ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday rejected as baseless fresh allegations levelled by a top Afghan official that the country’s premier intelligence agency is harbouring the Taliban and al Qaeda.
“The remarks contain nothing new but a rehash of hackneyed and baseless allegations against Pakistan and its security agencies,” Foreign Office spokesperson Abdul Basit said in response to the remarks made by Afghan National Security Adviser Rangin Dadfar Spanta.
In an article published in The Washington Post, Spanta said the world is committing a blunder by embracing Pakistan as a strategic partner despite the fact that terrorism emanating from the region is affecting India, Britain and other countries.
“Pakistan continues to provide sanctuary and support to the (Taliban’s) Quetta Shura, the Haqqani network, the Hekmatyar group and al Qaeda,” he wrote.
Unfortunately, the military-intelligence establishment of one of our neighbours still regards Afghanistan as its sphere of influence, Spanta added.
“These were his personal views and not in consonance with the excellent mutual understanding and cooperation that exists between Pakistan and Afghanistan in the ongoing fight against terrorism,” the Foreign Office spokesperson said.
Basit vowed that his country would not be distracted by such unfair remarks and would continue working with Afghanistan and the international community to eliminate militancy and terrorism.
Spanta’s remarks came as The New York Times quoted unnamed officials as claiming that Pakistan’s top spy agency — the ISI — sabotaged the secret talks between the Karzai government and the Taliban while using the CIA to capture Taliban’s operational commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
Baradar, arrested from Karachi seven months ago, was believed to be conducting secret talks with the Karzai government that excluded Pakistan.
The timing of Spanta’s statement is also significant as Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmay Rasul began a three-day visit to India.
Reports from New Delhi suggest that the Afghan foreign minister will discuss with the Indian leadership ways to battle the common threat allegedly emanating from Pakistan.
Commenting on the Afghan allegations, the US State Department said the extremist threat can be effectively dealt with through actions on both sides of the restive Afghan border. “In fact, we have encouraged Pakistan to take decisive action to deal with the threat within its borders. We are satisfied with the steps that Pakistan has taken thus far. And obviously, the offensive that Pakistan has started needs to continue,” the State Department spokesman Philip J Crowley said.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 25th, 2010.