Pakistan has termed as "unfortunate and regrettable" Afghanistan's decision to recall its ambassador and other senior diplomats from Islamabad after the alleged abduction and torture of the daughter of its envoy, and urged Kabul to reconsider the move.
Pakistan's Foreign Office in an overnight statement said the reported abduction and assault of the 26-year-old daughter of Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan Najibullah Alikhil is being investigated and followed-up at the highest level on the instructions of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“The decision by the Government of Afghanistan to recall its Ambassador and senior diplomats from Pakistan is unfortunate and regrettable,” the Foreign Office said.
It said the security of the ambassador, his family and personnel of the Embassy and Consulates of Afghanistan in Pakistan has been further beefed up.
Pakistan's Foreign Secretary met the Afghan envoy on Sunday and highlighted the steps taken by the government for the security of the diplomats and re-assured him of full cooperation.=
“We hope that the Government of Afghanistan would reconsider its decision,” the statement said.
The Afghan envoy's daughter, Silsila Alikhil, was allegedly abducted, tortured and assaulted on Friday by unknown persons in Islamabad. She was abducted while riding a rented vehicle and was held for several hours before being released. She was found near F-9 Park area of the capital with torture marks on her body.
However, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid in an interview to private TV channel Geo News said the ambassador's daughter was not abducted and alleged that
the entire episode was the result of an "international racket" to "defame" Pakistan.
Interestingly, Rashid earlier in the day had claimed that Pakistan was close to arresting the kidnappers. He also said that police has registered a first information report in the abduction and torture case.
“It is a top priority case as the Prime Minister has directed to solve it and arrest the culprits,” the minister had said.
In a statement to police, which was circulated in the media, the envoy's daughter said she went to buy a gift and hired a taxi. While coming back, the driver pulled over on the roadside after a five-minute drive and another man barged in who first shouted at her then started beating her. “Because I was scared, so I felt unconscious,” she said.
Alikhil said after she regained consciousness, she found herself “at a place full of dirt”. She then took a taxi to go to a nearby park from where she called her father’s colleague, who brought her home.
The kidnapping incident has happened amidst a war of words between Islamabad and Kabul over Pakistan's alleged tacit support to Taliban fighters who are confronting Afghan government forces as Western forces, including those from the US, are withdrawing from the war-torn country by August 31 after two decades following the 9/11 terror attacks.
In a statement issued on Saturday, Afghanistan demanded Pakistan “to identify and prosecute the perpetrators at the soonest possible time”.
The Afghan foreign ministry also said it “expresses its deep concern over the safety and security of diplomats, their families, and staff members of the Afghan political and consular missions in Pakistan”.
Pakistan and Afghanistan often trade accusations, with Kabul claiming Islamabad is sending thousands of militants to fight in the war-torn country and providing safe haven for the Taliban. Pakistan, in turn, claims that Afghanistan harbours the anti-Pakistani group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan - the Pakistani Taliban - and also the secessionist Balochistan Liberation Army.
Afghanistan has seen an uptick in violence after US President Joe Biden’s announcement of the withdrawal of US and NATO troops.