Pakistan has rejected claims that the missing Pakistan Army colonel and ISI agent Zahir Habib has died. Habib Zahir was abducted in 2016 from Nepal close to the Indian border.
The letter in question (claiming the death of Babib) is doing rounds on social media. “It [letter] appears to be fake,” said Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal during the weekly briefing.
“It is obviously a campaign of sensationalisation being initiated by hostile agencies against Pakistan and its nationals. Pakistan and the family of Lt-Col (retd) Habib Zahir are extremely concerned about his whereabouts who was kidnapped more than two years ago from an area in Nepal close to the Indian border.”
“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.
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.
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.