Leader of the Awami National Party Asfandyar Wali Khan claimed on Tuesday that the assassin of Afghan peace envoy Burhanuddin Rabbani belonged to an Afghan refugee camp in Balochistan.
“I can confirm that the assassin of Burhanuddin Rabbani came from an Afghan muhajirin camp in Balochistan,” said the ANP leader in an interview with Express News’ “Pakistan Poochta Hain”.
This was Khan’s first exclusive interview in almost a year and will be aired today (Wednesday) at 7:05 pm.
Burhanuddin, also the former Afghan president, was assassinated by a turban bomber at his Kabul home in September. Afghanistan blamed the Pakistan-based ‘Quetta Shura’ for the murder. However, on December 13, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said that Afghan refugees were behind Burhanuddin’s killing, while declining to give details.
Asfandyar further said that one of the sons of Jalaluddin Haqqani, leader of the Haqqani network, lives in Rawalpindi.
“We are in touch with the Taliban in Fata for negotiations. We will negotiate with those who are driven by ideology and who have no political agenda,” he added.
When asked about the army’s strategic depth in Afghanistan, the ANP chief asked, rhetorically, that if there was a concept of strategic depth would there have been an operation in Swat and Bajaur, and would so many troops have been killed.
Asfandyar, whose party is an ally of the Pakistan Peoples Party-led government, denied any clash between civil and military forces and was quick to defend Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s statements, seemingly criticising the military.
The Memogate controversy, a case currently being heard in the Supreme Court, has heated up tensions between the government and the military.
Defence Secretary Naeem Khalid Lodhi, in his reply to the apex court, said the government did not have ‘operational control’ over the army and the ISI.
In response, the prime minister struck a defiant note, saying his government would not accept a ‘state within [a] state,’ in a blunt reference to the military.
However, Asfandyar insisted that the incident was a ‘misunderstanding’.
“The prime minister actually just lashed out at the defence secretary, who told the parliamentary committee that he did not take the defence minister’s permission for presenting his affidavit. He had to go through the law ministry to present the affidavit, which he did not do,” said the ANP chief. “The PM then made those statements, and a misunderstanding, thus, arose.”
Asked whether a clash was imminent, he replied in the negative.
He added that in his meeting with the prime minister and the president before the statement, they all agreed on one thing: A clash between institutions will only cause destruction.
The ANP chief also ruled out the possibility of a military takeover.
Asked about his party member, Bushra Gohar’s statement that if Haqqani resigned so should DG ISI Ahmed Shuja Pasha, he said: “DG ISI should not resign. Husain Haqqani is an honourable man. He said he was implicated in the case and therefore handed in his resignation.”
The ANP chief was also asked about another party member, Haji Ghulam Ahmad Bilour and his ‘terrible’ performance as the Railways Minister.
Asfandyar replied diplomatically: “Mr Bilour’s performance in the ministry will be taken up and discussed within the party.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 28th, 2011.
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