India behind Col (Retd) Habib’s abduction in Nepal, says Pakistan

Pakistan has categorically held India responsible for being responsible for the abduction of Pakistan Army’s Col (Retd) Muhammad Habib Zahir in Nepal back in 2017.

In a statement, Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri has underscored the fact that India is responsible for abducting Pak Army’s Col (Retd) Habib Zahir in 2017 from Lumbini, Nepal – 5 kilometers from Nepal-India border.

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, made his hotel reservations and booked his tickets, said the FO spokesperson.

Indian acts are blatant violation of international law, Vienna Convention on Consular Access as well as 2008 bilateral agreement on consular access between Pakistan and India.

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, added Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri.

It is pertinent to know that the website that Habib Zahir was contacted from was also operated from India. Furthermore, Indian media reports and tweets from Indian personnel also reflect that the retired Pakistan Army officer was in fact in India’s custody.

Meanwhile, Nepal had already constituted a special team on Pakistan’s request to investigate the matter. However, no progress has been made in the case so far.

Col (Retd) Habib Zahir’s Abduction (2017)

Lt. Col. (Rtd) Habib Zahir is a retired Pakistani officer who went missing in Nepal, where he had gone for a job interview in April 2017.

According to Lt. Col. (Rtd) Habib Zahir’s family, he had posted his CV on LinkedIn and UN website for a job. In response, he received a call and email from one Mr. Mark stating that he had been shortlisted for the job of Vice President.

He was asked to visit Kathmandu, Nepal for which he was sent air-ticket for Lahore-Oman-Kathmandu by Oman Airlines for an interview on 6 April 2017. After landing in Nepal, which he visited for the first time in his life, he left Kathmandu airport (from where he had sent his pictures and boarding pass to his family via WhatsApp), for Lumbini airport by Buddha Air.

At 1300 hours on 6 April 2017, he messaged his wife from his cellphone intimating that he had landed safely at Lumbini (a municipality 5 kilometers from the Indian border) after which his mobile appeared switched off and his family lost contact with him.

Investigations revealed that the UK cell number of Mr. Mark was fake and actually is an internet/computer generated number. The website that he was contacted from was found to be operated from India and was subsequently taken down.

Col (Retd) Zahir’s family has also approached the UN Working Group on Enforced Involuntary Disappearances in Geneva for assistance in locating him.

Pakistan maintains that the involvement of hostile agencies cannot be ruled out. The government continues to make all out efforts to locate him and shall not rest until he is home.