Pakistan seeks cooperation from Afghanistan to pursue kidnap probe of Afghan envoy’s daughter

Islamabad: Pakistani officials on Monday said that significant progress has been made in the case of the alleged kidnapping of the Afghan ambassador’s daughter but urged that “cooperation from the ambassador’s family” is critical to reach conclusive results.

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In a joint press conference, Pakistan foreign minister and Islamabad police chief insisted that the “police is very close to solving the case” but require “cooperation” from the complainant to move forward jointly on the case and bring culprits to justice.

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Afghan Ambassador Najibullah Alikhil’s daughter Silsila, 26, was reportedly abducted for a few hours and assaulted on July 16 in Islamabad by unidentified people. The Afghanistan government decided to withdraw its ambassador and senior diplomats from Pakistan in a move that Islamabad described as “unfortunate and regrettable”.

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In a phone call, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi informed his Afghan counterpart Mohammad Haneef Atmar about the measures taken by Pakistan and urged Kabul to reconsider recalling the diplomats, assuring full cooperation and support for a transparent investigation. Islamabad has further beefed up the security of the Afghan embassy and consulates across the country, he said.

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During the press briefing, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Islamabad Qazi Jamil ur Rehman stressed that “it will not be possible to conclude the investigation without the cooperation of the victim. “This is a very sensitive and important case. It’s a challenge” for Islamabad police, he said. Police formed five dedicated teams and “utilised all resources to solve this totally blind case” with only limited information provided by the ambassador’s daughter.

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During the last three days, the police “scrutinised 300 CCTV cameras in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, viewed more than 700 hours of recording and interviewed 220 people including all four drivers” which helped the police track the complete route that the envoy’s daughter took on Friday.

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Narrating the activity of the fateful day, police said the envoy’s daughter walked from home and took a taxi from Rana Market and headed to Khadda Market from where she took another cab that took her to Rawalpindi. She then hailed another cab from Rawalpindi to reach Islamabad’s hilly area of Daman-i-Koh from where she hired a fourth taxi for F-9 and also made a brief stopover at F-6. After reaching F-9, she called someone at the embassy and the staffer picked her up from there. “Police traced all four vehicles and drivers” and the camera evidence and interviews so far do not confirm the statement of the complainant, police said.

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The police investigation has so far not proved that it was a case of abduction. When asked to confirm it, Qureshi made no comment citing “the investigation is ongoing.” IG Islamabad said the police has collected, ascertained and verified data needed for the conclusive results but access to the mobile phone data and further information is critical at this stage, he told journalists.

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National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf, who also joined the press conference, said that Pakistan was a target of “hybrid warfare” and information warfare. He said fake accounts and bots were being used on social media to create a “narrative” against Pakistan to blame and scapegoat the country for the conflict in Afghanistan. “This will not be acceptable to us”, he said, adding that the government will take action against the coordinated online network being used for manipulation and disinformation against Pakistan.

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