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Afghanistan accuses Pakistan of backing militants who attacked Kabul

January 29, 2018

Ag agencies

ISLAMABAD: The Afghan government has accused Pakistan of providing support for the militants who carried out the attack in the Afghan capital Kabul which killed over a hundred people on Saturday.

The Afghan government said the attack was carried out by the Taliban-linked Haqqani network with Pakistani backing, RTE News reported. The bombing, which occurred in a crowded area of the city centre, has also left another 235 people injured, officials said. Islamabad has always denied supporting the Afghan militants.

US President Donald Trump, who last year sent more American troops to Afghanistan and ordered an increase in airstrikes and other assistance to Afghan forces, said the attack "renews our resolve and that of our Afghan partners".

He called for "decisive action" against the Taliban following the attack. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a statement insisted there can be "no tolerance for those who support or offer sanctuary to terrorist groups."

"The Taliban’s use of an ambulance as a weapon to target civilians represents inhumane disregard for the people of Afghanistan and all those working to bring peace to the country," he said, adding the attack breached "the most basic international norms."

"All countries who support peace in Afghanistan have an obligation to take decisive action to stop the Taliban´s campaign of violence," he said. Although Tillerson did not name any specific countries, Washington has repeatedly accused Pakistan of neglect in cracking down on militant groups such as the Taliban or their Haqqani allies.

President Donald Trump lashed out at Pakistan in early January, denouncing Islamabad´s "lies" and "deceit" in the fight against terrorism --- with the US suspending hundreds of millions of dollars in security assistance.

Earlier, Pakistan had strongly condemned the ‘dastardly’ terrorist attack in a Kabul. “We express deep grief and sorrow at the loss of precious human lives in this terrorist attack in which a number of people have also been reportedly injured,” said a statement from the Foreign Office spokesperson.

“The government and the people of Pakistan convey solidarity and support with the government and people of Afghanistan at this brutal terrorist attack. We convey our deepest sympathies for those who have lost their loved ones and our sincere prayers and wishes are for early recovery of those who have sustained injuries in this dreadful terror attack,” said the spokesperson.

Meanwhile, Minister for Defence, Khurram Dastgir said that the Americans are choosing to blame Pakistan for their 16-year old failure in Afghanistan. “A lot of blame game has come to Pakistan. It is one of the reasons why we have now begun to fence the border. And it is very interesting: now that we say OK you blame us that we send people across or that some people are crossing over, we will fence the whole 2,600 kilometres,” he said in an interview with national radio and TV channel of Belgium, VRT: Flemish Radio and TV.

The minister along with a delegation of parliamentarians was on a four-day visit (January 22-25) to Brussels. The delegation of parliamentarians included former speaker National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza, Chairman National Assembly Commerce Committee Siraj Khan and Chairman Senate Commerce Committee Shibli Faraz.

“But once we have begun to fence, we have done almost well 250 kilometres already, no one is helping us,” the minister said in response to a question on Pak-US relations. He expressed hope that the Europeans would convey Pakistan’s point of view to the Americans, who he stated were at the moment not very receptive to Pakistan’s point of view.

“It is to say that again let’s keep the eyes on the prize, as the Americans say. And the prize is a stable democratic Afghanistan,” he maintained. In the context of situation in Afghanistan, the minister said, “They have spent a trillion dollars; they have sacrificed thousands of soldiers, many more injuries. And even now, nearly 45 percent of Afghanistan is outside the government’s control.” Khurram Dastgir said as long as the situation is unstable in Afghanistan, there would remain unrest in Pakistan.

On the internal security situation of Pakistan, the minister said it had massively improved. “There is no other word for it. I think we have performed a near miracle. So, the whole of Pakistan is now peaceful. We still get some terrorist incidents. But largely, the incidents of terror are down by 80 percent from their peak in 2012,” he said.

“The murdering of 142 children in Army Public School in 2017 cleared the mind of the people of Pakistan. These were not religious people, these were not anti-American crusaders; these were not nationalist people. They were just evil people who wanted to hurt Pakistan,” he said.

Talking about improvement in Pakistan’s economic situation, Khurram Dastgir was of the view that the country was the fastest growing consumer market in the world at the moment.

“There is a lot of interest from international retailers, food outlets, and companies who want to tap Pakistan’s consumer market. As I said, the infrastructure is coming in, and Pakistan is finally, we believe, at the threshold of utilising its potential because of its very strategic geographical location,” he said.