Sunday | January 22, 2017
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Karzai: Suicide bombing planned in Pakistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — President Hamid Karzai said Saturday the suicide bombing that seriously wounded his nation’s spy chief was planned in Pakistan, an accusation that further strained relations between the neighboring countries.

Karzai did not directly accuse the Pakistani government. He told reporters at the presidential palace that he intended to raise the issue with Pakistan.

Afghan officials often accuse Pakistan of meddling by supporting the Taliban and attempting to undercut the U.S.-backed government in Kabul. The Afghan intelligence chief, Asadullah Khalid, is a fierce critic of Pakistan.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry issued a short statement Saturday brushing aside any suggestion of involvement by Pakistan’s intelligence community in the attack.

“Before leveling charges, the Afghan government would do well if they shared information or evidence with the government of Pakistan that they may have with regard to the cowardly act” against Khalid, the statement said. “They would also do well by ordering an investigation of any lapses in the security arrangements around the (intelligence) chief. On its part, the government of Pakistan is ready to assist in any investigation of this criminal act.”

Khalid was wounded by a suicide bomber posing as a Taliban emissary seeking to discuss the faltering peace dialogue between the Kabul government and the insurgent group.

The attack, which Karzai called “a very sophisticated and complicated act by a professional intelligence service,” was carried out at a guesthouse of the spy agency, the National Directorate of Security, in Kabul.

“Where is this intelligence service?” Karzai asked. “Is it in our neighborhood or somewhere else? We need to find out.”

Afghan officials often refer to “neighbors” when seeking to blame Pakistan.

“We will be seeking clarifications from Pakistan because we know that this man who came in the name of a guest to meet with Asadullah Khalid came from Pakistan,” Karzai said. “We know that for a fact.”

Karzai offered no evidence for the statement.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Karzai said the insurgents could not have pulled off the bombing on their own.

The Kabul bombing was similar to a September 2011 attack, claimed by the Taliban, that killed former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani and four other members of the government-backed High Peace Council seeking negotiations with the Taliban.

Karzai’s accusations against Pakistan come as the Kabul government is attempting peace negotiations with the Taliban. Pakistan signaled last month that it would support the process, releasing 13 Taliban leaders it had jailed.

Pakistani officials have said they would consider releasing Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the No. 2 Afghan Taliban leader. On Saturday, Karzai demanded Baradar’s release as a way for Pakistan to prove its commitment to what he called “a real and genuine peace process.”

Afghan officials have said they expect Khalid to recover. Gen. John R. Allen, commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, visited the spy chief Friday after he was transferred to a U.S. military medical facility at Bagram air base.