Pakistan's top diplomat in Afghanistan on Friday survived an attack inside the Embassy of Pakistan in Kabul. The attack has been described as an assassination attempt by the Pakistani government.
Pakistan's Head of Mission (HoM) Ubaidur Rehman Nizamani was targeted by a gunman when he was taking a walk in the embassy compound. The security guard with Nizamani saved him but himself suffered critical injuries, according to Geo News.
Sources told PTI that Nizamani and other Pakistani officials have been recalled to Pakistan for now.
The attack was widely condemned in Paksistan and Afghanistan, with Priem Minister Shehbaz Sharif calling it a "dastardly assassination attempt".
"I demand immediate investigation and action against the perpetrators of this heinous act. Salute to the brave security guard, who took a bullet to save his life. Prayers for the swift recovery of a security guard," said Sharif.
Nizamani had taken charge as of the Pakistan's Kabul mission on November 4. Notably, the attack came within days of the militant group Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) opening hostilities with the Pakistani state and the visit of Pakistani Minister of State of Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar to Kabul in which security issues were discussed.
Pakistan summons Afghan envoy
Following the assassination attempt in Kabul, Pakistan summoned Afghanistan’s Charge d’Affaires (CDA) in Islamabad and "conveyed Pakistan’s grave concern over the serious incident in which, thankfully, the Head of Mission remained unhurt" but the guard was seriously wounded.
"The Charge d’Affaires was conveyed that security and protection of Pakistan’s diplomatic Missions and personnel was the responsibility of the Afghan Interim Government and that this incident was an extremely serious security lapse," said the Pakistan Foreign Office (FO).
Pakistan demanded that perpetrators of the attack must be apprehended and brought to justice urgently, an investigation be launched into the serious breach of security of the embassy premises, and that all necessary steps be taken to ensure the security of the diplomatic premises, officers and staff working in Pakistan’s mission in Kabul and Consulates in Jalalabad, Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif.
Terming the attack “highly unfortunate”, the Afghan Charge d’Affaires said that it was perpetrated by the common enemies of Pakistan and Afghanistan and has been condemned by the Afghan leadership in the strongest possible terms at the highest level. He also informed that the security of the Pakistani diplomatic missions had already been beefed up and the Afghan authorities would leave no stone unturned in bringing the perpetrators of this dastardly act to justice.
Separately, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari received a call from Acting Foreign Minister of the Taliban regime Amir Khan Muttaqi in the wake of the attack, the Foreign Office said. Muttaqi strongly condemned the attack targeting Nizamani. Reiterating Afghanistan’s firm resolve to combat terrorism, he assured Bhutto that the Afghan government “will bring the perpetrators of this heinous attack to justice swiftly”.
“The Afghan government must prevent the terrorists from undermining relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan,” Bilawal said, adding that Pakistan will be undeterred by such cowardly attacks.
Not the first embassy attack in Kabul
Though the attack on Pakistani embassy comes at a time when TTP has opened hostilities with the Pakistani state and there is some tensions between Pakistan and the Taliban, the attack is not the first attack on an embassy in Kabul.
In September, an explosion at Russian embassy in Kabul killed two people and caused another 15-20 casualties.
"Two members of the diplomatic mission were killed and there are also victims among Afghan citizens," said the Russian Foreign Ministry in a tweet at the time.
Embassies are located in diplomatic enclaves of national capitals and are supposed to be highly secured. The repeated failure of the Taliban regime to ensure security in the heart of Kabul shows its failure to get a grip on the country's security situation. The Taliban is engaged in a tussle with the ISIS-affiliate ISKP in Afghanistan, which is suspected to be behind several attacks in recent months.
Pakistani frustration with Taliban
Pakistani MoS Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar visited Kabul on Tuesday and discussed security among other issues with the Taliban regime's top officials.
Khar's visit sought to remove the irritants between Pakistan and the Taliban regime, including on security issues, as Islamabad wanted the Taliban to act against TTP militants carrying out attacks across the border. Official sources told PTI that the talks focused on security issues and economic cooperation as Pakistan wanted the Taliban regime to take firm action against TTP leaders who, according to Pakistani government, were based in Afghanistan and carrying out attacks across the border.
Pakistan had hoped that the Afghan Taliban after coming to power would use influence over the TTP to make peace with Pakistan but the expectation remained largely unfulfilled. It is not clear if the Afghan Taliban regime has used its influence on the TTP or if the latter refused to accept their pressure.
Pakistan security sources allege that the Afghans were apparently not ready to sour their ties with Pakistani militants who had fought with them against Western forces. The lack of action on the part of the Afghan has increased mistrust between Kabul and Islamabad.
(With PTI inputs)