ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said elements of the Afghan government are probably supporting a senior Pakistani Taliban leader who is fighting to topple the Islamabad government, accusations which could further raise tensions over cross-border raids by militants.
Pakistani officials say the Taliban commander Fazlullah has been orchestrating raids on Pakistani security forces from Afghanistan, where he fled several years ago after a Pakistan Army offensive against his stronghold in Swat.
Pakistan has repeatedly called on Afghanistan to hunt down Fazlullah, whose fighters cross the border in their hundreds, set up ambushes and attack army checkpoints. “If somebody is living in somebody’s house and you ask him ‘who is giving you food, who is giving you all this shelter?’ You know he is in Afghanistan,” Rehman Malik said in an interview.
“I think some of the elements of the Afghan government are supporters. Maybe state actors, maybe non-state actors.”
Afghan officials see Pakistan’s suggestion that Afghans are supporting cross-border attacks as an attempt to distract attention from what they say is Pakistan supporting Afghanistan’s Taliban movement and other insurgents.
Malik provided no evidence to support his assertion that elements within Afghanistan were supporting Fazlullah, nor did he give further details.
“These comments made by Rehman Malik are irresponsible and a baseless allegation,” said Afghan interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi. “Afghanistan has been under attacks from safe havens of insurgents inside Pakistan, and we are quite sure that Mullah Fazlullah is somewhere in Pakistan.”
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Sunday he accepted parliament’s decision to dismiss the country’s two top security ministers for failing to stop cross-border shelling blamed on Pakistan, in what could be a blow to Nato plans to hand over security responsibilities to Afghan forces.
The fractious parliament voted on Saturday to remove Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and Interior Minister Bismillah Mohammadi over a series of recent insurgent assassinations of top officials, as well as the cross-border fire incidents.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2012.