Afghanistan said on Sunday that the suicide bomber who posed as a Taliban envoy to assassinate Afghan peace negotiator Burhanuddin Rabbani was a Pakistani national.
Tensions between the neighbors have been rising amid allegations from Afghan officials that Pakistan and its powerful ISI intelligence agency masterminded the former president’s Sept. 20 killing and are seeking to destabilize Afghanistan.
Hundreds of Afghans took to the streets of Kabul on Sunday to condemn recent shelling of border towns by Pakistan’s army and the killing of Rabbani, accusing Pakistan of trying to sabotage his attempts to end the 10-year war.
An investigative delegation established by President Hamid Karzai said evidence and a confession provided by a man involved in Rabbani’s killing had revealed that the bomber was from Chaman and the assassination had been plotted in Quetta – both on the Pakistani side of the border.
“It proves that the assassination of Professor Rabbani was hatched in Quetta and the man who carried out the suicide bombing is a Pakistani national,” the delegation, led by Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak, said in a statement issued by the presidential palace.
“The documents and evidence in hand, details of other accomplices and their phone numbers have been handed over to Pakistan to make arrests.”
Under tight security, Rabbani’s supporters held a one-hour rally, their second in just over a week, carrying large banners and chanting “Death to Pakistan” and “Death to ISI”.
“Pakistan and its ISI must stop interfering in Afghanistan. Our patience is running out,” said Daoud Kodamani, a 22-year-old university student.
“Fighting our country’s enemies is nothing new for Afghans and Pakistan is another enemy to fight with.”
Many Afghans have long accused Pakistan and the ISI of backing insurgent groups to further their own interests, something Pakistan denies.
Rabbani, a former Afghan president, professor and anti-Soviet mujahideen fighter, was head of the High Peace Council that was seeking dialogue with the Taliban. He was killed at his Kabul home by a suicide bomber claiming to be carrying a message of peace from the senior Taliban leadership.
Rabbani had produced little firm evidence of progress after almost a year of effort, but his death has prompted a dangerous widening of ethnic fissures and a surge in violence.
Security has already been worsening as NATO-led troops begin handing security responsibility to Afghan police and soldiers in preparation for withdrawal from the country by the end of 2014.
The High Peace Council reiterated earlier comments by Karzai that negotiations should continue, but with Pakistan, rather than the Taliban.
“For the groups that are tired of conflict and want to end the killings and destruction inside the country, peace efforts must continue,” it said in a statement issued late on Sunday.
“But because of those who hide in Pakistan with no known address, who send killers (to Afghanistan), we must negotiate with Pakistan instead.”