Afghanistan on Sunday announced the recall of its ambassador and senior diplomats in Pakistan in the wake of the kidnapping and assault of the envoy’s daughter in Islamabad, adding to strains in bilateral ties over Pakistan’s perceived support to cross-border terrorism.
A statement issued by the Afghan foreign ministry on Sunday night indicated the Afghan diplomats would remain in Kabul until Pakistan took action to apprehend the persons involved in the abduction of the envoy’s daughter.
Afghan first vice president Amrullah Saleh said the decision to recall the diplomats had been made by President Ashraf Ghani as the abduction of the envoy’s daughter had “wounded the psyche of our nation”.
The latest development came days after Ghani accused Pakistan of not doing enough to stop thousands of terrorists sneaking into Afghanistan or to nudge the Taliban to join peace talks to find a political settlement.
“Following the abduction of the Afghan Ambassador’s daughter in Pakistan, the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan called back Afghanistan’s Ambassador and senior diplomats from Pakistan until all security threats are addressed, including the arrest and trial of the perpetrators of abduction,” the Afghan foreign ministry’s statement said.
“An Afghan delegation will visit Pakistan soon to assess and follow up on the case and all related issues; subsequent actions will follow based on the findings,” it added.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office described Afghanistan’s decision as “unfortunate and regrettable” and said the abduction was being investigated at the “highest level” on the orders of Prime Minister Imran Khan. It added that foreign secretary Sohail Mahmood had met the Afghan envoy on Sunday to brief him on all the steps taken by Pakistan and to reassure him of full cooperation. “We hope that the government of Afghanistan would reconsider its decision,” the Foreign Office said.
Saleh said in a tweet: “President @ashrafghani instructed @mfa_afghanistan to call back our ambassador from Islamabad along with all senior diplomats. The abduction of Afgh ambassador’s daughter & her subsequent torture has wounded the psyche of our nation. Our national psyche has been tortured.”
He added in another tweet, “This isn’t the first case but the first spectacular case involving a lady. Harassment of diplmts/local staff with integrity who reject collaboration is in the menu of Islamabad agencies.”
On Saturday, Afghanistan had demanded full security for its diplomats in Pakistan after Selsela Alikhil, 26, the daughter of Afghan ambassador Najibullah Alikhil, was abducted, held for almost five hours and assaulted by unidentified men in Islamabad on Friday.
The Afghan foreign ministry had summoned Pakistani ambassador Mansoor Ahmad Khan in Kabul to lodge a strong protest over what it described as a “grave incident”. Pakistan’s Foreign Office had described the incident as an act of “man-handling” and said police have launched an investigation.
A statement made by Selsela Alikhil said she was kidnapped when she boarded a taxi at Blue Area, a commercial district in Islamabad located a short distance from the Parliament. She said an unidentified man who was let into the taxi by the driver had beaten her and called her the daughter of a communist.
A medical report stated she had injuries to her wrists, ankles and head.
The latest downturn in bilateral ties came days after President Ghani accused Pakistan of not taking action to prevent the “influx of over 10,000 jihadi fighters” in the past month and not delivering on repeated assurances to use its power to influence the Taliban to join negotiations. Ghani made the allegations at a regional conference in Uzbekistan while Prime Minister Imran Khan was in the audience.