Pakistan's interior minister said there are legal limits to a joint commission Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed on Tuesday to form in order to investigate former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani's assassination, but assured that his government will work in full cooperation to put the criminal to justice.
Rehman Malik, interior minister of Pakistan, filled in the gaps on the new agreement between Pakistani and Afghan governments to jointly investigate the killing of Rabbani in an interview with Today's Zaman on Wednesday. Afghanistan-Pakistan relations remain strained after both have accused the other of supporting terrorist attacks and activities in one another's countries. Afghanistan also has accused the Pakistani secret service of being involved in the assassination of Rabbani. Malik stressed that Pakistan was not involved in Rabbani's assassination. "Professor Rabbani was a dear friend of mine.
I knew him very well. We [Pakistani and Afghan leaders] went over the entire matter in detail yesterday. No Pakistani national was involved in this crime. I repeat, no Pakistani national was involved,” he said.
Rabbani, who was murdered in his home in Kabul by a suicide bomber posing as a Taliban peace emissary in September, spearheaded the reconciliation process with the Taliban and working to improve Pakistan-Afghanistan relations. “The terrorists who did this not only wanted to kill Professor Rabbani, they also wanted to destroy relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and they were successful,” said Malik.
A trilateral summit attended by Turkish President Abdullah Gül, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari in İstanbul on Tuesday attempted to find ways to ease the tensions that escalated following the Rabbani assassination. Speaking after the trilateral summit on Tuesday, Gül announced the formation of the joint Afghan-Pakistani commission to investigate the murder. The commission, which he called a “mutual understanding,” would involve both countries’ intelligence communities.
The summit’s trilateral talks and the subsequent creation of the joint probe to root out those responsible for Rabbani’s death has “cleared a deadlock due to miscommunication, and now we can work together in accordance with our respective laws,” Malik said.
The next step in the investigation, according to Malik, is for the countries to continue dialogue and build the case together.
“We are in complete agreement. We are building the case and the necessary individuals from both countries have been assigned to take on this issue,” he said. “Hopefully President Karzai will visit Pakistan, and in two weeks I am sending my secretary to Afghanistan. We will help one another, share information with one another and find the person or people responsible for this crime.”
To make real progress against terrorism in general, Malik said there must be an increase in controls on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, where thousands of terrorists easily cross every day.
Malik also lauded Tuesday’s summit hosted by President Gül as a “very positive” step in the right direction of defusing tensions and improving relations between the two countries. “Because of Turkey, we [Pakistan and Afghanistan] have been able to strike a good wavelength and work together instead of tearing one another down,” he said.
Malik praised Turkey’s role as mediator in talks between Afghanistan and Pakistan: “We highly appreciate the role of President Gül in bringing everyone on board, especially after relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan became more strained.” Calling Gül’s initiative “fantastic,” Malik thanked Turkey on behalf of Pakistan for bringing together two neighbors who have not seen eye-to-eye recently and “making them talk to one another.”
The interior ministers of Turkey and Pakistan also met during Tuesday’s trilateral summit to discuss how the two countries can achieve developments in issues of common interest, including illegal immigration, human trafficking and security support, Malik said.
The İstanbul Conference for Afghanistan: Security and Cooperation in the Heart of Asia, an international conference hosted by Foreign Minister Ahment Davutoğlu on Wednesday, followed Tuesday’s trilateral summit. Representatives from more than 20 countries gathered in İstanbul’s Çırağan Palace to discuss ways of contributing to stability and peace in Afghanistan, as NATO and foreign troops plan to pull out of the region.
The İstanbul conference is the prelude to the “Bonn+10” conference in December, during which more than 90 nations and international groups will come together ten years after the original Bonn Agreement that gave rise to the current Afghan system of government.