• Diplomat remains unhurt as security guard sustains injuries
• President, PM condemn attack; Afghan chargé d’affaires summoned
• Twitter account of consulate in Kandahar also hacked

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul came under attack on Friday, leaving one security guard critically injured, the Foreign Office said.

According to a statement released by the FO, the target was Head of Mission Ubaidur Rehman Nizamani, who remained unhurt in the attack.

The FO “strongly condemned” the attack, but added the embassy would continue to function normally and there were no plans to withdraw diplomats from Kabul.

The Afghan chargé d’affaires was also summoned to the foreign ministry to formally protest over the attack.

According to an official, Mr Nizamani was walking in Pakistan mission’s lawn in Kabul’s Kart-i-Parwan neighbourhood when terrorists fired at him.

The shots hit a security guard, identified as Sepoy Israr Mohammad, who was ‘critically injured’ while attempting to save Mr Nizamani, according to the FO.

Mohammad, who was hit by two bullets, was shifted to a hospital and later moved to Peshawar via helicopter.

An Afghan Taliban source said “multiple attackers” were involved in the attack carried out from a nearby building. One of the suspected attackers was reportedly arrested and two weapons were recovered, the source added.

Mr Nizamani has been in Kabul for less than a month since he took over the charge as head of mission, replacing former ambassador Mansoor Ahmed Khan on November 4.

Later on Friday, the FO conveyed “deep concern and anguish” over the attack to Afghan Chargé d’Affaires Sardar Ahmad Khan Shakeeb and said the attack was a “serious security lapse”.

Mr Shakeeb was told that the security and protection of Pakistan’s diplomatic mission and personnel was Afghan interim government’s responsibility FO called for arresting the attackers and bringing them to justice.

The attack came just days after the proscribed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) ended the ceasefire agreement with the government and asked its combatants to carry out attacks in Pakistan.

In a statement signalling the end of the ceasefire, the banned outfit said that security forces had launched operations in Bannu, Lakki Marwat and other districts.

Condemnations

President Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Foreign Minister Bilawal-Bhutto Zardari and Afghanistan have condemned the assassination attempt on Mr Nizamani.

Meanwhile, the Afghan foreign ministry also condemned the “failed attack”. In a statement, the ministry said “malicious actors” will not be allowed to pose a threat to the security of diplomatic missions in Kabul. “Security agencies will investigate this incident seriously. After identifying the perpetrators, they will be punished according to law.” “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan strongly condemns the attempted shooting and failed attack on the Pakistani embassy in Kabul,” the ministry’s spokesperson Abdul Qahar Balkhi said on Twitter.

President Arif Alvi has called the attack a “matter of concern,” according to APP. “[The] attack on a diplomatic mission is a matter of concern. I strongly condemn it,” the president said. He also prayed for the recovery of the injured security guard.

While condemning the assassination attempt, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also called for an immediate inquiry. “I strongly condemn dastardly assassination attempt on Head of Mission, Kabul,” he said in a tweet. “I demand immediate investigation and action against perpetrators of this heinous act.”

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari called Mr Nizamani and expressed solidarity. “Spoken with my Head of Mission in Kabul @ubaidniz. Whom earlier survived an assassination attempt. We condemn this in the strongest possible terms,” he said in a tweet. “The safety & security of our diplomats are of fundamental importance. We salute bravery of Sepoy Israr & pray for his swift recovery.”

Various diplomatic missions, including the UN, have demanded the Afghan government ensure diplomats’ safety.

Twitter account hacked

In a separate development, the official Twitter account of Pakistan’s consulate in the Afghan city of Kandahar was “hacked”, Consul General Tariq Ali said on Friday, after the account posted tweets about the temporary closure of the mission.

“Dear all! Official account of the Consulate General of Pakistan Kandahar was hacked a while ago which was immediately recovered. Unsolicited tweets have been deleted. The Consulate General offers sincere apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused. The matter is being reported to Twitter,” the consul general said in a statement.

Abdul Moiz Malik in Karachi also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2022

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