The daughter of Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan was abducted and tortured in Islamabad on Friday.
Silsila Alikhil, the 26-year-old daughter of Najibullah Alikhil, was abducted while she was on her way home in the Pakistani capital and held for around five hours.
The abduction comes days after Afghanistan‘s vice-president Amrullah Saleh accused Pakistan of providing ‘close air support’ for the Taliban as the Islamist insurgents continued their offensive in the war-torn country.
‘The abduction of the Afghan ambassador’s daughter and her subsequent torture has wounded the psyche of our nation. Our national psyche has been tortured,’ Mr Saleh tweeted on Sunday.
In a separate tweet late on Sunday, the Afghan foreign ministry said senior diplomats have been recalled to Kabul while the attack is investigated.
Silsila Alikhil, the 26-year-old daughter of Najibullah Alikhil, was abducted while she was on her way home in the Pakistani capital and held for several hours
The young woman was abducted in the middle of the afternoon in the Pakistani capital, held for several hours and brutally attacked.
She was left with rope marks and other injuries, and is currently under medical care.
The Afghan foreign ministry statement said it is recalling its senior diplomats ‘until all security threats are met including the arrest and trial of the perpetrators of the abduction’.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry called Kabul’s decision ‘regrettable’ and said that it hoped the decision would be reconsidered.
However, the Afghan Ministry of External Affairs said the diplomats would not return until their security had been assured by Islamabad, and the assailants were found and punished.
Pakistan has opened an investigation into the Friday attack.
Pakistan’s past investigations of attacks on women have been criticised after police and even prime minister Imran Khan have blamed the victims, citing the clothes they wore or that they were travelling alone.
Earlier this year, after a woman was raped in front of her two children on a road, a senior police officer chided her for travelling by herself and at night.
Pictured: Najibullah Alikhil, Afghan ambassador in Pakistan whose daughter was abducted and tortured on Friday. The Afghan foreign ministry said on Sunday senior diplomats have been recalled to Kabul while the attack is investigated
Ms Alikhil’s abduction comes as the relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan rapidly deteriorates.
Last week, Mr Saleh claimed the Pakistani military had warned Afghanistan that they would be ‘faced and repelled’ by Pakistan’s Air Force if they tried to attack the Taliban in Spin Boldak to retake the key border crossing between the two countries.
The Taliban’s offensive across Afghanistan comes after U.S. troops withdrew from the country after almost 20 years of presence following the 9/11 attacks.
‘Pakistan air force has issued official warning to the Afghan Army and Air Force that any move to dislodge the Taliban from Spin Boldak area will be faced and repelled by the Pakistan Air Force,’ Saleh tweeted on Thursday.
‘Pak air force is now providing close air support to Taliban in certain areas.’
Pictured: Private security stand guard outside the Afghan embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, 19 July 2021 after senior diplomats were recalled from the country
He added: ‘Afghan aircrafts as far as 10 kilometres from Spin Boldak are warned to back off or face air to air missiles. Afghanistan is too big to be swallowed.’
Pakistan strongly denied the claim, with a foreign ministry statement saying the country ‘took necessary measures within its territory to safeguard our own troops and population’.
‘We acknowledge Afghan government’s right to undertake actions on its sovereign territory,’ Pakistan’s foreign ministry added.
But Saleh dismissed Pakistan’s denials as false and said on Friday: ‘On Pakistani denial: For over twenty years Pakistan denied the existence of Quetta Shura [militant organisation with Taliban leaders] or presence of Taliban terrorist leaders in its soil.
‘Those familiar with this pattern, Afghan or foreign, know exactly that issuing a statement is just a pre-written paragraph.’
Afghanistan’s vice-president Amrullah Saleh last week accused Pakistan of providing ‘close air support’ for the Taliban
The war of words comes as Afghan forces clashed Friday with Taliban fighters in Spin Boldak after launching an operation to retake the key border crossing with Pakistan.
Dozens of wounded Taliban fighters were being treated at a Pakistan hospital near the border after fierce overnight fighting, AFP correspondents at the scene reported.
‘We have suffered one death and dozens of our fighters have got injured,’ Mullah Muhammad Hassan, who identified himself as a Taliban insurgent, told AFP near Chaman in Pakistan, about five kilometres (three miles) from the border.
Reuters news agency said Friday one of its photographers had been killed in the Spin Boldak fighting, citing an Afghan army commander.
Danish Siddiqui, an Indian national, was part of a team that shared a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 and had been embedded with Afghan special forces, the agency said.
Amrullah Saleh claimed the Pakistani military had warned Afghanistan that they would be ‘faced and repelled’ by Pakistan’s Air Force if they tried to attack the Taliban in Spin Boldak to retake the key border crossing between the two countries. Pictured: Afghan security forces
‘We are urgently seeking more information, working with authorities in the region,’ Reuters President Michael Friedenberg and Editor-in-Chief Alessandra Galloni said in a statement.
‘Danish was an outstanding journalist, a devoted husband and father, and a much-loved colleague. Our thoughts are with his family at this terrible time.’
Siddiqui told Reuters he had been wounded in the arm by shrapnel earlier on Friday while reporting on the clash. He was treated and had been recovering when Taliban fighters retreated from the fighting in Spin Boldak.
Siddiqui had been talking to shopkeepers when the Taliban attacked again, the Afghan commander said.