The diplomatic crisis between Pakistan and Afghanistan deepened on Sunday after Kabul announced that it will withdraw its ambassador and other senior staff from Islamabad after the abduction and torture of the daughter of its envoy to Pakistan. Silsila Alikhil, the 26-year-old daughter of Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan Najibullah Alikhil was abducted, tortured and assaulted on Friday by unknown persons in Islamabad.
She was abducted while riding a rented vehicle and was held for several hours before being released. She was found near F-9 Park area of the capital with torture marks on her body.
"Following the abduction of the Afghan ambassador's daughter in Pakistan, the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan called back Afghanistan's ambassador and senior diplomats from Pakistan until all security threats are addressed including the arrest and trial of the perpetrators of abduction," the Afghan foreign ministry said in a statement.
It said an Afghan delegation will visit Pakistan soon to assess and follow up on the case and "all related issues", adding that "subsequent actions will follow based on the findings".
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid in an interview to private TV channel Geo News said the ambassador's daughter was not abducted.
"She went to Rawalpindi on her own will...we have CCTV footage," he said.
However, earlier in the day, Rashid at a press conference has said that police have registered a first information report in the abduction and torture in the case.
He told reporters that the taxi drivers who drove her to different places before abduction have been interrogated and the real abductors would be arrested soon.
"Police are investigating the report of the Afghan ambassador's daughter issue...we have registered a case on her (Alikhil) request," Rashid said.
He said the interrogation of the trio of taxi drivers whose cars the ambassador's daughter had sat in have been recorded, the Dawn newspaper reported.
Rashid said the real abductors would be arrested soon and the authorities were moving swiftly on the case and promised to share all information once police completed the probe.
The minister said the first driver had driven the envoy's daughter to Khadda Market, a second had then driven her to Rawalpindi, and a third had driven her from Daman-i-Koh.
The footage of her trip from Rawalpindi to Daman-i-Koh was missing and the matter was under investigation, he said.
In a statement to police, which was circulated in the media, Alikhil said she went to buy a gift and hired a taxi. While coming back, the driver pulled over on the roadside after a five-minute drive and another man barged in who first shouted at her then started beating her. “Because I was scared, so I felt unconscious,” she said.
Alikhil said after she regained consciousness, she found herself “at a place full of dirt”. She then took a taxi to go to a nearby park from where she called her father’s colleague, who brought her home.
The kidnapping incident has happened amidst a war of words between Islamabad and Kabul over Pakistan's alleged tacit support to Taliban fighters who are confronting Afghan government forces as Western forces, including those from the US, are withdrawing from the war-torn country after two decades following the 9/11 terror attacks.
In a statement issued on Saturday, Afghanistan demanded Pakistan “to identify and prosecute the perpetrators at the soonest possible time”.
The Afghan foreign ministry also said it “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”.
Pakistan and Afghanistan often trade accusations, with Kabul claiming Islamabad is sending thousands of militants to fight in the war-torn country and providing safe haven for the Taliban. Pakistan, in turn, claims that Afghanistan harbours the anti-Pakistani group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan - the Pakistani Taliban - and also the secessionist Balochistan Liberation Army.
Afghanistan has seen an uptick in violence after US President Joe Biden’s announcement of the withdrawal of US and NATO troops.