RAWALPINDI / PESHAWAR / LANDIKOTAL: The abduction and brutal murder of a senior Pakistani police officer in Afghanistan and the subsequent behaviour of Afghan authorities indicate involvement of more than a terrorist group, the military said moments after the body of SP Tahir Khan Dawar was brought to Pakistan via Torkham border crossing Thursday evening.
Tahir Khan Dawar, superintendent police Peshawar (Rural), disappeared on Oct 26 while taking a walk in the F-10 area of Islamabad and was presumed abducted by terrorists. On Wednesday, photographs purporting to show SP Dawar’s tortured body surfaced on social media.
The body was later found in the Dur Baba district of the volatile Afghan province of Nangarhar, with a hand-written note saying he was abducted and killed by the little-known Wilayat-e-Khurasan terrorist group, an affiliate of the Khurasan chapter of Islamic State to “avenge the killing of its members by SP Dawar with the help of military”.
The body was buried by local residents at a cemetery in the Momand Dara area of Dur Baba from where it was exhumed on Wednesday and shifted to the Jalalabad headquarters hospital for autopsy.
“[The] brutal murder of SP Tahir in Afghanistan is highly condemnable. We have lost a brave police officer,” the chief military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor wrote on his official Twitter handle. “His abduction, move to Afghanistan, murder and follow-up behaviour of Afghan authorities raise questions which indicate involvement or resources more than a terrorist organisation in Afghanistan,” he said.
Maj Gen Ghafoor, the director general, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), reiterated call for cooperation from Kabul in investigation into the gruesome murder of SP Dawar.
“While investigations by Pakistani authorities are in process, we reiterate that Afghan security forces to cooperate in border fencing and bilateral border security coordination to deny use of Afghan territory against Pakistan,” he said in another tweet.
The tweets came less than an hour after SP Dawar’s body was handed to Pakistani authorities after an ‘inordinate delay’ at the Torkham border crossing.
A delegation – including Minister of State for Interior Shaharyar Afridi and the spokesperson for Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government Shaukat Yousafzai, MNA Mohsin Dawar, Khyber tribal district’s Assistant Commissioner Mehmood Aslam, and Commandant Khyber Rifles Farrukh Humayun – reached the border crossing where its members were kept waiting for more than two hours.
Afghan authorities delayed the handover of SP Dawar’s remains after tribal elders from Nangarhar convened a Jirga under the chair of Faredon Khan, which was also attended by Gul Wazir from Pakistan side, where it was decided that the body would not handed over to Pakistani authorities.
However, the Jirga later agreed to hand over the body to the Pakistani delegation. Subsequently, the coffin containing the body was brought to Torkham border crossing where movement had been restricted to zero for security reasons. At the border, Afghan officials again refused to hand over the body to the Pakistani delegation, instead they asked MNA Mohsin Dawar and Dawar tribe elder Dawar Jan Muhmamad to receive the body.
The coffin was later shifted to the Frontier Constabulary fort in Landikotal from where it was airlifted in an Army Aviation helicopter to Peshawar, where his funeral prayers were offered at Malik Saad Shaheed Police Lines with senior civil and military officials in attendance.
State Minister Shaharyar Afridi and Shaukat Yousafzai condemned the attitude of the Afghan government in the entire episode and delay in handover of SP Dawar’s body.
“We waited at Torkham border crossing for two hours, but then they refused to hand over the body,” Afridi told a news briefing in Peshawar. “The attitude of the Afghanistan government was deplorable,” he said.
“The government is not silent on the issue. All government institutions and agencies are working on it silently,” he added. “We would take the issue to its logical end even if we have to go to the other side of the border.”
The minister further said that the Afghanistan government did not hand over the body to the Pakistani government and its consul general in Jalalabad which is a question mark. “The Afghanistan government should rethink its attitude,” he said adding that SP Dawar’s body was insulted.
On his part, Yousafzai said that SP Dawar was abducted to Afghanistan where he was brutally tortured and killed, but the Afghanistan government’s attitude was deplorable. “Governments should not have such attitudes,” he added. “We went to Torkham to receive the body with full honour but Afghan officials’ attitude was not good.”
In Islamabad, Afghanistan charge d’affaires was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs twice on Wednesday, and again on Thursday afternoon “to register our strong protest over the inordinate delay and manner of return of the body”, the Foreign Office said in a statement.
“Written and verbal demarches were made, which resulted in the visit of an official delegation to Afghanistan, who brought it back to Peshawar this [Thursday] evening,” it added.
It is hoped that Afghan authorities will offer full cooperation in ascertaining the circumstances under which a Pakistani police officer was found killed in Afghanistan.
The Foreign Office offered heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family and prayed for the Maghfirah of the departed soul.
Giving details of the events, it said that after the news of Dawar’s death broke out on the evening of November 13 2018, the foreign ministry and Pakistan’s Embassy in Kabul immediately contacted Afghan authorities for confirmation of the news and handover of the body to Pakistan.
Pakistan’s ambassador had asked the Afghan government to immediately send the mortal remains foregoing routine formalities.
A day earlier, Foreign Office demanded that the Afghan authorities conduct an immediate investigation into the murder of SP Dawar after they confirmed the “body found by locals” in Dur Baba was him. Omar Zakhilwal, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan, promised Kabul would investigate.