Where is Colonel – Zahir Habib who went missing in Nepal? The Pakistan Foreign Office said that involvement of hostile agencies (in an indirect reference to Indian RAW) could not be ruled out in the disappearance of Col Habib Zahir who went missing from the city of Lumbini on April 2017.
“Islamabad maintains that the involvement of hostile agencies cannot be ruled out in the disappearance of Col (r) Habib Zahir. The government continues to make all efforts to locate him and shall not rest until he is home,” said FO Spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal.
The statement by the office of spokesperson comes in response to a media query regarding reports on Indian TV channels and social media, claiming that Zahir Habib is in Indian custody and speculations about a possible swap with Kulbhushan Jadhav (the alleged Indian spy).
“According to Col Zahir’s family, he had posted his CV on LinkedIn and to a United Nations (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 for which he was sent an air-ticket for Lahore-Oman-Kathmandu by Oman Airlines for an interview on April 6, 2017,” Dr Faisal said.
Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed Habib Zahir was part of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence. Investigations by Pakistan revealed that Zahir was following up on an offer to work with an international firm known as Strategic Solutions Consultancy.
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He said that after landing in Nepal, which Col Habib visited for the first time in his life, the retired military officer left Kathmandu airport (from where he had sent his photo and boarding pass on Whatsapp to his family), for Lumbini by Buddha Air.
“As per record, Col Habib sent a text message to his wife from his cellphone intimating that he had landed safely at Lumbini (a municipality 5 kilometres from the Indian border), at 1300 hours on 6 April 2017 after which his cell phone apparently switched off and his family lost contact with him,” the spokesman added.
Dr Faisal said that later investigations revealed that the UK mobile number of Mr Mark was computer/internet generated.
“The website that Habib was contacted from was found to be operated from India and was subsequently taken down. The Government of Nepal constituted a special team to look into his disappearance but there has not been any progress in the matter so far,” Dr Faisal added.
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He said that in view of the disappearance of Col Zahir Habib from Lumbini, which is five kilometres away from the Indian border, the involvement of several Indian nationals came to the fore who reportedly received Col Zahir at Lumbini and also made his hotel reservations and booked his tickets.
“Pakistan also repeatedly requested the Government of India to assist in locating Habib Zahir. However, no positive response has been received from the Indian side.
Habib’s family is very concerned and also approached the UN Working Group on Enforced Involuntary Disappearances in Geneva for assistance in locating him. His disappearance has also been reported in media, including outside Pakistan,” concluded the spokesman.