Pakistan shut its mission after demonstrators protesting against an alleged border intrusion, broke into it smashing

equipment and torching a Pakistani flag.

 

Pakistan’s Ambassador in Afghanistan, Rustam Shah Mohmand, accused the Karzai government of orchestrating the violence and demanded an apology.

   

The ambassador said the mob was well organised, bringing a truck full of stones with which to attack the embassy while Afghan guards assigned to protect the mission actually helped the attackers.

  

Staff said a mob of around 300 Afghans smashed the embassy gate and ransacked the mission, which is in the upmarket Wazir Akbar Khan district of north Kabul.

 

Smashed

  

Eight embassy cars had their windows smashed while televisions, computers and windows were also smashed, including those in the ambassador's upstairs office. 

 

The agitators were evicted by Afghan security forces who sealed off the mission. Peacekeepers from Kabul's International Security Assistance Force monitored the situation, a witness said.

   

Mohmand said his staff had to hide in the basement. "I have closed the mission," he said, adding "It's a setback. It's a big setback to our relations." 

 

This is the fourth time in the last 15 years that the Pakistani embassy in Kabul has been attacked.

   

"We condemn Pakistan's attack on our territory," read a banner written in English. "They are the creators of the Taliban. Now they want to interfere. They want this government to collapse," said a protester.

   

Pakistan backed the Taliban government for years until the 11 September attacks on the United States. While relations have been warming since the Taliban was driven from power in late 2001, many Afghans harbour deep suspicion of their neighbour to the east.

 

On Sunday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai had warned Pakistan not to interfere in Afghanistan's affairs.

 

Karzai warning indicates
worsening ties

He was responding to recent comments by Musharraf, made on a recent overseas tour, in which he questioned the authority of Karzai's US-backed government and suggested it did not represent all of Afghanistan's ethnic groups.

 

Afghanistan and Pakistan have long had disagreements over their porous and ill-defined border, but Karzai's comments were the most critical of Pakistan since his government was installed by the US. 

 

Last week, Musharraf had referred to a “foreign hand” in connection with the attack on a Shia mosque in Quetta. It was widely speculated that Musharraf had meant Afghanistan or independent groups in that country who may have had a role in the Quetta attack.