Talks for release of kidnapped Canadian journalist in final phase
Negotiations are in decisive phase to secure the release of Canadian journalist, Khadija Abdul Qahaar, from her Taliban captors in North Waziristan tribal region of Pakistan, it was reliably learnt.
Informed sources said talks were now centred on the amount of ransom to be paid for winning freedom for the old lady, who is in her mid-50s. The kidnappers had demanded $2 million for her release. However, the ransom amount was reduced following negotiations with the militants in North Waziristan.
The lady, who claims she converted to Islam and was a supporter of Taliban, was kidnapped on November 12 from the Janikhel area in Frontier Region Bannu. She was reportedly on her way to North Waziristan without following the standard procedure under which every foreigner has to seek permission from the government to enter the tribal areas.
Her young translator, Salman, and her cook and driver, Zar Mohammad, were also kidnapped along with her. The kidnappers had offered to release the two men but they stayed back on the demand of Khadija, who pleaded that she would not be able to cope with the situation in their absence.
According to the sources, negotiations had taken place with the Taliban militants who are holding the Canadian lady through intermediaries. The government authorities were behind this move but officially nobody was saying anything about the issue.
The government is under pressure to secure her release and it is felt the kidnappers won't free under they are paid some ransom. It was learnt that the talks were stuck on the ransom amount, as the militants were suspicious that the middlemen or someone in the government would take part of the money and leave them with much smaller sums of money.
The Canadian government had made it clear that it would not pay any ransom money to the kidnappers. Instead, it had communicated to the Pakistan government its proposal to send its security personnel to assist Pakistani law-enforcement agencies in their efforts to win freedom for her.