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July 21, 2021

Creating trust

 
July 21, 2021

The reported assault and kidnapping of the Afghan ambassador’s daughter in the heart of the capital, and Kabul’s subsequent decision to temporarily halt diplomatic ties, could not have come at a worse time for Pak-Afghan relations. The somewhat contradictory remarks from various ministers have not helped matters. While Prime Minister Imran Khan said the incident needs to be investigated and culprits apprehended as quickly as possible, the interior minister has been more ambiguous in his comments, and even suggested that the abduction was orchestrated by RAW agents, in an attempt to defame Pakistan. It is difficult to know how he could make such a statement before the investigations have concluded.

We are not clear yet on what happened, nor should there be speculation or rumour-mongering regarding the case until it has been concluded. However, what has transpired in its aftermath is disturbing, with social media rife with baseless accusations, disinformation and polarised hate speech. This is why it is also important for government representatives to be careful when handling incidents of such sensitive nature. An example for such professionalism was set by the IGP Islamabad during a press conference by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, NSA Moeed Yusuf and IGP Qazi Jamilur Rehman. The IG has laid out the investigation conducted till now and we hope the cooperation sought from the Afghan ambassador will be forthcoming so that this case can be solved as soon as possible. A swift and sensitively-handled resolution from all sides is all the more important since this involves a young woman. We would like to see Pakistan as a safe space for women of all nationalities, cultures, ethnicities and classes – and any reported crime must be investigated regardless of any other considerations.

Severing of ties at this point does no good for the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan, nor does it bode well for regional security. The state needs to immediately bring the perpetrators of the recent incident to task so that justice is done in the case, and simultaneously convince Kabul of its intentions to ensure a resumption of diplomatic channels at the earliest. At the same time, the Afghans also need to reach out and aid in the investigation so that the widening trust deficit between the two sides is plugged on a priority basis. That is the only way we all have any chance for a lasting, peaceful settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan