Pakistan shuts Mazar-i-Sharif consulate after botched attack

Updated January 28, 2019

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Foreign Office Spokesperson said decision has been taken after a woman was caught trying to sneak a hand grenade. — File photo
Foreign Office Spokesperson said decision has been taken after a woman was caught trying to sneak a hand grenade. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Sunday announced closure of its consulate general in Mazar-i-Sharif following a foiled bid of a grenade attack.

According to the Foreign Office, the decision has been taken after a woman was caught trying to sneak a hand grenade she was carrying in her personal hand bag into the consulate.

The woman was arrested by the police and is under investigation to find perpetrators of the failed attack.

The embassy of Pakistan in Kabul urged the Afghan foreign ministry to ensure provision of foolproof security to its consulate general in Mazar-i-Sharif and to share the findings of its investigation at the earliest.

The Pakistani consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif will remain closed for visa services till the provision of foolproof security by the authorities in Mazar-i-Sharif to prevent any untoward incident in the consulate general, announced the FO.

Afghan woman with hand-grenade in bag taken into custody

According to reports, an Afghan official has also confirmed that a woman has been arrested on suspicion of attempting to attack the Pakistani consulate in northern Balkh province after a hand grenade was found in her bag.

A spokesman for the provincial governor, Munir Ahmad Farhad, said the woman was in police custody and an investigation was under way. She was arrested after being interviewed inside the consulate, he added.

The attempt to attack the consulate came at a time when the negotiations between the United States and the Taliban appear to be moving towards a peace deal to bring the longest and costliest war in Afghanistan to an end.

In a rare development on Saturday, the two sides admitted “progress on vital issues” in their talks, albeit the insurgents said there was no agreement on ceasefire or talks with the Afghan government, which they had labelled as American puppet.

US chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad held negotiations with Taliban representatives at their political office in Qatar for six days, much longer than planned and the longest ever attempt to end the bloody conflict.

Last year Pakistan had closed its consulate in Jalalabad, which remained closed for over one month. It resumed operation in the first week of October after being assured of proper security by the Afghan government.

The Jalalabad consulate had been closed over “undue interference” of Nangarhar Governor Hayatullah Hayat in the functioning of diplomatic affairs.

Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2019