KABUL: Pakistan came out with a stout denial to Afghan claims on Sunday that the assassin of ex-Afghan president and peace envoy Burhanuddin Rabbani was a Pakistani born in Chaman.
“Evidence shows that Rabbani’s death last month “was plotted in Quetta and the person who carried out the suicide attack against Rabbani was a citizen of Pakistan,” a statement from Afghanistan’s presidential palace said, citing investigators. It added that the killer had been living in Chaman.
(Read: Death in Kabul)
Rabbani, chairman of the High Peace Council, was killed on September 20. Karzai’s government has been struggling to start talks with the Taliban in a bid to end the 10-year insurgency in Afghanistan but has made no meaningful progress. His spokesman Siamak Herawi said on Sunday that the president was reviewing his peace strategy, adding that he would reveal next steps “very soon”.
Afghan Interior Minister Bismillah Mohammadi, giving testimony in parliament on Saturday, alleged that the Inter-Services Intelligence played a role in the killing.
Islamabad strongly rejected “the baseless allegations”, calling Burhanuddin Rabbani a “martyr” and “a great friend” who lived in Pakistan for a long time and had many friends here. Lutfullah Mashal, a spokesperson for the Afghan spy agency, said on Saturday that the administration had handed Pakistan’s embassy evidence, including names and addresses of the people in Quetta, who had plotted Rabbani’s killing.
“The so-called evidence given to Pakistan’s Embassy in Kabul is actually a confessional statement of an Afghan national, Hamidullah Akundzadeh, accused of masterminding the assassination,” said a statement issued by the Foreign Office. However, it added that the authority concerned would work on this piece of information. “The Afghan interior minister did not say that the assassin had been four days in the guest house of the High Peace Council managed by Afghans close to Rabbani”, the statement added.
(Read: Afghanistan after Rabbani)
“The assassin was also apparently not body searched before the meeting. These facts are also part of the confession handed over to the embassy”. It also said that “the interior minister’s statement is all the more regrettable as Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had himself offered cooperation in the investigation, during his visit to Kabul”. “Instead of making such irresponsible statements, those in positions of authority in Kabul, should seriously deliberate as to why all those Afghans who are favourably disposed towards peace and towards Pakistan are systematically being removed from the scene and killed,” the statement added.
Rally in Kabul
On Sunday, hundreds of Afghans took to the streets of Kabul to condemn recent shelling of border towns by Pakistan Army and accusing the ISI of involvement in Rabbani’s assassination. Under tight security, the one-hour rally passed without any incidents.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 3rd, 2011.