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Central & South Asia
Kabul: Islamabad 'soft on terror'
Afghan spy chief says Pakistan refusing to arrest Indian embassy blast mastermind.
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2008 13:00 GMT

Saleh accused Pakistan's military of being 
unwilling to tackle al-Qaeda and the Taliban

The head of Afghanistan's spy agency has accused Pakistan of refusing to arrest the suspected mastermind of the deadly bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul.

In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera, aired on Tuesday, Amrullah Saleh said that his agency gave the man's details and location to Pakistani officials but they refused to act.

"One of the masterminds of the Indian embassy bombing in Kabul - he lives in an area in Pakistan," he told Al Jazeera.

"They [the Paksitani authorities] know who he is ... we have sent that information through [the] relevant channels and they know who he is."

Saleh, however, refused to identify the man in question.

Pakistan has rejected claims that it is not doing enough to combat al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters.

Regional rivals

Kabul and Islamabad have regularly blamed each other for not doing enough to combat al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters, many of whom are known to be based in Pakistan's autonomous tribal areas.

US and Indian officials have also accused Pakistan's intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI), of complicity in the Indian embassy bombing in July, which killed at least 40 people and left over 140 others wounded.

Saleh told Al Jazeera that the Pakistani military appeared unwilling to target known al-Qaeda and Taliban targets in Pakistan.

"I'm not seeing any Pakistan military activity in Miram Shah - that's where terrorist groups are headquartered," he told Al Jazeera, referring to an area in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region.

"The entire Afghan government is hoping that the civilian administration in Pakistan will be able to bring the security forces under its control," he said.

Asked if Osama bin Laden could be captured if action was taken on information provided by Afghan intelligence, Saleh said: "If we manage to bring Pakistan's military in a full committed manner [into] this war - yes."

Pakistani rejection

But Rashid Qureshi, a former spokesman for Musharaff, rejected Saleh's claims.

"I find it ridiculous and I'm quite surprised and taken aback," he told Al Jazeera.

Qureshi said he could not comment specifically on whether information had been passed to the government, but that "having known how the government responds to any threat or allegation of an extremist or a terrorist in Pakistani society, I would tend not to believe what he [Saleh] has said".

"I know in the past what the government's been doing and I'm sure the present government and the present armed forces are doing exactly the same. In the tribal areas ... the Pakistan forces are there and I'm shocked that he's not aware of that," said Qureshi.

"They have carried out operations - there are Pakistani tanks, there are aircraft, there are helicopter gunships, combating, fighting and removing the extremist elements from the face of the earth.

"Now how can an intelligence chief - if he is an intelligence chief - make allegations against what the whole world is conscious of: that, yes, Pakistan armed forces and the Pakistan government have taken a strong stand against the extremists and the terrorists and that Pakistan as a country, as a people and as an armed forces have suffered more than the Americans [and] more than the Nato forces."

Military reshuffle

Islamabad  meanwhile has announced 14 new military appointments, including that of a new ISI chief.

At least 40 people were killed in the July bombing of the Indian embassy [Reuters]
Lieutenant General Ahmed Shujaa Pasha, formerly head of military operations, was appointed director general of the ISI, according to a statement from the Pakistani military.

He replaced Lieutenant General Nadeem Taj, a key lieutenant of Pervez Musharraf, the former president.

Pasha is widely considered to be a close aide to Ashfaq Kayani, Pakistan's military chief, who ran the ISI until October last year.

The army insisted the new appointments were routine.

"These were the changes due over a period of time. This is how the system works in the army," Major-General Athar Abbas, Pakistan's chief military spokesman, said.

"The change comes at a time when there was a lot of talk about ISI in the Western media," Talat Masood, a security analyst and former Pakistan army general, said.

"With the new ISI chief, General Kayani has completed a team of his choice. He will be able to now lead the army with greater confidence."

Though Islamabad has helped in capturing or killing hundreds of senior al-Qaeda fighters since Musharraf allied with the US in 2001, the ISI often faces accusations of covertly supporting "terror groups".

Many believe the spy agency has been inflitrated by al-Qaeda and Taliban sympathisers.

In August, David McKiernan, the Nato commander in Afghanistan, was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying there "certainly is a level of ISI complicity" in Taliban militancy along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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