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Kabul bombing: Pakistan must probe India's charges against ISI

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC | July 21, 2008 11:52 IST

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A senior US official has said -- even while maintaining Washington's line that there is no credible evidence of the Pakistani intelligence agency's involvement in the suicide bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul on July 7 -- that New Delhi's allegations and accusations that the ISI was complicit in this terrorist act be taken "seriously" and that it is incumbent upon Islamabad to get "to the bottom of this."

Richard Boucher, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, in an exclusive interview with rediff.com, said, "We've seen a lot of discussion and allegations about who did it and how it was organised. We do think all that needs to be taken seriously and the Pakistani government needs to take it seriously as well."

"So, we are very much focused on making sure that there is a good investigation and all the facts are determined and that action is taken to correct any problems that might exist and action taken against people who perpetrated this suicide bombing," he said.

India's National Security Advisor M K Narayanan on July 12 had claimed that India had 'a fair amount' of intelligence inputs about Pakistan's involvement in the bombing of India's embassy in Kabul.

Narayanan, when asked by television channels if India suspected Pakistan's complicity in the bombing, said, 'We not only suspect but we have a fair amount of intelligence (on Pakistani involvement).'

'We have no doubt that the ISI is behind this. We are in favour of the peace process, but the ISI is not in any way part of it,' Narayanan said. 'The ISI is playing evil. The ISI needs to be destroyed.'

He said 'we made this point, whenever we have had a chance to interlocutors across the world... there might have been some tactical restraint for some time, obviously that restraint is no longer present.'

Boucher said Washington was aware that "there are groups trying to do these kinds of suicide bombings in Afghanistan and in Pakistan and in some way or the other we've got to get at them. That is very important, but at the same time the process of dialogue between India and Pakistan has made a lot of progress over the past few years."

Thus, he hoped that the composite dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad would not begin to unravel in the wake of this horrific bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul.

Boucher argued that "the new government in Pakistan has been very clear they want to open up new opportunities, open up economic opportunities, people to people opportunities and opportunities that deal with some of the big issues and we think that needs to be taken seriously as well -- the find ways to move forward."

"The process has been led by statesmen on both sides," and recalled the "fine ideas put forward that were difficult on both sides and again, I am going back to both parties and other governments in this process. So, I do think we have a prospect now of moving forward between India and Pakistan and we hope that everybody takes those prospects in hand and moves forward as best as much as they can."

But Boucher acknowledged that "part of dealing with the potential is also dealing with the problems, and if there is a problem involved in that embassy bombing, that needs to be dealt with as well."

The senior official refused to elaborate, but reiterated that "we've seen allegations, a number of people have said they have information on this."

"We do think it is important to get to the bottom of this," he emphasised, and added, "That's where I will stop for the moment."

Pakistan's new Foreign Mminister Shah Mehmood Qureshi who visited Washington last week for meetings with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice [Images], National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, Boucher and other senior Bush administration officials, rejected Narayanan's accusations and said Pakistan had intention of shipping up such bogeys.

'We are moving in the right direction (vis-a-vis India-Pakistan relations) and we have nothing to gain by creating that environment,' Qureshi told CNN's Late Edition, and added, 'We feel that we have interest in a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. It is in our enlightened self-interest to check the cross-border movement in order to have peace.' P>Qureshi argued that "my view is that it's a bit of exaggeration to just pass the buck to Pakistan. There are serious internal issues in Afghanistan."






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