India blamed for ex-Pakistan Army officer's 'abduction'

Indo Asian News Service

Kathmandu/Islamabad, April 10 (IANS) The family of a retired Pakistan Army officer who went missing in Nepal believes the Indian intelligence may have abducted him, the Pakistani media reported on Monday.

The Nepal Police is searching for retired Lt Col Muhammad Habib Zahir, who went missing in Lumbini in Nepal on Thursday soon after landing there for a job interview.

The Pakistan embassy in Kathmandu has asked the Nepali Foreign Ministry to help find out his whereabouts.

Saad Habib, his son, said his father reached Kathmandu via Muscat.

"I received his last phone call from Kathmandu on April 6 and he told me that a person named Javaid Ansari received him at the airport. My father went missing after that," the Dawn quoted Saad Habib as saying.

Col Zahir retired from the Pakistan Army three years ago and was in search of a job.

A few weeks ago, he received a phone call from Britain and the caller, who identified himself as Mark Thomas, offered him an attractive job.

After reaching Lumbini, the Pakistani officer's telephone went dead.

Saad Habib said the initial probe by the family and friends revealed that the British telephone number from which the officer got the job offer was computer generated and the email domain and its associated website were registered in India.

According to the son, this has prompted concerns that Indian intelligence agencies may have abducted him.

"We have asked local authorities in Rupandehi district to look into the disappearance," Nepal Police spokesman Sarbendra Khanal told Xinhua news agency.

Authorities in Pakistan have registered a case against unknown "anti-state elements" and launched an investigation.