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July 19, 2021

Kabul recalls envoy to Islamabad

July 19, 2021

KABUL: Afghanistan Sunday recalled its ambassador to Islamabad and other senior diplomats over "security threats" after the top envoy’s daughter was briefly “kidnapped” in Islamabad this week.

While few details have been released about the incident, Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Silsila Alikhil was abducted for several hours on Friday by unknown individuals and "severely tortured", reports AFP.

"Following the abduction of the daughter of Afghan ambassador in Pakistan, the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has recalled the Afghan envoy and other senior diplomats from Islamabad until all the security threats are removed," the foreign ministry said in a statement on Sunday, demanding the arrest and prosecution of the kidnappers.

It further said an Afghan delegation will visit Pakistan to assess the situation after which "more steps will be taken”.

Silsila Alikhil was on her way home in Islamabad when she was kidnapped, the ministry had said Saturday, adding that she was undermedical care in a hospital after being released.

The Foreign Office of Pakistan Sunday termed the Afghan government’s decision to recall its ambassador and senior diplomats from Pakistan “unfortunate and regrettable”.

In a statement, it said the reported abduction and assault of the ambassador’s daughter in Islamabad was being investigated and followed up at the highest level on the instructions of the prime minister adding that the security of the ambassador, his family and personnel of the Embassy and Consulates of Afghanistan in Pakistan had been further beefed up.

“The foreign secretary met the Afghan ambassador on Sunday, highlighted all the steps taken by the government in this context, and assured him of full cooperation. We hope that the Government of Afghanistan would reconsider its decision,” said the statement.

Speaking to Geo News, Minister for Interior Shaikh Rashid Ahmed Sunday said the incident "is not an abduction" at all.

"This is an international conspiracy. An agenda of RAW," he said.

He said the ambassador’s daughter had first claimed that her phone was stolen, "and later handed her phone over to the police but with the data deleted".

He said the CCTV footage of the time of the incident had been reviewed and it was found that there were not two, but three taxis that she had used.

"She took a taxi from Daman-e-Koh and did not return home," said Rashid.

The minister said three videos had been reviewed, whereas an attempt to acquire a fourth was being made.

"The girl went from F-7 to Daman-e-Koh and then over to the F-9 Park area," the minister said, detailing the events of the day.

He said when the girl stepped out of the home, she walked over to Khadda Market first for shopping.

The minister said a point in her journey, ahead of the Gakhar Plaza, was a blind spot at the moment, as the authorities had not been able to obtain the footage for the area yet.

"The girl also used her mobile phone internet services while at Daman-e-Koh," he said.

The minister said an FIR had been registered under sections 365 and 354, 34, and 506 of the Pakistan Penal Code. He said the police had registered the FIR at 2:00am on the statement of the girl.

The minister said authorities would probe as to how the ambassador's daughter arrived from Rawalpindi to Daman-e-Koh and hopefully more missing links of the case could be put together to provide a clear picture.

Sheikh Rashid said police were investigating the case on "top priority" following directions from the prime minister.

"In the next 72 hours, we will [God willing] solve the case", he added.

The minister went on to say that the photograph of the girl circulating on the media "does not belong to the girl".

Addressing a press conference earlier in the day, Rashid said the case was expected to be solved within 72 hours.

He said India was playing up the kidnapping of the ambassador's daughter to malign Pakistan.

"We will present the entire, true picture in front of the world," he said, adding that Pakistan's importance in the region had shot up due to PM Khan's popular foreign policy moves.

"After PM Khan's 'absolutely not' stance received immense popularity both in Pakistan and abroad, India is not letting go of any opportunity to increase its propaganda against Pakistan," he added.

Meanwhile, dozens of Afghans Sunday staged a protest outside the Pakistan embassy in Kabul against the alleged abduction of Silsila Alikhil. The protesters raised slogans against Pakistan for failing to protect her and demanded the closure of Pakistan’s embassy.