ISLAMABAD: Two Pakistani diplomatic officials abducted in Afghanistan last month have been ‘safely recovered’ in a security operation on Wednesday.
“The two diplomatic officials of the Consulate General of Pakistan in Jalalabad who were abducted while travelling from Jalalabad to Torkham on June 16, 2017 have been safely recovered today in Afghanistan,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.
President Ashraf Ghani phoned Pakistan's charge d'affaires in Kabul to inform that the Afghan security forces had recovered the two Pakistani officials in a security operation, the statement said.
The pair had been handed over to Pakistan’s Embassy in Kabul and would be flown home soon, it added.
“Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua talked to Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Karzai and conveyed Pakistan’s deep gratitude to the Afghan government for safe recovery of the two abducted Pakistani diplomatic officials,” the statement said.
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The development may ease tensions between the two neighbours who often blame each other for harbouring terrorists. Afghan officials frequently accuse Pakistan of supporting the Taliban and providing sanctuary for the insurgents on its soil in hopes of maintaining influence in Afghanistan.
Pakistani officials blame Kabul for not taking action against safe havens of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and other terrorist groups who are using the Afghan soil as a springboard for launching attacks inside Pakistan.
Earlier this month, the Pakistani military mounted a major offensive, codenamed Khyber-IV, in Rajgal Valley of Khyber Agency which, it says, is being used by Afghanistan-based terrorists of Islamic State, or Da’ish, and other Pakistani terrorist groups as a transit route.
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Kabul objected to the Rajgal operation, saying the Pakistani military didn’t share information about the offensive with Afghan and American military officials. The Pakistani military, however, dismissed the objection as ‘unwarranted’.
On Wednesday, the Afghan defence ministry spokesperson again criticised Pakistan over its ‘un-coordinated’ operation in Rajgal, saying: “Islamabad is trying to push Haqqani network and other insurgents into Afghanistan.”
“Pakistan should target areas being monitored by the US and China and ones that the Afghan government considers as a threat,” ToloNews quoted Dawlat Wazizi as saying.
Pakistani officials say hostile intelligence agencies – a reference to India’s Research and Analysis Wing – are using the Afghan soil to stoke terrorism in Pakistan. They say a better coordination between the two sides is essential to defeat terrorism.
On Tuesday, army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa blamed “regional actors and hostile intelligence agencies using terror as a policy tool” for being behind Monday’s suicide bombing in Lahore that claimed 26 lives.
“Concurrent blasts in Kabul and Lahore are testimony of our stance that both Pakistan and Afghanistan are victims of terrorism and will continue to suffer if these actors are able to use Afghanistan’s territory with impunity,” Gen Bajwa said while chairing a security meeting at the Lahore Corps Headquarters.
He reiterated that Pakistan was ready to help Afghanistan to eliminate terrorist safe havens in their border areas as it has done on its side.
Gen Qamar told top US military commander in Afghanistan Gen John Nicholson, who met him a day earlier, that some quarters in Washington and Kabul were trying to undermine Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts, but it would continue to act positively.
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