THE unfortunate episode involving the daughter of Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan has taken a new twist with the police saying that the impressions created by her claims of abduction have not been corroborated by their investigations though a final conclusion will only be reached once the investigators can have full cooperation from the family.

In a press conference on Monday that was also addressed by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and National Security Adviser Dr Moeed Yusuf, the IG Islamabad Qazi Jamilur Rehman said the police had traced the taxi drivers who had taken her from Islamabad to Rawalpindi and back and had also mapped out her route by scanning CCTV camera footage. The foreign minister added that he would wait for the final conclusion of the investigation before saying anything further, while the national security adviser said a smear campaign against Pakistan was being choreographed on social media from abroad.

The entire affair has put Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan under strain as Kabul has recalled its Islamabad embassy staff for the time being. This comes at a crucial time with the US about to complete its exit from Afghanistan and the Afghan Taliban stepping up their offensive against the government of President Ashraf Ghani.

Read: Pakistan’s Afghan predicament

Pakistan has been working feverishly to broker a power-sharing arrangement so that Afghanistan does not descend yet again into civil war. In this regard, Prime Minister Imran Khan is hosting a conference in Islamabad for important leaders from Afghanistan shortly. The foreign minister has done well to restrain his rhetoric about the allegations of the Afghan ambassador’s daughter and the government has also taken the correct proactive approach by extending full cooperation in investigating the matter.

However Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid has, unfortunately, been less careful with his words. While talking to a TV channel, he made some irresponsible statements about these allegations being a conspiracy against Pakistan. Even if the details are murky and the investigation so far is suggesting something contrary to what has been stated, the interior minister should have remained tight-lipped till everything was clear. His undiplomatic utterances are harmful to Pakistan and Prime Minister Imran Khan should have a firm word with him.

The Islamabad police need to build a watertight case around their final conclusions because the stakes could not have been higher. It is heartening to hear that the police has dedicated a large number of investigators to the case and they have traced crucial details about what transpired that day. The complainants should also now fully cooperate with the police so that all loose ends can be tied. The Kabul government should have waited for the final investigations before taking the drastic step of recalling its staff from Islamabad. It should see reason and avoid further vitiation of the situation. This would be in both sides’ interest.

Published in Dawn, July 20th, 2021

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