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Mystery as retired army officer goes ‘missing’ in Nepal

Updated Apr 09, 2017 12:13pm

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Retired Lt Col Mohammad Habib. ─Photo courtesy of author
Retired Lt Col Mohammad Habib. ─Photo courtesy of author

ISLAMABAD: A retired Pakistan Army officer has mysteriously gone missing while visiting Nepal for a job interview.

The officer, identified as retired Lt Col Mohammad Habib, has been untraceable since Thursday (April 6) from Lumbini, a Nepalese town near the Indian border and a Buddhist pilgrimage site, soon after his arrival there. He last contacted his family on Thursday afternoon and since then his phone numbers have not been reachable.

Col Habib’s family reported his disappearance to the Foreign Office after not having been able to reach him. He is feared to have been abducted, a source said.

“We wrote to the Nepalese foreign ministry about the missing Pakistani national on Friday, but we have yet to hear back from them,” Pakistani charge d’affaires Javed Imrani told Dawn over the phone from Kathmandu on Saturday.


Col Habib last contacted his family from Lumbini, near Indian border


The story about the disappearance of the former military officer first surfaced in WhatsApp groups of retired military officers and was subsequently picked up by the media.

The colonel, who reportedly retired in October 2014 and belonged to artillery, was currently employed with a private firm in Pakistan and had posted his CV online in search of employment.

According to the publicly available account of the events preceding his disappearance, somebody by the name of Mark Thompson had contacted him both via email and telephone for a job interview in Nepal for which he [Col Habib] was also provided an air ticket.

Col Habib departed from Lahore on Wednesday, reaching Kathmandu on Thursday from where he immediately flew to Lumbini. In Kathmandu, the information coming from retired army officers groups and verified by military sources reveals, he was provided a Nepalese cellphone SIM card by one Javed Ansari, who received him there.

The last message that he sent from Lumbini said that he had reached his destination.

Subsequent probing by his family and friends shows that the UK telephone number from which he had received telephone call for the interview was a computer-generated one, while the email domain and its associated website were registered in India. This has prompted concerns that the Indian spy agency RAW could have been behind the abduction plot.

India has always maintained strong influence in Nepal both as the Himalayan country’s main economic and defence partner. Nepalese soldiers are trained in India, which also supplies arms to Nepal. Critics describe India’s relationship with Nepal as ‘semi-colonial’.

India runs its influence in Nepal through RAW. The Nepalese government last year in May cancelled President Bidya Bhandari’s visit to India accusing RAW of backing attempts to topple it. The crisis in the relationship was later managed and RAW retained its foothold there. And as Prof Micheal Hutt, who teaches Nepali and Himalayan Studies at University of London, sometime back told BBC: “India has been a political player in Nepal as much as any Nepali political party.”

A serving RAW officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, who is originally from India, was caught in Pakistan last year and has been accused of involvement with subversive activities here.

Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2017

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Comments (73) Closed



IMTIAZ ALI KHAN Apr 09, 2017 07:30am

May he return safely to Pakistan. Humanity first before borders/religion.

Shiraz Apr 09, 2017 07:37am

Nepal for job? My God, Nepal is much poor than Pakistan, he has definitely been trapped. Did he get NOC from Army?

Vimal Apr 09, 2017 07:43am

He will soon be confessing on Indian channels

Naveen Apr 09, 2017 08:13am

What job was he looking for in lumbini?

Ahmed Apr 09, 2017 08:15am

Why this retired military officer went to near Indian boarder?

SYAM Apr 09, 2017 08:24am

Missing for asylum?

M Jamal Apr 09, 2017 08:54am

Government officials after retirement from service must take NOC from one centralised department of the government to go abroad.

Imam lucknow Apr 09, 2017 08:58am

Job in Nepal. You kidding? I want an IT job in somaliya then.

ANZ Apr 09, 2017 09:04am

So many things don't add up. Time for some talk shows.

Akhroat Apr 09, 2017 09:06am

@SYAM in Nepal? Have you ever been to Nepal or checked their economy? lol don't make silly statements. Hope he returns safely!

observer Apr 09, 2017 09:08am

Brace for a return of the the Kulbhushan Jadhav complement.

And India will do it in open court, too.

Justin Apr 09, 2017 09:09am

He gone for some other purpose. We will get the details soon.

apoorva Apr 09, 2017 09:09am

Release jadhav and take back Habib...Simple.

apoorva Apr 09, 2017 09:11am

Nepalese brothers serve in Indian army and are capable enough for jobs in Nepal .....Something fishy.A Pakistani army man in Nepal for job??

