Afghanistan said Sunday it has asked all of its diplomats in Pakistan to return to Kabul until Islamabad addresses “all security risks” to them and brings to justice those behind last week’s brief abduction of the Afghan ambassador’s daughter.
The announcement came a day after the Afghan government said Silsila Alikhil, daughter of Afghan envoy Najibullah Alikhil, was taken hostage for several hours and “severely tortured” by unknown assailants in the Pakistani capital on Friday afternoon before being set free.
Islamabad said a high-level through investigation was launched into the “disturbing incident” immediately after the Afghan embassy reported to the Pakistani foreign ministry that Alikhil was “assaulted while riding a rented vehicle.”
A hospital medical report confirmed that Alikhil was physically assaulted.
— Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Afghanistan 🇦🇫 (@mfa_afghanistan) July 18, 2021
“An Afghan delegation will visit Pakistan soon to assess and follow up on the (kidnapping) case and all related issues; subsequent actions will follow based on the findings,” the Afghan foreign ministry said Sunday.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack that has dealt a fresh blow to the fragile relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan that is marred by suspicion and acrimony.
The Pakistani Foreign Ministry, responding to Kabul’s recalling of its diplomats, described it as “unfortunate and regrettable.” The ministry said in a statement it hoped the Afghan government would reconsider the decision.
“The reported abduction and assault of ambassador’s daughter in Islamabad is being investigated and followed-up at the highest level on the instructions of the prime minister (Imran Khan),” it said.
Pakistani officials said security for the Afghan ambassador, his family and personnel of other diplomatic missions of Afghanistan in the country has been further tightened.
Bilateral diplomatic tensions have deteriorated in the wake of stepped-up attacks by Taliban insurgents against Afghan government forces amid the drawdown of U.S.-led foreign forces from Afghanistan.
Kabul routinely accuses Islamabad of allowing the Taliban to use Pakistani soil for directing attacks on the Afghan side of the long border between the two countries.
Pakistan accuses authorities in Afghanistan of sheltering fugitive militants and allowing them to plot cross-border terrorist attacks.
Analysts said the rising diplomatic bilateral tensions do not bode well for peace efforts in Afghanistan.
The Taliban condemned the kidnapping, urging Pakistan to arrest and punish the perpetrators, the group’s spokesman Mohammad Naeem said via Twitter.
Pakistan is considered a key player in the Afghan peace process and has been acknowledged by the United States for helping bring the Taliban to the negotiating table for talks with Kabul’s representatives, though the process has failed to make any headway.
“Close Afghanistan-Pakistan collaboration is of utmost importance at this time of peace talks,” said Torek Farhadi, a former Afghan government adviser.
“Pakistan has promised to get to the bottom of this unfortunate affair within 48 hours. President [Ashraf] Ghani could have waited a few days and take such a decision in consultation with Afghan Parliament,” Farhadi said.