The government has faced two foreign relations setbacks in less than a week. First the Chinese rejected the Foreign Office statement on the Dasu incident and sent its own team to investigate. Now the Afghan government has rejected the findings of Pakistan’s Interior Minister regarding the kidnapping of its ambassador’s daughter and wants to send an Afghan delegation to follow up on the case.
A number of serious developments have taken place after the claimed abduction. Silsila Akikhel claimed she had been kidnapped from the federal capital’s commercial hub by unidentified persons who also reportedly subjected her to torture. On Saturday Prime Minister Imran Khan directed Interior Minister Sh Rashid Ahmed to arrest the kidnappers within 48 hours. On Sunday Sh Rashid denied that any abduction had taken place, claiming instead that it was an “international racket” led by Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) to defame Pakistan. The statement implied that the investigation was complete as far as the Interior Ministry was concerned. By maintaining that Ms Alihel was lying, Sh Rashid insinuated that she was perhaps involved in a well choreographed drama. He will have to provide solid evidence, instead of conjectures, to satisfy the concerned diplomats in Islamabad among others.
On Sunday Afghanistan called back its ambassador and senior diplomats from Pakistan. It was maintained that they would not return until all security threats are addressed, including the arrest and trial of the perpetrators of the abduction. This is a serious move indicating a practical suspension of diplomatic relations at a crucial juncture in Afghanistan’s history. According to the Afghan government’s statement an official delegation will visit Pakistan soon to assess and follow up on the case and “all related issues”, adding that “subsequent actions will follow based on the findings”.
What should add to the worries of Mr Khan is that the Taliban fighting the Afghan government have also urged Pakistan to arrest and punish those involved in the abduction of the envoy’s daughter. Making it a national issue, Suhail Shaheen, the Taliban’s official spokesman in Doha, maintained that Islamabad needed to “step up efforts” to arrest and punish those responsible so that such acts did not “give rise to hate between the two nations.”