A day after Pakistan hosted a major diplomatic meeting to discuss Afghan peace, a provincial police chief in northern Afghanistan has accused Islamabad's powerful military of conducting a recent attack on an Indian diplomatic mission in the region.
Syed Kamal Sadat, police chief in the northern Balkh Province, told journalists on January 12 that they've obtained evidence showing members of Pakistan's military carried out the attack, which began late on January 3 and ended on January 4 in Balkh's capital, Mazar-e Sharif.
Afghan forces battled four militants for more than 25 hours after they unsuccessfully tried to break into the Indian diplomatic mission.
"During investigations we learnt that the attackers were Pakistani soldiers trained by the Pakistani army. They were expert fighters," Sadat claimed. "Ninety-nine percent of the evidence we have collected proves this."
Sadat did not however share any details of the evidence. The Indian government has not blamed anyone for the attack so far.
A Radio Free Afghanistan correspondent saw Urdu-language graffiti, apparently written in the blood of one of the attackers, on the walls of the building next to the Indian consulate where they were holed up during the long firefight with Afghan security forces.
"We have avenged Afzal Guru," read one. "One thousand suicide bombers will replace one martyr."
Guru, a resident of the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, was hanged in an Indian prison for his role in December 2001 militant attack on the Indian parliament.
Since 2001, Afghan officials have frequently blamed Pakistan's spy service, the Inter-Services-Intelligence, for sheltering and covertly supporting Afghan insurgents, and even guiding their attacks inside Afghanistan.
Afghan and Western officials particularly blame the Taliban's powerful military wing, the Haqqani network, for attacking Indian diplomatic missions in Afghan cities. In 2011, top U.S. military commander Admiral Mike Mullen said that "the Haqqani network acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency."
But senior Afghan officials have rarely accused the Pakistani military of sending its members to participate in attacks inside Afghanistan.
Sadat's claims came a day after diplomats from Afghanistan, China, United States and Pakistan discussed a road map for ending Afghanistan's war.
Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai, who represented Afghanistan in the talks, said his government will "use all means" against those insurgents who do not participate in peace talks expected to begin later this month.
In a veiled reference to Pakistan, Karzai said the country's conflict was "not a war between Afghans" and pointed to the involvement of "foreign elements."
Kabul has long accused Islamabad of sponsoring the Taliban along its western border with Afghanistan. But many Afghan and western officials see Pakistan as capable of restoring peace to Afghanistan by pushing the Taliban to negotiate with the Afghan government, while launching a military offensive against those who opt to stay away from negotiations.