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  • Apr 13th, 2017
  • Comments Off on Disappearance of colonel ‘linked to Kalbushan’s death sentence’
Muhammad Habib Zahir, the former Pakistan Army colonel who recently disappeared from Lumbini near Nepal's border with India, is now suspected to be in Indian custody, according to media reports. The Indian Express, quoting its sources in the security establishment, said in a report on Wednesday that Indian agencies had been on Zahir's trail for long.

Last seen in Lumbini, Zahir was in the team that nabbed Indian Naval Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav in March 2016 on espionage charges, it added. "Zahir was at the Indo-Nepal border last week. He was in the team that had trailed Jadhav. There is definitely a connection between the two cases," an Indian officer said. "No sooner did the Pakistani authorities learn of Zahir's disappearance, Jadhav was pronounced guilty of being a spy. The purpose is clear. They didn't want any Indian agency to go public," the officer was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.

"Zahir retired from the Pakistan Army in 2014 but was said to have been engaged thereafter by the ISI for its covert operations. In 2015, he picked up conversations between Jadhav and his family members and started tracking him." The newspaper was also informed by its sources that Zahir was lured to Nepal with the promise of a "big catch". The man who turned in Zahir connected with him through a UK phone number to pass "information on a mole". He met Zahir a couple of times in Oman.

"Zahir arrived in Oman on April 2 and reached Kathmandu the next day. On his arrival in Nepal, he was handed over a SIM card at Bhairawa. Zahir was told that this was to facilitate his communication with a point person. From there, he was made to travel to Lumbini near the border," the officer said. "A month ago, a man named Mark Thomson contacted the ex-army officer through email and from a UK phone number claiming Zahir had been shortlisted for the job of vice president/zonal director with a salary package of $3,500-8,500 per month and asked him to come to Kathmandu, Nepal for an interview on April 6," a report in Express Tribune said. To further establish its claim, the Indian media is quoting statements of Zahir's family who believe he was picked by "an enemy spy agency".

Copyright Independent News Pakistan, 2017

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