Pakistan / by Alistair Galloway

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Pakistan not to execute Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian citizen, on charges of espionage until the Court is able to investigate the case further. India summoned Pakistan’s ambassador to demand Pakistan take action over the alleged killing and mutilation of two Indian soldiers by Pakistani special forces on 1 May. Pakistan denied the claim. Prime Minister Sharif travelled to Beijing to attend the Chinese One Belt, One Road (OBOR) Forum. Pakistan and China signed agreements amounting to $500 million extra Chinese investment in Pakistan at the forum. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told Sharif that China hopes Pakistan will improve its efforts in protecting and ensuring the safety of Chinese personnel and assets relating the CPEC in Pakistan after unknown gunmen killed 10 construction workers in the port city of Gwadar who were working on linking the surrounding area to the port that will form a key hub of CPEC. Prime Minister Sharif and former Pakistani Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) Raheel Sharif were not given an opportunity to speak at the 2017 Riyadh Summit. The Saudis and United States (US) President Donald Trump appeared to dominate the Summit. King Salman apologised to the participants who were not able to address the summit. Sartaj Aziz, Prime Minister Sharif’s foreign affairs adviser, wrote to the United Nations (UN) claiming that India is attempting to change Kashmir’s demographic by converting the Muslim majority in Kashmir into a minority. Pakistani and Afghani troops exchanged fire along their border on 5 May, leading Pakistan to close the Chaman border crossing. At least 15 people were killed in the fighting. Further clashes occurred on 7 May, with the Pakistan army claiming it had destroyed five Afghan checkpoints near the border resulting in at least 50 Afghan and 2 Pakistani deaths. Pakistan later reopened the Chaman border crossing with Afghanistan citing the decision to be based on humanitarian grounds. A roadside bomb outside a girls’ school in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province injured 4 people on 8 May. Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for a suicide attack that left 25 people dead in the province of Balochistan on 12 May. On 20 May assailants threw grenades at a school and four homes in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province resulting in 15 people being injured. Also on 20 May 4 policemen were killed when their vehicle, returning from an operation in the Kamal Khel area, was rushed by militants from Jamaat-ul-Ahrar. In a third attack on 20 May, 2 members of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi riding motorcycles opened fire on a police van in Karachi, killing 2 policemen and injuring another. On 22 May a roadside bomb killed 5 volunteers from a government-backed militia in the Tirah Valley. Pakistani military courts convicted and hanged 6 men for being members of the Pakistan Taliban, 2 of whom were involved in the 2014 Peshawar school massacre. The Indian army destroyed multiple Pakistani army posts on 9 May claiming they were being used to help militants cross the LoC and stating that it was retaliation for the beheading of two Indian soldiers on 1 May. Pakistani and Indian troops shelled one another on 13 May resulting in the deaths of 2 Indian civilians. Pakistani officials claimed that UN military observers were fired on by Indian troops but were not hurt. Pakistani jets reportedly violated Indian air space and were swiftly escorted out. Indian officials disputed this claim, however, stating that the jets had merely flown near to the Siachen Glacier. On 28 May, Indian and Pakistani forces exchanged fire once more, resulting in the death of an Indian army porter. An Iranian delegation visited Pakistan on 3 May to press Pakistan to capture and punish Jaish-al-Adl militants who had killed 10 Iranian border guards on 26 April before fleeing to the Pakistani side of the border. On 8 May the head of the Iranian armed forces stated that if Pakistan fails to stop the terrorists and capture the perpetrators then the Iranian armed forces will attack safe havens within Pakistan. On 21 and 27 May mortar shells fired from Iran landed in Balochistan Province resulting one Pakistani civilian death. Protests erupted across Pakistan as electricity shortages left 100 000s of people without power resulting in 1 person dying after police opened fire on protesters. Pakistan welcomed $15 billion of Chinese investment in 12 new coal-fired power plants as part of their plan to boost energy generating capacity. Pakistan and Japan signed a $24m agreement for the implementation of the second phase of the Islamabad-Buchanan Transmission Line Reinforcement project. Pakistan’s Finance Minister presented a $50 billion budget for 2017-18 marking a 4.3 per cent increase in government spending. The budget promises a 7 per cent increase in military spending, a growth rate of 6 per cent, inflation to be kept below 6 per cent over the next year, and the fiscal deficit being reduced from 4.2 per cent to 4.1 per cent. The budget set $20 billion aside for development across the country and gave the corporate sector a 30 per cent tax cut. The World Bank (WB) forecast Pakistan’s growth in 2017 to climb to 5.2 per cent, 5.5 per cent in FY18 and 5.8 per cent in FY19. Pakistan’s economy surpassed $300 billion on 18 May. The private sectors of Pakistan and Scotland formed a joint business council (JBC) to enhance trade between the two countries. The Chairman of the Pakistan-Scotland Business Council, stated that the JBC would further cement trade relations with Pakistan during a time when Brexit has provided the United Kingdom (UK), and so Scotland, an opportunity to develop greater ties with the Commonwealth.