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Pak heading for diplomatic turmoil

Two days after the Marriott Hotel attack, Pak seems to be heading for a fresh diplomatic standoff as gunmen abduct Afghanistan’s top diplomat in Pakistan.

world Updated: Sep 23, 2008 01:33 IST
Kamal Siddiqi and Agencies

Two days after the Marriott Hotel attack, Pakistan seemed to be heading for a fresh diplomatic standoff as gunmen abducted Afghanistan’s top diplomat in Pakistan on Monday.

<b1>Abdul Khaliq Farahi is Afghanistan's ambassador designate to Pakistan, but is still serving as consul-general in Peshawar, a post he has held since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

The Peshawar abduction — the diplomat's drive was shot dead in the incident — came days after the Islamabad hotel bombing in which the Czech ambassador to Pakistan was a victim.

There are fears that names of more diplomats would emerge once the rubble is cleared at the hotel. A Danish diplomat is among those missing, officials said.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said all steps were being taken for the diplomat's “safe and early recovery”.

The attacks put Islamabad under pressure to control the situation. The United Kingdom has already reacted to the incidents — British Airways halted its flights to the country on Monday, as an International Monetary Fund team went back without completing an economic review.

Britain has also closed its visa application centre in Islamabad.

Pakistan troops fired at a US helicopter — adding to the government's curent diplomatic troubles.

The News daily reported that troops fired at two US helicopters that intruded into the restive North Waziristan tribal region, forcing them to return to Afghanistan.

The gunships intruded into Pakistani airspace at the border village of Lowara Mandi in North Waziristan Agency.
Islamabad was already fighting to stave off a tag of being soft on Americans in the face of recent border breaching by US-led forces to hunt down Al Qaeda militants.

Pakistan has said it would not tolerate any such misadventures and its forces have opened fire on a few occasions to send back American forces from the Afghan border.

On Monday, seven people were arrested in connection with the Marriott bombing that killed 53 including the ambassador of the Czech Republic and two US soldiers.

The arrests came even as a shadowy group calling itself ‘Fedayeen of Islam’[ claimed responsibility for the deadly bombing.