Islamabad, Feb 13: The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the abduction of Pakistan Ambassador to Kabul Tariq Azizuddin, and said that they would release him in return for commander Mullah Mansoor Dadullah, the Geo News reported.
Tariq Azizuddin had gone missing on his way from Peshawar to the Torkham border crossing on Monday when he lost contact with authorities in the Khyber Agency. Mansoor Dadullah was arrested in Quetta on Monday. The Geo News quoted the bureau chief of an Arab television channel as saying that the local Taliban had asked tribal elders to convey their message to the Pakistan Government. "We have heard this news on TV channels," Interior Ministry spokesman Brig (retired) Javed Iqbal Cheema told reporters.
"However, we have not received any formal information to this effect," he added. During the briefing, Cheema had said that the government did not know who had kidnapped Azizuddin or what had happened to him.
Asked if the government would trade Dadullah for Azizuddin, Cheema said, "I cannot say anything."
Political administration officials said they had received reports that Ambassador Azizuddin's vehicle had been found in Taghyan area of Landi Kotal, after a daylong search operation by tribal police (Khasadars) and Levies.
The Foreign Office did not confirm the report.
"He is still missing and search is underway for his recovery," Foreign Office spokesman Muhammad Sadiq told the Daily Times.
He did not comment on why the ambassador had not asked the political administration for security officials to escort him.
A television channel quoted its sources in President's House as saying that President Pervez Musharraf had expressed anger at the envoy's disappearance and had directed the Interior Ministry to find him immediately.