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Diplomatic crisis emerges amid questions on how SP Tahir Dawar’s body ended up in Afghanistan

November 15, 2018
PM Imran Khan called murder a "shocking" tragedy

How did the body of a Grade 18 uniformed officer of Pakistan's police end up in Afghanistan? This question is at the heart of the murder of SP Tahir Dawar and even though his body was handed over to Pakistan on Thursday, the case is far from over.

State Interior Minister Shehryar Afridi said that Pakistan was handed over SP Tahir Dawar’s body after two-and-a-half hours.  They refused to hand over the body to our Jalalabad embassy, he remarked. “This issue needs to be resolved diplomatically through dialogue,” he said.

Afridi was part of the delegation of Pakistani ministers that went to the border to receive the body. On October 27, the SP was abducted from Islamabad's F-10 and by Tuesday, Nov 13, news surfaced that his body had been found, but in Afghanistan.

“We respect the Afghanistan government and have always supported them,” he said while addressing a press conference after returning. “The Government of Afghanistan needs to rethink its behaviour. Pakistan owns all its soldiers and officers. We will never compromise on the security of our soldiers,” he went on to say.  “We want to know how the body ended up in Afghanistan.”

The Afghan foreign ministry had initially informed the Pakistan Embassy in Kabul that a body had been found in District Dur Baba of Nangarhar province on Tuesday. Then, Pakistan’s Foreign Office confirmed in a statement a day later that a body had been found in the Mamdara area of Nangarhar along with the service card of SP Tahir Khan Dawar. It added that Pakistan’s consulate in Jalalabad was waiting for the body to be received.

Local sources in Nangarhar said that the SP’s body had been buried after funeral prayers were offered for him the same day the body was found. This is why the body had to be exhumed and all legal formalities had to be completed before it could be handed over to Pakistan. However, this had not happened till Thursday morning.

By Nov 15, Thursday, Pakistan's Interior State Minister Sheharyar Afridi and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Shaukat Yousafzai headed to the border to receive his body.

"This is not the first such incident. It is a porous border," Afridi had said on the floor of the Senate earlier in the day. "In the same way, before this, just like this, young men have been picked up and their bodies were found in Afghanistan."

Related story: Obituary: SP Tariq Khan Dawar, the man who knew no fear

The interior minister said this case raised questions not just for the state of Pakistan "but for all of us".

"The SP was picked up from here. What route was used? We don’t have all the details. From here to Punjab, and after a day or two there, Mianwalli and then Bannu," he said. "Within Pakistan, those who are destabilizing Pakistan. But this doesn’t mean we won’t do anything. We will answer this. We will take this to its logical conclusion. And the culprits, whether they are in Afghanistan or in Pakistan, this is the promise of the state of Pakistan to the nation that we will make an example of them."

According to the Islamabad police, Tahir Khan, the SP of Peshawar’s rural zone, was kidnapped from within the jurisdiction of Ramna police station.

A curfew was imposed near the Torkham border with a heavy contingency of security waiting for the body to be handed over. His funeral prayers were offered at 8pm on Thursday at Police Lines, Peshawar.

Angry reaction

The army's spokesperson, a senator and the Foreign Office all condemned the murder and criticized the way Afghanistan handled the matter.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office said that the Afghan side delayed the return of SP Dawar’s mortal remains. The spokesman said that Afghan Charges d'Affaires was summoned to the FO twice on Wednesday and again on Thursday afternoon to register Pakistan’s protest. “It is hoped that the Afghan authorities will offer full cooperation in ascertaining the circumstances under which a Pakistani police officer was found killed in Afghanistan.”

Meanwhile, on the floor of the Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman expressed amazement that more answers had not been forthcoming in an incident of such magnitude.

To discuss the matter a meeting has been called by PM Imran Khan on Friday at 3pm. Ahmeduddin, the brother of the martyred SP, remarked that Dawar has sacrificed his life for the country. “We request the government that those who martyred him should be taken to task,” he said.

 

 
 
 
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