Pakistan: The month saw Pakistan’s political class firmly in election mode with the usual cut and thrust associated with the weeks before polling. Caretaker governments were sworn in at the centre and the provinces. A former chief Justice Nasirul Mulk took oath on 1st June as caretaker prime minister along with a skeleton cabinet. A wider context is that this is the third continuous national assembly in Pakistan’s history that has completed its regular term. On the other hand, its tenure was frequently rocked by civil military turbulence and like its two predecessor assemblies continuity in the tenure of the prime minister could not be ensured.
After a long period of a frozen situation in India Pakistan relations with frequent clashes on the LOC, a telecon between the respective Director General of Military Operations with a reiteration of the need to uphold the 2003 ceasefire suggested a thaw. That this had largely coincided with the government decision of suspension of operations during Ramadan in J and K also suggested that a wider policy change may be afoot. Post Ramazan developments in J and K have however now suggest otherwise. The UN Human Rights Commissioner report on J and K coincides with this period and gets therefore greater amplification.
Afghanistan: Terrorist attacks and clashes with the Taliban in different parts of Afghanistan continued the trend of the past months of a deteriorating internal security situation and the failure of all political efforts to address this. Change however came on the 7th June with the government of Afghanistan announcing a unilateral ceasefire with the Taliban until June 20- broadly coinciding with the second half of Ramadan and Eid. What was unusual was that the Taliban reciprocated and also announced a three-day halt in hostilities against the country's security forces -its first ceasefire in Afghanistan since 2001. There were attacks that disrupted the ceasefire yet the development itself was novel enough to hold attention. Post Eid the Government extended the ceasefire for a further period without any reciprocal decision emerging from the Taliban.
The ceasefire howsoever temporary and the fraternization that accompanied it is a significant development in itself. The overall context is also important since at around this time a major TTP leader was killed in a US drone strike in Afghanistan. These steps together suggest a overall improvement in regional atmospherics especially when compared to the past few months.
June 25, 2018