Kabul recalls ambassador, diplomats from Islamabad

Published July 19, 2021
ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed gestures during a press conference on Sunday.—AP
ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed gestures during a press conference on Sunday.—AP

• Rashid sees missing link in abduction episode
• FIR registered, taxi drivers grilled
• FM hopes Afghanistan will review the move

ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan on Sunday called back its ambassador and senior diplomats from Pakistan after the reported abduction and release of the Afghan envoy’s daughter in the federal capital.

While Pakistan has termed the Afghan government’s decision ‘unfortunate’, ‘regrettable’ and ‘disappointing’, Foreign Minister Shah Mah­mood Qureshi has expressed the hope that the Afghan authorities would review their stance as Pakistan has assured the ambassador of full cooperation in the investigation.

Sharing details of investigation into the July 17 episode, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Sunday disclosed that the ordeal the envoy’s daughter had narrated about her alleged kidnapping was contrary to her statement given to the police. He said there were evidences that the girl had gone to Rawalpindi and Damn-i-Koh before the said abduction though she had denied it.

“Following the abduction of the Afghan ambassador’s daughter in Pakistan, the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan called back Afghanistan’s ambassador and senior diplomats from Pakistan until all security threats are addressed including the arrest and trial of the perpetrators of abduction,” the Afghan foreign ministry said in a statement.

An Afghan delegation would visit Pakistan soon to assess and follow up on the case and “all related issues”, it said, adding that subsequent actions would be based on the findings.

Ambassador Najibullah Alikhil’s daughter, Silsila, was reportedly abducted on Friday from Islamabad’s commercial area by unidentified persons who also allegedly subjected her to torture.

According to her, she was returning home in the afternoon in a taxi after visiting a bakery in Islamabad’s Blue Area when the driver picked up another man who verbally abused and assaulted her. She was later dropped in an unconscious condition by the roadside. Her medical report said she had been physically assaulted.

Soon after the Afghan government decision to call back the ambassador and senior diplomats, Pakistan’s Foreign Office (FO) in a statement termed the decision ‘unfortunate and regrettable’.

The FO said the reported abduction and assault of ambassador’s daughter was being investigated and followed up at the highest level on the instructions of Prime Minister Imran Khan. “The security of the ambassador, his family and personnel of the embassy and consulates of Afghanistan in Pakistan has been further beefed up,” it added.

Also, Pakistan’s foreign secretary met the Afghan ambassador and apprised him of all the steps being taken by the government in the case and re-assured him of full cooperation. “We hope that the government of Afghanistan would reconsider its decision,” the statement added.

The PM has already given directives to the interior ministry to utilise all resources to immediately apprehend the culprits involved in the reported kidnapping.

In a tweet, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that the decision of Afghan government to pull back its envoy was ‘disappointing’.

“We hoped Afghan side would’ve cooperated with us in the investigation. Decision of recall is disappointing, I have scheduled a phone call with Afghan FM tomorrow at 10am. Hopefully Afghan government will review its stance,” he tweeted.

The alleged abduction was reported only a day after the Afghan president in his talk at the international conference in Uzbekistan had held Pakistan responsible for violence in Afghanistan, while Prime Minister Imran Khan in his speech particularly addressed President Ashraf Ghani to say it was ‘extremely unfair’ to blame Islamabad that had been making all-out efforts to ensure peace in its neighbouring country and the region.

Taxi drivers grilled

On Sunday, the interior minister told the presser that police had registered an FIR of the incident and investigation was under way to ascertain facts and arrest culprits.

He later told a private news channel that said the officials had collected evidences showing that the girl had gone to Rawalpindi though she was denying it. With the help of CCTV cameras, police had traced that the girl had hired at least three taxies and their drivers had been interrogated, the minister added.

He said: “I want to inform the international media that the police are investigating the report of the Afghan ambassador’s daughter issue ... and we have registered a case on her request under [Sections] 34 (common intent), 365 (kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine person), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the PPC (Pakistan Penal Code).”

Mr Rashid said the envoy’s daughter walked from her home to a nearby market from where she hired a cab and went to Khadda Market in Islamabad’s Sector G-7 and then she went to Rawalpindi.

The minister said from Rawalpindi she went to Daman-i-Koh and then to F-9 Park from where she was taken to her home. “In this whole episode, one thing is missing that how she had returned to Islamabad from Rawalpindi,” he said.

“Once we get this missing link, we will be able to reach the factual story,” he added.

Silsila’s statement

According to the statement that Ms Silsila, the Afghan envoy’s daughter, gave to the police, after leaving home and two-minute walk, she saw a taxi in which she sat and asked the driver for a place where she could buy a gift for her brother. “He told me that I know the shop. I can take [you] there. I agreed. After I bought the present, I wanted to return home and looked for a taxi. At that moment, a taxi stopped in front of me and I took that taxi. After around five minutes, the taxi driver stopped and let another man enter the taxi. I complained and reminded the taxi driver that I had booked the taxi why he had let another person in. Then the other person turned his face towards me and yelled ‘shut your mouth...you’re the daughter of that bastard communist...we won’t leave him and catch him some day’. While speaking, he also pushed me and started beating me. I was so scared that I fell unconscious. When I regained consciousness, I was lying at a place full of dirt. However, I could see the road. At first, I was not sure where to go because of the servants at home. I did not wish them to see me in such condition, so I asked another taxi to take me to a park. From there, I called my father’s colleague and he picked me up and brought me home,” she narrated.

Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2021

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