‘Abduction’ and after

The incident could not have come at a more inopportune time

July 20, 2021

The fiasco surrounding the “abduction and release” of the Afghan ambassador’s daughter has culminated with senior mission officials in Islamabad, including the ambassador, being recalled by Kabul.

The incident could not have come at a more inopportune time – when civil war threatens to engulf Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the US troops, and when Islamabad and Kabul are required to rather work on removing the misgivings that continue to hamper a friendly bilateral relationship, if not an exemplary one. The unfortunate incident may well have been part of a conspiracy hatched by inimical forces, just to add fuel to the fire in the troubled relations.

Regrettably, the inconsistent statements from the government officials reflected poorly on our diplomatic and administrative capability to handle a highly sensitive issue. Every government functionary had their own take on what happened and why, and thus the contradictions only caused doubts in the official version. Even the FIR — which is technically a legal document — explicitly listed kidnapping among the charges. In a latest though, the IG Islamabad – during a press conference he attended yesterday alongside Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf – said there is no evidence that the Afghan ambassador’s daughter was kidnapped from Islamabad. Qureshi projected the stance while speaking on the occasion, and offered ‘full cooperation’ to the Afghan authorities for their further satisfaction, insisting that Pakistan has nothing to hide.

NSA Yusuf, speaking at the press conference, described the whole issues as a case of disinformation, recalling how the EU DisinfoLab had exposed an India-based network of fake websites and media outlets doing propaganda against Pakistan. The NSA said Pakistan was a target of ‘hybrid warfare’ and the incident involving the envoy’s daughter is a part of an orchestrated campaign to create a false impression that Pakistan “is doing something [wrong] in Afghanistan” and that the security situation in Pakistan was poor. Yusuf’s words echoed the military’s stance. A day back, Director General ISPR Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar told a private television channel that the recent incidents of terrorism and attacks on security forces in Pakistan were due to the degenerating situation in Afghanistan, and the Indian spy agency, RAW, have a hand in them.

One does agree to the statements. There is no doubting the fact that Indian intelligence is active in Afghanistan and is using the country for anti-Pakistan operations. There is no doubt either that India is the main spoiler for peace in Afghanistan — peace would put the onus on Afghanistan to punish Indian assets and intelligence officials involved in terrorism in Pakistan. But this is not the main issue, nor is the inept Kabul government’s inability to stop terrorists from using its soil. We are the ones who have been unable to fully secure our own territory. We may blame Kabul’s incompetence and New Delhi’s duplicity all we want, but in the end, Pakistan’s safety and security are our responsibility. Calling on Kabul to secure their territory is a stretch, given that they are losing territory every day.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2021.

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