Two diplomats based in the Consulate General of Pakistan in Jalalabad, an eastern Afghan city, went missing Friday June 16 while traveling to Pakistan by road, the Foreign Office (FO) confirmed Sunday.
The Foreign Office did not speculate who may be behind the disappearances, but various Afghan militant groups have targeted diplomats in the past.
A press release from FO Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria’s office said Islamabad is in constant contact with Afghan authorities, and the matter of the diplomats’ safety and recovery at the earliest has been raised with the relevant officials.
“Pakistan has requested the Afghan government that all efforts may be made to ensure early recovery of our officials and bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice,” the FO statement said.
The FO added that Afghanistan is cooperating in the efforts to “probe the incident” and recover the two diplomats.
“Three distinct investigating groups have been constituted to ensure the safe recovery of the officials,” the statement added.
Jalalabad, the provincial capital of Nangarhar province, is a busy trading hub about 70km from the main border crossing with Pakistan in Balochistan province, from which landlocked Afghanistan imports much of its goods.
The province is home to various terrorist groups, including TTP and Afghan Taliban. In recent years the Islamic State, also known as Da’ish, has also established a presence in Nangarhar.
But criminal gangs also operate in the volatile Afghan border region, and local media have lately reported a spike in incidents of kidnapping for ransom, reported VOA News.
The diplomats have gone missing at a time when relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have deteriorated over mutual allegations of sponsoring terrorist attacks on each other’s soils.