WASHINGTON: The Haqqani network has moved to Afghanistan and Afghan officials should focus on tackling them within their territory instead of blaming Pakistan, said Ambassador Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhary while rejecting Kabul’s claim that a Pakistan-based terrorist group was responsible for Wednesday’s massive bombing in the Afghan capital.
Immediately after the attack, Afghan intelligence officials claimed that a suicide bomber from the Haqqani network drove an explosives-laden sewage tanker into Kabul’s diplomatic enclave and detonated it near the German embassy. The blast, one of the worst in Kabul’s recent history, killed 90 people and injured more than 400.
The Afghan National Directorate of Security also claimed that the Haqqani network enjoyed Pakistan’s support and was still operating from its hideouts in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). The US media also carried these allegations.
But in an interview with editors and reporters at The Washington Times, the Pakistani ambassador to the US rejected these accusations as baseless.
Pakistan rejects Afghan allegations of its involvement in Kabul bomb blast
He said Pakistan had carried out large-scale counterterrorism offensive in North Waziristan and other tribal areas, uprooting all terrorist groups hiding there.
The Haqqani network “is on the run, as far as we are concerned”, Mr Chaudhry said. “They have moved into Afghanistan and need to be taken care of there.”
The ambassador also said that “scapegoating Pakistan for failures in Afghanistan will not help” improve the security situation in either country. “It is too simplistic to say all of these [problems] are because of Pakistan…,” he added.
“It is outright barbaric terrorism, and we should condemn it with all the might that we have,” he said. The attack should serve to “strengthen our resolve” to work with Kabul on counterterrorism operations, he added.
Mr Chaudhry pointed out that only Afghan intelligence officials had linked the Haqqanis to Wednesday’s blast, and the government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had yet to endorse the findings.
He also questioned how Afghan intelligence officials were able to determine responsibility for the strike so quickly. “If you were so good, that within seconds [of the attack] you can know who did it, then you should have also known when they were coming,” he said.
Soon after the bombing, the Trump administration assured the Afghan government that such attacks could not deter Washington’s “unwavering support” to Kabul.
US President Donald Trump telephoned his Afghan counterpart Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday evening and told him that those who carried out the attack were “enemies of all civilised peoples”.
Published in Dawn, June 3rd, 2017