Afghanistan's president has denied recent media reports that Kabul will allow Pakistani intelligence to "train and equip" the National Directorate of Security (NDS), its domestic intelligence agency.
The initial report, published on the website of TOLOnews, cited unnamed sources which mention a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by Kabul and Islamabad in recent days that would see Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the main intelligence service of Pakistan, "train and equip" Afghan intelligence.
Speaking to VICE News, a spokesman to President Ashraf Ghani called the report "baseless."
"The agreement is only about fighting terror jointly. It does not say anything about training or equipping of the NDS by the ISI," Ajmal Obaid Abidy said.
Any reports that the ISI — which many Afghans see as aiding and abetting the armed opposition in Afghanistan — would train and equip the NDS is "false," Abidy emphasized.
In the 24 hours since it was first reported, the news has ignited anger and caused confusion among Afghans online.
Aimal Faizi, spokesman to former President Hamid Karzai, tweeted that it would allow Pakistan into the NDS.
— Aimal Faizi (@AimalFaizi) May 18, 2015
Amrullah Saleh, former director of the Afghan spy agency, was also dubious.
Intelligence cooperation with ISI means doubting Pak duplicity in terror, dishonoring ANDSF sacrifices & falling in the trap of deception.
— Amrullah Saleh (@AmrullahSaleh1) May 18, 2015
Afghanistan and Pakistan have had a long-standing disagreement about The Durand Line, a 2,640-kilometer border separating Afghanistan from British-controlled India, and what is now Pakistan. Afghans believe the Durand Line unfairly divided historic Pashtun-majority lands.
The Line was established after an 1893 MoU between Abdur Rahman Khan, the Afghan Emir, and Mortimer Durand, foreign secretary of British-India.
The Afghan people and subsequent governments have never accepted the loss of Quetta and Peshawar to what is now Pakistan.
However, Abidy said this is not the first MoU between the two nations. In fact, he said between 2007 and 2009, other MoUs were signed between the NDS and ISI, but did not provide further details of these supposed agreements.
Saleh, who headed the NDS at the time, could not be reached for comment. Faizi, however, blasted the presidential palace's claims.
"Nothing similar was ever singed between Kabul and Islamabad. [The] Arg's statement in this regard is nothing more than lies," he told VICE News.
Faizi said though such options were up for discussion during Karzai's rule, that the National Security Council repeatedly rejected the proposals.
"The ISI was never allowed to investigate detainees in our prisons," said Faizi.
Previous agreements made earlier in the year granted Pakistan access to interrogate fighters captured on the Afghan side of the Durand Line.
Lawmakers have also expressed confusion in regards to the details of the MoU and the terms reported by TOLOnews.
On Monday, Zahir Qadir, first deputy of the Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of the Afghan parliament, summoned officials from the country's National Security Council to explain what exactly the MoU, which has yet to be made public, entails.
Abidy said despite fears, the only purpose of the MoU is to fight terrorism and address the "similar" security threats, which both nations must contend with.
The news of the MoU's signing comes on the heels of two recent visits to Kabul by Lt. General Rizwan Akhtar, director general of the ISI.
In the last 10 days, Akhtar has twice visited the Afghan capital. Most recently last week with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Prior to that, Akhtar had come to Kabul individually.
Since coming into office, the national unity government, headed by Ghani, has turned to Pakistan for help in hopes of restarting the nascent peace process with the Taliban.
In January, six Afghan cadets were sent to the northwestern Pakistani city of Abottabad for training. That agreement marked a first for the two nations.
Prior to that, the government of then president Karzai repeatedly denied calls by Islamabad to help train members of the Afghan National Security Forces.