Kidnapped Pakistan envoy released by Taliban

Suspected Taliban militants have released Pakistan’s envoy to Afghanistan more than three months after he was kidnapped in Pakistan’s Khyber tribal region, a senior government official said on Saturday.

Pakistani television channels said the envoy, Tariq Azizuddin, had been freed in Afghanistan.

A relative said Azizuddin was expected to return home to his family in Islamabad shortly.

”The authorities contacted us and said that Aziz has been released and he would be back by the evening,” a family member said.

Last month, Azizuddin appeared in a video on an Arabic television saying he was being held by the Taliban and urged the Pakistani government to meet their demands.

In the video, Azizuddin did not say what demands the Taliban were making, but Pakistani media reports had reported they had called for the release of several jailed militants.

A spokesperson for the Pakistani Taliban, however, later denied that members of the guerrilla movement were responsible for abducting the envoy.

Pakistan’s long tribal belt on the Afghan border is notorious for being a haven for smugglers and bandits and has turned into a major sanctuary for al-Qaeda and the Taliban militants who fled from Afghanistan after a United States-led invasion in the wake of the September 11 attacks in 2001.

Scores of people have been abducted in the dangerous border region and the ambassador’s disappearance highlighted mounting lawlessness in the tribal areas. — Reuters

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