Peshawar, Apr 22 : Militants belonging to Pakistan's wing of the Taliban - the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, who are holding Pakistan's envoy in Afghanistan Tariq Azizuddin, have reportedly dropped the demand of release of Taliban leader Mullah Obaidullah, on realizing that the demand was not open to negotiations.
But they still insist that the Pakistan government frees at least five of their colleagues before they would let Tariq Azizuddin go.
The militants wanted the release of five or six people, who were all in government custody and involved in suicide bombings and other terrorist activities in Pakistan, said a highly-placed source requesting anonymity.
Expressing optimism that the matter would soon be resolved, he said: "The militants appear to be in a hurry as they seem to be worried about the ambassador's health condition."
"The demand for the release of Taliban leader Mullah Obaidullah had figured earlier also during negotiations for the release of over 200 army hostages. But they realised that this was something that was not open to negotiations and they relented," the Dawn quoted the unidentified source as saying.
"The militants reiterated the same demand and were clearly told that it was non-negotiable and they have dropped the demand," he said and added that the militants were now seeking the release of their comrades, including an Afghan man.
He, however, denied that the militants were demanding the release of Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz or some other people mentioned in various press reports.
Meanwhile, according to an APP report, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that the Pakistani envoy was safe and in good health and efforts for his release were under way. "I met with Azizuddin's wife and brother; I assured them that the government is engaged in serious efforts for his release," he said in Islamabad.