In interview, Sheikh Rashid alleges the reported abduction and assault is an ‘international racket’ cooked up by India’s intelligence agency
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Sunday branded the abduction in Islamabad of the daughter of Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan an “international racket,” alleging that it “never happened” and was a plot hatched by India’s intelligence agency to defame Pakistan.
Ambassador Najibullah Alikhil’s daughter Silsila Alikhil was reportedly abducted from a shopping center in the federal capital on Friday. According to the Afghanistan Foreign Affairs Ministry, she was returning home via taxi on Friday afternoon when the drive picked up another man. The two men then reportedly verbally and physically abused her before dropping her off on a roadside.
In an interview broadcast on Geo News, the interior minister claimed that the government’s initial probe had not found any evidence of abduction. “There was no kidnapping,” he claimed. “I want to tell the entire nation, this is an international racket, an international conspiracy, this is the agenda of [Indian spy agency] RAW,” he alleged, claiming that the incident had been used to “defame” Pakistan internationally by the Indian media.
Rashid went on to claim that police had only registered a case of abduction under pressure from Afghan authorities—suggesting political interference in policing matters—and sought to poke holes in the statement given by Alikhil. He claimed that she had initially hired a taxi at Khadda Market; then a second one at Daman-i-Koh; and a third one from F-9 Park. “She is refusing to accept that she visited Rawalpindi,” he said.
“There is just one part left in our investigation. We have found three taxis involved in the incident. The woman reached Daman-i-Koh from Rawalpindi but skipped stopping midway at her residence. We are just trying to find another footage of her movement from Rawalpindi,” he said.
He also accused the ambassador’s daughter of providing police access to her mobile phone only after deleting all data on it. Stressing that Pakistan was cooperating with the ambassador and Afghan authorities, he reiterated his claims of India inciting propaganda on the incident.
Earlier, in a press conference, Rashid said that a case had been registered against unidentified persons under Sections 34 (common intent); 365 (kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine person); 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty); and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Pakistan Penal Code. He said the taxi drivers had all been interviewed and vowed to complete the probe within a day or two.
Kabul recalls envoy
Following the abduction, Kabul on Sunday recalled its ambassador to Islamabad and other senior diplomats. “Following the abduction of the daughter of Afghan ambassador in Pakistan, the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan have recalled the Afghan envoy and other senior diplomats from Islamabad back to Kabul until all the security threats are removed,” the Afghan foreign ministry said in a statement, as it demanded the arrest and prosecution of the kidnappers.
In response, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said the decision was “unfortunate and regrettable.” Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri, in a statement, said the reported abduction and assault was being pursued at the highest levels on the instructions of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
He also reiterated that security of the ambassador, his family, and other personnel of the Afghan Embassy and consulates had already been strengthened to prevent any similar occurrence. He said Pakistan hopes that that the Government of Afghanistan would reconsider its decision.