Afghanistan recalls ambassador to Pakistan over ‘security threats’

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Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid talks to reporters in Islamabad about the brief abduction of the daughter of the Afghan ambassador to Pakistan on July 18, 2021

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Kabul (AFP)

Afghanistan on Sunday said it was recalling its ambassador to Islamabad over “security threats” after the envoy’s daughter was briefly kidnapped in the Pakistani capital.

While few details have been released about the incident, Afghanistan’s foreign ministry has said Silsila Alikhil was abducted for several hours on Friday by unknown individuals and “severely tortured”.

“Following the abduction of the daughter of Afghan ambassador in Pakistan, the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan have recalled the Afghan envoy and other senior diplomats from Islamabad back to Kabul until all the security threats are removed,” the ministry said in a statement Sunday, demanding the arrest and prosecution of the kidnappers.

Alikhil was on her way home in the Pakistani capital when she was kidnapped, the ministry had said Saturday. It said she was under medical care in hospital after being released.

Later, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said that she had been assaulted in her car, adding that the security of the ambassador and his family was subsequently tightened.

Islamabad – a spacious city with a population of around one million – has relatively tight security.

“The abduction of Afgh ambassador’s daughter & her subsequent torture has wounded the psyche of our nation. Our national psyche has been tortured,” Afghanistan’s Vice President Amrullah Saleh said on Twitter.

An Afghan delegation will visit Pakistan to assess the situation, after which “more steps will be taken,” Afghanistan’s foreign ministry added.

  • ‘Unfortunate and regrettable’ -

Afghanistan’s decision to recall its ambassador “is unfortunate and regrettable,” Pakistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The abduction of the ambassador’s daughter “is being investigated and followed-up at the highest level.”

Pakistan’s foreign secretary met with the Afghan ambassador “and reassured him of full cooperation. We hope that the Government of Afghanistan would reconsider its decision”, the statement added.

Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have long been strained.

Kabul accuses Islamabad of offering safe haven to the Taliban militants waging a major campaign across the Afghan countryside, while Islamabad says Kabul turns a blind eye to militant groups launching attacks on Pakistan from its soil.

In Doha, Qatar, where Afghan government and Taliban representatives are in talks aimed at reaching a political settlement to their conflict, Taliban spokesman Muhamad Naeem condemned the kidnapping.

“We strongly condemn and denounce it. And we call on the Government of Pakistan to accelerate its efforts to arrest and punish the perpetrators of this crime,” Naeem tweeted.

As fighting raged in Afghanistan this week, the war of words heated up, with Saleh accusing the Pakistani military of providing “close air support to Taliban in certain areas”.

Pakistan strongly denied the claim, with a foreign ministry statement saying the country “took necessary measures within its territory to safeguard our own troops and population”.

Tension between the two countries soared further after the Taliban this week captured the Spin Boldak border crossing with Pakistan.

© 2021 AFP

Afghanistan withdraws diplomats from Pakistan following alleged kidnapping of ambassador’s daughter

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Islamabad (CNN) Afghanistan is withdrawing its diplomats from Pakistan following the alleged abduction of the ambassador’s daughter in the capital Islamabad, according to the Afghan foreign ministry.

Silsila Alikhil, the daughter of Najib Alikhil, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan, was “abducted for several hours and severely tortured by unknown individuals on her way home” on Friday, according to a statement from the ministry.

She was later released and is now receiving medical care in the hospital, the statement said, adding that the investigation into the incident is still ongoing.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry had appeared to confirm the incident in a statement on Saturday, saying that Silsila had been “assaulted while riding a rented vehicle” and that it was trying to apprehend suspects.

But in an about-turn on Sunday night, Pakistan’s interior minister denied the incident and expressed skepticism toward Silsila’s account of what happened.

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Pakistan: Daughter of Afghan ambassador kidnapped, tortured

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The Afghan Foreign Ministry said the ambassador’s daughter, Silsila Alikhil, was kidnapped on Friday evening while in her rented vehicle in Islamabad. She was tortured for several hours, and eventually released.

The Islamabad police has launched an investigation but no suspects have been arrested so far.

The Afghan ministry said it was in contact with the ambassador and his family and was extending full support in the matter.

According to a hospital medical report, Silsila suffered blows to her head, had rope marks on her wrists and legs and was badly beaten.

There is also suspicion that she had several broken bones, according to Afghan officials.

Security forces to use ‘all resources’ in hunt for suspects

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the interior ministry to “utilize all resources to apprehend the persons involved” in the kidnapping.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said that the police and other law enforcement agencies have been asked to apprehend the culprits within 48 hours.

The Pakistan government said security at the residence of the Afghan ambassador in Islamabad has been reinforced.

While the Afghan foreign ministry condemned the “heinous act” and expressed concern for Afghan diplomats and their families in Pakistan.

The incident comes amid tensions between the two neighboring countries with Afghanistan claiming Pakistan is sending thousands of jihadi militants over the border and providing safe haven for the Taliban.

Pakistan in turn accuses Kabul of harboring anti-Pakistani groups.

A leading female senator in Pakistan, Sherry Rahman, condemned Friday’s attack. She tweeted that “the Afghanistan Ambassador’s daughter is a young woman, and should not face ANY obstacle in walking about in central Islamabad”.

on/dj (AP, dpa)