Pakistan and Afghanistan in tit-for-tat envoy recall as diplomatic tensions rise

In an escalation of their diplomatic standoff, Pakistan called back its ambassador to Afghanistan for "consultations” hours after Kabul recalled its ambassador and senior diplomats from Islamabad over the alleged abduction and release of the Afghan envoy’s daughter in the Pakistani capital

Jul 19, 2021
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Pakistan and Afghanistan in tit-for-tat

In an escalation of their diplomatic standoff, Pakistan called back its ambassador to Afghanistan for "consultations” hours after Kabul recalled its ambassador and senior diplomats from Islamabad over the alleged abduction and release of the Afghan envoy’s daughter in the Pakistani capital.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday urged the Afghanistan government to reconsider its decision of recalling its ambassador while another senior Pakistan minister called the abduction an “international conspiracy” and accused Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of playing a role in it. 

According to the Pakistan Foreign Office, the country’s ambassador to Kabul Mansoor Ahmad Khan arrived in Islamabad on Sunday evening.

He is scheduled to meet the foreign secretary at the Foreign Office (FO) to discuss the matter. Discussions will also be held on the progress of the now-postponed Afghan Peace Conference.

On Sunday itself Afghanistan had called back its diplomats from Pakistan after the abduction incident which has heightened diplomatic tension between the two countries. 

Terming the Afghan government’s decision "unfortunate", "regrettable" and "disappointing", Qureshi expressed the hope that its western neighbor would review its stance.

Qureshi apprised his Afghanistan counterpart Mohammad Hanif Atmar in a telephonic conversation of the steps taken by law enforcement agencies in the wake of the July 16 incident involving the Afghan envoy's daughter, the FO said.

He assured Atmar that Islamabad will take every possible measure to arrest and bring the perpetrators of the incident to book.

Ambassador Najibullah Alikhil’s daughter Silsila was reportedly abducted on Friday from Islamabad’s commercial area by unidentified persons who also allegedly subjected her to torture.

According to her, she was returning home in the afternoon in a taxi after visiting a bakery in Islamabad’s Blue Area when the driver picked up another man who verbally abused and assaulted her. She was later dropped in an unconscious condition by the roadside. Her medical report said she had been physically assaulted.

The foreign minister apprised his Afghan counterpart that the security of the Afghan embassy and consulate in Pakistan has been beefed up and all possible steps were being taken to bring the suspects to justice at the earliest.

“Ministry of Foreign Affairs is fully aware of the diplomatic norms,” he said.

During the telephonic conversation, the Afghan foreign minister thanked Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan for his personal interest in the investigation into the incident, according to a Dawn report.

Earlier, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed said the incident involving the envoy’s daughter "was not an abduction" at all.

While speaking during Geo News' program Naya Pakistan, Sheikh Rasheed had said, “This is an international conspiracy. An agenda of RAW."

He said Silsila had first claimed that her phone was stolen, "and later handed her phone over but with the data deleted".

The interior minister 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.

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

The alleged abduction was reported only a day after Afghan President Ashraf  Ghani, in his talk at the international conference in Uzbekistan, held Pakistan responsible for violence in Afghanistan. Imran Khan, in his speech at the same conference, particularly addressed Ghani to say it was "extremely unfair" to blame Islamabad that had been making all-out efforts to ensure peace in its neighboring country and the region.

(SAM)