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ISLAMABAD: Two Pak­is­tani officials based in Jalalabad have been missing since Friday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Sunday.

“Two officials of our consulate general [in] Jalalabad are missing since June 16, 2017 while commuting to Pakistan by road. The matter has been raised with the relevant Afghan authorities for their safety and recovery at the earliest,” said an official handout issued by the Foreign Office.

According to the FO, Afghan authorities have informed Pakistan that all efforts are being made to probe the incident and “three distinct investigating groups have been constituted to ensure [the] safe recovery of the officials”.

Islamabad has requested the Afghan government that “all efforts may be made to ensure early recovery of our officials and bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice,” the statement says.

“We are in constant touch with the Afghan authorities,” it concludes.

The statement does not identify the missing officials, nor does it speculate on the possible reasons behind the possible abduction.

Reports about the possible abduction of the two Pakistani diplomats were carried by a section of the press on Sunday, which, quoting unnamed sources, claimed that the officials were on their way to Pakistan by road to celebrate Eid with their families, but did not reach the entry point at Torkham border.

When asked if there was any update regarding the missing officials, Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Dr Omar Zakhilwal said there was no word on the men’s whereabouts so far. “Our security institutions and intelligence agencies are specially looking for them,” he said.

When asked whether any group had claimed the abduction as a kidnapping, the envoy said he had no such information.

The officials’ disappearance came a day before the Pakistan government decided to reopen its main Kharlachi crossing with Afghanistan in Kurram Agency.

“The decision reflects Pakistan’s continued efforts for facilitating Afghan transit and trade through Pakistan,” the FO had stated in its statement on Saturday.

It, however, clarified that this would not be a pedestrian crossing and was meant to facilitate trade and transit vehicles.

Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2017