Afghanistan's foreign minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar. (via REUTERS)
Afghanistan's foreign minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar. (via REUTERS)

Af min ‘concerned’ at Pak charge of Indian hand in envoy daughter’s abduction

Selsela Alikhil, the 26-year-old daughter of Afghan ambassador Najibullah Alikhil, was abducted, held for almost five hours and assaulted by unidentified men in Islamabad on Friday
PUBLISHED ON JUL 19, 2021 05:01 PM IST

Afghan foreign minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar on Monday expressed concern at Pakistan interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed’s claim that India’s spy agency was involved in the abduction of the Afghan envoy’s daughter in Islamabad, saying such “unprofessional remarks” could affect bilateral relations.

Atmar conveyed his country’s concerns to his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi during a phone conversation. The call was arranged at the Pakistani side’s request after the Afghan government decided on Sunday to recall its ambassador and senior diplomats from Islamabad over the kidnapping of the envoy’s daughter.

Selsela Alikhil, the 26-year-old daughter of Afghan ambassador Najibullah Alikhil, was abducted, held for almost five hours and assaulted by unidentified men in Islamabad on Friday. Afghan first vice president Amrullah Saleh said on Sunday the incident had “wounded the psyche of our nation”.

Also Read | Afghanistan recalls diplomats from Pakistan after kidnapping of envoy’s daughter

A statement in Dari from the Afghan foreign ministry said Atmar spoke with Qureshi “on the ongoing investigation into the abduction of the daughter of Afghanistan’s ambassador to Islamabad, expressing his deep concern over the remarks made by Pakistan’s interior minister”.

Atmar said such “unprofessional remarks and premature judgments will severely damage bilateral relations and the credibility of ongoing investigation that has not yet been completed”, according to the statement.

In an interview with a Pakistani TV news channel on Sunday, Ahmed had claimed that the Afghan ambassador’s daughter “was not kidnapped” and had gone from Islamabad to Rawalpindi of her own will. He further claimed RAW, India’s external intelligence agency, was involved in the incident as part of a “conspiracy to slander Pakistan”.

“The main problem is that they aren’t saying why she went to Rawalpindi,” Ahmed said, speaking in Urdu. He claimed Pakistani security agencies had CCTV footage of the envoy’s daughter travelling to Rawalpindi and that they had established she had used her phone at the time she was abducted.

“We have presented the situation to the nation and we are being dishonoured before the world, on social media we are being given a bad name...This is all being done according to a plan. There is a conspiracy to slander Pakistan and RAW is involved,” Ahmed claimed.

The Afghan foreign ministry’s statement said Atmar told Qureshi that Afghanistan is ready to cooperate with the Pakistan government in the investigation into the abduction to “apprehend and prosecute the perpetrators of this crime and to ensure the security of Afghan political missions and diplomats”.

An Afghan delegation is scheduled to visit Pakistan, and further steps regarding the return of the Afghan ambassador and diplomats will be taken in light of the delegation’s findings.

The downturn in Afghanistan-Pakistan relations came days after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani accused Pakistan of not taking action to prevent the “influx of over 10,000 jihadi fighters” in the past month, and not delivering on repeated promises to influence the Taliban to join negotiations to find a peaceful settlement.

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