Karzai claims spy chief bomber came from Pakistan, Islamabad demands proof

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Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s contention that the suicide attack which injured Afghanistan’s intelligence chief Asadullah Khalid had been planned in Pakistan was quickly contested by Islamabad on Saturday, with the Foreign Office saying that Kabul should first investigate the security lapse which led to the unfortunate incident.
Karzai alleged that the assassination attempt on Khalid was planned in Pakistan, but vowed it would not stop him from seeking Islamabad’s help in coaxing militants to the negotiating table. The attack, carried out by a suicide bomber posing as a peace messenger, severely wounded Khalid, dealing a setback to fragile efforts to reconcile with the Taliban and find a political resolution to the war in Afghanistan, now in its 12th year.
Karzai did not provide any evidence to back up his claim that the attack on Khalid was organised in Pakistan, and he was careful not to accuse Islamabad of having any role in Thursday’s suicide blast. But he stressed that he would raise the issue with high-ranking Pakistani officials. “We will be seeking a lot of clarifications from Pakistan because we know that this man who came there in the name of a guest to meet with Asadullah Khalid came from Pakistan,” Karzai said. “We know that for a fact.”
Karzai said Khalid, the head of the National Directorate of Security, was recovering from wounds to his torso and lower body after the bomber detonated explosives that he had hidden inside his body. The Afghan intelligence agency said earlier that the explosives were hidden in the bomber’s underwear.
Karzai described the attack as “a very sophisticated and complicated act by a professional intelligence service.”
“Where is this intelligence service? Is it in our neighbourhood, or somewhere else? We need to find out,” he said. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack on Khalid — the fifth attempt on his life in as many years. In Islamabad, the Foreign Office was quick to react to the allegations.
“Before levelling charges, the Afghan government would do well if they shared information or evidence with the Government of Pakistan that they might have with regard to the cowardly attack on the head of NDS,” said FO Spokesman Moazzam Khan in a statement. “They would also do well by ordering an investigation into any lapses in the security arrangements around the NDS chief,” he said, adding that “On its part the Government of Pakistan is ready to assist any investigation of this criminal act.”
The blast was reminiscent of the September 2011 assassination of former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, who at the time was the leader of a government-appointed peace council. In that attack, an insurgent posing as a Taliban peace envoy detonated a bomb hidden in his turban as he met Rabbani at his Kabul home. Afghan officials have said that the Rabbani killing was planned in the Pakistani city of Quetta.
Despite his claims that the attack was planned in Pakistan, Karzai said it would not deter him from pursuing dialogue with Pakistan on the peace process, and he reiterated his request for Islamabad to release Afghan Taliban figures who have expressed an interest in reconciliation with his government.
Karzai said it was the third attack on key Afghan figures that came after his government appeared to be gaining traction on peace efforts. In July 2011, Karzai’s half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, was gunned down by a close associate in Kandahar, the largest Afghan city in the south. Karzai said progress also was being made around the time that Rabbani was killed, and the attack on Khalid came just a few weeks after Pakistan agreed to release at least nine Taliban prisoners at the request of the Afghan government to help jumpstart the peace process. The decision to release the Taliban prisoners was the most encouraging sign yet that Islamabad is willing to play a constructive role in peace efforts that have made little headway since they began some four years ago. Karzai said he knows that some Afghans will blame Pakistan for the latest attack, but he cautioned his countrymen, saying “it is not right to point a finger at Pakistan” and that “we need to be very careful and find the reality and facts.”