Afghanistan again criticises Pak minister over abduction of envoy’s daughter

Afghanistan has reiterated its deep concern over Pakistan interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed’s claims that there is no evidence the Afghan envoy’s daughter was abducted and assaulted in Islamabad, saying they could lead to greater mistrust between the two countries.

Selsela Alikhil, the 26-year-old daughter of Afghan ambassador Najibullah Alikhil, was abducted, held for almost five hours and assaulted by unidentified men in Islamabad on July 16. Two days later, the Afghan government recalled its envoy and senior diplomats from Islamabad over security concerns.

Ahmed, who is close to Pakistan’s military establishment, told a news conference on Tuesday that an investigation into the incident had found no evidence of an abduction.

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“There is no case of kidnapping,” Ahmed said. He had earlier described the incident as a “conspiracy” linked to India’s external intelligence agency.

The Afghan foreign ministry reiterated its concern at Ahmed’s remarks in a statement issued on Wednesday. Afghan foreign minister Mohammed Haneef Atmar had earlier conveyed similar concerns in a phone call with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs once again expresses deep concern over the continuation of unprofessional remarks by Pakistan’s Interior Minister regarding the abduction of the daughter of our Ambassador in Islamabad,” the statement said.

“While the investigation process has not been concluded and the perpetrators have not been arrested, the continuation of unilateral statements and unprofessional prejudgments will call the transparency of the investigation into question and result in increased mistrust,” it added.

The statement pointed out that hospital reports had “endorsed the mental and physical torture” of Selsela Alikhil. “We expect unprofessional prejudgements to be avoided before the investigation comes to an end. Instead, we urge that all efforts should be geared towards obtaining evidence and completing the probe, as well as arresting and prosecuting the perpetrators,” it said.

The Afghan foreign ministry said it is committed to full cooperation in the investigation process through the collaboration of delegations from both sides. “We hope to see the reasons behind the incident, and the investigation results soon finalised and announced based on the findings of the investigating teams of the two countries,” it added.

Ahmed had also said on Tuesday that the incident was being used as a way to “defame” Pakistan.

He added, “Pakistan will not back down from this case, even though there is a huge difference between her (claim) and our findings.”

As fighting raged in Afghanistan with the Taliban, a war of words erupted last week and vice president Amrullah Saleh accused the Pakistani military of providing “close air support to Taliban in certain areas”.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has accused Pakistan of failing to prevent the influx of 10,000 terrorists and of not doing enough to nudge the Taliban to join peace talks to find a political settlement.