MUbin Apr 09, 2017 09:13am

@Naveen probably a priest 's job

SAchin Apr 09, 2017 09:47am

What was he doing there?

salim Apr 09, 2017 09:47am

Ex-Pakistan army officer goes to Nepal for a job and the only place he finds a job is on the Indian Border of Lumbini, things don't add up here.

mkt Apr 09, 2017 09:48am

@Imam lucknow how can u compare nepal from Somalia..

Nitin Apr 09, 2017 09:48am

He has gone there for spreading the message of peace and love between india and pakistan

Mohajir Apr 09, 2017 09:49am

"Retired" Lt. Col. looking for job in Lumbini, Nepal ? . How can people even believe these weird/planted stories.

mandy Apr 09, 2017 09:52am

Pakistanis going to nepal for jobs...this proves that even nepals economy is doing better then pakistan.

Salim Khan Apr 09, 2017 09:56am

What this officer was doing in Nepal and why he was visiting areas close to the border with India.

Ash20 Apr 09, 2017 10:05am

He was caught inside India without visa few days/weeks ago just like Mr. Yadav was abducted from Iran.

Echs Apr 09, 2017 10:16am

Please contact Indian govt for help. Did he take permission /clearance from pak authorities before taking jobs.

Abhimanue Apr 09, 2017 10:17am

@Nitin your comment make my day

sodawaterbottleopenerwala Apr 09, 2017 10:18am

@apoorva lets not jump to conclusions mam .he may be there some place and be soon found .not everyone is spy or undercover .lets keep our emotions simmered down.

Haris Apr 09, 2017 10:35am

@Naveen World is getting small and everyone is looking for great perks and all probably he framed for a big salary which eventually harm his greed!!!. We are wishing his safely return and for all people who are missing without any lead.

jaydeep Apr 09, 2017 10:46am

@IMTIAZ ALI KHAN Yes sir ji, Humanity first , I am sure his family would be concerned he should be returning home shortly .

helloWorld Apr 09, 2017 10:57am

Lets not start making assumptions or conspiracy theory here however I hope Pakistani Col comes back to Pakistan and Mr. Yadav comes back home from Pakistan.

Ram Apr 09, 2017 11:00am

@IMTIAZ ALI KHAN imtiez g as long as there are people like you in this world....there is hope for peace...

jitendra Apr 09, 2017 11:10am

He might have come for Interview for a job of Tourist Guide. Tourism & Hotel are the only industry in Lumbini.

Raaz Apr 09, 2017 11:38am

He went there to spread peace message to the world

SIKAPHCROT Apr 09, 2017 11:44am

Nepalis come for Jobs to India.... and Pakistanis go for Jobs to Nepal...

Vikram Apr 09, 2017 11:59am

the same way Pakistan abducted Kulbhushan yadav from Iran.

Hamza Apr 09, 2017 12:05pm

Let's not make assumptions of any kind and pray that he returns safely.

USMAN Apr 09, 2017 12:38pm

seems to me like a typical Indian plan anyways lets see the outcome.

QU Apr 09, 2017 12:45pm

Ex army man must be there on mission of peace

surya Apr 09, 2017 12:52pm

@IMTIAZ ALI KHAN imtiez g as long as there are people like you in this world....there is hope for peace...

tochibawa Apr 09, 2017 01:15pm

@USMAN Planned by India Played by Pak.

anurag Apr 09, 2017 01:34pm

There is something fishy about this story. Why would an officer to Nepal for a job...sounds unbelievable.

atif Apr 09, 2017 02:15pm

@Akhroat nepal's economy is much better than pakistan....it is one of the top destination in the world for tourists.

asgher Apr 09, 2017 02:21pm

For People here questioning why he went to Nepal:

Pakistani retired Army people are hired all over the world by private security firms. Just like sportsmen retire and get hired as coach, team managers, tv hosts in other countries etc.

kevin Apr 09, 2017 02:31pm

@mandy Of course Nepal is a tourist destination and it is a Himalayan Kingdom. It is any way better than Pakistan.

Sympathiser Apr 09, 2017 02:36pm

@Shiraz # very relevant question ...

Sympathiser Apr 09, 2017 02:44pm

@Imam lucknow # what a comment Sir.. I just could not resist laughing for a long time.. Thank you for making to laugh!!!!

nitin Apr 09, 2017 03:03pm

He was caught inside India. with nepali passport.

