KABUL: Afghan President Hamid Karzai pointed his finger towards the banned militant outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi on Wednesday for an unprecedented attack on Shias in Kabul that killed 55 people, demanding justice from the government in Islamabad in a move that is likely to ratchet up tensions between the two countries.
“We will pursue this issue with Pakistan and its government very seriously,” said Karzai as he visited wounded survivors of the attack after cancelling a planned trip to Britain and rushing home from Germany. In response, Pakistan asked Afghanistan to provide evidence to support these accusations.
“Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is a banned organisation. We would encourage Kabul to share with us evidence, if any through official channels,” Foreign Office spokesperson Abdul Basit told AFP by text message.
There have been media reports of a purported claim from Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which is linked to al Qaeda and blamed for carrying out numerous attacks against the Shia community in Pakistan but not thought previously to have attacked within Afghanistan.
“Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is based in Pakistan, therefore the government of Afghanistan with all its strength and international support will pursue this issue, Afghanistan cannot ignore the blood of its children,” Karzai said. His spokesman Aimal Faizi told AFP that Karzai will “demand Pakistan take executive measures... so that justice can be done”.
The US embassy in Kabul confirmed that an American was among those killed on Tuesday, in the Afghan capital where the victims were buried at peaceful mass gatherings with police on standby for violence which failed to materialise.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blasts, which came as the civilians travelled from provincial capital Lashkar Gah to Sangin district, historically one of the most troubled in Afghanistan.
Lashkar Gah was brought under Afghan control in July and three other districts of Helmand are due to shift from Nato to Afghan hands within weeks as part of the phased withdrawal of most Western combat troops.
Officials accuse militants of trying to exacerbate the 10-year war by hitting religious fault lines. Investigators are now trying to find out who was responsible. The Taliban have denied any involvement.
An Afghan official said the bomber who attacked the Kabul shrine was a Pakistani affiliated to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. Officials and experts suggested that if Pakistanis did orchestrate the attacks, then elements in the Afghan Taliban may have helped facilitate them.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 8th, 2011.