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Government ties killing of ex-president to Pakistan
Evidence on plotters given to Islamabad
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.
“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.
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.
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.
Pakistani officials deny any role in the attacks, as well as in Rabbani’s assassination.
Pakistani analysts say the media in Pakistan has fueled tensions with the U.S.
“When you put on the TV, it seems we’re about to go to war,” said Ayesha Siddiqa, an Islamabad-based political analyst and columnist.
The war of words between Washington and Islamabad has strengthened the hands of the hard-liners in Pakistan.
“The rhetoric from the U.S. has ignited similar rhetoric on the Pakistani side and this has weakened the hands of anyone who wants to talk peace with the U.S.,” Ms. Siddiqa said.
Last week, Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper published a photograph of President Ronald Reagan with a bearded White House guest who the paper erroneously identified as Jalaluddin Haqqani, the Haqqani Network leader. The photograph accompanied an article with the headline: “U.S. will suffer if it tries to attack Waziristan, says Haqqani.”
The man in the photograph was in fact Mohammad Younis Khalis, a senior Afghan mujahedeen commander. Khalis died in 2006.
Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington, Husain Haqqani, himself a former journalist, highlighted the error in a post on his Twitter feed.
“Our media are the deep state’s hand maidens and tend to be even more loyal than the king,” he said.
A Pakistani official in Islamabad, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, described the media coverage as worrisome.
Despite escalating pressure from the U.S., few believe Pakistan will sever links to the Haqqanis.
Mr. Shafi said there is lot of soul-searching in Pakistan about its relationship with terrorists, but at the end of the day these ties are likely to remain intact. The ISI and Pakistan’s military see these groups as proxies that safeguard their interests in the region.
“I don’t think our deep state is in the mood right now to roll back these associations because they think American withdrawal [from Afghanistan] is imminent and they want to be in a position to control Afghanistan,” he said.
The Islamabad-based Pakistani official appeared to confirm this belief.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.
Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.
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