- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 2, 2011

The assassination of Afghanistan’s former president was plotted in Pakistan, the government said Sunday, increasing pressure on its neighbor that already is facing heat from the Obama administration about its ties to recent terrorist attacks.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s office said it had handed over evidence and information on the plotters to the Pakistani government.

“Documents and evidence together with the biography, address and phone numbers of suspects involved in the incident have been submitted to the government of Pakistan in order to arrest and hand [suspects] over,” Mr. Karzai’s office said, citing a special commission investigation into former President Burhanuddin Rabbani’s death.

It said the attack was plotted in the Pakistani city Quetta and carried out by a Pakistani citizen. The Pakistani Taliban’s top leaders are based in Quetta.

An Afghan official in Kabul, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject, said “evidence” of Pakistan’s role in the attack was provided by a senior Taliban official Hamidullah Akhund, who was arrested after Rabbani’s assassination.

The Afghan official said Mr. Akhund “directed the terrorists to Kabul.” He didn’t attend the meeting with Rabbani.

On Saturday, Afghan Interior Minister Bismullah Khan Mohammadi told parliament in Kabul that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency had a role in Rabbani’s assassination.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry described the accusation as “baseless allegations.”

“Instead of making such irresponsible statements, those in positions of authority in Kabul should seriously deliberate as to why all those Afghans who are favorably disposed toward peace and toward Pakistan are systematically being removed from the scene and killed,” Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Rabbani was assassinated Sept. 20 at his home in Kabul’s Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood by a suicide bomber who had concealed a bomb in his turban.

The former president headed the High Peace Council, a government-appointed body that has been tasked with making peace with the Taliban. The process has had negligible success.

Last week, Mr. Karzai described the peace efforts as futile, and said negotiations with Pakistan are key to ending the violence.

In Senate testimony last month, Navy Adm. Michael Mullen, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, accused the ISI of helping terrorists plot and conduct attacks in Afghanistan, including one on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and a NATO base south of the Afghan capital.

U.S. officials say the Haqqani Network of terrorists carried out the attacks, and Adm. Mullen described the terrorist network as a “veritable arm” of the ISI.

Afghan and Western officials say calls from cellphones found on the bodies of the terrorists who attacked the U.S. Embassy on Sept. 13 have been traced to Quetta.

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