Strong protest lodged: Afghan security forces ‘cross the line’, prompt demarche
Islamabad summoned a senior Afghan diplomat to lodge its strong protest against the mistreatment of the Afghan National Army (ANA) meted out to 29 labourers, who were on their way back to Pakistan from Kabul, in the Pul-e-Charkhi area of Kabul.
The ministry of foreign affairs demanded a probe into the incident and is pressing for action against those found responsible.
“The Afghan charged affairs was summoned to the ministry of foreign affairs this morning (Saturday) and a strong protest was lodged, seeking an investigation into the incident and action against those responsible,” Foreign Office spokesperson Moazzam Khan said in an official statement.
He added that the Afghan government has also been asked to take appropriate measures to avoid a repeat of such incidents.
According to the Afghanistan desk at the Foreign Office, Afghan Charged Affairs Muhammad Musa Arifi met with Director General of the Afghanistan Desk Syed Ibrar Hussain and received a demarche.
Afghan embassy officials in Islamabad while talking to The Express Tribune confirmed the summoning and said that “it was a routine typical diplomatic meeting in which Pakistan lodged its protest and the demarche will be conveyed to the Afghanistan government.”
Pakistan’s Ambassador to Kabul Muhammad Sadiq also lodged a similar protest with the Afghan government over the incident.
A source in Pakistan’s Embassy in Kabul told The Express Tribune that a Pakistani official will raise the issue with Afghan authorities in upcoming trilateral events and military engagements as well.
Following the incident, Pakistani border guards immediately closed down the Torkham border crossing – temporarily halting the passage for Nato trucks and other vehicles.
The border was reopened after six hours upon assurance from Afghan officials that action would be taken against those involved in the torture incident.
The labourers claimed they were tortured by the ANA for no apparent reason, while their travel documents, which were legal, were torn up as well.
Frontier Corps (FC) Wing Commander Colonel Mushtaq confirmed that the labourers complained of the incident late Friday night. He added that they have arranged for the labourers to be transported safely back to their hometowns. All the labourers are said to belong to Punjab.
One of them, Mansoor Ahmed, a resident of Lahore, added that they had been working at the Shuja Steel Mill in Kabul since August, where they were restricted from moving outside by its owner Malik Waleed Shuja. “We were not even allowed to go out to renew our visa during the stay,” he added.
Another victim Irfan Ali, a resident of Bahawalpur, said they were kept in pathetic conditions inside the factory and were not paid last month’s salaries. The labourers managed to rid themselves of the job and headed back home when they were apprehended by the ANA at Pul-e-Charkhi.
According to Mansoor, the ANA troops tore passports of three of the labourers – Muhammad Ilyas, Shahid Ali and Muhammad Zahid.
He added that the Afghan authorities took Rs30,000 as bribe to term their stay as legal. The labourers appealed to President Asif Ali Zardari to provide them justice.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 23rd, 2012.