Pakistan’s president says no country, apart from Afghanistan, has suffered more for its role in the fight against extremism.
President Mamnoon Hussain said on Monday it was unfair to question his country’s commitment to fighting terror at home and abroad, after Afghanistan hinted that Pakistani intelligence was behind a deadly restaurant attack.
The president, who has a largely ceremonial role, said Pakistan wanted a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. His comments came after Afghanistan’s National Security Council, which is chaired by President Hamid Karzai, said “without doubt foreign intelligence services beyond the border” were behind Friday’s suicide attack on a Kabul restaurant that killed 21 people.
“Beyond the border” is a phrase commonly used by Kabul to refer to neighboring Pakistan, which was the main supporter of the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Afghan officials have long voiced suspicions about connections between the hardline movement and Islamabad’s powerful intelligence services.
Speaking at the launch of a new book about Afghanistan by a Pakistani think-tank, Hussain insisted his country’s support for the fight against extremism was in earnest. “Sometimes, our commitment is questioned. The reality is that, leaving aside Afghanistan, there is no other country in the world than Pakistan that has paid a higher price,” Hussain said, according to a statement released by his office. “Pakistan stands for a peaceful, stable, united and prosperous Afghanistan. We have consistently maintained that the solution of Afghanistan lies within Afghanistan.”
The assault on a popular Lebanese restaurant in central Kabul left eight locals and 13 foreigners dead, including the International Monetary Fund head of mission, making it the deadliest attack on foreign civilians since the Taliban were ousted in 2001. Tasnim Aslam, a spokeswoman for the Pakistani foreign ministry, declined to comment on the Afghan remarks, saying Pakistan had not been named. “Afghans have not named us. You know that a Pakistani female working for the U.N. also died in that terrorist attack,” she said.
Pakistan issued a statement on Sunday condemning the attack.