Lahore, Apr 21: The kidnappers of missing Pakistan envoy Tariq Azizuddin have reportedly demanded the release of 12 prisoners, including the men suspected of plotting Benazir Bhutto's assassination, in exchange for his release. News of Tariq, who has been missing since February 11, surfaced when an Arab satellite channel broadcast a video showing his being flanked by his driver and bodyguard. He was shown urging the Pakistan Government to secure his speedy release.
According to a BBC report, the kidnappers demanded the release of Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz, Tehreek-e-Nifaaz-e-Shariat Muhammadi (TSNM) chief Maulana Sufi, five Afghan Taliban and the three men arrested on charges of allegedly plotting Benazir Bhutto's assassination — Aitzaz Shah, Hussnain and Rafaqat.
The people demanded by the kidnappers in exchange for the release of the envoy are all linked to militant commander Baitullah Mehsud, the Online news agency quoted the BBC report as saying. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Maulvi Umar said the organisation had no involvement in the kidnapping of Azizuddin, and added that they also had no knowledge of the abduction of the envoy.
Meanwhile, a tribal leader, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the tribesmen of the area could not confirm whether the kidnapped ambassador had ever been kept in any tribal area of Pakistan or Afghanistan. He also said that they had no information on the identity of the kidnappers.