Khwarizmi Apr 09, 2017 03:29pm

@SIKAPHCROT ...and two million Indians are living in Pakistan. Just check it up.

ft Apr 09, 2017 03:44pm

India have no place between Nepal and Pakistan's friendship.

Syed waqar Ali Apr 09, 2017 05:12pm

Is he trapped?

zubaida Khan Apr 09, 2017 05:13pm

What job was he looking for in Nepal? Also, typically you dont fly over international borders for an interview before sufficient contacts and phone interviews.

If the company sent him a ticket there would be a trail of payment.

DJ Apr 09, 2017 05:28pm

How come a retired LT Col jumped for a job offer without scrutinizing the authenticity of Job provider.

ukasha Apr 09, 2017 05:29pm

Job market in Pakistan is really bad. Its very hard for some retired officers to survive. Hope he is well and fine and comes back home soon.

Nepali Apr 09, 2017 06:11pm

I am a Nepali and Lumbini is a beautiful place with around 100 temples and gardens. I am surprised that it is not as popular as other places of Nepal are. May be Colonel sahib has converted to Buddhism and has started meditating for the peace of mind and without any coercion. Hopefully, he will be enlightened in Nepal. Good luck!

same old, same old Apr 09, 2017 10:39pm

There can be a number of reasons why his family hasn't heard from him. Let's just hope and pray the gentleman is safe and sound.

Azad kashmir Apr 10, 2017 08:15am

@ukasha the job market in Pakistan isn't bad at all I am making more here than I did in Dubai and believe me I had a very successful job and good perks there

Dynamite Apr 10, 2017 10:23am

Need to speed up CPEC no jobs in Pakistan right now

adventurer Apr 10, 2017 01:12pm

Something is very fishy and not like what it sounds to be

Iftikhar Husain Apr 10, 2017 04:37pm

We all pray for his safe return.

salim Apr 10, 2017 04:53pm

Now this Pakistani officer will meet the same fate as Kulbhusan Jadhav. Poor Indians and Pakistanis are suffering because of the political and military rivalry. This must immediately stop for the sake of humanity. May God Bless the wisdom and courage to Indian and Pakistani political and military leadership to shun violence and pursue the path of peace and love.

master Apr 10, 2017 06:08pm

@IMTIAZ ALI KHAN today news Humanity first before borders/religion.

Anil Pinnala Apr 10, 2017 07:27pm

@Nepali I can believe you 100%. I sincerely hope to find him safe.

Musa Apr 10, 2017 07:49pm

@Vimal you got it right!!

Maani Apr 11, 2017 12:46am

@Shiraz If an officer is retired for more than 2 years he is not required to obtain an NOC.

sri1 Apr 11, 2017 01:44am

@Khwarizmi "SIKAPHCROT ...and two million Indians are living in Pakistan. Just check it up"

The same PEW study notes that: "India has one of the world’s lowest emigration rates. Only about 1% of India’s birth population lives outside of the country, a similar emigration rate to that of the U.S." 8 million Pakistanis live abroad out of 190 million, which makes it 3 percentage. India is still less than 1%, with 16 million living outside.

Khan USA Apr 11, 2017 03:29am

Did not he take permission from government before leaving for Nepal ? The person who bought his plane ticket should be investigated and then things would be clear !

mkb Apr 11, 2017 11:06am

@Ahmed Yeah, Lumbini being a international hub and very close to Indian Boarder, some thing is fishy.

mkb Apr 11, 2017 11:08am

@observer with councilor excess and defense lawyer.

Abc Apr 11, 2017 12:12pm

As per the information.. Nepal provides easy visas and on-arrival visas to nationals from all over the world accept very few countries (3-4) which includes Afghanistan and Iraq thus it is easy to enter and something must have happened..

dipak singham Apr 11, 2017 02:32pm

Hilarious comments above, laugh out loud.

Prashant Apr 11, 2017 02:54pm

@salim If you are from Pakistan try to build public opinion regarding spy swap between the two countries.

indiana Apr 12, 2017 01:48am

@kevin Check your facts before posting! It is no longer a 'Kingdom'!!

Suresh Handa Apr 12, 2017 02:40pm

This Pakistani army man should be relieved immediately if he is captured. We should be human first and nationalist second. Eye for an eye is not a solution to insanity of other side. Family of this gentleman must not be punished for something with which they are not at all related.

Vinay Apr 12, 2017 08:16pm

@sodawaterbottleopenerwala ....it's true .