Charsadda attack: Kabul asked to help nail mastermind

Published: January 22, 2016
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PHOTO: AFP

PHOTO: AFP

PHOTO: AFP Army personnel gather outside the Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, where an attack by militants took place, on January 20, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS Army chief Gen Raheel Sharif. PHOTO: FILE
ISLAMABAD: 

As families buried the last of the 21 people killed by terrorists in the deadly assault on the Bacha Khan University, Pakistan on Thursday demanded swift action against the attack’s mastermind after initial investigations confirmed that it had been orchestrated from across the border.

Army chief Gen Raheel Sharif telephoned Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah and Commander Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan General John Campbell to share details of Pakistani investigations.

At least 21 people, mostly students, were killed and 35 others were injured when four terrorists stormed the university in Charsadda in a brazen attack that was reminiscent of December 2014 Army Public School massacre. The damage was far less this time due to prompt action by security forces.

Breakthrough achieved in identifying Charsadda attackers: DG ISPR

According to the military’s chief spokesperson Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, the army chief informed Afghan leadership and the US general that investigations and leads indicated that the attack had been controlled from Afghanistan by a TTP (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan) operative.

“As investigations and leads indicate so far, the Charsadda terror attack was being controlled from a location in Afghanistan through Afghan cell phone by a TTP operative,” the director-general of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.

“COAS asked for their (Afghan leaders’ and Resolute Support Commander) cooperation in locating and targeting those responsible for this heinous act (attack on Bacha Khan University) and bring them to justice.”

A splinter group of the outlawed TTP, which was behind the APS massacre, had claimed responsibility for the Bacha Khan University attack in a Facebook post. However, the fugitive leadership of the umbrella group denied involvement.

The splinter group’s chief, Umar Mansoor, is believed to have fled to neighbouring Afghanistan in 2014 when the military had launched a full-scale ground offensive against militant hideouts in the tribal areas.

Pakistan has long been seeking action against what it calls ‘terrorist sanctuaries’ of TTP on Afghan soil, especially the group’s leader Mullah Fazlullah, who had been blamed for orchestrating the APS attack.

Kabul has promised to eliminate terrorist safe havens but officials here said little action has been taken in this regard.

But relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have remained fragile in recent months as the two sides blamed each other for lack of cooperation to fight terrorism.

Last month, the Army Chief visited Kabul and both countries agreed to take a number of steps including setting up of a hotline between the senior military officials of the two countries to jointly tackle the problem of terrorism.

Wait for investigations to complete

At the weekly briefing on Thursday, Foreign Office Spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah strongly condemned the terrorist attack on Bacha Khan University, but advised caution over pointing fingers prematurely.

“We need to wait for completion of investigations before blaming anyone.”

Asked about what role Islamabad had played in asking Kabul to hand over terrorists or take action against terror sanctuaries on its soil, Khalilullah maintained that Pakistan’s civil and military authorities have maintained contacts with authorities in Afghanistan.

Too early to say who’s behind Charsadda attack: FO

“During the early part of December 2015, Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process Ministerial Meeting was hosted by Pakistan. As Afghan leadership was here [in Islamabad] on that occasion, all issues of mutual interest and concern were discussed with them.”

Khalilullah added that when authorities of Pakistan and Afghanistan meet, they discuss all issues of mutual concern.

He reiterated that the Middle Eastern extremist organistaion Islamic State, commonly known for its Arabic acronym Da’ish, has no organised presence in Pakistan

Published in The Express Tribune, January 22nd,  2016.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • Manoj
    Jan 22, 2016 - 1:25PM

    Fail to understand, why army chief of one country is talking directly to head of state of other country.Recommend

  • Hameed
    Jan 22, 2016 - 2:55PM

    I don’t think Afghanistan government is involved in any way. However, Afghanistan should still tell Pakistan to negotiate with the Taliban just like Pakistan always tells Afghanistan to do. Two can play this game.Recommend

  • jerry
    Jan 22, 2016 - 10:18PM

    Pakistan Government should declare the policy of going after TTP and who else involved, into Afghan territory and hit them. It should tell Afghans in a very clear term that, enough is enough. TTP sanctuaries will be hit via drones or F-16s no matter where they are in Pakistan or Afghanistan.Recommend

  • Jerry
    Jan 23, 2016 - 1:59AM

    @Hameed: You are right, it is not Afghan government who is involved. It is the Indian Government that is financing and arming TTP through their a number of consultates along border of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Hameed
    Jan 23, 2016 - 2:25AM

    @jerry:

    Pakistan Government should declare the policy of going after TTP and who else involved, into Afghan territory and hit them.

    India should also be allowed under this policy to come after those sought from Pakistan for terrorist acts in India.

    Oops..Recommend

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