Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar blamed Afghan refugees for the murder of the Kabul government’s peace envoy Burhanuddin Rabbani, officials said Wednesday.
Rabbani’s assassination in September by a turban bomber who purported to be a peace envoy for the Taliban derailed efforts to talk peace with the militants and postponed any hopes of a political settlement ending 10 years of war.
Afghan officials lashed out at Islamabad over the killing, saying it was planned in Pakistan and carried out by a Pakistani suicide bomber.
But Khar told the upper house of parliament late Tuesday that Afghan refugees living in Pakistan were responsible.
“We are not responsible if Afghan refugees crossed the border and entered Kabul, stayed in a guest house and attacked Professor Rabbani,” officials quoted Khar as telling the Senate.
Pakistan is under huge international pressure to take action against militants based in Pakistan but who carry out attacks in Afghanistan.
A senior Pakistani official told AFP that the presence of Afghan refugees was “an important issue for Pakistan” and “a problem for Afghanistan”.
“We don’t want to forcibly expel them. We are trying to resolve this issue in a negotiated manner because more than 90 percent of terrorist attacks in Pakistan trace back to Afghan refugees.”
Last month, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari agreed to cooperate with an investigation into Rabbani’s murder in a bid to overcome tensions and recriminations.
Millions of Afghans who fled decades of war returned home after Karzai took power, but around 1.7 million still live in Pakistan.