Afghanistan withdrew its ambassador and diplomats after the abduction of the ambassador’s daughter in the capital Islamabad, Afghan officials have said. Pakistani ambassador to Afghanistan was also called back home after Kabul withdrew its officials from Pakistan.
Silsila Alikhil, the daughter of the Afghan ambassador Najib Alikhil, was abducted in the federal capital Islamabad, held hostage for a brief time and tortured. Her body reportedly bore rope marks and injuries. According to the medical reports, Silsila Alikhil had swellings on her wrists and arms.
The report cited her age as 26 and also confirmed that she had a swelling in the occipital region of the head, the visual processing centre of the brain.
The abduction caused widespread consternation among the people of both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and thousands took to social media, demanding a thorough investigation of the incident. In Kabul, the Afghan authorities summoned the Pakistani ambassador to lodge a formal complaint.
In a statement, the Foreign Ministry of Afghanistan said: “strongly condemns this heinous act and 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.”
In reaction to the incident, the Afghan authorities called back their ambassador and other senior diplomats back home. In a statement, the Afghan Foreign Ministry said: “The Afghan government recalled the ambassador and senior diplomats to Kabul until the complete elimination of the security threats, including the arrest and punishment of the perpetrators.”
The Pakistani authorities also withdrew their ambassador, Mansoor Ahmed Khan, from Kabul on Sunday night. There is not yet any statement by the Foreign Ministry of Pakistan on why Mansoor Ahmed Khan was called back.
The relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been fluctuating in the past couple of weeks. Afghan authorities – including the president and the vice-president – have frequently accused Pakistan of duplicity. They argue that Pakistan, which presents itself as the flagbearer of peace in the region, is also derailing the efforts towards a political settlement in the country.
Perhaps no one has been blunter in his rants towards Pakistan than Afghan Vice-President Amrullah Saleh, who has accused the GHQ – headquarters of the Pakistani army in Rawalpindi – of puppeteering the Taliban in Afghanistan. A few days ago, the Taliban captured the Spin Baldok-Chaman crossing, the second busiest trade crossing in Afghanistan. Saleh claimed that the Afghan forces were trying to retake control of the crossing when the Pakistani airforce officials warned them from launching an offensive against the Taliban, threatening to fire missiles at them if they did not comply. Pakistani officials deny the allegations and said that such a negative portrayal of Pakistan will only impede the Afghan peace process.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani also pointed fingers at Pakistan in a recent high-profile conference in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, between Pakistani and Afghan officials. Ghani said that 10,000 ‘jihadi’ fighters have crossed into Afghanistan from the Pakistani border.
“Contrary to repeated assurances by Prime Minister Khan and his Generals that Pakistan does not find a Taliban takeover in Afghanistan in Pakistan’s interest and short of the use of force will use its power and influence to make the Taliban negotiate seriously, networks and organizations supporting the Taliban are openly celebrating the destruction of the assets and capabilities of the Afghan people and State”, Ghani said