The Afghanistan government for the first time publicly accused the Pakistani intelligence service on Wednesday of organizing the plot to assassinate President Hamid Karzai at a parade in Kabul in April.
In a news conference in Kabul, Sayeed Ansari, the spokesman for the Afghan intelligence service, said the Afghan authorities had evidence of the direct involvement of Pakistan's premier intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, in the assassination attempt.
He said the evidence was based on documents uncovered during the investigation into the assassination attempt, confessions from 16 suspects detained after the attack, and cell phone contacts.
“Based on the investigation of the case and documents we found, as well as confessions by suspects we arrested, they show that the real schemers and organizers of the terrorist attack” on the celebratory parade on April 27 “is the intelligence organization of Pakistan, ISI, and its associates, which committed unforgivable crimes.”
There was no immediate response from Pakistan to the Afghan accusation.
It came amid rising tensions between the two countries. Last week, Karzai threatened to send soldiers into Pakistan to fight Islamic militant groups operating in the border areas to attack Afghanistan.
Karzai has said that he regards the Pakistani government as a friendly government, but in an escalating war of words he has urged it to join Afghanistan and allied nations to fight those who wanted to destabilize both countries, and to “cut the hand” that is feeding the militants.
The comments on Wednesday represent the first time Afghan authorities have described specificly and publicly allegations that ISI was involved in the attack on Karzai.
The well-coordinated assassination attempt took place at the Afghan national day military parade in central Kabul.
Karzai escaped unhurt but three people were killed in the brazen assault, including a 10-year-old child. Also killed were a tribal chief and a member of parliament who were near Karzai.
Shortly after the attack, Afghan officials suggested the attempt to kill Karzai was the work of militants who had infiltrated Afghanistan's security forces and had ties to groups linked to al-Qaida in Pakistan's tribal areas.
The officials said that militants linked to al-Qaida and based in Pakistan were working closely with the Taliban to threaten the Karzai government, bringing a new level of sophistication to attacks in and around the capital.
The assassination attempt sent government officials, diplomats and legislators scrambling for cover and caused a stampede of soldiers from the parade ground.
It turned what was supposed to have been a proud moment for Afghan security forces and the government into a moment of embarrassment and humiliation, coming just as the government had been pressing to take over responsibility for Kabul's security from NATO-led foreign forces.