US Implicates Pakistani Agents in Kabul Bomb Attack



U.S. officials are accusing Pakistan's primary intelligence service of helping to carry out last month's bomb attack on India's embassy in Afghanistan. U.S. newspapers reported that American intelligence agencies claim they have evidence linking Pakistani agents to the attackers. VOA's Barry Newhouse reports from Islamabad.

Pakistan's shadowy Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, or ISI, has been accused before of planning attacks in India and Afghanistan. But Friday's news reports appear to be the first time that U.S. officials have publicly stated they have evidence of Pakistani involvement.

The New York Times and the Washington Post newspapers report that U.S. officials say U.S. intelligence agencies intercepted communications between militants and what they say were Pakistani government agents about the July 7 bombing that killed 41 people at India's embassy in Kabul.

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Sadiq told VOA that no evidence has been provided to the Pakistani government.  

"Nobody has given us any proof," he said. "We have said if there is any proof of Pakistan's involvement we would like to see the proof of that because merely alleging something means nothing."

The ISI has had strong links to Afghan militant groups, particularly during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. After the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Pakistani military officially turned against its Taliban allies in Afghanistan and supported the U.S.-led invasion.

But analysts say some Pakistani military officers and intelligence agents could harbor sympathies for their former allies.

Pakistan's Information Minister Sherry Rehman says routing-out militant sympathizers from ISI ranks has been a clear government policy. She tells VOA she believes those officials have been "pretty much" removed from their positions.

"As far as I know, and as far as we are informed, the army has worked very hard to root any such elements out," said Rehman. "Because as you know they were exposed to a very long engagement with the Afghan resistance and those were really jihadis of a particular hardcore kind."

A spokesman for Pakistan's army said the military and the government would like to investigate if they are shown the evidence behind the US allegations.

The allegations come on the eve of a scheduled meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka between Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The two are among the heads of government attending the summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.

Tensions between India and Pakistan, as well as the deteriorating relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan have threatened to overshadow the summit.

India has recently warned that the peace process between the two, longtime rivals was "under stress." But following a meeting with Indian foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday in Sri Lanka, Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters "a lot of steam has been let out of the pressure cooker."

Earlier in the week, India had accused Pakistani troops of crossing the Line of Control where a cease-fire has been in place for eight years. Pakistan has rejected the claim.



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