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  • Abducted Pak envoy to Afghanistan released

    Islamabad (PTI): Pakistan's envoy to Afghanistan Tariq Azizuddin, who was kidnapped by militants in the restive tribal area three months ago, has been released following parleys between the government and local Taliban leaders.

    "The ambassador was recovered late on Friday. He is safe and sound," Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Sadiq said on Saturday.

    Azizuddin's brother Imran Azizuddin told reporters here that the family was informed about the envoy's release on Saturday morning and he was expected to be back home soon.

    The envoy was handed over to officials in the South Waziristan region after talks between the local Taliban and the government which were brokered by a tribal jirga or a council of elders, local TV news channels reported.

    This gave rise to speculation about Pakistani Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud's involvement in the Ambassador's kidnapping as South Waziristan is his stronghold. Mehsud was also accused of involvement in the assassination of former Premier Benazir Bhutto.

    Azizuddin, his driver and guard were kidnapped on February 11 while the envoy was on his way to Afghan capital Kabul from his home in Peshawar via the restive Khyber Agency.

    His release came days after Pakistani authorities and the Taliban swapped prisoners following peace parleys initiated by the new federal government led by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. Eighteen Taliban cadres were freed in exchange for about 55 security personnel who were being held captive by militants in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

    There were also reports that Azizuddin's kidnappers had sought release of 12 prisoners, including suspects in Bhutto's assassination. It was not immediately known if the government had freed any one in exchange for Azizuddin.


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