Kidnapped Pak envoy alive: Pakistan Foreign Office

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Islamabad, Feb 14 (UNI) Misssing Pakistani ambassador to Afghanistan Tariq Azizuddin is alive and and no effort was being spared to find him and others accompanying him, the Foreign Office said today.

According to media reports, Tariq Azizuddin, his bodyguard and their driver were kidnapped on their way to Kabul from Peshawar near the Ali Masjid area in Jamrud, one of the three districts of Khyber agency on Monday.

''Yes, I'm sure and hope that he is alive. We also hope Ambassador Tariq Azizuddin is safe and secure and every effort is being made but then he is still missing and we have no further information,'' said a tight-lipped spokesman at the Foreign Office during the weekly press briefing.

''He is a friend to a lot of you in this room and he is a dear colleague, so all of us are equally concerned,'' the spokesman was quoted by The News as saying.

To countless queries, the spokesman said that so far no group had contacted the government regarding a swap or a demand from those who had abducted the ambassador.

''No one contacted the government and neither has anyone claimed responsibility. All of us are equally concerned and every effort is being made to locate him. Several foreign governments have called to express concern and record their sympathy but at this stage we do not need any help,'' said the spokesman.

Several queries were raised as to why the government had not advised its senior envoy to travel by air, especially given the fact that security was non-existent and several key kidnappings had occurred in the area.

''For the last 25 years, all Pakistani diplomats travelling to and from Afghanistan took this road through Torkham. Even foreign diplomats use this route and it is nothing new. All necessary precautions were taken and the standard precautionary methods were in place,'' the spokesman informed.

The spokesman, for reasons of security, refrained from commenting on reports about the ambassador's car being seen in Tirah. Asked as to why when the envoy's car was not stopping, officials did not chase it after they had sensed foul play. ''I know this is frustrating (not giving direct replies) but for reasons of security we are not commenting,'' he added.


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