Was the ISI behind Afghan deputy intelligence chief's killing?

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Kabul, Sep.3 (ANI): A former Indian diplomat has suggested in an article the suspected hand of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in the murder of Dr Abdullah Laghmani, the deputy head of the Afghan National Directorate of Security.

According to M K Bhadrakumar, India's former Ambassador in Afghanistan, while the Taliban has claimed sole responsibility for the suicide bomb attack that claimed Laghmani's life, the ISI's role in the incident cannot be ignored.

"The ISI felt the maximum heat from him in his native region of eastern Afghanistan, given the complexity of the situation there involving factors such as the traditional failure of the Taliban to strike deep roots among the Ghilzai tribes, the presence of the network of Jalaluddin Haqqani and al-Qaeda and the continuing influence of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and his Hezb-e Islami," says Bhadrakumar.

"Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has been stalking Laghmani for a decade. It is rare for an intelligence agency to single out one individual as its mortal enemy and publicly warn him. The ISI had bestowed on Laghmani that rare honor more than once publicly," he added.

He further goes on to say that the ISI felt the maximum heat of Laghmani's immensely sharp mind when he established the connection between the suicide bombers who attacked the Indian Embassy in Kabul in July 2008 and the ISI by tracing a cellphone found in the wreckage to a facilitator in Kabul who was in direct telephone contact with a Pakistani intelligence official in Peshawar.

That incident, according to Bhadrakumar, dented the ISI's image hugely and further strengthened speculation regarding its involvement in Laghmani's assassination.

"The sheer brutality of his murder by a suicide bomber in front of a mosque in the town of Mehtarlam in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday afternoon in the holy month of Ramadan speaks of a visceral hostility not easily fathomable," says Bhadrakumar.

"Being an ethnic Pashtun, he had keen insight into the political culture of the Taliban movement and the mindset of its patrons in the ISI, which was an invaluable asset for the NA," he says.

He also says in his article in atimes.net the timing of his assassination is significant.

"He has been a key ally of President Hamid Karzai. Pakistan has adopted an air of indifference to the outcome of the Afghan presidential elections, but a strong undercurrent of anxiety is palpable," he says.

"Laghmani's murder highlights continued interference in Afghanistan. In the coming period, we may see an escalation of such interference. Pakistan, for its part, will feel tempted to exploit the differences that have cropped up between Karzai and Washington," he adds.

According to Bhadrakumar, Pakistani commentators see the Americans "breathing down his [Karzai's] neck harder then ever".

They anticipate that in the name of a crusade against public corruption and for good governance, the US will seek the exclusion of important political allies of Karzai who belonged to the Northern Alliance, such as Fahim, Karim Khalili, Mohammed Mohaqiq, Rashid Dostum and Ismail Khan.

Therefore, in the shadowy world of the spooks, the second Karzai presidency may be starting on a bloody note, he concludes. (ANI)

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