There is strong evidence pointing towards the involvement of Indian hostile agencies in the abduction of Col (retd) Muhammad Habib Zahir’s disappearance, the Foreign Office said Thursday.
Speaking at a weekly press briefing, FO spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said Zahir is a retired officer of the Pakistan army who was abducted in 2017 from Lumbini, Nepal which is 5 kilometres from the Indian border.
The Nepal Government, on Pakistan’s request, had constituted a special team to look into the incident but there has been no progress in the matter so far, he said.
“There is strong evidence pointing towards the involvement of Indian hostile agencies in the abduction of Habib Zahir, including involvement of Indian nationals who reportedly received him at Lumbini, made his hotel reservations and booked his tickets,” he added.
The spokesperson said the website that Habib Zahir was contacted from was also operated from India. Moreover, the Indian media reports and tweets from Indian personnel corroborate the evidence that he was in their custody.
“Pakistan has repeatedly called upon the Government of India to cooperate and assist in locating Habib Zahir, but unfortunately, we have not received any positive response as yet,” Hafeez said.
The spokesperson stressed the abduction of Habib Zahir is a serious transnational crime that is in sharp contravention to international law, especially human rights and humanitarian law.
“It is also in grave violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Access as well as 2008 bilateral agreement on consular access between Pakistan and India,” he said.
The grave human rights violation of the abductee and his family due to illegal actions of the abductors in a third state, speaks of the gravity of the matter, Chaudhri said.
The international community, especially the human rights organisations, must take serious notice of the matter and raise their voice for the release of an innocent individual, he urged.
The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has registered the case of Zahir, at the request of his family, he said. The relevant must respect the UN and constructively engage with the UN Working Group and take necessary steps to enable Habib Zahir’s immediate release.
“Pakistan will continue to make all-out efforts to locate and bring back Habib Zahir,” the spokesperson added.