ISLAMABAD: Pakistan informed the Afghan government on Thursday that no “technical traces” of telephonic contacts between the Kabul university attackers and people on its side of the border could be found, and sought more evidence.
This was conveyed during a telephonic conversation between Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif, according to a security source.
President Ghani had called Gen Sharif to ask Pakistan for action against the attackers’ accomplices. The conversation took place as US Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Olson, Special Assistant to the US President Dr Peter Lavoy and Commander of Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan Gen John Nicholson visited Islamabad, where they held meetings at the General Headquarters and Foreign Office.
At least 13 people were killed and another 45 injured in the attack on American University of Afghanistan in Kabul that started on Wednesday evening and continued for over 10 hours.
The Afghan government shared three mobile phone numbers allegedly operating on the Pakistani side of the border, which it claimed had remained in contact with the attackers. Subsequently, the Pakistan Army initiated a combing operation along the Pak-Afghan border near Chaman to find the suspected persons.
“We searched, but no-one was found during the operation,” the security source said.
The ISPR in a statement, meanwhile, said: “Our evaluation of the evidence provided and outcome of Combing Operation so far, has shown that all Afghan SIMs used during the attack were from a network owned and operated by an Afghan company whose spillover signal affects some areas along the Pak-Afghan border.”
Pakistani intelligence agencies are, however, continuing with the evaluation of the intelligence shared by Afghanistan after the attack.
Absence of an operational intelligence-sharing mechanism between the two countries makes such cooperation between the two countries complicated.
There have been several attempts to establish intelligence sharing arrangement, but all efforts have been unsuccessful because of Afghan intelligence agency NDS’ opposition to it. Pakistani intelligence agency ISI and NDS last year signed a cooperation agreement, but it was scuttled by the Afghan side.
Gen Sharif assured President Ghani of “all-out cooperation” in investigating the role of Pakistan-based elements in the attack, but stressed that it could happen only after Afghans provide “more information”.
The Foreign Office had earlier in a statement condemned the attack.
“Pakistan strongly condemns the terrorist attack at the American University in Kabul. …We extend our profound condolences to the government and the people of Afghanistan and the families of those who lost their loved ones in this brutal terrorist attack.… Pakistan reiterates its condemnation of terrorism in all forms and manifestations,” the statement had said.
Dr Lavoy in his meeting with Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry, according to the FO, appreciated Pakistan’s outreach to Afghanistan and efforts aimed at securing peace and stability in Afghanistan.
The visit by Dr Lavoy and other US officials was said to be a part of regular Pak-US high-level exchanges.
Mr Chaudhry reiterated the resolve of the Pakistani leadership to not allow anyone to use Pakistan’s soil against any country.
The US delegation in its meeting with Gen Sharif discussed regional security issues and border management mechanism along the Pak-Afghanistan border.
Published in Dawn, August 26th, 2016