a realization of the importance of that bilateral relationship."and cited the importance of finding peaceful solutions through dialogue (Pajhwok).  Eliasson refused to comment on Afghan allegations that Pakistan is aiding militants, and said the new Pakistani government would initiate the next steps to deal with common threats to the neighboring countries. 

Artsly

Pakistani brothers Muhammad Huzaifa and Muhammad Jehanzaib have launched a new smartphone app called "Artsly," which is designed to allow users to view and share videos of lessons in cooking, do-it-yourself crafts, music, painting, and photography (ET). The brothers’ first app, an education platform called iKnowl, failed six months after its release, but the duo has not been deterred; they are currently working on apps for Android and OS devices.

— Jennifer Rowland and Bailey Cahall 

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