Afghanistan has withdrawn its ambassador and diplomats from Pakistan’s capital following the kidnapping of the ambassador’s daughter, the Afghan foreign ministry has said, a new blow to relations at a sensitive time for the Afghan peace process.
Silsila Alikhil, the daughter of Najib Alikhil, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan, was seized on Friday and held for several hours by unknown assailants who left her with injuries and rope marks. Pakistan authorities have said they are investigating the incident.
“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 Afghan foreign ministry said.
Alikhil was on her way home in the Pakistani capital when she was kidnapped, the ministry said on Saturday, adding that she was under medical care in hospital after being released.
“The abduction of Afgh ambassador’s daughter & her subsequent torture has wounded the psyche of our nation. Our national psyche has been tortured,” Afghanistan’s Vice President Amrullah Saleh said on Twitter.
Islamabad has relatively tight security and a population of about one million people.
An Afghan delegation will visit Pakistan to assess the situation after which “more steps will be taken,” Afghanistan’s foreign ministry said.
Top priority probe
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has assigned the Alikhil matter top priority and said he wants the culprits caught within 48 hours, the interior minister said on Saturday.
Pakistan is considered a key player in the peace process in Afghanistan, where the Taliban group has taken over territory in the weeks since US President Joe Biden announced the withdrawal of US troops by September 11.
The neighbouring countries have long had frosty ties. Kabul accuses Pakistan of allowing safe havens for the Taliban, while Islamabad accuses Kabul of allowing armed groups to use their territory to carry out attacks in Pakistan.
Pakistan has been acknowledged for helping bring the Taliban to the negotiating table for peace talks that began in Qatar last year, but negotiations have failed to make substantive progress and the Taliban has ramped up offensives.