Pakistan’s head of the diplomatic mission in Kabul returned to the Afghan capital on Monday, more than four months after he survived an assassination attempt, according to a media report.
Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch confirmed that Ubaidur Rehman Nizamani, the Pakistani Charge d’Affaires, returned to Kabul, however, she did not provide further details, The Express Tribune newspaper reported on Monday.
Nizamani’s return followed a phone call between Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and acting Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi. The development came ahead of a planned visit of Muttaqi to Islamabad next month. Quoting sources, the report said the decision to send back the Pakistani envoy was made during the call.
Nizamani was on a routine walk inside the sprawling embassy compound in Kabul on December 2 when shooters opened fire on him from a nearby multi-storey building.
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He escaped unhurt, but his Pakistani security guard was hit in the legs by bullets.
Pakistan immediately evacuated the senior diplomat and demanded the Taliban enhance the security of its embassy.
However, it was not clear at the time that it would take over four months for Pakistan to send back its envoy to Kabul.
The delay was attributed to a lack of security as well as friction between the two sides on a range of issues particularly the continued attacks by the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terror group.
Sources said that Bilawal extended the formal invitation to his Afghan counterpart during the telephone conversation.
Though no official confirmation was available, sources said that Muttaqi is expected to travel to Islamabad in the first week of May.
This would be his second visit to Islamabad and first, since the coalition government replaced former prime minister Imran Khan in April last year, the report said.
Pakistan has been pressing for decisive action against the TTP and its affiliates. The Afghan Taliban, despite promises and efforts to mediate a deal between the two sides, have failed to address Pakistan’s concerns.
The interim government in Kabul has come under renewed Pakistan pressure ever since the government and the establishment have come to the conclusion that they would no longer seek peace talks with the TTP.
A high-powered delegation led by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif along with the DG ISI visited Kabul in February to issue the Afghan Taliban a stern warning to tackle the TTP.
The Afghan intelligence officials then travelled to Islamabad for follow-up discussions.
The upcoming visit by the acting Afghan Foreign Minister would be seen as crucial as this would indicate if the two sides can sort out the security challenge without further hiccups, according to the Express Tribune report.