The kidnapped former governor of Afghanistan’s Herat province Fazlullah Wahidi was recovered from an area in the confluence of Mardan and Swabi late Thursday night, Afghan Ambassador Omar Zakhilwal and members of Wahidi’s family confirmed on Friday.
Wahidi had been abducted from Islamabad’s F-7 sector by unidentified men on February 12. No group had claimed responsibility for his kidnapping.
“Fazalullah Wahidi was recovered early at around 2:30am and was later handed over to the Afghan Consul General in Peshawar. All [Pakistani] institutions played a role in his recovery,” Wahidi’s son-in-law Engineer Sayed Ikram announced in Islamabad.
He said he talked to Wahidi immediately after his recovery on telephone. Ikram is a member of Afghanistan’s Wolesi Jirga and is part of the country’s parliamentary delegation currently visiting Pakistan.
According to high-ranking officials, the ex-governor was recovered by security forces following an operation on Swabi Road just on the boundary of Mardan’s Ismaela area. Three persons involved in his kidnapping were arrested as well, the officials said, adding that the suspects are being interrogated.
The freed governor arrived in Islamabad on Friday and met ambassador Zakhilwal, diplomatic sources said. He will leave for Kabul on Saturday, they added.
“The safe recovery and release of former Afghan governor Fazlullah Wahidi who was abducted from Islamabad on February 12 is not only a significant achievement for Pakistan’s law enforcement, leadership and institutions, but will also enormously strengthen trust and confidence between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Afghan envoy Zakhilwal said in a statement confirming the development.
He specially thanked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for ‘personally’ looking after the matter. “At our end we will use this and other opportunities for broadening interactions between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which in turn will result in more trust and confidence and ultimately to a very special relationship between our two brotherly countries,” Zakhilwal added.
In Kabul, the Afghan foreign ministry too appreciated the efforts of Pakistan’s government and police to recover Wahidi.
Talking to The Express Tribune from Kabul, Wahidi’s son Nemat said the kidnappers never demanded a ransom but knew everything about his father.
“They placed a black bag on my father’s head. After an hour’s drive, he was taken to some place in Islamabad at first. Three hours later, he was taken somewhere else where he spent the rest of his time in captivity,” Nemat said while giving details of the kidnapping.
However, he added that his father was never tortured and was even provided medication by the abductors.
Wahidi’s nephew had told the police that the ex-governor had been taken away by people in two vehicles from Islamabad’s F-7 sector. He was with his family members to get UK visas, he had stated in a statement to the police.
Afghans travel to Pakistan for UK visas as they are not issued visas by the British Embassy in Kabul.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 27th, 2016.