KATHMANDU – Authorities in Nepal say they are yet trying to ascertain the identity of a man who had received Pakistan Army’s Lt Colonel (r) Habib Zahir upon his arrival at Bhairahawa Airport in the town of Lumbini near the Indian border.
Media reports quoted the Nepalese police as saying that the CCTV footage available with the authorities shows an unknown person, believed to be an Indian, receiving Zahir at Bhairahawa Airport.
Police have confirmed that Zahir flew to Bhairahawa from Kathmandu. “The police are trying to ascertain the identity of the person who received him,” officials said.
“We can confirm that Col Habib reached Bhairahawa airport from Kathmandu and, according to the CCTV footage, he disembarked from the plane with his hand luggage and a backpack,” a Nepal police official told BBC Nepali. “He was received by an unknown man with whom he spoke a few words and then both of them left.”
Investigators said the photograph of Col Zahir and the video footage were shown to the taxi drivers and other transport operators at the airport.
Nepal’s home ministry spokesperson Bal Krishna Panthi said that so far the special bureau of the police had found no clue. “We don’t know as to why he went to Lumbini and what the purpose of his visit to Nepal was. There was no reservation in any of Lumbini hotels in his name last Thursday.”
The police added that they were collecting information about Zahir’s phone calls.
Earlier on Thursday, Pakistan’s foreign office spokesman Nafees Zakaria had said that the government was in contact with the Nepalese authorities over the matter.
“We have brought Lt. Col (r) Zahir’s case to the Nepali government’s attention,” Zakaria said in his weekly news briefing, adding that Pakistan suspects an enemy spy agency is behind ex-serviceman’s kidnapping.
According to the FO spokesman, the activities of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav were irrefutable proof of Indian involvement in Pakistan.
Col Zahir, who retired from the army in October 2014, went missing on April 6 from Lumbini, a Buddhist pilgrimage site close to the Indian border, where he arrived after somebody by the name of Mark Thompson had contacted him via email and telephone for a job interview in Nepal.
The colonel was currently employed with a private firm in Pakistan and had posted his CV online in search of employment.
The last message that he sent from Lumbini said that he had reached his destination.