May 25, 2024

China, Russia Not Comfortable with US Presence in AfPak Region; Af-Pak Tensions Continue

During the week, the country experienced a reduction in violence with eight militant
attacks resulting in five deaths and two injuries. These attacks occurred in Balochistan (four),
erstwhile FATA (two), KP (one), and Sindh (one), and included three assaults, three targeted
killings, one IED attack, and one grenade attack. Additionally, there were five security force
actions, with the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) reporting that 29 militants were killed in
ongoing operations in the Zhob district along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border since April 21.
On May 20, the Punjab Assembly hastily passed the Punjab Defamation Bill, 2024,
rejecting opposition amendments amid protests from the PTI-backed Sunni Ittehad Council and
journalists. The bill, which establishes a tribunal to handle “fake news” cases with fines up to Rs3
million, was criticized by civil society and media as draconian. The PPP distanced itself from the
bill, and Punjab Governor Sardar Saleem Haider suggested it might be returned for review.
Concurrently, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar announced a special committee to build political
consensus on a Digital Media Authority (DMA), led by Rana Sanaullah.
The military establishment is under increased pressure from the opposition and judiciary,
with incidents like the May 21 attack on PTI’s Raoof Hasan, allegedly by the military. Courts have
shown leniency to PTI leaders, and the judiciary is scrutinizing military influence. The opposition,
including PTI and JUI-F, is planning protests against the establishment. The ruling coalition,
however, supports the military, as seen in Senate debates. This summer could be crucial for the
political landscape.
On May 18, Russian President Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping opposed the reestablishment of US and NATO military infrastructure in Afghanistan, urging responsibility for
Afghanistan’s socio-economic issues. Meanwhile, Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed to a ceasefire
after clashes on the Paktial-Kurram border, mediated by local elders. Despite the ceasefire,
tensions remain, with ISPR blaming Afghanistan for ongoing violence. Pakistani Foreign Minister
Ishaq Dar called for the Taliban to adhere to inclusive politics and prevent terrorist groups from
operating in Afghanistan. Both countries must address these challenges to stabilize relations.

To access the complete security assessment report
(17 – 23 May 2024)

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