Airbase camp attack: Aziz says all evidence to be shared with Kabul

Source:  Tribune Published in Foreign Affairs on Monday, September 21, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s security agencies are gathering evidence on the terrorist attack at PAF’s Badhaber residential complex and will share them with Afghanistan, Sartaj Aziz told The Express Tribune on Sunday.

The national security adviser’s comments came a day after Kabul denied that the attack, which left 30 air force and army officials dead on Friday, was launched from Afghan soil.

Maj Gen Asim Bajwa, director general of Pakistani military’s media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), had said on Friday that the attack was planned in and controlled from Afghanistan.

Taliban leader Omar Mansoor had used his Afghan number to speak to the media in Pakistan to claim responsibility for the attack. He also appeared in a video along with a group of gunmen who, he said, were sent to launch the attack.

“The matter is of serious concern as interception of the telephonic conversation has revealed, as the DG ISPR has stated, that the attack was planned and controlled from Afghanistan,” said Aziz. “It does not mean that the Afghan government was involved. But the TTP (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan) and other people are there (in Afghanistan). So it is obvious that we will share the evidence with Afghanistan in due course.”

The security adviser added that Islamabad would “obviously share the evidence with the Afghan authorities because both sides are committed not to allow our territories to be used against each other, so we could take coordinated action”.

He reiterated that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, on his visit to Kabul this May, had pledged that Pakistan would not allow its soil to be used against Afghanistan, and Afghanistan had made a similar commitment.

Aziz said Afghanistan had taken some very effective action on its soil after the attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar last December. “We will again share evidence with them so that they are able to take action to avoid repetition of such attacks.”

When asked about Kabul’s rejection of Pakistan’s assertions and offering cooperation, he said both countries are committed to cooperating, as bilateral cooperation is an ongoing process that will continue.

“We will pass on the phone numbers used during the attack and they (the Afghans) will conduct inquiries so we know who they (the attackers) were. They could be Pakistani Taliban or others. We would be in a position to offer more comments after the investigations are completed and we know how the attack was carried out.”

In response to a query as to when the evidence is expected to be provided to the Afghan authorities, the adviser said the relevant officials are gathering all evidence and Afghanistan will be informed after the work here is done.

Asked about the progress on a proposed mechanism for ‘understanding for trust building’ that was discussed during his visit to Kabul earlier this month, Aziz said some work has been done and the results will be discussed with Afghanistan through diplomatic channels. He claimed that the level of trust between the two countries has increased after his visit to Kabul.

TTP leader Mansoor had stated in the video that he was organising the attack under the leadership of Maulvi Fazlullah who, security officials insist, operates from Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, condemning the Badhaber attack, Pervaiz Rashid said during a news conference that no religion allows such acts of barbarism.

The minister for information, broadcasting and national heritage said Pakistan has rendered unparalleled sacrifices for eliminating terrorists. “The whole world recognises Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war against terrorism.”

Rashid said terrorism has become a global issue and Pakistan’s efforts in eliminating terror have benefited the entire world. “Other countries should also do more for eradicating terrorists.”

He said Pakistan will not allow anybody to use its territory against others and that it expects the same from others.

Talking about the Badhaber carnage, the minister said Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed that terrorism is a common scourge. “So the neighbouring countries should also play their role in eliminating terrorism.”

Pakistan has already decimated the sanctuaries of terrorists, and they are being chased and their infrastructure has been dismantled, he added.

“Pakistan has offered enough sacrifices. Complete elimination of terrorists is only possible with the help of the neighbouring countries.”

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