Afghanistan’s top diplomat in Pakistan says that members of a commission investigating last month’s assassination of the chief Afghan peace negotiator will visit Islamabad within a ‘few days’ to seek Pakistan help in investigations.
Afghan government officials, including the interior minister, have blamed Pakistan’s top military spy agency for plotting the killing of Burhanuddin Rabbani, the head of the Afghan High Peace Council, which was tasked to make peace with the Taliban.
Rabbani was killed by a turban bomber at his residence in the upscale Wazir Akbar Khan neighbourhood of Kabul on September 20. The Taliban had immediately claimed responsibility for the killing, only to disown it a day later.
“There were some ‘technical problems’ which have been addressed. And now a team of the Afghan inquiry commission will reach Islamabad within a few days,” Afghan Ambassador Omar Daudzai told The Express Tribune in an exclusive interview. However, he did not specify the ‘technical problems.’
Headed by Defence Minister General Abdul Rahim Wardak, the Afghan inquiry commission includes the interior minister, heads of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) and National Security Council and the country’s attorney-general.
NDS spokesperson Lutfullah Mashal had told The Express Tribune in an earlier interview that they had handed Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul ‘evidence’ indicating that Pakistan-based Quetta Shura was behind Rabbani’s killing. Afghan officials, then, claimed that the Pakistani mission had refused to cooperate with them.
But Islamabad said that the so-called ‘evidence’ was based on a confessional statement of a man in Afghan custody whom they call the ‘mastermind.’
Ambassador Daudzai admitted that there was some ‘misunderstanding’ between the Afghan officials and Pakistan’s embassy, which has been removed. “Pakistani officials have personally assured me that they will extend every possible help in investigating Rabbani’s killing,” he added. “They have also agreed to discuss all aspects of the incident with the Afghan inquiry commission.”
Ambassador Daudzai quashed the impression that relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have broken down following the killing of Rabbani. “Afghan Finance Minister Omar Zakhelwal will arrive in Islamabad on October 12 to attend the Pak-Afghan Joint Economic Commission meeting,” he added.
He also confirmed his meeting with Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani but tried to play it down. “It was a routine meeting which takes place occasionally,” he said.
Ambassador Daudzai, who is close to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, will brief senior Afghan leaders about his talks with the Pakistani officials.
Sources said that Pakistan has conveyed to the Afghan ambassador, though not officially, its concerns over the Indo-Afghan strategic partnership’ agreement which was signed during President Karzai’s recent trip to India.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2011.
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